Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 12 News List

Fubon Life Insurance to buy 14 AsiaWorld floors

DEAL The company will take over total floor space of 12,826 ping. Its parent, Fubon Financial, will write off NT$2.4 billion in losses from its investment in THSRC

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fubon Life Insurance Co (富邦人壽), a subsidiary of Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), yesterday acquired 14 floors of the 18-story AsiaWorld Department Store (環亞百貨) for NT$10 billion (US$304 million), China Metal Products Co (CMP, 勤美集團) said in its exchange filings.

CMP, the previous owner of the floors, is expected to post a gain of NT$4.25 billion from the deal, the filing said, adding that the property sits on 1,369 ping (4,520m2) of land and has a total floor space of 12,826 ping.

“We’re very happy ... and are sure the property is of great potential to the buyer,” CMP spokeswoman Ho Pei-fen (何佩芬), daughter of chairman Ho Ming-shiann (何明憲), said by telephone.

She expressed confidence that the department store’s fixed rental incomes from to-be-contracted retailers will meet Fubon Financial’s goal of a 4 percent return on its property investments.

CMP’s logistic subsidiary will be contracted by Fubon Life to manage the store’s operation, she said.

Shares of Fubon Financial climbed 1.7 percent to close at NT$32.15 yesterday.

The company reported after-tax earnings of NT$11.1 billion (US$336.7 million), or NT$1.38 per share, yesterday for the first seven months of this year, after posting a record-high single-month earning of NT$5 billion last month, including a capital gain of NT$3.1 billion on its local share investments.

Meanwhile, Fubon Financial has decided to write off NT$2.4 billion in losses from its impaired equity investment in Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵) while setting aside NT$300 million and NT$124 million in provisions respectively for its sales of Lehman Brothers-issued structured notes and reduction of deferred tax assets, president Victor Kung (龔天行) told an investors’ conference.

The company forecast a small chance of more capital write-offs in the second half of this year, Kung said.

Although Fubon Financial has outperformed its peers to deliver the highest earning in the past few months, BNP Paribas analyst James Wu (吳永新) yesterday estimated the company’s earnings in the second half would be flat, which wouldl keep its share price down.

“Its earnings from share investments [in July] was only a one-time gain,” Wu said by telephone.

He recommended a “hold” on Fubon Financial, saying that “we like Fubon [Financial’s] capital strength and China story, but not at the current 52-week high price.”

The company’s capital position will be strengthened by its plan to raise up to US$900 million via the issuance of global depository receipts.

The new funds will create a total reserve of NT$55 billion to inject into subsidiaries, Kung said.

Fubon Financial, which has a 19.99 percent stake in Xiamen City Commercial Bank (廈門商銀) in China, said the Chinese lender was evaluating the feasibility of a capital-raising plan to fund its expansion.

“The plan will likely be finalized before the end of the year, including the size of the fund,” Kung told reporters at the sideline of the investors’ conference.

Kung said Fubon Financial would not increase its stake in the Xiamen bank because of regulatory hurdles, but it was geared up to tap into China’s domestic market as a full-service financial institution by investing in the proposed special economic zone in Fujian Province.

“We have a high expectation on [our development in] the economic zone,” Kung said.

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