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May 29, 2017

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Asia Pacific Telecom shares get boost on buy-out hopes

TAIPEI -- Shares of Asia Pacific Telecom Co. (亞太電信) got a boost Thursday morning after Taiwan Star Cellular Corp. (台灣之星) formally announced a bid a day earlier to acquire the company, dealers said.

Shares of Asia Pacific Telecom rose 7 percent, the maximum daily increase, to close at NT$17.90 (US$0.59) with 102.95 million shares changing hands. The weighted index on the Taiwan Stock Exchange ended up 0.42 percent at 8,930.90 points.

Three Suitors Emerge So Far

As Taiwan Star, a telecom arm of conglomerate Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際), is not the only potential buyer of Asia Pacific Telecom, investors have high hopes that the competition will lead to a higher acquisition price and eventually benefit Asia Pacific Telecom's shareholders, the dealers said.

The stock attracted strong interest soon after the local market opened as investors took cues from Taiwan Star's acquisition proposal, and momentum accelerated until the end of the session.

The buy-out speculation has boosted Asia Pacific shares significantly in recent sessions. In the past seven trading sessions, the stock gained about 26 percent, significantly outperforming the broader market.

Speaking to reporters a day earlier, Taiwan Star President Cliff Lai (賴弦五) said his company has officially proposed acquiring Asia Pacific Telecom in a bid to consolidate the resources of the two companies.

Big Dowry and Synergy Promised

Lai said Taiwan Star is sitting on huge funds and has a 4G license, a broad distribution network and plenty of talent for business expansion. The merger with Asia Pacific Telecom is expected to create synergies between the two companies and boost Taiwan Star's competitive edge in the local market, he added.

Taiwan Star is not the only suitor, aiming to acquire Asia Pacific Telecom. Speculation has long been circulating in the market that Japan-based telecom services provider SoftBank Group and Hon Hai Group's Ambit Microsystems Corp. (國碁電子) are also eying the firm.

The local media reported Thursday that SBI, a venture capital company from South Korea, has made an inquiry on the possibility of buying a stake in Asia Pacific Telecom as a financial investment.

Asia Pacific Telecom is scheduled to hold a board meeting the following day that the market expects will discuss the buy-out possibility, the dealers said.

They said the telecom operator is likely to invite potential buyers to present their acquisition plans in the near future.

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