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Singapore's OCBC offers to buy Wing Hang Bank for $4.95 billion

Munshi Ahmed | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp has made an offer to buy Wing Hang Bank for HK$38.428 billion ($4.95 billion) after reaching a deal with major shareholders including the founding family of the Hong Kong-based lender.

The deal was the outcome of months of negotiations, with the deadline for an agreement extended twice. The acquisition, OCBC's biggest, would give Singapore's second-largest bank a much sought-after gateway to the Greater China region, where it earned 6 percent of its pre-tax earnings in 2013.

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The purchase would also help OCBC narrow the gap with domestic rival DBS Group, which operates Hong Kong's fifth-biggest bank.

Shares of OCBC rose 0.63 percent in early Singapore trading on Tuesday, following the announcement of the deal. Wing Hang Bank was up 0.16 percent in Hong Kong.

The offer came after OCBC reached a deal with members of Wing Hang's founding Fung family, their affiliates and related family trusts, as well as BNY International Financing Corp, to buy a nearly 45 percent stake in the bank.

The Singapore lender has also reached separate deals with other shareholders that would increase its stake to 50.66 percent.

OCBC is offering HK$125 a share to buy all the stock of Wing Hang, according to a joint announcement on Tuesday. The $4.95 billion offer is lower than expectations, with sources previously estimating the deal could be worth $5.3 billion.

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Wing Hang and OCBC had been locked in exclusive negotiations since December after several players, including Singapore's United Overseas Bank, walked away from the deal on price concerns, sources had told Reuters earlier.

"It is slightly lower than my original expectation of at least HK$130, but I suppose it's fair from OCBC's standpoint because they don't need revenue or cost synergy for the deal," said Steven Chan, an analyst at Maybank Kim Eng who covers Hong Kong and Chinese banks.

"The return on investment should be roughly equal to the cost of funding if they are going to finance the deal half by debt and half by equity." The offer price translates to a book value of 1.77 times for Wing Hang, according to an OCBC statement.

A Barclays note said that after adjustment of a 2013 final dividend payment totaling HK$498 million and premises revaluation reserve of HK$2.1 billion, the price-to-book would be 2.02 times.

Yue Xiu Group, the trading arm of China's Guangzhou city government, paid a multiple of 2.08 times to buy Hong Kong's Chong Hing Bank last year.

OCBC has received in-principle approval for the purchase from Hong Kong and Singapore regulators, with formal approval needed by June 30 for the deal to go through. The acquisition is not subject to the approval of its shareholders.

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OCBC has received in-principle approval for the purchase from Hong Kong regulators, with formal approval needed by June 30 for the deal to go through.

The deal has the approval of Singapore regulators. The acquisition is not subject to the approval of its shareholders.

OCBC is being advised by Bank of America, and Wing Hang by Goldman Sachs, Nomura Holdings and KPMG.

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