Thai Buyer Contends Ping An Sale Is on Track
SHANGHAI — The Charoen Pokphand Group of Thailand said on Friday that it had the resources to complete its planned $ 9.4 billion acquisition of shares in Ping An Insurance of China, disputing reports this week that its deal to buy the stake from the British bank HSBC was in jeopardy.
The Thai company, which is controlled by the billionaire Dhanin Chearavanont and best known as an agricultural giant, has already completed the first part of the Ping An deal with cash and was expected to finance the larger portion of the transaction later this month with the help of the China Development Bank, a big, state-controlled policy lender.
But the Chinese bank indicated this week that it was likely to back out of the deal with the CP Group because it had not received proper approvals, according to people familiar with the matter. The Chinese insurance regulator said it was reviewing the proposed transaction.
If it completes the acquisition of HSBC’s 15.6 percent stake in Ping An, the CP Group would become the largest shareholder of China’s second-largest insurance company. HSBC had announced that it reached a deal with the CP Group on Dec. 5.
On Friday, the CP Group issued a strongly worded statement, casting doubt on media reports and denying the deal was in trouble.
“The transaction is still under consideration by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission,” the statement said, “and we confirm that if approval is received from the CIRC, the CP Group has the necessary resources to complete the transaction.” The company did not indicate how it would finance the transaction.
Shares of Ping An fell 1.2 percent on Friday. They had slid early in the week on worries that the transaction might not be completed.
In its statement Friday, the CP Group also disputed media reports that the company was buying shares on behalf of a third party. Caixin magazine, the Chinese business publication, and other media outlets had reported that CP Group had partnered with a wealthy Chinese businessman and a former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.
“The CP Group wishes to state once again that the purchasers of CP Group are acting entirely on their own account and they are not acting in concert with or on behalf of any third party,” the company said in a statement.