Sat, Apr 02, 2005 - Page 10 News List

SinoPac, Taishin merger makes a comeback

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Plans of a merger between SinoPac Financial Holdings Co (建華金控) and Taishin Financial Holding Co (台新金控) made a comeback yesterday, with SinoPac's chairman stressing that shareholders might discuss the proposal thoroughly next month.

"The talks with Taishin did not collapse," Richard Hong (洪敏弘), chairman of SinoPac, told a press conference yesterday.

"Both Taishin and International Bank of Taipei (IBT, 台北商銀) are good merger partners, but the final decision should be made during the annual general meeting on May. 10," he said.

Hong made the remark despite a statement by Taishin chairman Thomas Wu (吳東亮) on March 29 that talks to buy SinoPac had collapsed because its rival wanted to merge with IBT. At the time, Wu also said that SinoPac and Taishin disagree about management restructuring.

But Hong, who was reported to favor a partnership with Taishin, said that he had contacted Wu personally and obtained a letter of intent from him on March 14 offering a 35 percent premium to buy SinoPac for NT$23.50 a share. In the meantime, SinoPac has not yet received a written proposal from IBT, he added.

The letter further states that Paul Lo (盧正昕), president of SinoPac, would hold the position of vice chairman and co-CEO after the merger, Hong said.

With over 80 branches in northern Taiwan, IBT has a larger market presence than Taishin, making IBT a suitable partner for SinoPac, Hong said.

But he noted that foreign investors, who own 30 percent of SinoPac, as well as the other shareholders, have the right to know the details of the proposed merger -- a remark that suggested foreign investors had not been informed of Taishin's merger proposal.

Any future discussion relating to possible mergers must involve independent consultations with professionals to ensure a fair and equitable evaluation, must be advantageous to shareholders of both parties and should seek consensus from the board of directors of SinoPac, Hong said.

Taishin president Julius Chen (陳淮舟), however, told the Taipei Times yesterday that SinoPac had asked Wu to make the offer, and that the proposal has not been discussed by its board of directors.

"The merger deal with SinoPac was off three days ago, and whether we will make another offer depends on SinoPac's decision," Chen said, adding that if SinoPac still considers merging with Taishin, the company will convene a board meeting to discuss the issue.

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