Category

Mergers and Acquisitions

Brief M&A: Nexon Sale: MBK Behind Scene Stories and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Nexon Sale: MBK Behind Scene Stories
  2. Last Week in Event SPACE: Chiyoda, Bandai, Unizo, Ascendas, Villa World, Avon, SIE Engineering
  3. HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!
  4. Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs
  5. KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup

1. Nexon Sale: MBK Behind Scene Stories

MBK was one of the three leading horses in the Nexon sale race. It was the only FI in this group. You know this is MBK, the king of deals. It’s hard to believe, but even this MBK didn’t know KJJ’s cancellation until the last minute. One local news outlet “Chosun” put out a report that gives us a rare detailed picture of what had been going at MBK until the last minute regarding this deal. I found what’s contained in this report very informative and interesting for Nexon investors even after the deal got wrapped up in an unexpected way.

In this post, I summarize some of the key happenings at MBK regarding the Nexon deal. I need to make this very clear that this post is mainly based on this Chosun report, but it also includes what I heard and found from other sources, mainly local stock investment online communities.

Here is the link of the Chosun report if you want to read the original.

2. Last Week in Event SPACE: Chiyoda, Bandai, Unizo, Ascendas, Villa World, Avon, SIE Engineering

Lennon

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Chiyoda Corp (6366 JP)  (Mkt Cap: $729mn; Liquidity: $15mn)

Travis Lundy calculated the total shares to be sold at 48-50m accounting for 20% of outstanding and 30% of float in Chiyoda’s upcoming removal from the Nikkei (and now confirmed – see Travis insight below) and Topix indexes, and referenced the exclusion trades resulted in Toshiba Corp (6502 JP) falling 24% and Sharp Corp (6753 JP) falling 31%. But Mio Kato, CFA feels that the company’s situation could skew the timing compared to what would be “normal”.

  • Mio believes that it may be more interesting to look for a reversion trade in the event that the stock price declines significantly into the exclusion. He feels that the fall may not be quite as steep as that for Toshiba or Sharp. In both Toshiba and Sharp’s cases there was still significant uncertainty surrounding the names as Toshiba had not completed or even announced its capital raise at the time and the sale of its memory subsidiary was still being hotly contested; while in Sharp’s case Hon Hai was playing hardball on deal terms.
  • In contrast, Chiyoda has already secured funding from a very stable and large partner and appears to have kitchen-sinked a lot of assumptions and faces a very bright operational outlook – its problems stem from poor risk management, which Mitsubishi is meant to solve, and not operations. 
  • In addition, due to Chiyoda’s previous operational struggles and write-downs there is already a very significant short base. This could distort the usual timing of the fall in the stock price and the fact that the stock has recovered to just 3.5% below the level prior to more widespread reporting of the exclusion points to this eventuality. It does seem likely that the size of the required sell could push Chiyoda’s price down at some point – Mio argues this could happen much closer to the actual event than usual. If borrow is difficult to come by, there could be money to be made on the other side around the turn of the month.

(link to Mio’s insight: Chiyoda: Risks to the Index Kick-Out Trade and Potential Volatility at Earnings the Next Day)


Bandai Namco Holdings (7832 JP)  (Mkt Cap: $12.6bn; Liquidity: $28mn)

The Nikkei Inc announced its “Changes to the Nikkei Indices” this week  which became inevitable when the Tokyo Stock Exchange announced on the 28th of June that Chiyoda Corp (6366 JP)s yuho (Annual Securities Report) had the company at a negative net worth, requiring a reassignment to the Second Section of the TSE. Nikkei 225 Methodology requires that members be TSE-1 listed. The Announcement surprised people. As expected, Chiyoda is Out – but Bandai is In.  Chiyoda closed down 2.6% on 2mm shares, and Bandai closed limit up +19.3% on 300k shares allocated at the limit on the close.

  • There are still something like 50 million shares of Chiyoda to sell. The significant shorts – which are likely well in excess of the 23+ million shares shown and reported – are likely sourcing a lot of their borrow from the shareholders (passive funds) who have to sell. Those shareholders will have to recall their borrow. Earnings come out the day after the exclusion. I would not want to be short that earnings number. Plus read Mio’s insight above.
  • There should be 27mm shares to buy in Bandai which is about 20% of float. However, if only half the foreigners and only half the individual holders would be willing to sell on a large jump in price in the next few weeks, then the net available to sell is probably closer to 80mm shares and 27mm to buy would be one-third. It’s a lot. Once it gets purchased by Nikkei 225 funds, it won’t come out anytime soon. This stock is likely to get squeezed.
  • Dmg Mori Co Ltd (6141 JP) was flagged by many as a good bet to replace Chiyoda. Since then, roughly 14 million shares of excess volume have traded. If half of that is a real displacement of holdings based on this event, 7mm shares would need to be sold. That is 3% of shares out and 4-5% of float. It is among the larger excess positioning situations in the last five years in the stock. DMG closed -10% on 7.3mm shares in response to the index changes.

(link to Travis’s insight: Nikkei 225 – Bandai Namco IN, Chiyoda OUT)


Kcc Corp (002380 KS)  (Mkt Cap: $2.2bn; Liquidity: $6mn)

KCC will split itself into two companies in the form of an equity spinoff with KCC the surviving company and KCG the new company. KCC will mainly comprise the B2B business (silicone, paint and varnish); KCG will get the B2C business such as glass and interior. An EGM will be held on Nov 13 and shareholder approval can be obtained with 2/3 of attending votes and 1/3 of shares out. Both companies will be listed – KCC on Jan 21 next year, but KCG’s listing date hasn’t been fixed.

  • Typically, demergers serve to streamline a business.  However, the major shareholder retains 40%, which Sanghyun Park considers to be weak. He believes the major shareholder intends to further solidify this controlling stake via a tender, possibly a month after the Jan 21 listing. 

(link to Sanghyun’s insight: KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup)


R* Shares CPSE ETF (CPSEBE IN) 

The ETF is based on the Nifty CPSE index and currently includes 11 listed Central Public Sector Enterprises, declining to 10 after Rural Electrification (RECL IN) was kicked out this past Friday. The sixth tranche of the ETF is expected to open on July 18 to anchor investors and on July 19 to non-anchor investors. The new units are expected to start trading on July 29. The discount on the ETF will be 3%, opening up arbitrage opportunities to investors.

  • The CPSE ETF does not trade big volumes on a regular day. However, there is a huge volume surge following fund offerings as many investors look to flip their allocation back into the market and lock in a profit. The anchor portion was oversubscribed almost 6 times in the last tranche issued in March this year, though the number may be smaller this time with the tighter discount being offered.
  • The ETF will need to buy around 63m shares of Indian Oil Corp (IOCL IN) in the market on July 19. Brian Freitas estimates this number since the Government of India can only sell around 64m shares to the ETF as this will take their stake in the company down to 51.5%, the lowest percentage for the stock to remain in the Nifty CPSE index. Given the stock trades around 13m shares a day on average, he sees 4x of excess volume and expect the stock to rally in the lead up to July 19 and see buying over the day on July 19.

links to Brian’s insights:
The CPSE ETF Arb Is Back, but Tighter!
India – NIFTY CPSE Index Review.

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) (Mkt Cap: $913mn; Liquidity: $4mn)

Japan’s premier discount travel agency H I S Co Ltd (9603 JP) on Wednesday announced it would launch a Partial Tender Offer (commencing this past Friday) to purchase a 40+% stake in real estate and hotel business Unizo to raise its stake from ~4.8% to 45.0%. The Tender Offer price is at a 56% premium to the last trade and is at an 18-month high. But, this is a hostile tender.

  • A hostile tender offer by one company upon another conducted without warning, or with warning but without approval, is reasonably rare. In Japan, it is even rarer. This is, however, the second in six months – the first being Itochu Corp (8001 JP)‘s tender offer for shares of Descente Ltd (8114 JP).  HIS has decided to buy 40% of a company it hadn’t talked to. At a 50+% premium. And given this one has hostility AND a longer end date, there is more trading and event optionality than normal.
  • Unizo has several possible responses it could give. The right thing to do would be to establish an independent committee immediately. A rights offering might kill the deal. But it would be fair to investors. A White Knight is not unthinkable. Travis expects the odds are pretty good that Unizo does not have a great defense here. That means the Tender likely goes through.
  • Unless corporate and financial cross-holders tender, the pro-ration could end up being very high.  If crossholders tender, pro-ration goes way down and one is better off just selling everything in the market for a small loss. Travis is bullish that the tender goes through and bullish the profit opportunity. He thinks for the astute arbitrageur, there is a lot of room to play around the ranges here.

(link to Travis’s insight: HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!)


Villa World Ltd (VLW AU)  (Mkt Cap: $203mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

VLW and AVID have (finally) entered into a Scheme Implementation Agreement at A$2.345/share yesterday, which is a 17.8% premium to the unaffected price of $1.99 on 14 March, and an A$0.115 bump over the initial pitch in March. Any final or special dividend paid on or prior to the implementation of the Scheme will reduce the Offer Price. The key nagging issue is Ho Bee Land Ltd (HOBEE SP).

  • Ho Bee, VLW’s largest shareholder and JV partner, responded to AVID’s proposal by buying 2.2mn shares (~1.8% of shares out) at an average of A$2.04/share – and a high of A$2.18/share – lifting its stake to 9.41% on the same day as the initial Offer. Ho Bee further bumped its stake to 10.45% on the 25 March at an average price of A$2.21; and finally, to 11.62% on the 15 April at an average of $2.17. Its overall average in-price is A$1.98/share.
  • Would Ho Bee go to such extreme just to extract another 5% from the Offer? Maybe, but it is a little weird. Ho Bee did not buy over $2.23/share.
  • On balance, this deal should get up. Pricing appears fair with respect to peers. Ho Bee receives a decent premium to its overall average position. This is also not a material holding for Ho Bee – the 11.62% stake is equivalent to ~2% of its market cap – while it remains directly invested in the Melbourne JV.  With a late November/ early December completion, this is trading very tight to terms at 0.6% gross.

(link to my insight: Villa World Greenlights AVID’s Offer)


Ascendas Hospitality Trust (ASCHT SP) (Mkt Cap: $844mn; Liquidity: $3mn)

On 3 July, Ascott Residence Trust (ART SP) and ASCHT jointly announced a proposed combination, which would result in the combined entity becoming the largest hospitality trust in the Asia Pacific region, one of the top ten globally, with an asset value of S$7.6bn. It would – using data from the end of June – become the 7th largest trust on the SGX.

  • The deal is for Ascott to acquire ASCHT through a Scheme of Arrangement whereby ASCHT unitholders will receive what was – at the announcement – S$1.0868 per ASCHT Stapled Unit. The exact terms are S$0.0543 in cash and 0.7942 Ascott Reit-BT Stapled Units. That is a ratio of 0.836 but if you do the arithmetic, it comes out as a NAV-flat transaction. Neither ASCHT nor ART shareholders “overly benefit” at the expense of the other, but they both benefit from scale lowering future costs.
  • The deal is another REIT consolidation to create a LARGER NewREIT. It was also totally obvious, after the Ascendas-Singbridge deal was signed earlier this year, that within the Capitaland group (which meant Temasek was going to own 51% of Capitaland when completed), this was going to happen (even though the deal meant there were no chained transactions for the REITs). It makes one wonder if there is a deal for Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (AREIT SP) to come. 
  • The deal (at the time of the insight) showed a 4.5% spread being long ASCHT and short Ascott, which is slightly wide for a deal of ~five months. However, there is some uncertainty in the distributions. If you own Ascott and are in a position to switch out of Ascott into AREIT, Travis would do so. If you own ASCHT and you like the risk of owning the REIT, you own the right one. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Ascott & Ascendas Hospitality Merger – Not Unexpected and Should Be Easy)


Dalian Port (Pda) Co Ltd H (2880 HK)  (Mkt Cap: $3bn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Back on the 4 June, Dalian Port (Pda) announced a possible Mandatory General Offer (MGO) at $1.0127/share, a 0.27% premium to last close. The MGO would be triggered following the rearrangement of various companies under the PRC government, collectively holding 68.37% into Dalian Port (Pda), with the long-term objective of merging the ports in Liaoning province under a single platform. The shareholding structure is a spider’s web and understanding the share transfers is probably best done by studying the diagrams in the document and the insight.

  • The integration/consolidation process is complicated with local, provincial and central government holdings in port ownership. Further, local governments, which often trumpet their success in tandem with the performance of its port, may be less willing to forego such economic benefits by giving up absolute control.
  • China Merchant Holdings already has effective control of Dalian Port (Pda) – (47.31%) direct and 21.05% via Team Able/China Merchants Port (144 HK). The equity transfers forming part of the restructuring are being hived out from one SASAC entity into another SASAC-controlled entity. This should all go through and the unconditional MGO will be triggered, and potentially wrap up in October, provided the ETA completes on the long stop date.
  • Dalian Port (Pda) is trading in line with listed Hong Kong ports. You have a (likely) hard floor at $1.01, with expectations of further group restructuring, as the three Liaoning ports are integrated. However, HK port companies are down ~7.% in the past year, similar to Chinese-listed port companies.  The sentiment is decidedly downbeat as the trade war creates a less profitable business environment.

(link to my insight: Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs)


Health Management Intl (HMI SP) (Mkt Cap: $844mn; Liquidity: $3mn)

The previous Friday, listed regional (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia) private healthcare provider HMI announced an Implementation Agreement for a privatisation by way of Scheme of Arrangement whereby private equity fund EQT would acquire HMI for S$0.73/share in cash or one share of the Acquirer. That price is a 25-30% premium to the 1, 3, 6, and 12-month VWAPs prior to the announcement and a 14% premium to the last “undisturbed” trading day.

  • It is not overly generous. The premium is small, and the forecast Next 12 Month EV/EBITDA multiple at 17+x is OK but compared to the other private hospital operators out there in Asia it is not overwhelmingly high-priced. It seems a bit of a stretch to see someone come over the top when this has been negotiated. However, if one asked me whether the likelihood of bump or deal failure is more likely, Travis would tilt towards bump, but it would be just a kiss.
  • It takes 75% of the 39% not owned by NSI and “concert parties” to get this done, but the 2018 Annual Report showed that 89.75% of the shareholders (i.e. 83.2% or so of the possible Scheme Shareholders) owned more than 1,000,000 shares. The top 40 shareholders determine the outcome of this deal as long as the rest generally are split 51/49 or better. It is difficult to see this one getting knocked down.
  • Travis expects the timeline of this deal is about 4 months plus perhaps a week. That means at S$0.72 the gross spread at 1.39% gets you an annualised spread of about 4.15%. At S$0.715, the gross spread is 2.10% (before comms, etc) so 4 months is 6+% annualised.  The trade here is to get queue priority at S$0.715. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Health Management Int’l Privatisation – Easy Peasy)


Briefly …

Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) this week announced there will be no further extension of its Offer which closes on the 19 July. By my estimate, tendered shares total 71.86%. The tendering condition is 90%.

M&A – UK

Telford Homes (TEF LN) (Mkt Cap: $335mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

On July 3rd, US-based commercial real estate services company, CBRE Group Inc A (CBG US)announced that they had reached an agreement with the board of London-based residential real estate developer, Telford, to acquire 100% of its shares by way of a Scheme of Arrangement at a price of GBP3.50/ share. The offer values the target at a market cap of GBP 265mn. 

  • While the Offer Price translates to premia of 11.1%, 14.3%, and 21.3% to the undisturbed price, 1-month VWAP and 3-month VWAP respectively, it remains 3.4% lower than the 1-year VWAP of Telford shares. Furthermore, the offer price also translates to discounts of 28.8% and 38.8% to the stock’s 1-year and 2-year highs respectively.
  • The company appears to have confidence its current build-plan and will come through on budget and so after a couple of project delays at the end of this past year, earnings will rebound and march higher. The few analysts who cover the stock are less bullish this year, but it appears they expect the company to meet its 2020 targets a year or two later. 8x EPS and 1.0x book seem quite low. It is below the mean of the selected comps.
  •  If Travis had to bet right now, it’s 50/50 it does not get done. Brexit worries could get this over the line but he expects there are some unhappy shareholders. He is not sure there is enough time to get a competitor in there to see the price lifted.  The deal timeline is very short. The indicative timeline suggests the Target Scheme Meeting could be in just four weeks. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Telford Homes Takeout – A Disappointing End?)

M&A – US

Avon Products (AVP US) (Mkt Cap: $1.8bn; Liquidity: $41mn)

On May 22, 2019, Avon announced that it had entered into a merger agreement to be acquired in an all-stock transaction by Brazilian Holding Company Natura & Co (NATUR3 BZ).  Natura will exchange 0.30 of its shares for each AVP share on a fixed exchange ratio basis, currently valuing AVP at ~US$2 bn. The merger agreement deadline is set for July 22, 2020. On completion of the merger, NATU3 shareholders will own 76% of the combination with AVP shareholders owning 24%. The transaction catapults NATU3 to becoming the world’s sixth largest consumer goods company.

  • Natura is paying ~10x consensus 2019 EBITDA for standalone AVP which is reasonable in comparison to prevailing peer group multiples averaging 17x and compares with Natura’s own standalone valuation multiple of ~14x.
  • The transaction could attract particular scrutiny from the antitrust authorities in Brazil, which represents the single largest market for both Natura and AVP. According to data from Euromonitor, Natura maintains a commanding lead in Brazil’s direct sales market for cosmetics with an estimated 31% market share followed by a ~ 16% share for AVP. That being said, the direct sales market is based around independent consultants/reps, many of whom already offer both Natura and Avon products in Brazil. 
  • The double-digits merger spread that prevails (14% at the time of the insight) could offer a lucrative opportunity for arbs. The complicating factor is that Natura is listed on the Brazilian Stock exchange (B3) and denominated in an historically volatile currency, the Brazilian Real, while AVP shares trade on the NYSE in US$. As some AVP shareholders may not want to own or are restricted from owning shares that trade on a non-US exchange, Natura will offer AVP shareholders the option to receive Natura shares in the form of Level-II ADRs to be traded on the NYSE or shares listed on B3. Natura does not currently have an ADR in issue.

(link to Robert Sassoon‘s insight: MergerTalk: Natura & Co/Avon Products -“Ding Dong, The Avon Spread Calling”)

STUBBS/HOLDCOS

Singapore Airlines (SIA SP) / Sia Engineering (SIE SP) 

SIE gained 15% the previous week, rekindling privatisation talks by SIA.  Despite the share price increase, SIE trades around November 2009 levels. SIE is not aware of any reasons for the jump. The stub is not terribly exciting with SIE accounting for 18% and 22% of NAV and market cap, and barely makes the grade with SIE trading ~US$1mn/day.

  • Last year’s privatisation of HAECO (44 HK) at $72/share (63.2% premium to last close) by Swire Pacific Ltd Cl A (19 HK) – which held 74.9% prior to the Offer – is not lost on investors. The takeover PER was 35x vs. 19x currently for SIE. Peer comps trade at 24x. SIE only appears fairly valued on an EV/EBITDA metric on account of the earnings from associated companies and JVs.
  • SIE is a maintenance, repair & overhaul company providing aircraft & component overhaul, fleet management and line maintenance services. The company also has material stakes in associated companies and JVs which contribute 71% of the Group’s profits in FY19, up from 58% in FY18.
  • The outcome, should an Offer be pitched, would cost SIA ~S$700mn to take out the shares it does not own. Not chump change, and it might have a slightly negative impact on SIA as it removes one layer of transparency. But given the stub weakness, the focus would be on the SIE arbitrage. I would not want to be short SIE here.

(link to my insight: StubWorld: Just Rumours (For Now) As SIA Engineering Pops)

SHARE CLASSIFICATIONS

My share class monitor provides a snapshot of the premium/discounts for 322 share classifications –  ADRs, Korean prefs, dual class, Thai (F/L) & A/Hs – around the region.

(link to my insight: Share Classifications: A Year In Review)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges – like Madison Holdings Group Ltd (8057 HK) on the 5 July.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

ISP Global (8487 HK)
50.50%
Bluemont
Outside CCASS
Camsing (2662 HK)
Great Roc
Founder
18.20%
Kingston
Citi
Source: HKEx

3. HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!

Yeoldearbgrids

Another Hostile Deal!!!

Japan’s premier discount travel agency H I S Co Ltd (9603 JP) on Wednesday announced it would launch a Partial Tender Offer to purchase a 40+% stake in real estate and hotel business Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) to raise its stake from ~4.8% to 45.05%. The Tender Offer was launched this morning (EDINET disclosure only in Japanese). The Tender Offer price is at a 56% premium to the last trade and is at an 18-month high.

The announcement was made at around 1:30pm local time, and the shares jumped 20% to limit up ¥2390 in a five minute period, trading 700,000 shares, which was about three and a half days volume on average – before getting pegged at limit up (the shares went limit up yesterday too, closing at ¥2890 on close allocation volume of 220,000+ shares. 

source: tradingview.com

Quite late that evening, Unizo Holdings issued a release saying…

The new Takeover Rules enacted in December 2006 (with one amendment to the SEL made in 2005 in direct reaction to the loophole used by Livedoor to acquire large stakes of Nippon Broadcasting System off-market to reach a level above one-third) are enshrined in the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act/Law (normally called “FIE”, “FIEA”, or “FIEL”), with the most relevant portions commencing with Article 27-2. These “TOB Rules” outlawed stealth acquisition off-market to “suddenly acquire” a large stake without passing through the market mechanism or conducting a Tender Offer. The principle of this was a sense of “fairness” such that minority investors had an equal opportunity to sell to someone who sought to have control or influence, and that it could not simply be arranged through collusive behavior. 

That’s why HIS is conducting a Tender Offer.

The first rule which matters here for Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) is that the Board of the “Subject Company”, according to Article 27-10…

shall, pursuant to the provisions of a Cabinet Office Ordinance, submit a document which states its opinion on the Tender Offer and other matters specified by a Cabinet Office Ordinance (hereinafter referred to as the “Subject Company’s Position Statement”) to the Prime Minister within a period specified by a Cabinet Order from the date when the Public Notice for Commencing Tender Offer is made.

That period specified is 10 business days, so Unizo has until 25 July.

A Rare Hostile Tender Offer

A hostile tender offer by one company upon another conducted without warning, or with warning but without approval, is reasonably rare. In Japan it is even rarer. This is, however, the second in six months, the first being Itochu Corp (8001 JP)‘s tender offer for shares of Descente Ltd (8114 JP). That situation was much discussed on these pages by Michael Causton and myself, and eight insights spanning months on the situation are to be found here

The Descente Tender Offer was to get Itochu from 30% to 40% after Itochu, which had been in business with Descente for 50 years, and had held 25% for decades, was not consulted on a business tie up with Wacoal, negotiated in a hurry last year, designed to sideline Itochu’s influence.

That was a news story and a half for 10% of a company. This time HIS analyzed the company, liked what it saw, bought 4.8%, and says it asked to meet. Unizo wouldn’t. Repeatedly.

So HIS decided to buy 40% of a company it hadn’t talked to. At a 50+% premium.

This promises to be interesting. And given this one has hostility AND a longer end date, there is more trading and event optionality than normal. That optionality is discussed below, and as is normal, we have Arb Grids.

The shares have traded for 5 minutes in the market and one closing allocation, and have traded 2.7% of shares out in that space with the stock now up 45% since 1:30pm Weds. This morning the shares will open and we will see what happens.


This situation is going to have hair and we love those. 

This is a $400mm Tender Offer.

It is WELL worth your time to study it if you are an arbitrageur. 

If you are a long-only investor holding the stock, it is a complicated situation which may warrant a deeper look into things you do not normally delve. Do not hesitate to get in touch.


For other insights on Japanese M&A please check the list of Japan-related Event-Driven insights here. As a reference to Japan M&A rules and practices, please see the Quiddity Japan M&A Guide 2019.

4. Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs

Chart

Back on the 4 June, Dalian Port (Pda) Co Ltd H (2880 HK) announced a possible Mandatory General Offer (MGO) at $1.0127/share, a 0.27% premium to last close. 

The MGO would be triggered following the rearrangement of various companies under the PRC government, collectively holding 68.37% into Dalian Port (Pda), with the long-term objective of merging the ports in Liaoning province under a single platform.

Dalian Port Corporation (PDA) currently holds 46.8% – via A and H shares – into Dalian Port (Pda). PDA, in turn, is a 100%-held subsidiary of Liaoning Port Group, which in turn is held as to 50.1% by the Liaoning Provincial Government (LPG) (through Liaoning SASAC) and 49.9% by China Merchants Liaoning (CML). 

This % holding into Liaoning Port Group was formulated in a restructuring last November.

LPG intends transferring (deemed the Equity Transfer, or ETA) 1.1% of its stake to CML, giving CML 51% (& effective control) of Liaoning Port Group. 

LPG will then transfer 36.34% and 2.66% of its equity interest in Liaoning Port Group to Dalian SASAC and Yingkou SASAC respectively for nil consideration. Perusing the shareholder charts helps crystalize the process.

The transfer is subject to a number of conditions, but presumably will be rubber-stamped. The long stop date for the conditions is 30 September. 

The new news is that the transfer agreement in respect of the Dalian SASAC equity transfer was executed on 17 June 2019  – it is not clear why Dalian Port (Pda) chose to make this announcement over three weeks after it was completed.

The ETA remains subject to a number of outstanding conditions.

From an arb perspective, there isn’t much skin in the game, but that is deliberate. The intention is to maintain Dalian Port (Pda)’s listing and therefore the low-ball Offer premium. But the development of this integrated port platform is interesting.

5. KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup

2

This post has a summary of KCC Corp’s equity spinoff into two companies. This was announced today on July 11 after the market closed. In this post, I also look at mispricing possibilities resulting from this demerger. 

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Brief M&A: Nexon Sale: Kakao Is Emerging as the Leading Horse and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Nexon Sale: Kakao Is Emerging as the Leading Horse
  2. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

1. Nexon Sale: Kakao Is Emerging as the Leading Horse

Yeah, Nexon event is very quiet. Even we didn’t have rumor report from local media lately since the main bid closing. So, we are hearing all kinds of worrying voices that the deal may be falling apart. Then, MK, one of Korea’s top tier economic daily, put out a follow-up report on this event late today. MK quoted someone familiar with the matter, possibly a banker working on this deal or a Nexon insider, but MK doesn’t specify the identity further. This “someone” told MK that the deal is still very much alive. Just, it now seems that KKR and Bain are no longer in the race. According to MK (well actually this “someone”), it is now a three-horse race between Kakao, Netmarble and MBK. Is this a surprise? Of course, it is not. What’s really bothering me is why this “someone inside” has always been leaking inside info and mood to local media, mainly MK and HK. Is Nexon doing it on purpose to buttress the share price so that they can keep having the upper hand in the deal talking? Well, it may be, or I don’t know for sure. Alright, let’s put this intention thing aside for now, and let’s first take a look at what this “someone” told MK.

BTW, this is the link of this latest MK report. (Title is quite provocative…)

2. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

Cl

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) (Mkt Cap: $20.7bn; Liquidity: $234mn)

The Huatai Sec GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expected.  Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

  • There is widespread scepticism as to why the deal needs to be done in the first place, and that gives many people some pause. Because of the discount and the liquidity on the A-shares, and the fact that the low end priced at a four to five year low, the margin of safety people perceive is quite high. 
  • There is a lot of talk about how the shares haven’t seen the bottom end price even in the trough post June 2015 A-share crash so that provides a kind of “virtual floor” at around RMB 14/share. The 2015 low price of around RMB 14/share in late Q3 early Q4 2015, was almost exactly one year after they were trading at RMB 8/share in 2014 before the margin-trading bubble-induced runup. 
  • Travis Lundy is bullish the GDRs Huatai Securities Co Ltd (HTSC LI) and not necessarily the A shares. He thinks the trade will end up making money for people, whether perfectly hedged or not. As of now, he would expect some softness in the As on the unwind. He also expected those with patience to go past 140 days could see the As rebound a bit after everyone assumes the GDR converters are out of their trade.

(link to Travis’ insight: Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher)

STUBS & HOLDCOS

Hanjin Kal Corp (180640 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $95mn)

KCGI has accumulated 15.95% in Hanjin at a cost of ₩270bn, the last 1% at a 5.3% premium to last close. KCGI appears to be angling for management takeover. The question is whether the Cho family – holding 28.93% of the common shares and 3.02% of the prefs – are willing/forced sellers. And there are also rumours Mirae is asking KCGI for full repayment on ₩40bn worth of stock collateral loans.

  • Cho Yang-ho, the patriarch of the Cho family, passed away on the 8 April. Inheritance tax is calculated based on the closing prices of shares held two months either side of the death. Together with inheritable real estate assets, Sanghyun Park calculates a total tax bill of  ₩230~240bn.
  • But that need not be paid at once, and can be paid over 5 years, with that clock starting in October. Taking into account Cho’s severance pay (net of inheritance tax) and stock collateral loans (up to 50% of their stock value), there doesn’t appear to be any urgency on the Cho family’s behalf to unload shares in Hanjin Kal to foot the tax bill.
  • At the time of Sanghyun’s note, Hanjin Kal was trading at a 28% premium to NAV. The trade approach was pretty straightforward – short it. That was the right call. I see the premium now at 6%.

links to Sanghyun’s insights: 
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: KCGI’s Takeover Attempt Is Tougher than Previously Appeared
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: Market Wide Shorting Looming

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Vocus Communications (VOC AU)  (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $10mn)

Vocus has announced it has received an A$3.02bn (US$2.1bn) non-binding, indicative proposal from Aussie energy outfit AGL Energy Ltd (AGL AU) by way of a Scheme, at A$4.85/share in cash, a 26.63% premium to last close. This proposal arrives one week after Swedish PE outfit EQT and Vocus terminated takeover talks – and just two weeks since that lofty $5.25/share indicative offer was first announced.

  • For EQT’s “hairy” pre-event proposal, I said that there was value; and there (potentially) were/are multiple players out there who could look at this situation, given Vocus’ fibre network offers efficient scale characteristics.
  • AGL views Vocus as providing a stronger product set/mix to its customers in the long-term. The opposing view is that AGL is getting desperate in the face of increased scrutiny of its electricity prices forcing a shift away from its core competence. AGL was down 7.2% on the news, although this was probably compounded by a reduced profit guidance announcement after an extended unit outage.
  • IF a deal does get done – this may complete around mid-November. That remains a big “IF”. Currently trading at A$4.36, which shows a return/risk of 11% up to the indicative offer vs. 12% down, roughly similar to where shares traded in response to EQT’s proposal.

(link to my insight: AGL Takes A Turn At Vocus)


Cocokara Fine (3098 JP) (Mkt Cap: $1.2bn; Liquidity: $7mn)

Japan’s drugstore industry began a new era of consolidation after a decade of already unprecedented growth at the top. Cocokara Fine, the seventh-ranked drugstore retailer in Japan announced it was not only in talks with fourth-ranked Matsumotokiyoshi (Matsukiyo), as it had already confirmed a month before, but had now also begun negotiations with Sugi Holdings (7649 JP), the sixth largest firm. This was also discussed in Travis’ Insight Cocokara Fine は Cocokara いいね.

  • Unlike supermarkets and home centres, drugstore consolidation is not just about melding regional power into a national chain but is also about the additional pressure to acquire share in drugstore merchandise categories where the acquirer is weak. 
  • Michael Causton believes a merger between Sugi and Cocokara Fine is a natural fit because of the synergistic regional coverage but also their differing merchandise strengths. But, Matsukiyo also needs to acquire or merge, and fast. While it has stores in 45 of 47 prefectures, its presence outside the Tokyo region is minimal and it has dropped from first place to fourth in just three years, with even more headwinds going forward.
  • If there is a two or three-way merger, Aeon and Tsuruha are unlikely to stand still since even just a Sugi/Cocokara deal would create a new sector leader by sales. Aeon and Tsuruha already work together on sourcing and private brands through the Aeon-led Hapicom buying group. If the pressure builds and Aeon tries to force a merger on Tsuruha as it did with CFS in 2007-8, Tsuruha and Matsukiyo may find common cause and arrange partial merger.

(link to Michael’s insight: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan)


Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) (Mkt Cap: $302mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Although the release of the ACCC’s Statement of Issues (SOI) is less than ideal development in the Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) / Ruralco merger – an informal clearance from the ACCC would have been preferable – it was not an unforeseen development, nor is it viewed as a deal breaker. The ACCC’s concerns are not definitive or strongly worded, therefore the possibility of a formal clearance remains. But on balance, my read is that there is sufficient weight surrounding merchandising issues such that a divestment of stores is likely required for this deal to get up.

  • The ACCC highlighted 7 areas (one each in WA and NSW, two in Queensland and three in the Northern Territories) where the remaining competition – subsequent to a successful merger – is limited. The ACCC also flagged some regional centres only source wholesale supplied from either Ruralco or Nutrien. This may lead to the amalgamated company discriminating on prices and supplies to stores within its own network compared to independent stores in the same catchment.

  • To this, Nutrien could lodge a proposed undertaking with the ACCC to divest certain stores in the 7 highlighted (by the ACCC) catchments to address competition concerns. Such a submission would likely be premised on the ACCC accepting the court-enforceable divestment proposal, and a rescheduled Scheme Meeting could probably be reconvened in around a month after the undertaking proposal. Should this transpire, I would expect no change to the Scheme Offer Price.
  • Currently trading at a gross/annualised spread of 5.5%/21% – with the annualised % roughly in line with the figure prior to the SOI announcement, suggesting a positive remedy to the issues raised by the ACCC is expected. The risk/reward looks attractive here.

(link to my insight: ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien)


Skc Co Ltd (011790 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.1bn; Liquidity: $4mn)

SKC has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in KCFT (KCF Technologies) for ₩1tn (US$1bn) from KKR. SKC plans to use about ₩400bn-₩500bn of its own equity capital to fund the transaction with the remaining ₩700bn-₩800bn sourced from debt financing. KKR will make a tidy profit from the deal – in February 2018, it acquired a 100% stake of LS Mtron’s copper foil and thin film business for ₩300bn and renamed it KCFT. 

  • KCFT has the number one market share globally (15% share) for making copper foil and thin film products used in lithium ion battery based EVs. 
  • SK Group is currently the third largest player in the EV batteries and related components/materials in Korea, after LG Chem Ltd (051910 KS) and Samsung Sdi (006400 KS). The acquisition of KCFT should accelerate SK Group’s efforts to vertically integrate the value chain of the lithium ion batteries/components/materials.
  • KCFT’s finances are mainly kept under wraps, however, based on the acquisition price, this suggests 4x P/S and 40x P/E, using estimated sales and net profits in 2018.

(link to  Douglas Kim‘s insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: SKC Acquires KCFT for $1 Billion)


Briefly …

Reportedly LG Corp (003550 KS) plans to sell a 35% or more stake of LG CNS for about ₩1tn. LG CNS is the system integration IT service unit of the LG Group. Douglas believes this sale will provide a positive boost to LG Corp’s share price since it could increase the probability of paying out higher dividends. (link to Douglas’ insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: LG Corp Plans to Sell 35% Stake of LG CNS for About 1 Trillion Won)

M&A – US

United Technologies (UTX US)  (Mkt Cap: $108bn; Liquidity: $100mn)

The market raction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant UTX and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning of the week, has so far been underwhelming. 

  • Robert Sassoon believes the major complicating factor in this situation is that UTX is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price.
  • This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued UTX stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which he assesses should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected.

(link to Robert’s insight: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms)

M&A – EUROPE

Italian Banks

The Italian banking system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A. Yet prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, largely due to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically.

(link to Victor’s insight: Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

  • Three weeks have now elapsed since the Offer for Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) was extended. That means shareholders who had previously tendered are now entitled to withdraw their acceptances, if they so choose, which takes about 10 days. I estimate ~9.2mn shares have additionally tendered since the extension, or 1.4%, giving a total acceptance level of 87.2%. But, 9.5mn shares or ~1.4% have now moved back into CCASS – which appear to be shares to be withdrawn. Shares closed Friday at $4.41, the lowest since the extension announcement. ~5.8% of issued shares have changed hands since the extension, more than enough for the deal to get up.

  • Shortly after publishing my insight, Netcomm Wireless (NTC AU) released the supplementary disclosure. The directors reaffirm their recommendation to vote for the Scheme. The disclosure sought to clarify how the directors can recommend the Offer yet maintain a bright future. In short, the directors consider the Scheme crystalises value now. There doesn’t appear to be any news out of the ordinary here. But delaying the vote so as to make this disclosure is unusual. Shares closed firm at $1.08 compared to the $1.10/share Scheme Offer. The Scheme Meeting will be held on the 18th June.

  • Indofood Agri Resources (IFAR SP) issued a notice which simply reiterates the final Offer Price and the closing date (25 June – 60th day from dispatch). No update to the % tendered was provided.

  • DuluxGroup Ltd (DLX AU)‘s Scheme Meeting will be held on the 31 July.

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

RMH (8437 HK)
59.67%
UBS
Pacific Found
33.93%
HSBC
CCB
22.15%
HK Stock Link
Citi
12.19%
China Int
Outside CCASS
23.08%
Yuet
Outside CCASS
Ever Sunshine (1995 HK)
18.68%
BOCI
Outside CCASS
12.00%
Ever Joy
Outside CCASS
27.43%
Hang Seng
Outside CCASS
10.00%
Kingston
Satinu
19.00%
Morgan Stanley
Outside CCASS
15.01%
HSBC
Outside CCASS
14.81%
JPM
Outside CCASS
Source: HKEx

For the past fifteen months, I’ve flagged 345 large moves (>10%) in my weekly Event SPACE insights. So I analysed those moves across 112 brokers. Some of the observations include:

  • Overall, 50% of stocks demonstrating a large CCASS movement underperformed the HSI in the first week after the share transfer, which is neither here nor there, however, this number gradually increased over time, touching 70% one-year after the share transfer.
  • Share transfers involving stocks with a market capitalisation of less than US$250mn AND between US$500mn to US$1bn, were the worst performers, in absolute terms and relative to the HSI.
  • When combining the % CCASS change and market capitalisation, stocks with a market capitalisation in excess of US$1bn at the time of the shares transferred displayed a reduced tendency to underperform. 

(link to my insight: CCASS: Why Large Moves Matter Redux)

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Brief M&A: Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

Cl

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) (Mkt Cap: $20.7bn; Liquidity: $234mn)

The Huatai Sec GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expected.  Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

  • There is widespread scepticism as to why the deal needs to be done in the first place, and that gives many people some pause. Because of the discount and the liquidity on the A-shares, and the fact that the low end priced at a four to five year low, the margin of safety people perceive is quite high. 
  • There is a lot of talk about how the shares haven’t seen the bottom end price even in the trough post June 2015 A-share crash so that provides a kind of “virtual floor” at around RMB 14/share. The 2015 low price of around RMB 14/share in late Q3 early Q4 2015, was almost exactly one year after they were trading at RMB 8/share in 2014 before the margin-trading bubble-induced runup. 
  • Travis Lundy is bullish the GDRs Huatai Securities Co Ltd (HTSC LI) and not necessarily the A shares. He thinks the trade will end up making money for people, whether perfectly hedged or not. As of now, he would expect some softness in the As on the unwind. He also expected those with patience to go past 140 days could see the As rebound a bit after everyone assumes the GDR converters are out of their trade.

(link to Travis’ insight: Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher)

STUBS & HOLDCOS

Hanjin Kal Corp (180640 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $95mn)

KCGI has accumulated 15.95% in Hanjin at a cost of ₩270bn, the last 1% at a 5.3% premium to last close. KCGI appears to be angling for management takeover. The question is whether the Cho family – holding 28.93% of the common shares and 3.02% of the prefs – are willing/forced sellers. And there are also rumours Mirae is asking KCGI for full repayment on ₩40bn worth of stock collateral loans.

  • Cho Yang-ho, the patriarch of the Cho family, passed away on the 8 April. Inheritance tax is calculated based on the closing prices of shares held two months either side of the death. Together with inheritable real estate assets, Sanghyun Park calculates a total tax bill of  ₩230~240bn.
  • But that need not be paid at once, and can be paid over 5 years, with that clock starting in October. Taking into account Cho’s severance pay (net of inheritance tax) and stock collateral loans (up to 50% of their stock value), there doesn’t appear to be any urgency on the Cho family’s behalf to unload shares in Hanjin Kal to foot the tax bill.
  • At the time of Sanghyun’s note, Hanjin Kal was trading at a 28% premium to NAV. The trade approach was pretty straightforward – short it. That was the right call. I see the premium now at 6%.

links to Sanghyun’s insights: 
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: KCGI’s Takeover Attempt Is Tougher than Previously Appeared
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: Market Wide Shorting Looming

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Vocus Communications (VOC AU)  (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $10mn)

Vocus has announced it has received an A$3.02bn (US$2.1bn) non-binding, indicative proposal from Aussie energy outfit AGL Energy Ltd (AGL AU) by way of a Scheme, at A$4.85/share in cash, a 26.63% premium to last close. This proposal arrives one week after Swedish PE outfit EQT and Vocus terminated takeover talks – and just two weeks since that lofty $5.25/share indicative offer was first announced.

  • For EQT’s “hairy” pre-event proposal, I said that there was value; and there (potentially) were/are multiple players out there who could look at this situation, given Vocus’ fibre network offers efficient scale characteristics.
  • AGL views Vocus as providing a stronger product set/mix to its customers in the long-term. The opposing view is that AGL is getting desperate in the face of increased scrutiny of its electricity prices forcing a shift away from its core competence. AGL was down 7.2% on the news, although this was probably compounded by a reduced profit guidance announcement after an extended unit outage.
  • IF a deal does get done – this may complete around mid-November. That remains a big “IF”. Currently trading at A$4.36, which shows a return/risk of 11% up to the indicative offer vs. 12% down, roughly similar to where shares traded in response to EQT’s proposal.

(link to my insight: AGL Takes A Turn At Vocus)


Cocokara Fine (3098 JP) (Mkt Cap: $1.2bn; Liquidity: $7mn)

Japan’s drugstore industry began a new era of consolidation after a decade of already unprecedented growth at the top. Cocokara Fine, the seventh-ranked drugstore retailer in Japan announced it was not only in talks with fourth-ranked Matsumotokiyoshi (Matsukiyo), as it had already confirmed a month before, but had now also begun negotiations with Sugi Holdings (7649 JP), the sixth largest firm. This was also discussed in Travis’ Insight Cocokara Fine は Cocokara いいね.

  • Unlike supermarkets and home centres, drugstore consolidation is not just about melding regional power into a national chain but is also about the additional pressure to acquire share in drugstore merchandise categories where the acquirer is weak. 
  • Michael Causton believes a merger between Sugi and Cocokara Fine is a natural fit because of the synergistic regional coverage but also their differing merchandise strengths. But, Matsukiyo also needs to acquire or merge, and fast. While it has stores in 45 of 47 prefectures, its presence outside the Tokyo region is minimal and it has dropped from first place to fourth in just three years, with even more headwinds going forward.
  • If there is a two or three-way merger, Aeon and Tsuruha are unlikely to stand still since even just a Sugi/Cocokara deal would create a new sector leader by sales. Aeon and Tsuruha already work together on sourcing and private brands through the Aeon-led Hapicom buying group. If the pressure builds and Aeon tries to force a merger on Tsuruha as it did with CFS in 2007-8, Tsuruha and Matsukiyo may find common cause and arrange partial merger.

(link to Michael’s insight: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan)


Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) (Mkt Cap: $302mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Although the release of the ACCC’s Statement of Issues (SOI) is less than ideal development in the Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) / Ruralco merger – an informal clearance from the ACCC would have been preferable – it was not an unforeseen development, nor is it viewed as a deal breaker. The ACCC’s concerns are not definitive or strongly worded, therefore the possibility of a formal clearance remains. But on balance, my read is that there is sufficient weight surrounding merchandising issues such that a divestment of stores is likely required for this deal to get up.

  • The ACCC highlighted 7 areas (one each in WA and NSW, two in Queensland and three in the Northern Territories) where the remaining competition – subsequent to a successful merger – is limited. The ACCC also flagged some regional centres only source wholesale supplied from either Ruralco or Nutrien. This may lead to the amalgamated company discriminating on prices and supplies to stores within its own network compared to independent stores in the same catchment.

  • To this, Nutrien could lodge a proposed undertaking with the ACCC to divest certain stores in the 7 highlighted (by the ACCC) catchments to address competition concerns. Such a submission would likely be premised on the ACCC accepting the court-enforceable divestment proposal, and a rescheduled Scheme Meeting could probably be reconvened in around a month after the undertaking proposal. Should this transpire, I would expect no change to the Scheme Offer Price.
  • Currently trading at a gross/annualised spread of 5.5%/21% – with the annualised % roughly in line with the figure prior to the SOI announcement, suggesting a positive remedy to the issues raised by the ACCC is expected. The risk/reward looks attractive here.

(link to my insight: ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien)


Skc Co Ltd (011790 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.1bn; Liquidity: $4mn)

SKC has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in KCFT (KCF Technologies) for ₩1tn (US$1bn) from KKR. SKC plans to use about ₩400bn-₩500bn of its own equity capital to fund the transaction with the remaining ₩700bn-₩800bn sourced from debt financing. KKR will make a tidy profit from the deal – in February 2018, it acquired a 100% stake of LS Mtron’s copper foil and thin film business for ₩300bn and renamed it KCFT. 

  • KCFT has the number one market share globally (15% share) for making copper foil and thin film products used in lithium ion battery based EVs. 
  • SK Group is currently the third largest player in the EV batteries and related components/materials in Korea, after LG Chem Ltd (051910 KS) and Samsung Sdi (006400 KS). The acquisition of KCFT should accelerate SK Group’s efforts to vertically integrate the value chain of the lithium ion batteries/components/materials.
  • KCFT’s finances are mainly kept under wraps, however, based on the acquisition price, this suggests 4x P/S and 40x P/E, using estimated sales and net profits in 2018.

(link to  Douglas Kim‘s insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: SKC Acquires KCFT for $1 Billion)


Briefly …

Reportedly LG Corp (003550 KS) plans to sell a 35% or more stake of LG CNS for about ₩1tn. LG CNS is the system integration IT service unit of the LG Group. Douglas believes this sale will provide a positive boost to LG Corp’s share price since it could increase the probability of paying out higher dividends. (link to Douglas’ insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: LG Corp Plans to Sell 35% Stake of LG CNS for About 1 Trillion Won)

M&A – US

United Technologies (UTX US)  (Mkt Cap: $108bn; Liquidity: $100mn)

The market raction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant UTX and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning of the week, has so far been underwhelming. 

  • Robert Sassoon believes the major complicating factor in this situation is that UTX is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price.
  • This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued UTX stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which he assesses should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected.

(link to Robert’s insight: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms)

M&A – EUROPE

Italian Banks

The Italian banking system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A. Yet prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, largely due to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically.

(link to Victor’s insight: Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

  • Three weeks have now elapsed since the Offer for Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) was extended. That means shareholders who had previously tendered are now entitled to withdraw their acceptances, if they so choose, which takes about 10 days. I estimate ~9.2mn shares have additionally tendered since the extension, or 1.4%, giving a total acceptance level of 87.2%. But, 9.5mn shares or ~1.4% have now moved back into CCASS – which appear to be shares to be withdrawn. Shares closed Friday at $4.41, the lowest since the extension announcement. ~5.8% of issued shares have changed hands since the extension, more than enough for the deal to get up.

  • Shortly after publishing my insight, Netcomm Wireless (NTC AU) released the supplementary disclosure. The directors reaffirm their recommendation to vote for the Scheme. The disclosure sought to clarify how the directors can recommend the Offer yet maintain a bright future. In short, the directors consider the Scheme crystalises value now. There doesn’t appear to be any news out of the ordinary here. But delaying the vote so as to make this disclosure is unusual. Shares closed firm at $1.08 compared to the $1.10/share Scheme Offer. The Scheme Meeting will be held on the 18th June.

  • Indofood Agri Resources (IFAR SP) issued a notice which simply reiterates the final Offer Price and the closing date (25 June – 60th day from dispatch). No update to the % tendered was provided.

  • DuluxGroup Ltd (DLX AU)‘s Scheme Meeting will be held on the 31 July.

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

RMH (8437 HK)
59.67%
UBS
Pacific Found
33.93%
HSBC
CCB
22.15%
HK Stock Link
Citi
12.19%
China Int
Outside CCASS
23.08%
Yuet
Outside CCASS
Ever Sunshine (1995 HK)
18.68%
BOCI
Outside CCASS
12.00%
Ever Joy
Outside CCASS
27.43%
Hang Seng
Outside CCASS
10.00%
Kingston
Satinu
19.00%
Morgan Stanley
Outside CCASS
15.01%
HSBC
Outside CCASS
14.81%
JPM
Outside CCASS
Source: HKEx

For the past fifteen months, I’ve flagged 345 large moves (>10%) in my weekly Event SPACE insights. So I analysed those moves across 112 brokers. Some of the observations include:

  • Overall, 50% of stocks demonstrating a large CCASS movement underperformed the HSI in the first week after the share transfer, which is neither here nor there, however, this number gradually increased over time, touching 70% one-year after the share transfer.
  • Share transfers involving stocks with a market capitalisation of less than US$250mn AND between US$500mn to US$1bn, were the worst performers, in absolute terms and relative to the HSI.
  • When combining the % CCASS change and market capitalisation, stocks with a market capitalisation in excess of US$1bn at the time of the shares transferred displayed a reduced tendency to underperform. 

(link to my insight: CCASS: Why Large Moves Matter Redux)

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Brief M&A: Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech
  2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

Cl

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) (Mkt Cap: $20.7bn; Liquidity: $234mn)

The Huatai Sec GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expected.  Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

  • There is widespread scepticism as to why the deal needs to be done in the first place, and that gives many people some pause. Because of the discount and the liquidity on the A-shares, and the fact that the low end priced at a four to five year low, the margin of safety people perceive is quite high. 
  • There is a lot of talk about how the shares haven’t seen the bottom end price even in the trough post June 2015 A-share crash so that provides a kind of “virtual floor” at around RMB 14/share. The 2015 low price of around RMB 14/share in late Q3 early Q4 2015, was almost exactly one year after they were trading at RMB 8/share in 2014 before the margin-trading bubble-induced runup. 
  • Travis Lundy is bullish the GDRs Huatai Securities Co Ltd (HTSC LI) and not necessarily the A shares. He thinks the trade will end up making money for people, whether perfectly hedged or not. As of now, he would expect some softness in the As on the unwind. He also expected those with patience to go past 140 days could see the As rebound a bit after everyone assumes the GDR converters are out of their trade.

(link to Travis’ insight: Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher)

STUBS & HOLDCOS

Hanjin Kal Corp (180640 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $95mn)

KCGI has accumulated 15.95% in Hanjin at a cost of ₩270bn, the last 1% at a 5.3% premium to last close. KCGI appears to be angling for management takeover. The question is whether the Cho family – holding 28.93% of the common shares and 3.02% of the prefs – are willing/forced sellers. And there are also rumours Mirae is asking KCGI for full repayment on ₩40bn worth of stock collateral loans.

  • Cho Yang-ho, the patriarch of the Cho family, passed away on the 8 April. Inheritance tax is calculated based on the closing prices of shares held two months either side of the death. Together with inheritable real estate assets, Sanghyun Park calculates a total tax bill of  ₩230~240bn.
  • But that need not be paid at once, and can be paid over 5 years, with that clock starting in October. Taking into account Cho’s severance pay (net of inheritance tax) and stock collateral loans (up to 50% of their stock value), there doesn’t appear to be any urgency on the Cho family’s behalf to unload shares in Hanjin Kal to foot the tax bill.
  • At the time of Sanghyun’s note, Hanjin Kal was trading at a 28% premium to NAV. The trade approach was pretty straightforward – short it. That was the right call. I see the premium now at 6%.

links to Sanghyun’s insights: 
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: KCGI’s Takeover Attempt Is Tougher than Previously Appeared
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: Market Wide Shorting Looming

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Vocus Communications (VOC AU)  (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $10mn)

Vocus has announced it has received an A$3.02bn (US$2.1bn) non-binding, indicative proposal from Aussie energy outfit AGL Energy Ltd (AGL AU) by way of a Scheme, at A$4.85/share in cash, a 26.63% premium to last close. This proposal arrives one week after Swedish PE outfit EQT and Vocus terminated takeover talks – and just two weeks since that lofty $5.25/share indicative offer was first announced.

  • For EQT’s “hairy” pre-event proposal, I said that there was value; and there (potentially) were/are multiple players out there who could look at this situation, given Vocus’ fibre network offers efficient scale characteristics.
  • AGL views Vocus as providing a stronger product set/mix to its customers in the long-term. The opposing view is that AGL is getting desperate in the face of increased scrutiny of its electricity prices forcing a shift away from its core competence. AGL was down 7.2% on the news, although this was probably compounded by a reduced profit guidance announcement after an extended unit outage.
  • IF a deal does get done – this may complete around mid-November. That remains a big “IF”. Currently trading at A$4.36, which shows a return/risk of 11% up to the indicative offer vs. 12% down, roughly similar to where shares traded in response to EQT’s proposal.

(link to my insight: AGL Takes A Turn At Vocus)


Cocokara Fine (3098 JP) (Mkt Cap: $1.2bn; Liquidity: $7mn)

Japan’s drugstore industry began a new era of consolidation after a decade of already unprecedented growth at the top. Cocokara Fine, the seventh-ranked drugstore retailer in Japan announced it was not only in talks with fourth-ranked Matsumotokiyoshi (Matsukiyo), as it had already confirmed a month before, but had now also begun negotiations with Sugi Holdings (7649 JP), the sixth largest firm. This was also discussed in Travis’ Insight Cocokara Fine は Cocokara いいね.

  • Unlike supermarkets and home centres, drugstore consolidation is not just about melding regional power into a national chain but is also about the additional pressure to acquire share in drugstore merchandise categories where the acquirer is weak. 
  • Michael Causton believes a merger between Sugi and Cocokara Fine is a natural fit because of the synergistic regional coverage but also their differing merchandise strengths. But, Matsukiyo also needs to acquire or merge, and fast. While it has stores in 45 of 47 prefectures, its presence outside the Tokyo region is minimal and it has dropped from first place to fourth in just three years, with even more headwinds going forward.
  • If there is a two or three-way merger, Aeon and Tsuruha are unlikely to stand still since even just a Sugi/Cocokara deal would create a new sector leader by sales. Aeon and Tsuruha already work together on sourcing and private brands through the Aeon-led Hapicom buying group. If the pressure builds and Aeon tries to force a merger on Tsuruha as it did with CFS in 2007-8, Tsuruha and Matsukiyo may find common cause and arrange partial merger.

(link to Michael’s insight: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan)


Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) (Mkt Cap: $302mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Although the release of the ACCC’s Statement of Issues (SOI) is less than ideal development in the Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) / Ruralco merger – an informal clearance from the ACCC would have been preferable – it was not an unforeseen development, nor is it viewed as a deal breaker. The ACCC’s concerns are not definitive or strongly worded, therefore the possibility of a formal clearance remains. But on balance, my read is that there is sufficient weight surrounding merchandising issues such that a divestment of stores is likely required for this deal to get up.

  • The ACCC highlighted 7 areas (one each in WA and NSW, two in Queensland and three in the Northern Territories) where the remaining competition – subsequent to a successful merger – is limited. The ACCC also flagged some regional centres only source wholesale supplied from either Ruralco or Nutrien. This may lead to the amalgamated company discriminating on prices and supplies to stores within its own network compared to independent stores in the same catchment.

  • To this, Nutrien could lodge a proposed undertaking with the ACCC to divest certain stores in the 7 highlighted (by the ACCC) catchments to address competition concerns. Such a submission would likely be premised on the ACCC accepting the court-enforceable divestment proposal, and a rescheduled Scheme Meeting could probably be reconvened in around a month after the undertaking proposal. Should this transpire, I would expect no change to the Scheme Offer Price.
  • Currently trading at a gross/annualised spread of 5.5%/21% – with the annualised % roughly in line with the figure prior to the SOI announcement, suggesting a positive remedy to the issues raised by the ACCC is expected. The risk/reward looks attractive here.

(link to my insight: ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien)


Skc Co Ltd (011790 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.1bn; Liquidity: $4mn)

SKC has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in KCFT (KCF Technologies) for ₩1tn (US$1bn) from KKR. SKC plans to use about ₩400bn-₩500bn of its own equity capital to fund the transaction with the remaining ₩700bn-₩800bn sourced from debt financing. KKR will make a tidy profit from the deal – in February 2018, it acquired a 100% stake of LS Mtron’s copper foil and thin film business for ₩300bn and renamed it KCFT. 

  • KCFT has the number one market share globally (15% share) for making copper foil and thin film products used in lithium ion battery based EVs. 
  • SK Group is currently the third largest player in the EV batteries and related components/materials in Korea, after LG Chem Ltd (051910 KS) and Samsung Sdi (006400 KS). The acquisition of KCFT should accelerate SK Group’s efforts to vertically integrate the value chain of the lithium ion batteries/components/materials.
  • KCFT’s finances are mainly kept under wraps, however, based on the acquisition price, this suggests 4x P/S and 40x P/E, using estimated sales and net profits in 2018.

(link to  Douglas Kim‘s insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: SKC Acquires KCFT for $1 Billion)


Briefly …

Reportedly LG Corp (003550 KS) plans to sell a 35% or more stake of LG CNS for about ₩1tn. LG CNS is the system integration IT service unit of the LG Group. Douglas believes this sale will provide a positive boost to LG Corp’s share price since it could increase the probability of paying out higher dividends. (link to Douglas’ insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: LG Corp Plans to Sell 35% Stake of LG CNS for About 1 Trillion Won)

M&A – US

United Technologies (UTX US)  (Mkt Cap: $108bn; Liquidity: $100mn)

The market raction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant UTX and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning of the week, has so far been underwhelming. 

  • Robert Sassoon believes the major complicating factor in this situation is that UTX is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price.
  • This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued UTX stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which he assesses should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected.

(link to Robert’s insight: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms)

M&A – EUROPE

Italian Banks

The Italian banking system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A. Yet prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, largely due to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically.

(link to Victor’s insight: Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

  • Three weeks have now elapsed since the Offer for Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) was extended. That means shareholders who had previously tendered are now entitled to withdraw their acceptances, if they so choose, which takes about 10 days. I estimate ~9.2mn shares have additionally tendered since the extension, or 1.4%, giving a total acceptance level of 87.2%. But, 9.5mn shares or ~1.4% have now moved back into CCASS – which appear to be shares to be withdrawn. Shares closed Friday at $4.41, the lowest since the extension announcement. ~5.8% of issued shares have changed hands since the extension, more than enough for the deal to get up.

  • Shortly after publishing my insight, Netcomm Wireless (NTC AU) released the supplementary disclosure. The directors reaffirm their recommendation to vote for the Scheme. The disclosure sought to clarify how the directors can recommend the Offer yet maintain a bright future. In short, the directors consider the Scheme crystalises value now. There doesn’t appear to be any news out of the ordinary here. But delaying the vote so as to make this disclosure is unusual. Shares closed firm at $1.08 compared to the $1.10/share Scheme Offer. The Scheme Meeting will be held on the 18th June.

  • Indofood Agri Resources (IFAR SP) issued a notice which simply reiterates the final Offer Price and the closing date (25 June – 60th day from dispatch). No update to the % tendered was provided.

  • DuluxGroup Ltd (DLX AU)‘s Scheme Meeting will be held on the 31 July.

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

RMH (8437 HK)
59.67%
UBS
Pacific Found
33.93%
HSBC
CCB
22.15%
HK Stock Link
Citi
12.19%
China Int
Outside CCASS
23.08%
Yuet
Outside CCASS
Ever Sunshine (1995 HK)
18.68%
BOCI
Outside CCASS
12.00%
Ever Joy
Outside CCASS
27.43%
Hang Seng
Outside CCASS
10.00%
Kingston
Satinu
19.00%
Morgan Stanley
Outside CCASS
15.01%
HSBC
Outside CCASS
14.81%
JPM
Outside CCASS
Source: HKEx

For the past fifteen months, I’ve flagged 345 large moves (>10%) in my weekly Event SPACE insights. So I analysed those moves across 112 brokers. Some of the observations include:

  • Overall, 50% of stocks demonstrating a large CCASS movement underperformed the HSI in the first week after the share transfer, which is neither here nor there, however, this number gradually increased over time, touching 70% one-year after the share transfer.
  • Share transfers involving stocks with a market capitalisation of less than US$250mn AND between US$500mn to US$1bn, were the worst performers, in absolute terms and relative to the HSI.
  • When combining the % CCASS change and market capitalisation, stocks with a market capitalisation in excess of US$1bn at the time of the shares transferred displayed a reduced tendency to underperform. 

(link to my insight: CCASS: Why Large Moves Matter Redux)

2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

Utx3

Reaction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant United Technologies (UTX US) and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning iof the week, has so far been met with an underwhelming reaction by the market.  While the strategic rationale for the deal sounds reasonable to us (although we acknowledge that our viewpoint is not universally accepted). Nor do we have any qualms about the terms of the offer.  So what is the issue here?

We believe the major complicating factor in this situation is that United Technologies is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price. This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued United Technologies stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which we assess should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected. Below, we offer a detailed assessment of how we arrive at this conclusion.  

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Brief M&A: Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech
  2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms
  3. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher

1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

Cl

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) (Mkt Cap: $20.7bn; Liquidity: $234mn)

The Huatai Sec GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expected.  Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

  • There is widespread scepticism as to why the deal needs to be done in the first place, and that gives many people some pause. Because of the discount and the liquidity on the A-shares, and the fact that the low end priced at a four to five year low, the margin of safety people perceive is quite high. 
  • There is a lot of talk about how the shares haven’t seen the bottom end price even in the trough post June 2015 A-share crash so that provides a kind of “virtual floor” at around RMB 14/share. The 2015 low price of around RMB 14/share in late Q3 early Q4 2015, was almost exactly one year after they were trading at RMB 8/share in 2014 before the margin-trading bubble-induced runup. 
  • Travis Lundy is bullish the GDRs Huatai Securities Co Ltd (HTSC LI) and not necessarily the A shares. He thinks the trade will end up making money for people, whether perfectly hedged or not. As of now, he would expect some softness in the As on the unwind. He also expected those with patience to go past 140 days could see the As rebound a bit after everyone assumes the GDR converters are out of their trade.

(link to Travis’ insight: Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher)

STUBS & HOLDCOS

Hanjin Kal Corp (180640 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $95mn)

KCGI has accumulated 15.95% in Hanjin at a cost of ₩270bn, the last 1% at a 5.3% premium to last close. KCGI appears to be angling for management takeover. The question is whether the Cho family – holding 28.93% of the common shares and 3.02% of the prefs – are willing/forced sellers. And there are also rumours Mirae is asking KCGI for full repayment on ₩40bn worth of stock collateral loans.

  • Cho Yang-ho, the patriarch of the Cho family, passed away on the 8 April. Inheritance tax is calculated based on the closing prices of shares held two months either side of the death. Together with inheritable real estate assets, Sanghyun Park calculates a total tax bill of  ₩230~240bn.
  • But that need not be paid at once, and can be paid over 5 years, with that clock starting in October. Taking into account Cho’s severance pay (net of inheritance tax) and stock collateral loans (up to 50% of their stock value), there doesn’t appear to be any urgency on the Cho family’s behalf to unload shares in Hanjin Kal to foot the tax bill.
  • At the time of Sanghyun’s note, Hanjin Kal was trading at a 28% premium to NAV. The trade approach was pretty straightforward – short it. That was the right call. I see the premium now at 6%.

links to Sanghyun’s insights: 
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: KCGI’s Takeover Attempt Is Tougher than Previously Appeared
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: Market Wide Shorting Looming

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Vocus Communications (VOC AU)  (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $10mn)

Vocus has announced it has received an A$3.02bn (US$2.1bn) non-binding, indicative proposal from Aussie energy outfit AGL Energy Ltd (AGL AU) by way of a Scheme, at A$4.85/share in cash, a 26.63% premium to last close. This proposal arrives one week after Swedish PE outfit EQT and Vocus terminated takeover talks – and just two weeks since that lofty $5.25/share indicative offer was first announced.

  • For EQT’s “hairy” pre-event proposal, I said that there was value; and there (potentially) were/are multiple players out there who could look at this situation, given Vocus’ fibre network offers efficient scale characteristics.
  • AGL views Vocus as providing a stronger product set/mix to its customers in the long-term. The opposing view is that AGL is getting desperate in the face of increased scrutiny of its electricity prices forcing a shift away from its core competence. AGL was down 7.2% on the news, although this was probably compounded by a reduced profit guidance announcement after an extended unit outage.
  • IF a deal does get done – this may complete around mid-November. That remains a big “IF”. Currently trading at A$4.36, which shows a return/risk of 11% up to the indicative offer vs. 12% down, roughly similar to where shares traded in response to EQT’s proposal.

(link to my insight: AGL Takes A Turn At Vocus)


Cocokara Fine (3098 JP) (Mkt Cap: $1.2bn; Liquidity: $7mn)

Japan’s drugstore industry began a new era of consolidation after a decade of already unprecedented growth at the top. Cocokara Fine, the seventh-ranked drugstore retailer in Japan announced it was not only in talks with fourth-ranked Matsumotokiyoshi (Matsukiyo), as it had already confirmed a month before, but had now also begun negotiations with Sugi Holdings (7649 JP), the sixth largest firm. This was also discussed in Travis’ Insight Cocokara Fine は Cocokara いいね.

  • Unlike supermarkets and home centres, drugstore consolidation is not just about melding regional power into a national chain but is also about the additional pressure to acquire share in drugstore merchandise categories where the acquirer is weak. 
  • Michael Causton believes a merger between Sugi and Cocokara Fine is a natural fit because of the synergistic regional coverage but also their differing merchandise strengths. But, Matsukiyo also needs to acquire or merge, and fast. While it has stores in 45 of 47 prefectures, its presence outside the Tokyo region is minimal and it has dropped from first place to fourth in just three years, with even more headwinds going forward.
  • If there is a two or three-way merger, Aeon and Tsuruha are unlikely to stand still since even just a Sugi/Cocokara deal would create a new sector leader by sales. Aeon and Tsuruha already work together on sourcing and private brands through the Aeon-led Hapicom buying group. If the pressure builds and Aeon tries to force a merger on Tsuruha as it did with CFS in 2007-8, Tsuruha and Matsukiyo may find common cause and arrange partial merger.

(link to Michael’s insight: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan)


Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) (Mkt Cap: $302mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Although the release of the ACCC’s Statement of Issues (SOI) is less than ideal development in the Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) / Ruralco merger – an informal clearance from the ACCC would have been preferable – it was not an unforeseen development, nor is it viewed as a deal breaker. The ACCC’s concerns are not definitive or strongly worded, therefore the possibility of a formal clearance remains. But on balance, my read is that there is sufficient weight surrounding merchandising issues such that a divestment of stores is likely required for this deal to get up.

  • The ACCC highlighted 7 areas (one each in WA and NSW, two in Queensland and three in the Northern Territories) where the remaining competition – subsequent to a successful merger – is limited. The ACCC also flagged some regional centres only source wholesale supplied from either Ruralco or Nutrien. This may lead to the amalgamated company discriminating on prices and supplies to stores within its own network compared to independent stores in the same catchment.

  • To this, Nutrien could lodge a proposed undertaking with the ACCC to divest certain stores in the 7 highlighted (by the ACCC) catchments to address competition concerns. Such a submission would likely be premised on the ACCC accepting the court-enforceable divestment proposal, and a rescheduled Scheme Meeting could probably be reconvened in around a month after the undertaking proposal. Should this transpire, I would expect no change to the Scheme Offer Price.
  • Currently trading at a gross/annualised spread of 5.5%/21% – with the annualised % roughly in line with the figure prior to the SOI announcement, suggesting a positive remedy to the issues raised by the ACCC is expected. The risk/reward looks attractive here.

(link to my insight: ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien)


Skc Co Ltd (011790 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.1bn; Liquidity: $4mn)

SKC has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in KCFT (KCF Technologies) for ₩1tn (US$1bn) from KKR. SKC plans to use about ₩400bn-₩500bn of its own equity capital to fund the transaction with the remaining ₩700bn-₩800bn sourced from debt financing. KKR will make a tidy profit from the deal – in February 2018, it acquired a 100% stake of LS Mtron’s copper foil and thin film business for ₩300bn and renamed it KCFT. 

  • KCFT has the number one market share globally (15% share) for making copper foil and thin film products used in lithium ion battery based EVs. 
  • SK Group is currently the third largest player in the EV batteries and related components/materials in Korea, after LG Chem Ltd (051910 KS) and Samsung Sdi (006400 KS). The acquisition of KCFT should accelerate SK Group’s efforts to vertically integrate the value chain of the lithium ion batteries/components/materials.
  • KCFT’s finances are mainly kept under wraps, however, based on the acquisition price, this suggests 4x P/S and 40x P/E, using estimated sales and net profits in 2018.

(link to  Douglas Kim‘s insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: SKC Acquires KCFT for $1 Billion)


Briefly …

Reportedly LG Corp (003550 KS) plans to sell a 35% or more stake of LG CNS for about ₩1tn. LG CNS is the system integration IT service unit of the LG Group. Douglas believes this sale will provide a positive boost to LG Corp’s share price since it could increase the probability of paying out higher dividends. (link to Douglas’ insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: LG Corp Plans to Sell 35% Stake of LG CNS for About 1 Trillion Won)

M&A – US

United Technologies (UTX US)  (Mkt Cap: $108bn; Liquidity: $100mn)

The market raction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant UTX and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning of the week, has so far been underwhelming. 

  • Robert Sassoon believes the major complicating factor in this situation is that UTX is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price.
  • This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued UTX stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which he assesses should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected.

(link to Robert’s insight: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms)

M&A – EUROPE

Italian Banks

The Italian banking system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A. Yet prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, largely due to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically.

(link to Victor’s insight: Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

  • Three weeks have now elapsed since the Offer for Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) was extended. That means shareholders who had previously tendered are now entitled to withdraw their acceptances, if they so choose, which takes about 10 days. I estimate ~9.2mn shares have additionally tendered since the extension, or 1.4%, giving a total acceptance level of 87.2%. But, 9.5mn shares or ~1.4% have now moved back into CCASS – which appear to be shares to be withdrawn. Shares closed Friday at $4.41, the lowest since the extension announcement. ~5.8% of issued shares have changed hands since the extension, more than enough for the deal to get up.

  • Shortly after publishing my insight, Netcomm Wireless (NTC AU) released the supplementary disclosure. The directors reaffirm their recommendation to vote for the Scheme. The disclosure sought to clarify how the directors can recommend the Offer yet maintain a bright future. In short, the directors consider the Scheme crystalises value now. There doesn’t appear to be any news out of the ordinary here. But delaying the vote so as to make this disclosure is unusual. Shares closed firm at $1.08 compared to the $1.10/share Scheme Offer. The Scheme Meeting will be held on the 18th June.

  • Indofood Agri Resources (IFAR SP) issued a notice which simply reiterates the final Offer Price and the closing date (25 June – 60th day from dispatch). No update to the % tendered was provided.

  • DuluxGroup Ltd (DLX AU)‘s Scheme Meeting will be held on the 31 July.

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

RMH (8437 HK)
59.67%
UBS
Pacific Found
33.93%
HSBC
CCB
22.15%
HK Stock Link
Citi
12.19%
China Int
Outside CCASS
23.08%
Yuet
Outside CCASS
Ever Sunshine (1995 HK)
18.68%
BOCI
Outside CCASS
12.00%
Ever Joy
Outside CCASS
27.43%
Hang Seng
Outside CCASS
10.00%
Kingston
Satinu
19.00%
Morgan Stanley
Outside CCASS
15.01%
HSBC
Outside CCASS
14.81%
JPM
Outside CCASS
Source: HKEx

For the past fifteen months, I’ve flagged 345 large moves (>10%) in my weekly Event SPACE insights. So I analysed those moves across 112 brokers. Some of the observations include:

  • Overall, 50% of stocks demonstrating a large CCASS movement underperformed the HSI in the first week after the share transfer, which is neither here nor there, however, this number gradually increased over time, touching 70% one-year after the share transfer.
  • Share transfers involving stocks with a market capitalisation of less than US$250mn AND between US$500mn to US$1bn, were the worst performers, in absolute terms and relative to the HSI.
  • When combining the % CCASS change and market capitalisation, stocks with a market capitalisation in excess of US$1bn at the time of the shares transferred displayed a reduced tendency to underperform. 

(link to my insight: CCASS: Why Large Moves Matter Redux)

2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

Utx3

Reaction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant United Technologies (UTX US) and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning iof the week, has so far been met with an underwhelming reaction by the market.  While the strategic rationale for the deal sounds reasonable to us (although we acknowledge that our viewpoint is not universally accepted). Nor do we have any qualms about the terms of the offer.  So what is the issue here?

We believe the major complicating factor in this situation is that United Technologies is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price. This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued United Technologies stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which we assess should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected. Below, we offer a detailed assessment of how we arrive at this conclusion.  

3. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher

Screenshot%202019 06 14%20at%205.03.40%20pm

The Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expect. 

The deal apparently got moved up to Thursday night the 13th.

Then it got moved back to today.

Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

The deal now prices today for trading starting on the 20th of June. 

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Brief M&A: Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech
  2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms
  3. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher
  4. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien

1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Huatai Securities, Hanjin Kal, Vocus, Cocokara, Ruralco, SKC, United Tech

Cl

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) (Mkt Cap: $20.7bn; Liquidity: $234mn)

The Huatai Sec GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expected.  Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

  • There is widespread scepticism as to why the deal needs to be done in the first place, and that gives many people some pause. Because of the discount and the liquidity on the A-shares, and the fact that the low end priced at a four to five year low, the margin of safety people perceive is quite high. 
  • There is a lot of talk about how the shares haven’t seen the bottom end price even in the trough post June 2015 A-share crash so that provides a kind of “virtual floor” at around RMB 14/share. The 2015 low price of around RMB 14/share in late Q3 early Q4 2015, was almost exactly one year after they were trading at RMB 8/share in 2014 before the margin-trading bubble-induced runup. 
  • Travis Lundy is bullish the GDRs Huatai Securities Co Ltd (HTSC LI) and not necessarily the A shares. He thinks the trade will end up making money for people, whether perfectly hedged or not. As of now, he would expect some softness in the As on the unwind. He also expected those with patience to go past 140 days could see the As rebound a bit after everyone assumes the GDR converters are out of their trade.

(link to Travis’ insight: Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher)

STUBS & HOLDCOS

Hanjin Kal Corp (180640 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $95mn)

KCGI has accumulated 15.95% in Hanjin at a cost of ₩270bn, the last 1% at a 5.3% premium to last close. KCGI appears to be angling for management takeover. The question is whether the Cho family – holding 28.93% of the common shares and 3.02% of the prefs – are willing/forced sellers. And there are also rumours Mirae is asking KCGI for full repayment on ₩40bn worth of stock collateral loans.

  • Cho Yang-ho, the patriarch of the Cho family, passed away on the 8 April. Inheritance tax is calculated based on the closing prices of shares held two months either side of the death. Together with inheritable real estate assets, Sanghyun Park calculates a total tax bill of  ₩230~240bn.
  • But that need not be paid at once, and can be paid over 5 years, with that clock starting in October. Taking into account Cho’s severance pay (net of inheritance tax) and stock collateral loans (up to 50% of their stock value), there doesn’t appear to be any urgency on the Cho family’s behalf to unload shares in Hanjin Kal to foot the tax bill.
  • At the time of Sanghyun’s note, Hanjin Kal was trading at a 28% premium to NAV. The trade approach was pretty straightforward – short it. That was the right call. I see the premium now at 6%.

links to Sanghyun’s insights: 
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: KCGI’s Takeover Attempt Is Tougher than Previously Appeared
Hanjin Kal Special Situation: Market Wide Shorting Looming

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Vocus Communications (VOC AU)  (Mkt Cap: $1.9bn; Liquidity: $10mn)

Vocus has announced it has received an A$3.02bn (US$2.1bn) non-binding, indicative proposal from Aussie energy outfit AGL Energy Ltd (AGL AU) by way of a Scheme, at A$4.85/share in cash, a 26.63% premium to last close. This proposal arrives one week after Swedish PE outfit EQT and Vocus terminated takeover talks – and just two weeks since that lofty $5.25/share indicative offer was first announced.

  • For EQT’s “hairy” pre-event proposal, I said that there was value; and there (potentially) were/are multiple players out there who could look at this situation, given Vocus’ fibre network offers efficient scale characteristics.
  • AGL views Vocus as providing a stronger product set/mix to its customers in the long-term. The opposing view is that AGL is getting desperate in the face of increased scrutiny of its electricity prices forcing a shift away from its core competence. AGL was down 7.2% on the news, although this was probably compounded by a reduced profit guidance announcement after an extended unit outage.
  • IF a deal does get done – this may complete around mid-November. That remains a big “IF”. Currently trading at A$4.36, which shows a return/risk of 11% up to the indicative offer vs. 12% down, roughly similar to where shares traded in response to EQT’s proposal.

(link to my insight: AGL Takes A Turn At Vocus)


Cocokara Fine (3098 JP) (Mkt Cap: $1.2bn; Liquidity: $7mn)

Japan’s drugstore industry began a new era of consolidation after a decade of already unprecedented growth at the top. Cocokara Fine, the seventh-ranked drugstore retailer in Japan announced it was not only in talks with fourth-ranked Matsumotokiyoshi (Matsukiyo), as it had already confirmed a month before, but had now also begun negotiations with Sugi Holdings (7649 JP), the sixth largest firm. This was also discussed in Travis’ Insight Cocokara Fine は Cocokara いいね.

  • Unlike supermarkets and home centres, drugstore consolidation is not just about melding regional power into a national chain but is also about the additional pressure to acquire share in drugstore merchandise categories where the acquirer is weak. 
  • Michael Causton believes a merger between Sugi and Cocokara Fine is a natural fit because of the synergistic regional coverage but also their differing merchandise strengths. But, Matsukiyo also needs to acquire or merge, and fast. While it has stores in 45 of 47 prefectures, its presence outside the Tokyo region is minimal and it has dropped from first place to fourth in just three years, with even more headwinds going forward.
  • If there is a two or three-way merger, Aeon and Tsuruha are unlikely to stand still since even just a Sugi/Cocokara deal would create a new sector leader by sales. Aeon and Tsuruha already work together on sourcing and private brands through the Aeon-led Hapicom buying group. If the pressure builds and Aeon tries to force a merger on Tsuruha as it did with CFS in 2007-8, Tsuruha and Matsukiyo may find common cause and arrange partial merger.

(link to Michael’s insight: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan)


Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) (Mkt Cap: $302mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Although the release of the ACCC’s Statement of Issues (SOI) is less than ideal development in the Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) / Ruralco merger – an informal clearance from the ACCC would have been preferable – it was not an unforeseen development, nor is it viewed as a deal breaker. The ACCC’s concerns are not definitive or strongly worded, therefore the possibility of a formal clearance remains. But on balance, my read is that there is sufficient weight surrounding merchandising issues such that a divestment of stores is likely required for this deal to get up.

  • The ACCC highlighted 7 areas (one each in WA and NSW, two in Queensland and three in the Northern Territories) where the remaining competition – subsequent to a successful merger – is limited. The ACCC also flagged some regional centres only source wholesale supplied from either Ruralco or Nutrien. This may lead to the amalgamated company discriminating on prices and supplies to stores within its own network compared to independent stores in the same catchment.

  • To this, Nutrien could lodge a proposed undertaking with the ACCC to divest certain stores in the 7 highlighted (by the ACCC) catchments to address competition concerns. Such a submission would likely be premised on the ACCC accepting the court-enforceable divestment proposal, and a rescheduled Scheme Meeting could probably be reconvened in around a month after the undertaking proposal. Should this transpire, I would expect no change to the Scheme Offer Price.
  • Currently trading at a gross/annualised spread of 5.5%/21% – with the annualised % roughly in line with the figure prior to the SOI announcement, suggesting a positive remedy to the issues raised by the ACCC is expected. The risk/reward looks attractive here.

(link to my insight: ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien)


Skc Co Ltd (011790 KS) (Mkt Cap: $1.1bn; Liquidity: $4mn)

SKC has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in KCFT (KCF Technologies) for ₩1tn (US$1bn) from KKR. SKC plans to use about ₩400bn-₩500bn of its own equity capital to fund the transaction with the remaining ₩700bn-₩800bn sourced from debt financing. KKR will make a tidy profit from the deal – in February 2018, it acquired a 100% stake of LS Mtron’s copper foil and thin film business for ₩300bn and renamed it KCFT. 

  • KCFT has the number one market share globally (15% share) for making copper foil and thin film products used in lithium ion battery based EVs. 
  • SK Group is currently the third largest player in the EV batteries and related components/materials in Korea, after LG Chem Ltd (051910 KS) and Samsung Sdi (006400 KS). The acquisition of KCFT should accelerate SK Group’s efforts to vertically integrate the value chain of the lithium ion batteries/components/materials.
  • KCFT’s finances are mainly kept under wraps, however, based on the acquisition price, this suggests 4x P/S and 40x P/E, using estimated sales and net profits in 2018.

(link to  Douglas Kim‘s insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: SKC Acquires KCFT for $1 Billion)


Briefly …

Reportedly LG Corp (003550 KS) plans to sell a 35% or more stake of LG CNS for about ₩1tn. LG CNS is the system integration IT service unit of the LG Group. Douglas believes this sale will provide a positive boost to LG Corp’s share price since it could increase the probability of paying out higher dividends. (link to Douglas’ insight: Korea M&A Spotlight: LG Corp Plans to Sell 35% Stake of LG CNS for About 1 Trillion Won)

M&A – US

United Technologies (UTX US)  (Mkt Cap: $108bn; Liquidity: $100mn)

The market raction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant UTX and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning of the week, has so far been underwhelming. 

  • Robert Sassoon believes the major complicating factor in this situation is that UTX is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price.
  • This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued UTX stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which he assesses should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected.

(link to Robert’s insight: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms)

M&A – EUROPE

Italian Banks

The Italian banking system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A. Yet prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, largely due to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically.

(link to Victor’s insight: Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

  • Three weeks have now elapsed since the Offer for Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) was extended. That means shareholders who had previously tendered are now entitled to withdraw their acceptances, if they so choose, which takes about 10 days. I estimate ~9.2mn shares have additionally tendered since the extension, or 1.4%, giving a total acceptance level of 87.2%. But, 9.5mn shares or ~1.4% have now moved back into CCASS – which appear to be shares to be withdrawn. Shares closed Friday at $4.41, the lowest since the extension announcement. ~5.8% of issued shares have changed hands since the extension, more than enough for the deal to get up.

  • Shortly after publishing my insight, Netcomm Wireless (NTC AU) released the supplementary disclosure. The directors reaffirm their recommendation to vote for the Scheme. The disclosure sought to clarify how the directors can recommend the Offer yet maintain a bright future. In short, the directors consider the Scheme crystalises value now. There doesn’t appear to be any news out of the ordinary here. But delaying the vote so as to make this disclosure is unusual. Shares closed firm at $1.08 compared to the $1.10/share Scheme Offer. The Scheme Meeting will be held on the 18th June.

  • Indofood Agri Resources (IFAR SP) issued a notice which simply reiterates the final Offer Price and the closing date (25 June – 60th day from dispatch). No update to the % tendered was provided.

  • DuluxGroup Ltd (DLX AU)‘s Scheme Meeting will be held on the 31 July.

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

RMH (8437 HK)
59.67%
UBS
Pacific Found
33.93%
HSBC
CCB
22.15%
HK Stock Link
Citi
12.19%
China Int
Outside CCASS
23.08%
Yuet
Outside CCASS
Ever Sunshine (1995 HK)
18.68%
BOCI
Outside CCASS
12.00%
Ever Joy
Outside CCASS
27.43%
Hang Seng
Outside CCASS
10.00%
Kingston
Satinu
19.00%
Morgan Stanley
Outside CCASS
15.01%
HSBC
Outside CCASS
14.81%
JPM
Outside CCASS
Source: HKEx

For the past fifteen months, I’ve flagged 345 large moves (>10%) in my weekly Event SPACE insights. So I analysed those moves across 112 brokers. Some of the observations include:

  • Overall, 50% of stocks demonstrating a large CCASS movement underperformed the HSI in the first week after the share transfer, which is neither here nor there, however, this number gradually increased over time, touching 70% one-year after the share transfer.
  • Share transfers involving stocks with a market capitalisation of less than US$250mn AND between US$500mn to US$1bn, were the worst performers, in absolute terms and relative to the HSI.
  • When combining the % CCASS change and market capitalisation, stocks with a market capitalisation in excess of US$1bn at the time of the shares transferred displayed a reduced tendency to underperform. 

(link to my insight: CCASS: Why Large Moves Matter Redux)

2. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

Utx3

Reaction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant United Technologies (UTX US) and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning iof the week, has so far been met with an underwhelming reaction by the market.  While the strategic rationale for the deal sounds reasonable to us (although we acknowledge that our viewpoint is not universally accepted). Nor do we have any qualms about the terms of the offer.  So what is the issue here?

We believe the major complicating factor in this situation is that United Technologies is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price. This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued United Technologies stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which we assess should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected. Below, we offer a detailed assessment of how we arrive at this conclusion.  

3. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher

Screenshot%202019 06 14%20at%205.03.40%20pm

The Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expect. 

The deal apparently got moved up to Thursday night the 13th.

Then it got moved back to today.

Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

The deal now prices today for trading starting on the 20th of June. 

4. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien

Capture%202

On the 27 February, Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) announced it had entered into a Scheme Implementation Deed in which Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) had agreed to take Ruralco private at $4.40/share – a 44% premium to last close and the one-month VWAP. The Offer valued Ruralco at A$469mn and an enterprise value of A$615mn. An interim dividend of A$0.10 (the ex-date was the 30 May) was to be added.

The scheme booklet was dispatched on the 5 June (the IE gave a fair & reasonable opinion), and in addition to requiring shareholder approval at a Scheme Meeting on the 17 July, the deal was contingent on the ACCC either approving the transaction on or around the 13 June; or releasing a Statement of Issues (SOI).

Yesterday, the SOI, raising preliminary competition concerns, was announced.

As expected, the ACCC is assessing the impact on prices, product range and services subsequent to the loss of Ruralco, a major national retail competitor. In addition, it is looking into the reduction of competitors at the wholesale level from the proposed acquisition, and whether the remaining players provide sufficient competition.

The key issue centers on merchandising and the dilution of competition from this transaction. The ACCC had fewer concerns over the amalgamated impact on the agency businesses. 

Ruralco continues to engage with the ACCC and notes the SOI is not a “final decision” and is confident the issues raised can be addressed satisfactorily.

ACCC’s final decision will be made on the 15 August and submissions are required to be submitted by the 27 June. The Scheme Meeting is expected to be delayed.

Shares closed down 3.15% to $4.15 yesterday and currently trade at $4.17, to give a gross spread to terms of 5.5% with an annualised spread of ~21% – assuming a revised late September completion – roughly similar to where the annualised spread was prior to the SOI (and with a then-expected implementation date of 6 August).

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Brief M&A: Last Week in Event SPACE: Chiyoda, Bandai, Unizo, Ascendas, Villa World, Avon, SIE Engineering and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Chiyoda, Bandai, Unizo, Ascendas, Villa World, Avon, SIE Engineering
  2. HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!
  3. Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs
  4. KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup
  5. The CPSE ETF Arb Is Back, but Tighter!

1. Last Week in Event SPACE: Chiyoda, Bandai, Unizo, Ascendas, Villa World, Avon, SIE Engineering

13%20jul%202019

Last Week in Event SPACE …

(This insight covers specific insights & comments involving Stubs, Pairs, Arbitrage, share Classification and Events – or SPACE – in the past week)

EVENTS

Chiyoda Corp (6366 JP)  (Mkt Cap: $729mn; Liquidity: $15mn)

Travis Lundy calculated the total shares to be sold at 48-50m accounting for 20% of outstanding and 30% of float in Chiyoda’s upcoming removal from the Nikkei (and now confirmed – see Travis insight below) and Topix indexes, and referenced the exclusion trades resulted in Toshiba Corp (6502 JP) falling 24% and Sharp Corp (6753 JP) falling 31%. But Mio Kato, CFA feels that the company’s situation could skew the timing compared to what would be “normal”.

  • Mio believes that it may be more interesting to look for a reversion trade in the event that the stock price declines significantly into the exclusion. He feels that the fall may not be quite as steep as that for Toshiba or Sharp. In both Toshiba and Sharp’s cases there was still significant uncertainty surrounding the names as Toshiba had not completed or even announced its capital raise at the time and the sale of its memory subsidiary was still being hotly contested; while in Sharp’s case Hon Hai was playing hardball on deal terms.
  • In contrast, Chiyoda has already secured funding from a very stable and large partner and appears to have kitchen-sinked a lot of assumptions and faces a very bright operational outlook – its problems stem from poor risk management, which Mitsubishi is meant to solve, and not operations. 
  • In addition, due to Chiyoda’s previous operational struggles and write-downs there is already a very significant short base. This could distort the usual timing of the fall in the stock price and the fact that the stock has recovered to just 3.5% below the level prior to more widespread reporting of the exclusion points to this eventuality. It does seem likely that the size of the required sell could push Chiyoda’s price down at some point – Mio argues this could happen much closer to the actual event than usual. If borrow is difficult to come by, there could be money to be made on the other side around the turn of the month.

(link to Mio’s insight: Chiyoda: Risks to the Index Kick-Out Trade and Potential Volatility at Earnings the Next Day)


Bandai Namco Holdings (7832 JP)  (Mkt Cap: $12.6bn; Liquidity: $28mn)

The Nikkei Inc announced its “Changes to the Nikkei Indices” this week  which became inevitable when the Tokyo Stock Exchange announced on the 28th of June that Chiyoda Corp (6366 JP)s yuho (Annual Securities Report) had the company at a negative net worth, requiring a reassignment to the Second Section of the TSE. Nikkei 225 Methodology requires that members be TSE-1 listed. The Announcement surprised people. As expected, Chiyoda is Out – but Bandai is In.  Chiyoda closed down 2.6% on 2mm shares, and Bandai closed limit up +19.3% on 300k shares allocated at the limit on the close.

  • There are still something like 50 million shares of Chiyoda to sell. The significant shorts – which are likely well in excess of the 23+ million shares shown and reported – are likely sourcing a lot of their borrow from the shareholders (passive funds) who have to sell. Those shareholders will have to recall their borrow. Earnings come out the day after the exclusion. I would not want to be short that earnings number. Plus read Mio’s insight above.
  • There should be 27mm shares to buy in Bandai which is about 20% of float. However, if only half the foreigners and only half the individual holders would be willing to sell on a large jump in price in the next few weeks, then the net available to sell is probably closer to 80mm shares and 27mm to buy would be one-third. It’s a lot. Once it gets purchased by Nikkei 225 funds, it won’t come out anytime soon. This stock is likely to get squeezed.
  • Dmg Mori Co Ltd (6141 JP) was flagged by many as a good bet to replace Chiyoda. Since then, roughly 14 million shares of excess volume have traded. If half of that is a real displacement of holdings based on this event, 7mm shares would need to be sold. That is 3% of shares out and 4-5% of float. It is among the larger excess positioning situations in the last five years in the stock. DMG closed -10% on 7.3mm shares in response to the index changes.

(link to Travis’s insight: Nikkei 225 – Bandai Namco IN, Chiyoda OUT)


Kcc Corp (002380 KS)  (Mkt Cap: $2.2bn; Liquidity: $6mn)

KCC will split itself into two companies in the form of an equity spinoff with KCC the surviving company and KCG the new company. KCC will mainly comprise the B2B business (silicone, paint and varnish); KCG will get the B2C business such as glass and interior. An EGM will be held on Nov 13 and shareholder approval can be obtained with 2/3 of attending votes and 1/3 of shares out. Both companies will be listed – KCC on Jan 21 next year, but KCG’s listing date hasn’t been fixed.

  • Typically, demergers serve to streamline a business.  However, the major shareholder retains 40%, which Sanghyun Park considers to be weak. He believes the major shareholder intends to further solidify this controlling stake via a tender, possibly a month after the Jan 21 listing. 

(link to Sanghyun’s insight: KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup)


R* Shares CPSE ETF (CPSEBE IN) 

The ETF is based on the Nifty CPSE index and currently includes 11 listed Central Public Sector Enterprises, declining to 10 after Rural Electrification (RECL IN) was kicked out this past Friday. The sixth tranche of the ETF is expected to open on July 18 to anchor investors and on July 19 to non-anchor investors. The new units are expected to start trading on July 29. The discount on the ETF will be 3%, opening up arbitrage opportunities to investors.

  • The CPSE ETF does not trade big volumes on a regular day. However, there is a huge volume surge following fund offerings as many investors look to flip their allocation back into the market and lock in a profit. The anchor portion was oversubscribed almost 6 times in the last tranche issued in March this year, though the number may be smaller this time with the tighter discount being offered.
  • The ETF will need to buy around 63m shares of Indian Oil Corp (IOCL IN) in the market on July 19. Brian Freitas estimates this number since the Government of India can only sell around 64m shares to the ETF as this will take their stake in the company down to 51.5%, the lowest percentage for the stock to remain in the Nifty CPSE index. Given the stock trades around 13m shares a day on average, he sees 4x of excess volume and expect the stock to rally in the lead up to July 19 and see buying over the day on July 19.

links to Brian’s insights:
The CPSE ETF Arb Is Back, but Tighter!
India – NIFTY CPSE Index Review.

M&A – ASIA-PAC

Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) (Mkt Cap: $913mn; Liquidity: $4mn)

Japan’s premier discount travel agency H I S Co Ltd (9603 JP) on Wednesday announced it would launch a Partial Tender Offer (commencing this past Friday) to purchase a 40+% stake in real estate and hotel business Unizo to raise its stake from ~4.8% to 45.0%. The Tender Offer price is at a 56% premium to the last trade and is at an 18-month high. But, this is a hostile tender.

  • A hostile tender offer by one company upon another conducted without warning, or with warning but without approval, is reasonably rare. In Japan, it is even rarer. This is, however, the second in six months – the first being Itochu Corp (8001 JP)‘s tender offer for shares of Descente Ltd (8114 JP).  HIS has decided to buy 40% of a company it hadn’t talked to. At a 50+% premium. And given this one has hostility AND a longer end date, there is more trading and event optionality than normal.
  • Unizo has several possible responses it could give. The right thing to do would be to establish an independent committee immediately. A rights offering might kill the deal. But it would be fair to investors. A White Knight is not unthinkable. Travis expects the odds are pretty good that Unizo does not have a great defense here. That means the Tender likely goes through.
  • Unless corporate and financial cross-holders tender, the pro-ration could end up being very high.  If crossholders tender, pro-ration goes way down and one is better off just selling everything in the market for a small loss. Travis is bullish that the tender goes through and bullish the profit opportunity. He thinks for the astute arbitrageur, there is a lot of room to play around the ranges here.

(link to Travis’s insight: HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!)


Villa World Ltd (VLW AU)  (Mkt Cap: $203mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

VLW and AVID have (finally) entered into a Scheme Implementation Agreement at A$2.345/share yesterday, which is a 17.8% premium to the unaffected price of $1.99 on 14 March, and an A$0.115 bump over the initial pitch in March. Any final or special dividend paid on or prior to the implementation of the Scheme will reduce the Offer Price. The key nagging issue is Ho Bee Land Ltd (HOBEE SP).

  • Ho Bee, VLW’s largest shareholder and JV partner, responded to AVID’s proposal by buying 2.2mn shares (~1.8% of shares out) at an average of A$2.04/share – and a high of A$2.18/share – lifting its stake to 9.41% on the same day as the initial Offer. Ho Bee further bumped its stake to 10.45% on the 25 March at an average price of A$2.21; and finally, to 11.62% on the 15 April at an average of $2.17. Its overall average in-price is A$1.98/share.
  • Would Ho Bee go to such extreme just to extract another 5% from the Offer? Maybe, but it is a little weird. Ho Bee did not buy over $2.23/share.
  • On balance, this deal should get up. Pricing appears fair with respect to peers. Ho Bee receives a decent premium to its overall average position. This is also not a material holding for Ho Bee – the 11.62% stake is equivalent to ~2% of its market cap – while it remains directly invested in the Melbourne JV.  With a late November/ early December completion, this is trading very tight to terms at 0.6% gross.

(link to my insight: Villa World Greenlights AVID’s Offer)


Ascendas Hospitality Trust (ASCHT SP) (Mkt Cap: $844mn; Liquidity: $3mn)

On 3 July, Ascott Residence Trust (ART SP) and ASCHT jointly announced a proposed combination, which would result in the combined entity becoming the largest hospitality trust in the Asia Pacific region, one of the top ten globally, with an asset value of S$7.6bn. It would – using data from the end of June – become the 7th largest trust on the SGX.

  • The deal is for Ascott to acquire ASCHT through a Scheme of Arrangement whereby ASCHT unitholders will receive what was – at the announcement – S$1.0868 per ASCHT Stapled Unit. The exact terms are S$0.0543 in cash and 0.7942 Ascott Reit-BT Stapled Units. That is a ratio of 0.836 but if you do the arithmetic, it comes out as a NAV-flat transaction. Neither ASCHT nor ART shareholders “overly benefit” at the expense of the other, but they both benefit from scale lowering future costs.
  • The deal is another REIT consolidation to create a LARGER NewREIT. It was also totally obvious, after the Ascendas-Singbridge deal was signed earlier this year, that within the Capitaland group (which meant Temasek was going to own 51% of Capitaland when completed), this was going to happen (even though the deal meant there were no chained transactions for the REITs). It makes one wonder if there is a deal for Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (AREIT SP) to come. 
  • The deal (at the time of the insight) showed a 4.5% spread being long ASCHT and short Ascott, which is slightly wide for a deal of ~five months. However, there is some uncertainty in the distributions. If you own Ascott and are in a position to switch out of Ascott into AREIT, Travis would do so. If you own ASCHT and you like the risk of owning the REIT, you own the right one. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Ascott & Ascendas Hospitality Merger – Not Unexpected and Should Be Easy)


Dalian Port (Pda) Co Ltd H (2880 HK)  (Mkt Cap: $3bn; Liquidity: $1mn)

Back on the 4 June, Dalian Port (Pda) announced a possible Mandatory General Offer (MGO) at $1.0127/share, a 0.27% premium to last close. The MGO would be triggered following the rearrangement of various companies under the PRC government, collectively holding 68.37% into Dalian Port (Pda), with the long-term objective of merging the ports in Liaoning province under a single platform. The shareholding structure is a spider’s web and understanding the share transfers is probably best done by studying the diagrams in the document and the insight.

  • The integration/consolidation process is complicated with local, provincial and central government holdings in port ownership. Further, local governments, which often trumpet their success in tandem with the performance of its port, may be less willing to forego such economic benefits by giving up absolute control.
  • China Merchant Holdings already has effective control of Dalian Port (Pda) – (47.31%) direct and 21.05% via Team Able/China Merchants Port (144 HK). The equity transfers forming part of the restructuring are being hived out from one SASAC entity into another SASAC-controlled entity. This should all go through and the unconditional MGO will be triggered, and potentially wrap up in October, provided the ETA completes on the long stop date.
  • Dalian Port (Pda) is trading in line with listed Hong Kong ports. You have a (likely) hard floor at $1.01, with expectations of further group restructuring, as the three Liaoning ports are integrated. However, HK port companies are down ~7.% in the past year, similar to Chinese-listed port companies.  The sentiment is decidedly downbeat as the trade war creates a less profitable business environment.

(link to my insight: Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs)


Health Management Intl (HMI SP) (Mkt Cap: $844mn; Liquidity: $3mn)

The previous Friday, listed regional (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia) private healthcare provider HMI announced an Implementation Agreement for a privatisation by way of Scheme of Arrangement whereby private equity fund EQT would acquire HMI for S$0.73/share in cash or one share of the Acquirer. That price is a 25-30% premium to the 1, 3, 6, and 12-month VWAPs prior to the announcement and a 14% premium to the last “undisturbed” trading day.

  • It is not overly generous. The premium is small, and the forecast Next 12 Month EV/EBITDA multiple at 17+x is OK but compared to the other private hospital operators out there in Asia it is not overwhelmingly high-priced. It seems a bit of a stretch to see someone come over the top when this has been negotiated. However, if one asked me whether the likelihood of bump or deal failure is more likely, Travis would tilt towards bump, but it would be just a kiss.
  • It takes 75% of the 39% not owned by NSI and “concert parties” to get this done, but the 2018 Annual Report showed that 89.75% of the shareholders (i.e. 83.2% or so of the possible Scheme Shareholders) owned more than 1,000,000 shares. The top 40 shareholders determine the outcome of this deal as long as the rest generally are split 51/49 or better. It is difficult to see this one getting knocked down.
  • Travis expects the timeline of this deal is about 4 months plus perhaps a week. That means at S$0.72 the gross spread at 1.39% gets you an annualised spread of about 4.15%. At S$0.715, the gross spread is 2.10% (before comms, etc) so 4 months is 6+% annualised.  The trade here is to get queue priority at S$0.715. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Health Management Int’l Privatisation – Easy Peasy)


Briefly …

Harbin Electric Co Ltd H (1133 HK) this week announced there will be no further extension of its Offer which closes on the 19 July. By my estimate, tendered shares total 71.86%. The tendering condition is 90%.

M&A – UK

Telford Homes (TEF LN) (Mkt Cap: $335mn; Liquidity: $1mn)

On July 3rd, US-based commercial real estate services company, CBRE Group Inc A (CBG US)announced that they had reached an agreement with the board of London-based residential real estate developer, Telford, to acquire 100% of its shares by way of a Scheme of Arrangement at a price of GBP3.50/ share. The offer values the target at a market cap of GBP 265mn. 

  • While the Offer Price translates to premia of 11.1%, 14.3%, and 21.3% to the undisturbed price, 1-month VWAP and 3-month VWAP respectively, it remains 3.4% lower than the 1-year VWAP of Telford shares. Furthermore, the offer price also translates to discounts of 28.8% and 38.8% to the stock’s 1-year and 2-year highs respectively.
  • The company appears to have confidence its current build-plan and will come through on budget and so after a couple of project delays at the end of this past year, earnings will rebound and march higher. The few analysts who cover the stock are less bullish this year, but it appears they expect the company to meet its 2020 targets a year or two later. 8x EPS and 1.0x book seem quite low. It is below the mean of the selected comps.
  •  If Travis had to bet right now, it’s 50/50 it does not get done. Brexit worries could get this over the line but he expects there are some unhappy shareholders. He is not sure there is enough time to get a competitor in there to see the price lifted.  The deal timeline is very short. The indicative timeline suggests the Target Scheme Meeting could be in just four weeks. 

(link to Travis’s insight: Telford Homes Takeout – A Disappointing End?)

M&A – US

Avon Products (AVP US) (Mkt Cap: $1.8bn; Liquidity: $41mn)

On May 22, 2019, Avon announced that it had entered into a merger agreement to be acquired in an all-stock transaction by Brazilian Holding Company Natura & Co (NATUR3 BZ).  Natura will exchange 0.30 of its shares for each AVP share on a fixed exchange ratio basis, currently valuing AVP at ~US$2 bn. The merger agreement deadline is set for July 22, 2020. On completion of the merger, NATU3 shareholders will own 76% of the combination with AVP shareholders owning 24%. The transaction catapults NATU3 to becoming the world’s sixth largest consumer goods company.

  • Natura is paying ~10x consensus 2019 EBITDA for standalone AVP which is reasonable in comparison to prevailing peer group multiples averaging 17x and compares with Natura’s own standalone valuation multiple of ~14x.
  • The transaction could attract particular scrutiny from the antitrust authorities in Brazil, which represents the single largest market for both Natura and AVP. According to data from Euromonitor, Natura maintains a commanding lead in Brazil’s direct sales market for cosmetics with an estimated 31% market share followed by a ~ 16% share for AVP. That being said, the direct sales market is based around independent consultants/reps, many of whom already offer both Natura and Avon products in Brazil. 
  • The double-digits merger spread that prevails (14% at the time of the insight) could offer a lucrative opportunity for arbs. The complicating factor is that Natura is listed on the Brazilian Stock exchange (B3) and denominated in an historically volatile currency, the Brazilian Real, while AVP shares trade on the NYSE in US$. As some AVP shareholders may not want to own or are restricted from owning shares that trade on a non-US exchange, Natura will offer AVP shareholders the option to receive Natura shares in the form of Level-II ADRs to be traded on the NYSE or shares listed on B3. Natura does not currently have an ADR in issue.

(link to Robert Sassoon‘s insight: MergerTalk: Natura & Co/Avon Products -“Ding Dong, The Avon Spread Calling”)

STUBBS/HOLDCOS

Singapore Airlines (SIA SP) / Sia Engineering (SIE SP) 

SIE gained 15% the previous week, rekindling privatisation talks by SIA.  Despite the share price increase, SIE trades around November 2009 levels. SIE is not aware of any reasons for the jump. The stub is not terribly exciting with SIE accounting for 18% and 22% of NAV and market cap, and barely makes the grade with SIE trading ~US$1mn/day.

  • Last year’s privatisation of HAECO (44 HK) at $72/share (63.2% premium to last close) by Swire Pacific Ltd Cl A (19 HK) – which held 74.9% prior to the Offer – is not lost on investors. The takeover PER was 35x vs. 19x currently for SIE. Peer comps trade at 24x. SIE only appears fairly valued on an EV/EBITDA metric on account of the earnings from associated companies and JVs.
  • SIE is a maintenance, repair & overhaul company providing aircraft & component overhaul, fleet management and line maintenance services. The company also has material stakes in associated companies and JVs which contribute 71% of the Group’s profits in FY19, up from 58% in FY18.
  • The outcome, should an Offer be pitched, would cost SIA ~S$700mn to take out the shares it does not own. Not chump change, and it might have a slightly negative impact on SIA as it removes one layer of transparency. But given the stub weakness, the focus would be on the SIE arbitrage. I would not want to be short SIE here.

(link to my insight: StubWorld: Just Rumours (For Now) As SIA Engineering Pops)

SHARE CLASSIFICATIONS

My share class monitor provides a snapshot of the premium/discounts for 322 share classifications –  ADRs, Korean prefs, dual class, Thai (F/L) & A/Hs – around the region.

(link to my insight: Share Classifications: A Year In Review)

OTHER M&A UPDATES

CCASS

My ongoing series flags large moves (~10%) in CCASS holdings over the past week or so, moves which are often outside normal market transactions.  These may be indicative of share pledges – like Madison Holdings Group Ltd (8057 HK) on the 5 July.  Or potential takeovers. Or simply help understand volume swings. 

Often these moves can easily be explained – the placement of new shares, rights issue, movements subsequent to a takeover, amongst others. For those mentioned below, I could not find an obvious reason for the CCASS move.   

Name

% chg

Into

Out of

ISP Global (8487 HK)
50.50%
Bluemont
Outside CCASS
Camsing (2662 HK)
Great Roc
Founder
18.20%
Kingston
Citi
Source: HKEx

2. HIS Hostile Tender for Unizo – Fun Ahead!

Screenshot%202019 07 12%20at%2012.53.56%20am

Another Hostile Deal!!!

Japan’s premier discount travel agency H I S Co Ltd (9603 JP) on Wednesday announced it would launch a Partial Tender Offer to purchase a 40+% stake in real estate and hotel business Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) to raise its stake from ~4.8% to 45.05%. The Tender Offer was launched this morning (EDINET disclosure only in Japanese). The Tender Offer price is at a 56% premium to the last trade and is at an 18-month high.

The announcement was made at around 1:30pm local time, and the shares jumped 20% to limit up ¥2390 in a five minute period, trading 700,000 shares, which was about three and a half days volume on average – before getting pegged at limit up (the shares went limit up yesterday too, closing at ¥2890 on close allocation volume of 220,000+ shares. 

source: tradingview.com

Quite late that evening, Unizo Holdings issued a release saying…

The new Takeover Rules enacted in December 2006 (with one amendment to the SEL made in 2005 in direct reaction to the loophole used by Livedoor to acquire large stakes of Nippon Broadcasting System off-market to reach a level above one-third) are enshrined in the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act/Law (normally called “FIE”, “FIEA”, or “FIEL”), with the most relevant portions commencing with Article 27-2. These “TOB Rules” outlawed stealth acquisition off-market to “suddenly acquire” a large stake without passing through the market mechanism or conducting a Tender Offer. The principle of this was a sense of “fairness” such that minority investors had an equal opportunity to sell to someone who sought to have control or influence, and that it could not simply be arranged through collusive behavior. 

That’s why HIS is conducting a Tender Offer.

The first rule which matters here for Unizo Holdings (3258 JP) is that the Board of the “Subject Company”, according to Article 27-10…

shall, pursuant to the provisions of a Cabinet Office Ordinance, submit a document which states its opinion on the Tender Offer and other matters specified by a Cabinet Office Ordinance (hereinafter referred to as the “Subject Company’s Position Statement”) to the Prime Minister within a period specified by a Cabinet Order from the date when the Public Notice for Commencing Tender Offer is made.

That period specified is 10 business days, so Unizo has until 25 July.

A Rare Hostile Tender Offer

A hostile tender offer by one company upon another conducted without warning, or with warning but without approval, is reasonably rare. In Japan it is even rarer. This is, however, the second in six months, the first being Itochu Corp (8001 JP)‘s tender offer for shares of Descente Ltd (8114 JP). That situation was much discussed on these pages by Michael Causton and myself, and eight insights spanning months on the situation are to be found here

The Descente Tender Offer was to get Itochu from 30% to 40% after Itochu, which had been in business with Descente for 50 years, and had held 25% for decades, was not consulted on a business tie up with Wacoal, negotiated in a hurry last year, designed to sideline Itochu’s influence.

That was a news story and a half for 10% of a company. This time HIS analyzed the company, liked what it saw, bought 4.8%, and says it asked to meet. Unizo wouldn’t. Repeatedly.

So HIS decided to buy 40% of a company it hadn’t talked to. At a 50+% premium.

This promises to be interesting. And given this one has hostility AND a longer end date, there is more trading and event optionality than normal. That optionality is discussed below, and as is normal, we have Arb Grids.

The shares have traded for 5 minutes in the market and one closing allocation, and have traded 2.7% of shares out in that space with the stock now up 45% since 1:30pm Weds. This morning the shares will open and we will see what happens.


This situation is going to have hair and we love those. 

This is a $400mm Tender Offer.

It is WELL worth your time to study it if you are an arbitrageur. 

If you are a long-only investor holding the stock, it is a complicated situation which may warrant a deeper look into things you do not normally delve. Do not hesitate to get in touch.


For other insights on Japanese M&A please check the list of Japan-related Event-Driven insights here. As a reference to Japan M&A rules and practices, please see the Quiddity Japan M&A Guide 2019.

3. Dalian Port – Rearranging The Deck Chairs

Chart

Back on the 4 June, Dalian Port (Pda) Co Ltd H (2880 HK) announced a possible Mandatory General Offer (MGO) at $1.0127/share, a 0.27% premium to last close. 

The MGO would be triggered following the rearrangement of various companies under the PRC government, collectively holding 68.37% into Dalian Port (Pda), with the long-term objective of merging the ports in Liaoning province under a single platform.

Dalian Port Corporation (PDA) currently holds 46.8% – via A and H shares – into Dalian Port (Pda). PDA, in turn, is a 100%-held subsidiary of Liaoning Port Group, which in turn is held as to 50.1% by the Liaoning Provincial Government (LPG) (through Liaoning SASAC) and 49.9% by China Merchants Liaoning (CML). 

This % holding into Liaoning Port Group was formulated in a restructuring last November.

LPG intends transferring (deemed the Equity Transfer, or ETA) 1.1% of its stake to CML, giving CML 51% (& effective control) of Liaoning Port Group. 

LPG will then transfer 36.34% and 2.66% of its equity interest in Liaoning Port Group to Dalian SASAC and Yingkou SASAC respectively for nil consideration. Perusing the shareholder charts helps crystalize the process.

The transfer is subject to a number of conditions, but presumably will be rubber-stamped. The long stop date for the conditions is 30 September. 

The new news is that the transfer agreement in respect of the Dalian SASAC equity transfer was executed on 17 June 2019  – it is not clear why Dalian Port (Pda) chose to make this announcement over three weeks after it was completed.

The ETA remains subject to a number of outstanding conditions.

From an arb perspective, there isn’t much skin in the game, but that is deliberate. The intention is to maintain Dalian Port (Pda)’s listing and therefore the low-ball Offer premium. But the development of this integrated port platform is interesting.

4. KCC Corp Equity Spinoff: Summary & Mispricing Checkup

3

This post has a summary of KCC Corp’s equity spinoff into two companies. This was announced today on July 11 after the market closed. In this post, I also look at mispricing possibilities resulting from this demerger. 

5. The CPSE ETF Arb Is Back, but Tighter!

Cpse1

The Central Public Sector Enterprises Exchange Traded Fund (CPSE ETF) is a passive fund that was created to help the Government of India divest some of its stake in selected CPSEs through the ETF route. The ETF is based on the Nifty CPSE index and currently includes 11 listed Central Public Sector Enterprises. The number of names in the ETF reduces to 10 once Rural Electrification (RECL IN) is kicked out this Friday, July 12.

The sixth tranche of the ETF is expected to open on July 18 to anchor investors and on July 19 to non-anchor investors. The new units are expected to start trading on July 29. The discount on the ETF will be 3%, opening up arbitrage opportunities to investors.

We also see an additional trade in Indian Oil Corp (IOCL IN) based on the ETF offering.

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Brief M&A: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms
  2. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher
  3. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien

1. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

Utx3

Reaction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant United Technologies (UTX US) and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning iof the week, has so far been met with an underwhelming reaction by the market.  While the strategic rationale for the deal sounds reasonable to us (although we acknowledge that our viewpoint is not universally accepted). Nor do we have any qualms about the terms of the offer.  So what is the issue here?

We believe the major complicating factor in this situation is that United Technologies is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price. This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued United Technologies stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which we assess should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected. Below, we offer a detailed assessment of how we arrive at this conclusion.  

2. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher

Screenshot%202019 06 14%20at%205.03.40%20pm

The Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expect. 

The deal apparently got moved up to Thursday night the 13th.

Then it got moved back to today.

Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

The deal now prices today for trading starting on the 20th of June. 

3. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien

Capture%202

On the 27 February, Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) announced it had entered into a Scheme Implementation Deed in which Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) had agreed to take Ruralco private at $4.40/share – a 44% premium to last close and the one-month VWAP. The Offer valued Ruralco at A$469mn and an enterprise value of A$615mn. An interim dividend of A$0.10 (the ex-date was the 30 May) was to be added.

The scheme booklet was dispatched on the 5 June (the IE gave a fair & reasonable opinion), and in addition to requiring shareholder approval at a Scheme Meeting on the 17 July, the deal was contingent on the ACCC either approving the transaction on or around the 13 June; or releasing a Statement of Issues (SOI).

Yesterday, the SOI, raising preliminary competition concerns, was announced.

As expected, the ACCC is assessing the impact on prices, product range and services subsequent to the loss of Ruralco, a major national retail competitor. In addition, it is looking into the reduction of competitors at the wholesale level from the proposed acquisition, and whether the remaining players provide sufficient competition.

The key issue centers on merchandising and the dilution of competition from this transaction. The ACCC had fewer concerns over the amalgamated impact on the agency businesses. 

Ruralco continues to engage with the ACCC and notes the SOI is not a “final decision” and is confident the issues raised can be addressed satisfactorily.

ACCC’s final decision will be made on the 15 August and submissions are required to be submitted by the 27 June. The Scheme Meeting is expected to be delayed.

Shares closed down 3.15% to $4.15 yesterday and currently trade at $4.17, to give a gross spread to terms of 5.5% with an annualised spread of ~21% – assuming a revised late September completion – roughly similar to where the annualised spread was prior to the SOI (and with a then-expected implementation date of 6 August).

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Brief M&A: MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms
  2. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher
  3. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien
  4. Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job

1. MergerTalk: UnitedTech/Raytheon – It’s The UTX Share Price That Needs Adjusting, Not The Terms

Utx3

Reaction to the proposed ‘merger of equals’ between aerospace giant United Technologies (UTX US) and US defense  contractor Raytheon Company (RTN US) announced at the beginning iof the week, has so far been met with an underwhelming reaction by the market.  While the strategic rationale for the deal sounds reasonable to us (although we acknowledge that our viewpoint is not universally accepted). Nor do we have any qualms about the terms of the offer.  So what is the issue here?

We believe the major complicating factor in this situation is that United Technologies is a company in the process of  transitioning itself from being a multi-industrial conglomerate to one focused on Aerospace & Defense, which is not properly reflected in its share price. This has significant ramifications for an all-stock deal in which the substantially undervalued United Technologies stock is effectively the currency of choice for this merger. The mispricing of UTX stock (which we assess should be trading ~15%-40% higher than the prevailing price) serves to misrepresent the value of the offer to Raytheon shareholders and needs to be corrected. Below, we offer a detailed assessment of how we arrive at this conclusion.  

2. Huatai GDRs – Prices Lower, Then Sooner, Then Later, Then Higher

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The Huatai Securities Co Ltd (A) (601688 CH) GDR (Global Depositary Receipt) pricing came out the 11th of June at US$20.00 to US$24.50 per GDR, conveniently after a day with a 5% gain in both the H-share and the A-share issues, announcing the deal at a then 12.5-28+% discount, which was wider than most seemed to have expect. 

The deal apparently got moved up to Thursday night the 13th.

Then it got moved back to today.

Now with the deal well-subscribed at the low end, there are warnings investors need to be bid higher than the bottom end to get any paper. 

The deal now prices today for trading starting on the 20th of June. 

3. ACCC Raises Concerns With Ruralco/Nutrien

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On the 27 February, Ruralco Holdings (RHL AU) announced it had entered into a Scheme Implementation Deed in which Nutrien Ltd (NTR CN) had agreed to take Ruralco private at $4.40/share – a 44% premium to last close and the one-month VWAP. The Offer valued Ruralco at A$469mn and an enterprise value of A$615mn. An interim dividend of A$0.10 (the ex-date was the 30 May) was to be added.

The scheme booklet was dispatched on the 5 June (the IE gave a fair & reasonable opinion), and in addition to requiring shareholder approval at a Scheme Meeting on the 17 July, the deal was contingent on the ACCC either approving the transaction on or around the 13 June; or releasing a Statement of Issues (SOI).

Yesterday, the SOI, raising preliminary competition concerns, was announced.

As expected, the ACCC is assessing the impact on prices, product range and services subsequent to the loss of Ruralco, a major national retail competitor. In addition, it is looking into the reduction of competitors at the wholesale level from the proposed acquisition, and whether the remaining players provide sufficient competition.

The key issue centers on merchandising and the dilution of competition from this transaction. The ACCC had fewer concerns over the amalgamated impact on the agency businesses. 

Ruralco continues to engage with the ACCC and notes the SOI is not a “final decision” and is confident the issues raised can be addressed satisfactorily.

ACCC’s final decision will be made on the 15 August and submissions are required to be submitted by the 27 June. The Scheme Meeting is expected to be delayed.

Shares closed down 3.15% to $4.15 yesterday and currently trade at $4.17, to give a gross spread to terms of 5.5% with an annualised spread of ~21% – assuming a revised late September completion – roughly similar to where the annualised spread was prior to the SOI (and with a then-expected implementation date of 6 August).

4. Italian Banks M&A – The Complex Italian Job

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  • The Italian bank system’s lack of concentration makes it, on paper at least, ripe for M&A consolidation, and open to cross-border M&A
  • The reality is, we believe, more complicated; Italian banks, exposed to the “triple jeopardy” of challenges, are viewed with caution by other Eurozone banks
  • Prospective Italian banking M&A activity has more recently been domestic, due largely to Italian-specific challenges, which have acted as “poison pills”, and are still a drag on bank M&A domestically
  • Investors are concerned that intra-Italian bank M&A results in a “dilution” of returns, balance sheet erosion and credit risk concentration; this flies in the face of ongoing de-risking of balance sheets, that are still a work in progress
  • In the Italian bank M&A map, we see, in general terms, that Intesa Sanpaolo (ISP IM) and UniCredit SpA (UCG IM) are the potential acquirers; Unione Di Banche Italiane (UBI IM), Banco BPM SpA (BAMI IM) and Banca Popolare Dell’Emilia Rom (BPE IM) are both potential acquirers of smaller banks and possible targets or merger candidates; Banca Monte Dei Paschi Di Sien (BMPS IM) is in consolidation limbo, government-controlled and with yet more de-risking to do; Banca Carige (CRG IM) and Credito Valtellinese Sc (CVAL IM) are, we believe, confined to being acquisition targets for banks with high risk appetites
  • Italian bank stock valuations are, in our view, driven by the challenged domestic macro-economic and political outlook; yet we would highlight, for the longer term, UniCredit SpA (UCG IM) as the quality name with an attractive dividend yield and higher payout potential, with Unione Di Banche Italiane (UBI IM) and Banco BPM SpA (BAMI IM) as the higher risk, deep value stock picks

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Brief M&A: Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan and more

By | Daily Briefs, Mergers and Acquisitions

In this briefing:

  1. Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan

1. Drug-Fuelled Marriages and Macho Shachos* in Japan

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The Japanese drugstore sector has been consolidating fast for a decade led by Aeon’s (8267 JP) Welcia subsidiary, Tsuruha Holdings (3391 JP) and Sundrug Co Ltd (9989 JP), which have taken the top three spots in the sector ahead of the long-time leader, Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co (3088 JP).

Last month the latter tried to retake its pole position by opening negotiations to buy seventh-ranked Cocokara Fine (3098 JP). A few days later, however, sixth-ranked Sugi Holdings (7649 JP) began its own negotiations, creating an unusual situation where two companies are publicly bidding for the same target.

(For details on the deal and the likely implications for respective share prices etc, as always I defer to Travis Lundy who has an excellent analysis on this in his Insight here).

A deal with Cocokara Fine is crucial for Matsumotokiyoshi. If it succeeds, it will again lead the sector with a business a third bigger than the current leader. If it fails to woo the smaller firm and Sugi succeeds, however, Matsumotokiyoshi will have fallen from sector leader to the sixth position in three years and will likely want to start wooing current third-ranked player Sundrug Co Ltd (9989 JP). It may even try and negotiate a partial merger with Tsuruha if it doesn’t want to be left behind in what will likely become a sector dominated by three or four major retail groups in the next five years.

Whatever the outcome of the Cocokara Fine deal, further consolidation will occur in Japan’s drugstore sector and M&A will be a key strategy to make this happen.

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