Blackstone to buy office developer SOHO China in $3 billion deal

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Blackstone Group Inc will buy all issued shares in SOHO China Ltd for HK$23.7 billion ($3.05 billion) and maintain its stock market listing, the Chinese office developer said in a filing on Wednesday.

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The U.S. private equity firm will offer HK$5 per share, 31.6% higher than the last closing price of HK$3.8 on Friday, in what would be its largest real estate deal in China.

Blackstone, which currently owns around 6 million square meters of properties in China, is seeking to expand there as it is confident about the country’s long-term economic prospects and the Beijing and Shanghai office market, the filing said.

SOHO China, a major developer well known for its futuristic office buildings on the mainland, has 1.3 million square meters of commercial properties in the country.

The company is 64% owned by the husband-and-wife founding team of Chairman Pan Shiyi and Chief Executive Zhang Xin. They will together retain a stake of about 9% in the company and become its second-largest shareholder.

The offer is conditional on Chinese competition authorities granting clearance, the filing added.

SOHO China said its shares would resume trading on Thursday, after being suspended since Tuesday.

Founded in 1995, SOHO China went public in Hong Kong in 2007. Its shares have gained 62% in the past month and it had a market value of $2.55 billion at the stock’s last close, according to Refinitiv data.

The company has been scouting for buyers for its prime commercial property assets as the founders looked to shift their focus to overseas markets. Reuters reported last year Blackstone was in exclusive talks to take SOHO China private in a $4 billion deal, but later halted the talks.

($1 = 7.7620 Hong Kong dollars)

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