Telstra, Ping An Say Autohome Deal on Track Amid Rival BidBloomberg News
Both companies say their agreement for Autohome was binding
Group led by Autohome CEO recently proposed management buyout
Telstra Corp. and a Ping An Insurance Group Co. unit said their agreement over the sale of a $1.6 billion stake in China’s Autohome Inc. is binding, indicating the transaction will go ahead despite the emergence of a higher management buyout proposal.
Ping An Trust & Investment Co., which agreed to buy a 48 percent stake in Autohome from Melbourne-based Telstra, has signed a binding accord with the Australian company, Ping An Trust said in a statement to Bloomberg. Nicole McKechnie, a Telstra spokeswoman, confirmed the deal was binding.
Within hours of Telstra disclosing its deal last week, a group led by Autohome Chief Executive Officer James Qin announced an offer for the Chinese car website operator, raising the prospects of a rare bidding contest in China. The $31.50-a-share offer made by Qin’s group -- which includes Boyu Capital Advisory Co., Hillhouse TBC Holdings LP and Sequoia China Investment Management LLP -- was 6.6 percent higher than Ping An’s per-share agreement, though it was non-binding.
The Ping An deal is subject to approval from Chinese regulators and Autohome’s 10-member board, half of which are current and former Telstra executives. Qin also sits on the board. Autohome’s American depositary receipts fell 4.4 percent Tuesday in New York trading.
Autohome, whose services include car-price comparisons and links to dealers in the world’s largest auto market, said on Monday that it was reviewing the management buyout offer from the Qin-led group.
— With assistance by Dingmin Zhang, and Brett Foley