Bear Stearns and Citic Securities, China’s largest securities firm, are renegotiating the share swap agreement they reached last year to better reflect a subsequent fall in their stock prices.
Senior executives from both firms are discussing a “reciprocal adjustment” that would increase the amount they eventually hold in each other, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Under the terms of the deal struck last October, Citic agreed to pay $1bn for securities that would convert to about 6 per cent of Bear Stearns and the US investment bank would eventually pay the same amount for about 2 per cent of Citic.
The deal still needs regulatory approval in China, but if successful, Citic Securities, the brokerage arm of China Citic Group, which is controlled by China’s cabinet, would BECome the biggest single shareholder of the US investment bank.
Such a large stake by a foreign investor in a US bank could attract criticism in the US, where some lawmakers have been unnerved by direct investments by sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Middle East.
美国联合经济委员会(Joint Economic Committee)主席、参议员查尔斯?舒默(Charles Schumer)本周暗示，可能会推动对此类投资实行更严格的监管。
Senator Charles Schumer, chairman of the joint economic committee, this week signalled a possible push for greater regulation of such investments.
Citic’s stake is likely to be increased to 9.9 per cent of Bear Stearns. The US investment bank’s stake in Citic could eventually be lifted to as much as 7.5 per cent, according to a report from China’s official Xinhua news agency.
The $1bn investment scale will remain the same, subject to approval from Chinese regulators.
Bear’s shares have fallen from about $120 when the deal was signed in October to about $80 now. Citic’s shares have dropped 40 per cent to about Rmb71.
Citic first broached the subject of renegotiating the stake it would take in Bear last November following a precipitous drop in the US bank’s shares, according to people familiar with the matter.
A Citic spokesman said he had no knowledge of any ongoing negotiations and a Bear spokeswoman in Japan could not be reached for comment.
一名了解谈判情况的人士称，双方增持对方股份是“合理的”，反映了双方股价的下跌。 For the two sides to take larger shares in each other was “reasonable” and reflected their lower share prices, according to one person close to the negotiations.
Another source familiar with the matter was more sceptical, saying: “It is all speculation driven by our competition which is causing the regulators to become concerned. The prices on both sides have come down but that doesn’t mean that the deal will be renegotiated unless it is in the interest of shareholders on both sides.”