Latest: Korean bank merger on, Daewoo split, CGNU sells in Canada, Halim secures position at expense of Renong minorities, Chinese timber market lifts, Buffett buys industrial businesses, Swiss into Wallenberg, rolling more slowly.
24 December 2000
South Korea’s Kookmin Bank and Housing & Commercial Bank have agreed to merge into a $US127 billion entity despite strikes by the staffs of both banks.
Daewoo Corp’s creditors have agreed to split its trading & construction business in three â€” foreign trader Daewoo International, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, both to list in Korea on 13 February and each with about 67% debt, and a bad debts company.
23 December 2000
Insurer CGNU (former in May by the merger of CGU, out of Commercial Union and General Accident, and Norwich Union) has agreed two Canadian sales: Commercial Union’s life business to Manulife Financial for $C138 million ($NZ207 million) and Norwich to American International Group (AIG) for $C159 million ($NZ238 million). CGNU’s remaining Canadian businesses, CGU Group Canada and Pilot Insurance, hold 12% of the property and casualty markets.
Renong Berhad chairman Halim Saad has increased his stake in the company from 16.5% to 69%, Renong has raised its stake in United Engineers (Malaysia) Berhad from 38% to 54%, after an assets-for-shares exchange, and the Renong share price has dropped 39% in the past month to 98.5 ringgit (NZ59c), making for an unhappy but powerless turnout of minority shareholders at Renong’s annual meeting this week. Mr Halim said he would buy out the minorities, but not until May 2002. Other companies run by associates of the Malaysian prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which have propped up majority interests at the expense of minorities this year include Genting Bhd and Resorts World Bhd.
China’s timber market lifted in the last quarter with an upsurge in major construction and retrofitting of houses. Demand is for teak, cherry, oak, beech and walnut for decorative uses. Chinese log imports hit a record 10 million mÂ³ in 1999, but large quantities were stockpiled.
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has bought its fourth industrial business since June, taking over building products groups Johns Mandiville for $US1.9 billion ($NZ4.3 billion) at $US13/share, compared to $US15.65/share in a failed leveraged buyout five months ago. Berkshire Hathaway, which missed the technology boom bus, has also bought brickmaker Justin Industries, carpetmaker Shaw Industries and paint group Benjamin Moore.
20 December 2000
Swiss investor Martin Ebner has bought 5% of Investor, the investment vehicle of the Swedish Wallenberg family, for SF700 million ($NZ970 million) through BZ Group. The Investor group includes telecom company Ericsson and electrical engineering group ABB.
19 December 2000
General Motors said last week it would lay off 10% of its North American and European workers, and phase out its Oldsmobile division next year.