Haier Smart Home plans Hong Kong listing to take $7.7bn unit private

The Haier group was founded in 1984 by Chinese businessman Zhang Ruimin. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 December 2019

Haier Smart Home plans Hong Kong listing to take $7.7bn unit private

  • Haier Smart Home would offer minority shareholders in unit Haier Electronics Group newly issued Hong Kong stock for their shares
  • Haier Electronics makes and sells appliances such as washing machines

HONG KONG: Haier, the world’s biggest maker of household appliances, is planning a major restructuring that will see its main unit Haier Smart Home list in Hong Kong to take another group company valued at $7.7bn private, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Under the deal, Haier Smart Home, formerly known as Qingdao Haier and already listed in Shanghai, would offer minority shareholders in unit Haier Electronics Group newly issued Hong Kong stock for their shares, they said.
Financial advisers have been hired to work on the deal, which would give Haier Smart Home access to cash at Haier Electronics, the sources said, declining to be identified as negotiations were private.
Haier Electronics, which makes and sells appliances such as washing machines, held about 20bn yuan ($2.8bn) in cash and short term investments as of end-June, according to Refinitiv.
One of the sources added the plan was also part of the Haier group’s efforts to streamline its overseas operations.
Haier Smart Home currently owns 45% of Haier Electronics and unlisted parent Haier Group Corp. holds 12%, while minority shareholders include Vanguard Group, Norges Bank Investment Management and BlackRock, according to Refinitiv data.
The plan is still preliminary and would be subject to regulatory approval, the sources said, adding that the aim was to complete the deal in the second half of next year.
A representative from Haier Smart Home’s investors relations office said the team was not aware of the plan. Haier Group and Haier Electronics did not respond to requests for comment.
The Haier group was founded in 1984 by Chinese businessman Zhang Ruimin who built up a small loss-making factory into a major consumer brand. Major acquisitions have included New Zealand appliances brand Fisher & Paykel in 2012 for NZ$927 million and the $5.6bn purchase of General Electrics’ appliances business in 2016.
Haier Smart Home, which has a market value of some $15.4bn, also listed in Germany last year — the first listing of a Chinese company under the D-share program aimed at increasing foreign investment in Chinese firms.
Hong Kong-listed companies have announced a record 24 take-private deals this year, often citing uncertain market conditions or undervalued shares as reasons for the deals.


Commerzbank slapped with fine for deals with defunct Cypriot bank

Updated 05 July 2020

Commerzbank slapped with fine for deals with defunct Cypriot bank

  • Laiki, once Cyprus’s second-largest bank, was taken into administration and wound down in March 2013

FRANKFURT: Cyprus’s securities regulator has imposed a €650,000 ($730,800) fine on Germany’s Commerzbank for its role in transactions carried out by a local bank that collapsed during the country’s 2013 financial crisis.

The country’s CySEC commission said Commerzbank had been sanctioned over investment operations conducted by the now-defunct Laiki — also known as Cyprus Popular Bank — in 2011, following Laiki’s merger with Greece’s Marfin-Egnatia Bank.

Commerzbank declined to comment on the case, which followed an eight-year probe by Cypriot authorities.

The investigation, which was launched following calls by left-wing AKEL lawmaker Irene Charalambides, looked into whether the Cypriot deals may have broken laws prohibiting a company from buying its own stock.

CySEC said Laiki invested in two structured products issued by Commerzbank in 2008. Marfin-Egnatia, which was at that time a Laiki subsidiary, was an index sponsor responsible for the composition of the portfolio.

As a result of the 2011 merger between Laiki and Marfin-Egnatia, Laiki became the index sponsor, creating a conflict of interest, CySEC said.

It said Laiki and Commerzbank acted in “concert” to manipulate the market in relation to Laiki shares on several occasions in April and May 2011.

CySEC said it had not fined Laiki because it is in administration and did not want to put an additional burden on former depositors, bond holders and shareholders.

Laiki, once Cyprus’s second-largest bank, was taken into administration and wound down under terms of a €10 billion international financial assistance package to Cyprus in March 2013.

Some €4.3 billion in uninsured deposits exceeding the EU threshold of 100,000 were wiped out, and thousands of people lost their life savings.

Charalambides said she felt vindicated by the result of the investigation.

“The resolution authority should consider the possibility of civil lawsuits against Commerzbank to ensure that the funds channelled to these structured bonds, with the objective of manipulating shares, be returned, and given to depositors whose funds were subjected to a haircut,” she said in a statement.