Southern Capital keeps price unchanged in final offer for UE E&C

SINGAPORE - The private equity fund that is trying to buy out listed construction firm UE E&C said on Tuesday evening that its offer price for the company was final.

This has put paid to any minority shareholders' hopes that it would up the ante.

Southern "does not intend to revise the offer price" from $1.25 per share, it said in a Singapore Exchange filing on Tuesday.

It made this move about a week after news that Singapore Tong Teik, a company linked to rubber veteran Oei Hong Bie, had increased its stake to 8 per cent.

Southern's declaration means that it will not be allowed to raise its bid henceforth.

It also said yesterday that its stake in UE E&C, which it holds through its vehicle Universal EC Investments, has risen to 75.9 per cent.

An independent financial adviser to UE E&C said in a circular to shareholders on Dec 31 that Southern's offer for UE E&C was about 30 per cent above the company's net asset value per share.

UE E&C's dividend yield has been 4.8 per cent on average over the past three financial years, which is lower than the mean dividend yields for comparable listed firms, the advisor also noted.

That means that shareholders who accept Southern's offer could potentially increase their dividend income if they were to reinvest the proceeds in other companies, the adviser said.

UE E&C shares closed a cent higher at $1.26 on Tuesday before Southern's announcement.

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