Wumart Founder Increases His Stake, Makes Buyout Offer

Wumart Stores Inc., a Chinese supermarket operator, said founder Zhang Wenzhong increased his stake in the company, prompting a mandatory buyout offer at HK$4.98 for each Hong Kong-listed share. The stock fell.

Wumei Holdings Inc., controlled by Zhang, and parties acting with it boosted their stake in Beijing-based Wumart’s to

53.4 percent from 40.9 percent -- enough to trigger Hong Kong’s obligatory-offer rule, according to a filing to the city’s stock exchange yesterday.

Zhang is increasing his holding in Wumart after the company’s shares slid. The stock fell as much as 2.6 percent at HK$8.92 before trading at HK$8.96 as of the break in Hong Kong. The shares have dropped 40 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 0.7 percent gain for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Wumei plans to retain Wumart’s Hong Kong listing, and will maintain the company’s minimum required 25 percent public float, Wumart said yesterday.

The buyout offer was triggered after Zhang increased his stake in Beijing Wangshang Shijie E-business Co., which owns

12.5 percent of Wumart’s shares, according to the filing.

Wumart’s net income rose 0.4 percent to 340 million yuan during the six months ended June. As of June 30, it had a retail network of 541 stores, with 145 superstores and 396 mini-marts. The company will announce results on March 11.

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