Bank of Ayudhya Gains on Report of GE Stake Sale: Bangkok Mover

Bank of Ayudhya Pcl, Thailand’s fifth-largest lender by assets, rose to the highest level in three months after Kao Hoon newspaper reported Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. will buy a stake from General Electric Co.

The shares climbed as much as 4.7 percent to 33.50 baht and traded at 32.75 baht as of 12:14 p.m. in Bangkok, heading for the highest close since Sept. 25. The benchmark SET Index fell 0.1 percent.

Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s biggest bank, placed the winning bid to acquire 25.3 percent in Bank of Ayudhya from General Electric Co., Kao Hoon reported today, without saying where it obtained the information. GE will announce the buyer by Dec. 26, the newspaper said.

“Most investors speculate that the buyer may have to pay a high price in the bidding to satisfy GE,” Sasikorn Charoensuwan, head of research at Phillip Securities (Thailand) Pcl in Bangkok, said by phone today. “Still, we have to be cautious because the risk surrounding the negotiations and share price remains.”

GE sold 7.6 percent of Bank of Ayudhya to institutional investors in September and said it would review “strategic” options for its remaining holding. Including brokerage fees, GE sold the Thai bank’s shares at 31.46 baht each, a 5.4 percent discount to the previous closing price.

Eric Lee, a Singapore-based spokesman for GE, declined to comment on the Kao Hoon report when contacted by Bloomberg on his mobile phone. A phone call to Mitsubishi UFJ’s headquarters went unanswered on a public holiday in Japan.

Stock Doubles

The Thai lender’s stock has doubled since GE first invested $584 million in January 2007, paying 16 baht a share. Since GE’s investment, Bank of Ayudhya has expanded its retail banking business by acquiring credit card and consumer loan businesses from GE Capital, American International Group Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc.

Shares of Bank of Ayudhya have gained 49 percent this year compared with a 34 percent advance in the benchmark SET Index. The bank’s net income jumped 24 percent to 10.9 billion baht ($356 million) in the first nine months from a year earlier.