CKI-led group to buy Northumbrian Water for $3.92 billion

Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A consortium led by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI) <1038.HK> has agreed to take over Northumbrian Water Group Plc <NWG.L> in an all-cash deal which values the British utility at about 2.41 billion pounds ($3.92 billion).

In the biggest takeover this year of a British listed company, CKI said the consortium is offering to acquire Northumbrian at 465 pence per share. Northumbrian shares closed at 449.3 pence apiece on Monday.

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"The directors of Northumbrian Water have confirmed that they intend to recommend unanimously that Northumbrian Water shareholders vote in favor of the scheme," the statement said.

Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, which has a 26.8 percent stake in Northumbrian Water, plans to back the acquisition proposal, it added.

In reaction to the news, shares of CKI rose more than 2 percent to a record intraday high.

The consortium, called UK Water, is indirectly wholly-owned by CKI, Cheung Kong Holdings <0001.HK> and Li Ka Shing Foundation Ltd (LKSFL), a charitable foundation established by Li. CKI is controlled Li's ports-to-telecoms conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd <0013.HK>, which in turn is controlled by Cheung Kong Holdings.

CKI and CKH each hold a 40 percent stake in UK Water, with LKSFL holding the remaining 20 percent.

CKI said it would contribute 879.5 million pounds to the acquisition, to be funded with internal resources and a bridge loan of 600 million pounds.

Northumbrian Water is one of the 10 regulated water and sewerage businesses in England and Wales.

($1 = 0.615 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Writing by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)

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