No plans to revise offer for China Eastern


SINGAPORE — Singapore Airlines (SIA) has no plans to revise its bid for a stake in China Eastern Airline which the Chinese carrier’s shareholders had rejected, SIA chief executive Chew Choon Seng said Monday.

“We have no plans at this point. We continue to engage them in areas of commercial cooperation, and beyond that we have no other plans,” Chew told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation conference.

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“Our offer is still on the table and as we have said, it is full and fair value. But their shareholders have decided otherwise and we respect that decision.”

SIA and Temasek, Singapore’s state-linked investment firm, signed a preliminary deal in September to take a 24 percent stake in Shanghai-based China Eastern for 923 million US dollars, or 3.80 Hong Kong dollars per share.

But the bid was thrown into question after China National Aviation Corp, the parent of rival airline Air China, promised at least 5.00 Hong Kong dollars per share if China Eastern shareholders voted down the deal with Singapore.

China Eastern shareholders voted down the Singapore bid last month.

Chew said the airline remains interested in opportunities in China and also in India but added SIA has other priorities currently because of the US-induced turmoil in the global financial markets.

“We are always having an open mind and exploring and scanning the horizon. But given the state of the world financial markets at the moment, there are other things that engage our attention… such as planning for contingencies,” he said.

Asked if he was disappointed with the rejection of SIA’s bid for China Eastern, he said: “Whenever things that you plan for do not pan out, there is some disappointment. But that’s life and we move on.”

He said the probability that the global economic slowdown will impact on Asia’s aviation industry “has gone up since the turn of the calendar year” but added SIA should cope with the challenge.

“We are not immune from trends in the global economy. (But) perhaps being located here in Asia and with our good network to India and to China, and the buoyant situation around the Southeast Asian region, we could be better positioned than some others,” he said.