By Martin Vedris

ECULLY, FRANCE: Groupe Seb is successfully working through the Chinese government regulations governing foreign ownership of Chinese companies in its bid to obtain a majority share of the cookware and electrical appliance manufacturer, Supor.

Currently holding a 30 per cent stake in Supor since 31 August 2007, Groupe Seb is launching a partial tender offer for the company in accordance with the Strategic Investment Framework Agreement signed in August 2006 and Chinese securities laws.

Supor is listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and is China’s leading cookware manufacturer and number four in the small electrical appliance market, with a particularly strong position in rice cookers. In 2006, Supor’s revenue was reported as €207 million ($A333 million), which was up 42 per cent on the previous year.

Having obtained a letter of non-objection from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Groupe Seb is offering to acquire a maximum of 49,122,948 shares from the public. If entirely successful, the offer will raise Groupe Seb’s interest in Supor to 52.74 per cent.

According to a company statement from Groupe Seb, the offer is being made at a price of RMB 47 per share, corresponding to a 16.2 per cent premium over Supor’s daily average share price for the past 30 trading days, as measured on 15 November and to a 17.6 per cent premium over the closing share price at 15 November. The company states that this premium reflects the strategic benefits of becoming Supor’s majority shareholder and Groupe Seb’s determination to increase its stake. The offer will be valid for 30 calendar days as from 21 November.

“Confident in the long term strength of the Chinese economy, we are convinced that this transaction represents a major strategic move for both Supor and Groupe Seb. This is the reason why we are proposing in this tender offer a share price which is above initial conditions. We believe that this price level is likely to attract institutional investors as well as private shareholders and we are confident in the success of this operation.” Thierry de La Tour d’Artaise, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Seb.

The acquisition is a win-win and has the seal of approval from Supor management.

“We are glad to see the smooth progress of the transaction,” said Supor’s chairman and general manager, Xianze Su.

“We endorse the partial tender offer of Groupe Seb, and are confident in achieving our expectation of the strategic cooperation.”