Sat, Mar 17, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Ta Chong Bank confirms many buyers interested

SUITORS:The bank said that none of the buyers were from China, and confirmed media reports that Fubon Financial and Yuanta Financial offered NT$15 a share

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff Reporter

Ta Chong Bank Ltd (大眾銀行), the Taiwanese lender controlled by Carlyle Group LP, confirmed yesterday it has been a target of integration from buyers at home and abroad since last year, but no written agreement has been inked yet.

Many buyers have voiced their interest in taking over Carlyle’s stake in Ta Chong, attracted by its improving performance, the Greater Kaohsiung-based bank’s chairman Chen Chien-ping (陳建平) said.

“We aim to strengthen our businesses,” so synergy benefits might more than double when integration does take place, Chen told a news conference to celebrate the bank’s 20th anniversary.

Chen’s family holds a more than 20 percent share of Ta Chong, while the Ko family, owner of Kwang Yang Motor Co (光陽工業), controls another 13 percent.

Local Chinese-language media said that Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) and Yuanta Financial Holding Co (元大金控) both offered to buy Carlyle’s stake in the bank through a share swap scheme at NT$15 per share.

“The higher, the better,” Chen told reporters when asked to comment on the reported offer.

Carlyle, the world’s second--biggest private equity firm, teamed up with Cayman Islands-based Gable Partners II LP to pay NT$17 each for Ta Chong’s common and preferred shares in July 2007, or a total of NT$21.5 billion (US$727 million) for a 36 percent stake, making it the bank’s largest shareholder.

Ta Chong’s shares have jumped 70 percent this year amid expectations linked to acquisitions and mergers, compared with a 9.75 percent rise in financial sector shares and a 14.84 percent increase in the benchmark TAIEX. The bank’s shares yesterday closed down 1.25 percent, at NT$11.85.

None of the bank’s suitors are from China, Chen said, as many people have speculated after Taiwan allowed Chinese banks to acquire up to a 10 percent stake in local peers earlier this year.

Ta Chong Bank aims to strengthen cash management, cross-selling efficiency and risk control this year to improve its balance sheet, Ta Chong Bank president Justin Tsai (蔡榮棟) said.

The medium-sized bank also owns a securities house of which Carlyle reportedly also intends to divest its shares.

Tsai, a former president of Taishin International Bank (台新銀行) who joined Ta Chong last year, expects modest loan growth this year of between 5 percent and 10 percent from last year, driven by corporate lending.

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