Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Chunghwa Telecom mulls raising stake in Taipei Financial

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), the nation's biggest telecom operator, said yesterday it was evaluating the feasibility of increasing its stake in Taipei Financial Center Corp (台北金融大樓公司), the operator of the world's tallest skyscraper, Taipei 101.

This was part of the telecom firm's bigger intention to tap into the nation's property market after the carrier said last month it would spend NT$5 billion to set up a property development and management subsidiary by the end of the year at the earliest.

Shares of Chunghwa Telecom rose 1.04 percent to NT$58.5, outpacing the benchmark TAIEX index's 0.17 percent gain.

under review

"We are evaluating [the case]. I cannot comment further as this is confidential," Chunghwa Telecom spokesman Chang Feng-hsiung (張豐雄) said by telephone.

Chunghwa Telecom holds 11.76 percent of Taipei Financial Center's shares, Ministry of Economic Affairs data showed.

Chang's comment came after the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday that Chunghwa Telecom intended to purchase the 15 percent stake, or 370.34 million shares of Taipei Financial Center, owned by financially distressed China United Trust Investment Corp (中聯信託).

China United Trust went into receivership in March, with the state-run Central Deposit Insurance Co (中央存保) taking charge of disposing the financial institution's assets on behalf of its shareholders.

failed auction

Central Deposit Insurance failed to sell China United's holding of Taipei Financial Center early this month, as no bidder joined the first-round auction. The minimum bid price was set at NT$3.69 billion (US$112 million), or NT$9.97 per share.

Central Deposit Insurance had informed the original investors of Taipei Financial Center -- Chunghwa Telecom, China Development Industrial Bank (中華開發工銀) and Jin Shang Chang Development Co (金尚昌投資) -- that they had the priority to buy the shares owned by China United at the same price set for the last auction this month, the business daily said.

If none of the three showed any interest, Central Deposit Insurance will hold a second round of bidding, the report said.

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