SINGAPORE (June 21): UOL Group, UIC Group and Haw Par Corp this morning called for trading halts.

Is UOL, the property firm controlled by UOB chairman Wee Cho Yaw, offering to buy out United Industrial Corp (UIC) again after its 2009 failed bid?

UOL and Haw Par currently owns 45% and 0.45% of UIC respectively. As a group, the Wee family owns 49.65% stakes in UIC as at March 15. The other major shareholder is Philippine tycoon, John Gokongwei, who owns 37% stakes in UIC.

According to media reports, Gokongwei expressed his intention to retire when he turned 90 years old last year and will soon pass the rein of the family business to his only son Lance Yu Gokongwei.

Analysts say this could possibly be a trigger point for Wee to take over UIC if there were any changes to Lance’s stance on UIC.

UIC and its subsidiary Singland have 100% exposure to Singapore property and owns various key property developments in Singapore. This is considered to be the crown jewel of UOL.

A potential takeover of UIC will be positive for UOL as the latter would have a higher stake in all its Singapore properties as it rides on the positive sentiment on Singapore property, say analysts.

UOL, being an early believer of a turn in Singapore property, was one of the first to replenish its landbank last year.

UIC currently trades at 0.7x P/NAV while analysts estimate UIC’s RNAV is S$5.

With a takeover, this could raise UOL’s RNAV to near S$10. —

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