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United Engineers Said to Seek Sale of Units After WBL Purchase

Aug. 26 (Bloomberg) -- United Engineers Ltd., the engineering company that helped build Singapore’s Shangri-la hotel, is seeking a buyer for two units it purchased as part of the acquisition of WBL Corp. this year, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The company plans to sell its stakes in Nasdaq-listed Multi-Fineline Electronix Inc. and Singapore-traded MFS Technology Ltd., both controlled by WBL, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private. The two companies have a combined market value of $439 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

United Engineers bought a majority stake in WBL for $725 million in May, and now owns 96 percent of the China-focused property developer and distributor of Jaguar, Bentley and Bugatti cars. Multi-Fineline and MFS both specialize in the design and manufacture of flexible printed circuits, according to WBL’s website.

“The group is presently undertaking a strategic review in relation to WBL and as part of its on-going strategies, the group may from time to time review investment and divestment opportunities as well as streamline its activities and businesses,” United Engineers Chief Financial Officer Lester Wong said in an e-mailed response to questions.

United Engineers, which owns 61.1 percent of Multi-Fineline and 77.3 percent of MFS Technology through WBL, may seek S$300 million ($234 million) to S$400 million for its stakes, one of the people said. WBL in December said it was exploring options for its Multi-Fineline holding.

Multi-Fineline posted a third-quarter loss of $31.5 million as sales tumbled. The company’s shares have fallen 23 percent this year, cutting its market value to $375 million. MFS Technology has a market capitalization of S$81.7 million after declining 8.1 percent in Singapore trading this year. The company’s third-quarter profit dropped 67 percent from a year earlier to S$1.3 million, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

United Engineers in June proposed a plan to raise about S$490 million by selling shares to existing investors, allowing the company to cut debt that reached S$2.5 billion on March 31.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joyce Koh in Singapore at jkoh38@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Lagerkranser at lagerkranser@bloomberg.net

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