Mon, 28 Feb 2000, 9:36pm HKT
HKT Says CyberWorks May Strike Pact With C&W Plc
Within Days on Takeover
By Biddy Chan
HKT Says CyberWorks May Strike Pact Within 48 Hours (Update6)
(Rewrites first paragraph; adds confirmation of News Corp.'s
possible bid; analyst comment.)
Hong Kong, Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Cable & Wireless Plc may
decide within two days whether to ask shareholders of its Hong
Kong unit to accept a proposal from Pacific Century CyberWorks
Ltd. to buy the city's dominant phone company for as much as $37
Cable & Wireless HKT Ltd. said CyberWorks and its U.K. parent
may agree on a possible offer to shareholders ``within the next 48
hours.'' Shareholder approval could scupper a rival month-old
merger proposal by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., which today
lined up a $1 billion investment from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.
to sweeten its bid.
A stake in HKT would give CyberWorks, an Internet investment
firm run by Richard Li, the son of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, a
channel to deliver a range of electronic commerce and multimedia
services to customers throughout Asia. SingTel is seeking to merge
with HKT to broaden overseas revenue as competition intensifies at
HKT and CyberWorks were suspended in Hong Kong today after
Asia's No. 3 Internet investment company said it made an offer to
C&W Plc. SingTel surged as much as 4.5 percent after the New York
Times reported News Corp.'s investment, which is contingent on a
merger with HKT being completed.
``With News Corp. there, you have two giants bidding
together, which certainly looks more attractive for the HKT
shareholder,'' said Tjandra Kartika, vice president of research at
G.K. Goh Research Pte.
News Corp. formed a venture with HKT in November to provide a
range of pay television and Internet-related services at home. The
Australian company plans to form a similar venture with SingTel,
and could merge those ventures if SingTel and HKT come to terms on
a pact, the Times reported.
Neither CyberWorks nor SingTel have described their proposed
bids except to say they would involve a mixture of cash and
shares. The Asian Wall Street Journal reported today that the
CyberWorks offer is worth about $37 billion.
The Journal said CyberWorks presented two proposals to C&W
Plc. In one scenario, CyberWorks would give the U.K. company 0.7
CyberWorks shares and about HK$7 in cash for each HKT share,
valuing HKT at HK$270 billion ($35.7 billion). A second all-stock
offer was worth about 10 percent more, valuing HKT at about $38.5
billion, the paper said.
The first offer ``makes sense,'' because both HKT and
CyberWorks are now trading far higher than their net asset value,
said Richard Ferguson, an analyst at Nomura Securities in Hong
Kong. HKT shares, last quoted at HK$25.95, are actually worth just
HK$10 to HK$12, he said.
HKT was last quoted at HK$25.95. CyberWorks was last traded
at HK$22.15. SingTel pared its early gain, rising 2.2 percent to
HKT shares are up 35 percent since CyberWorks said Feb. 11
that it hired bankers for a bid on the company. CyberWorks matched
that gain during the same period.
``After the details are finally announced, these two stocks
will fall,'' said David Chapman, senior portfolio manager at Towry
Law (Asia) Ltd., which invests $700 million in Asian stocks,
including Japan. ``I doubt they will fall as much as 10 percent.''
Separately, CyberWorks and Legend Holdings Ltd. said they
cancelled a news conference they had planned for today to announce
an alliance to pre-install Web software on its personal computers.
Legend shares tumbled 9.2 percent to HK$32.50.
Some analysts said CyberWorks invited them to a 9 a.m.
briefing in Hong Kong on Tuesday. They said CyberWorks didn't tell
them what to expect from the meeting.