Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Compal Electronics to invest in new Chunghwa shares

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) yesterday said Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶) would subscribe to NT$7 billion (US$212 million) in new common shares via private placement, ending two weeks of speculation over candidates for a strategic partnership.

The announcement came as panel prices extended gains over the past months, indicating that the flat-panel industry may be recovering and triggering fresh capacity expansion by major players, including LG Display Co and AU Optronics Corp (友達).

In stead of following rival's step to expand capacity, Chunghwa Picture hopes the partnership with Compal "will help strengthen its cooperation with downstream customers and help it lift factory utilization as well as improve operation efficiency,” Chunghwa Picture said in a company statement released yesterday.

Compal, the world’s No. 2 contract maker of notebooks, will buy 2.8 billion shares of Chunghwa Picture for NT$7 billion, the statement said. The price of NT$2.5 per share would mean a discount of nearly 54 percent off the stock’s closing price of NT$5.43 yesterday. Compal shares rose 4.41 percent to NT$30.8.

With the investment, Compal will own an approximately 20 percent stake in Chunghwa Picture, making it the second-largest shareholder after Tatung Group (大同集團).

“The announcement somehow disappoints me. I had thought Chunghwa Picture would pick a bigger TV maker, probably from China, to be its new partner,” said Roger Yu (游智超), an industry analyst with Polaris Securities Co (寶來證券).

On July 8, Chunghwa Picture chairman Lin Wei-shan (林蔚山) said the company could wrap up talks with strategic partners “in a month or two,” resulting in a tie-up that could bring “explosive growth.”

But Yu was skeptical.

“The strategic alliance with Compal may not bring explosive growth for Chunghwa Picture,” he said, adding “it will help Chunghwa Picture secure stable orders as Compal needs the panels for assembling notebooks, mobile phones and other consumer electronic gadgets.”

Chunghwa Picture’s board yesterday approved a proposal to issue no more than 4 billion new common shares via private placement to raise NT$10 billion. The company said it would spend the new funds on operational costs, repaying bank loans and buying new facilities and equipment.

Tatung Group will buy the remaining 1.2 billion new shares via its affiliates. However, its stake in Chunghwa Picture will drop to around 34 percent from 36 percent once the new shares are issued.

Compal said the investment aimed to enhance the vertical integration of its notebook manufacturing supply chain to improve cost structure and operating efficiency.

Compal’s board yesterday also approved an investment of up to NT$1.745 billion in local telecom company Vibo Telecom Inc (威寶電信).

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