Vital is an essential buy for power firm
Updated: 2011-03-30 11:15
By John Duce (China Daily)
HONG KONG - China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group will buy the pharmaceutical supplier Vital Group Holdings Ltd, giving its uranium unit a listing in the city.
China Uranium Development Co, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Guangdong Nuclear, agreed to pay more than HK$984 million ($126 million) for Vital shares and convertible bonds, according to a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing on Monday.
The deal gives Guangdong Nuclear access to funds in Hong Kong, one of its biggest electricity customers. It may also test investor appetite less than a month after Japan's worst nuclear disaster prompted countries from Germany to China to review or halt atomic plants.
"Buying a company like this gives them a quick way to get a backdoor listing and access to funds to buy uranium resources," said Gordon Kwan, head of regional energy research at Mirae Asset Securities in Hong Kong. "Despite the Japan crisis, China will expand its nuclear power program after initial safety checks, and this is a good time to get bargains securing uranium resources."
The stock exchange statement didn't detail China Uranium's plans for Vital.
Three years ago, CNNC Nuclear International Uranium Corp, a unit of the nation's biggest atomic power plant operator, China National Nuclear Corp, purchased a stake in the Hong Kong-listed aluminum and zinc die-casting company United Metals Holdings Ltd and changed its name.
China has the world's biggest nuclear program, with 26 reactors under construction and 28 planned, according to the World Nuclear Association. The government suspended approval of new projects on March 16 pending safety checks of existing plants as Japan tried to prevent a meltdown at its Fukushima Daiichi plant, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Shares in uranium companies fell and prices for the nuclear fuel plunged.
India said on March 14 that it will examine its 20 atomic plants. A day later, Germany said that it will close seven nuclear reactors for safety reviews.
Guangdong Nuclear owns the Daya Bay and Ling Ao nuclear power stations in southern China, according to its website. China Uranium will buy 1.67 billion Vital shares for 23 cents each, a 36 percent discount to the last traded price. It will pay HK$600 million for the bonds, which are convertible at the same price as each share. Vital shares surged 33 percent in the two days before they were suspended on March 4.
Initial details of the transaction were published on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange website on March 22. Vital suspended trading on March 4 pending a possible restructuring. It said on Jan 25 that a supplier had lost the Chinese import license for one of its main drug products.
Vital has 779 employees on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, according to its 2010 earnings statement released on Monday.
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