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Ping An finds suitable rebound deal

Ping An plans to spend up to $7.9 billion to buy control of Founder Group, Peking University’s bankrupt corporate empire. A more synergistic acquisition would be welcome: @ywchen1

5/4/2021 6:46:00 AM

Ping An plans to spend up to $7.9 billion to buy control of Founder Group, Peking University’s bankrupt corporate empire. A more synergistic acquisition would be welcome: ywchen1

Ping An Insurance (601318.SS), (2318.HK) may indemnify one costly deal with a better one. Not long after losing $1.5 billion in a failed property investment, the Chinese conglomerate plans to spend up to $7.9 billion to buy control of Founder Group, Peking University’s bankrupt corporate empire. A more synergistic acquisition would be welcome.

may indemnify one costly deal with a better one. Not long after losing $1.5 billion in a failed property investment, the Chinese conglomerate plans to spend up to $7.9 billion to buy control of Founder Group, Peking University’s bankrupt corporate empire. A more synergistic acquisition would be welcome.

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A 2018 foray into China Fortune Land has come back to bite Ping An. Despite government backing, the Hebei-based developer defaulted earlier this year. Ping An’s impairment losses on its 25% stake and bond holdings amounted to 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion), erasing some 10 billion yuan from its net profit in the first quarter.

It’s easy to see why scarred investors would be jittery about the latest transaction. Ping An is proposing to take up to a 70% controlling stake in a reorganised Founder Group, the sprawling enterprise with more than 300 billion yuan in assets spawned by Beijing’s prestigious educational institution. Its failure to repay an onshore bond a little over a year ago triggered cross-defaults on offshore debt too. headtopics.com

There are a lot of deal unknowns, including how Founder Group creditors will respond. Ping An warned of questions about whether the complicated transaction “can be implemented smoothly”. That helps explain why Ping An lost nearly 2% of its roughly $200 billion market value following the plan’s announcement.

And yet there are notable potential benefits too. Founder Group’s around a dozen hospitals and clinics, as well as a pharmaceuticals subsidiary, should complement both Ping An's insurance and online healthcare business, which is facing stiff competition from Alibaba and JD.com

(9618.HK). Ping An also could absorb a $12 billion brokerage into its own securities division, slim it down and boost its 15% net profit margin closer to its own 22%. Selling some of the acquired financial licenses might generate additional revenue too.

Ping An’s ambitious boss, Ma Mingzhe, has bounced back nicely before. A 2007 investment in European financial conglomerate Fortis led to chunky losses. Over the last decade, however, Ping An has delivered an annualised total shareholder return of more than 13%, nearly double that of the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index. A Founder Group acquisition could help spur a fresh rebound. headtopics.com

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Followon TwitterCONTEXT NEWS- Ping An Insurance said on April 30 it would help lead an $11.3 billion bankruptcy restructuring for the troubled Founder Group corporate empire started by Peking University.- Under terms of the deal, the Chinese company’s Ping An Life Insurance division plans to buy a 51% to 70% equity stake for as much as 51 billion yuan ($7.9 billion). Existing Founder Group creditors can accept either cash, shares or a mix of both in the newly created entity. Investing alongside Ping An is Huafa Group, representing the Zhuhai municipality.

- State-backed Shenzhen Shenchao Technology Investment has agreed to buy Founder Microelectronics, which will be carved out from the other Founder Group healthcare, finance, information technology and education assets that are to comprise New Founder Group.

- Founder Group in February 2020 confirmed its failure to repay an onshore bond, which led to a cross-default on $3 billion of offshore bonds.BreakingviewsReuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

Read more: ReutersBreakingviews »

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