Hong Kong property developer Wheelock and Company is now going private, putting an end to its 57-year run as a publicly-traded company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company, the city's fourth-largest developer based on market value, is officially going private this week after the majority of its shareholders had approved the move.
According to an exchange filing with the city's exchange, around 99 percent of the company's shareholders had agreed to the long-discussed privatization plan. The meeting to discuss the privatization of the company was held on Tuesday at a hotel ballroom in Tsim Sha Tsui. After the meeting was concluded, Wheelock chairman, Woo Chun-Kuen, stated that the company is grateful to all of the shareholders that supported the decision. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced that trading of the company's stocks will officially end on Thursday, June 18.
The decision to take the company private comes amid a continued capital market slump in the city, with Wheelock's stock prices perpetually range-bound for the past three years. The company's stock prices have mainly stayed around a quarter of its previous record high back in March 2017. The developer mentioned in its filing that one of the main reasons for the privatization decision was due to its continued low stock price relative to its asset backing.
The privatization decision had received a mixed response from investors, including those that had attended the meeting on Tuesday. Some investors reportedly felt like that move to delist its stock was "too stingy" and drastic. Others had agreed with the decision and found it to be an appropriate move given the current market situation.
Under the privatization, all of the company's stockholders will receive HK$12 in cash for each share they own. Wheelock will also be giving shareholders one share of its two subsidiary companies, Wharf Holding and Wharf Real Estate Investment, for each share owned. The value of Wharf Holding and Wharf Real Estate Investment shares had somewhat diminished when compared to their prices when the initial proposal was made. Since February, the share prices of the companies had declined by more than 20 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Supporters of the privatization have argued that the offer price and package were adequate and particularly attractive given the future prospects of both Wharf Holding and Wharf Real Estate Investment. The two companies have had a long and successful history in the city's property industry and both are expected to continue to grow in the coming years.