Sat, Feb 08, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Waterland not to acquire King’s Town

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Waterland Financial Holdings Co (國票金控), the nation’s smallest financial service provider by assets, yesterday did not comment on media reports about its plans to acquire King’s Town Bank (京城銀行), but reiterated its interest to expand its economies of scale.

The bills financing-focused conglomerate made the clarifications after local Chinese-language media ran stories saying it has revived talks to acquire King’s Town, a deal that is valued at about NT$30 billion (US$986.65 million).

“The reports are purely media speculations,” a Waterland Financial communications official said, asking not to be named.

The company would publish acquisition details in line with disclosure requirements if such attempts bear fruit, the communications official said.

Waterland Financial reportedly conducted a due diligence review of King’s Town and briefed top executives and board directors of the findings yesterday afternoon.

The company will settle the matter in its board meeting on March 7, local media said without citing sources.

It would be the second time the conglomerate is courting the Greater Tanian-based lender despite its lack of funding, local media said. Similar reports in the spring of last year failed to pan out.

To address the funding issue, Waterland Financial is said to increase capital and King’s Town chairman Dai Cheng-zhi (戴誠志) will subscribe to the new shares in exchange for management control of the conglomerate.

Waterland Financial, where the government holds nearly a 14 percent stake, has a net worth of NT$11.04 per share and King’s Town at NT$19.04 per share, according to company data.

Last month, Waterland Financial chairman Wea Chi-lin (魏啟林) told reporters the company’s plans to grow its scale and assets remain unchanged.

The group is interested in acquiring commercial bank, securities houses and life insurance companies as current operations limit growth, Wea said, adding that acquiring banks was its top priority.

Waterland Financial lost a bid for Taiwan Life Insurance Co (台壽保) to CTBC Financial Holding Co (中信金) last year, and in 2010 the Financial Supervisory Commission rejected the company’s application to buy the local unit of MetLife Inc on concern over its financial health and lack of experience in running a life insurance company.

Waterland Financial posted NT$131.66 million in net income last month, or NT$0.05 earnings per share, according to statistics on the company’s Web site.

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