September 16, 2019

Israeli Electric Car Company Files for Liquidation

JERUSALEM — The vision was ambitious. Better Place, an electric vehicle infrastructure company, unveiled plans more than five years ago to pioneer a system of quick-service battery swapping stations across Israel to enable unlimited travel. The company’s founder predicted that 100,000 electric cars would be on the roads here by 2010.

But on Sunday, Better Place announced that its venture, a flagship enterprise of Israel’s image as a start-up hub, was coming to an end.

Dan Cohen, the company’s third chief executive, said in a statement that financial difficulties had left the company no option but to file for liquidation in a district court and to request the appointment of a provisional receiver “to find the best way to minimize the damage to its employees, customers and creditors.”

The announcement followed a string of setbacks in the emerging electric car market. Fisker, a carmaker, is in financial distress; A123 Systems, a battery supplier for Fisker, and, more recently, Coda Holdings, another carmaker, filed for bankruptcy. Tesla, the prominent car manufacturer, has had success, though, repaying its government loan last week after a successful initial public offering.

Israel had been considered a perfect testing ground for Better Place’s green project, given the country’s small size and high gasoline prices. The electric car fit into Israeli dreams of reducing oil dependency; the initiative gained the support of the government and was embraced by Shimon Peres, the president of Israel. President Obama, during his March visit here, praised the Israelis’ innovative spirit, mentioning electric cars as one of several examples.

Yet the project was hobbled by problems and delays, and the company’s idea failed to gain traction, with fewer than 1,000 cars on the road in Israel today and another few hundred in Denmark. Mr. Cohen said on Sunday that the vision and the model had been right, but that the pace of market penetration had not lived up to expectations. Without a large injection of cash, he said, Better Place was unable to continue its operations.

“This is a very sad day for all of us,” Mr. Cohen added. “The company brought with it a vision that swept along many people here and around the world.”

About $850 million in private capital has been invested in the company, which has 350 employees in Israel. The largest shareholder, with about 30 percent of the stock, was the Israel Corporation, a large holding company that focuses on chemicals, energy, shipping and transportation. The corporation’s decision not to invest further in Better Place led to the motion for receivership.

The Better Place model for electric car use emerged from an effort among manufacturers and suppliers to establish a standard infrastructure in the nascent industry. Under terms that resembled a cellphone plan, subscribers to Better Place bought their cars and paid about $350 a month to lease access to the batteries, swap stations and charge points. But only one car manufacturer, the French automaker Renault, signed on to adapt its Fluence Z.E. sedan to enable battery switching, limiting the customers’ choices and the company’s potential.

The battery has a range of about 100 miles. For those traveling longer distances, Better Place set up a network of switching stations where it promised that swapping a depleted battery for a fully charged one would take about the same time as filling a car with gas, so that range would no longer be an issue.

“It’s not the future of gas stations; it’s the end of them,” the company Web site boasted.

About three dozen switching stations now dot Israel, which is about 260 miles long from north to south, but they often look deserted.

The company was founded in Palo Alto, Calif., by Shai Agassi, an Israeli entrepreneur who had previously been a top executive at SAP, the German software company. It then moved from California to Tel Aviv.

In October, Better Place announced that Mr. Agassi had been replaced as chief executive by Evan Thornley, the company’s top executive in Australia. The company said Mr. Agassi would continue as a board member and shareholder. Mr. Thornley left after only three months, over differences regarding the direction of the company, according to Globes
, the Israeli business publication. He was replaced by Mr. Cohen.

In February, Better Place announced that it was winding down its operations in North America and Australia to concentrate on its core markets in Denmark and Israel.

Mr. Cohen said on Sunday that the company would do what it could to continue to serve its customers and operate the recharging network, until the liquidator decides on a course of action.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/business/global/israeli-electric-car-company-files-for-liquidation.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Shares Rise After I.P.O. of New Zealand Power Utility

AUCKLAND — Shares in the government-controlled utility Mighty River Power, the first of several such New Zealand companies to be partially privatized, rose nearly 5 percent Friday in their first day of trading.

On Wednesday, the government set the share price at 2.50 New Zealand dollars, or $2.08, giving the company a market capitalization of 3.5 billion dollars. The price jumped 22 cents to 2.72 when the company listed at 12:30 p.m. local time Friday — about 8 percent above the initial price — but settled later in the day to close at 2.62 dollars, a 4.8 percent rise.

Mighty River Power’s initial public offering raised 1.7 billion dollars, and its market capitalization makes it the largest offering of a state-owned company in the country’s history, according to data from Goldman Sachs NZ. Trading volume Friday was 70.5 million shares.

“It’s a pass — probably a pass rather than an outstanding success,” Greg Smith, head of research at the investment research company Fat Prophets, said of the offering.

Mighty River Power is the first company to be partially privatized by the center-right government, which plans to float as much as 49 percent in each of several state-owned companies on the New Zealand stock exchange, the NZX.

The mixed ownership plan has run into financial and political obstacles, including legal action by a group representing the indigenous Maori.

On April 18, the opposition Labour Party and its potential coalition partner, the Green Party, jointly announced plans to create an intermediary between electricity generators and retailers, in an effort to cut prices for consumers. The Labour Party said that would save households between 230 and 330 dollars a year, but the government called the idea a policy of the “far left” that risked deterring foreign investment in New Zealand.

Reflecting the significance of the Mighty River Power offering, on Friday the NZX replaced the front page of its Web site with the company’s logo and its share price displayed in large print.

Mr. Smith, of Fat Prophets, said the share price could come down in the coming months. “The New Zealand share market as a whole has been trading near its all-time highs,” Mr. Smith said.

“If you were to see a bit of weakness in the broader market, you could well see that come back below the 2.50,” he said, adding that the price could even fall below the 2.35-dollar range.

The Green Party, which opposes privatization, said Friday that trading volumes indicated that many retail investors had already sold off their shares for a quick profit.

“National underpriced the shares so that the price would bounce up after listing,” party co-leader Russel Norman said in a news release, referring to the governing National Party. “That ‘good news’ story came at the cost of tens of millions of dollars in reduced sale revenue to the taxpayer.”

He also criticized the fact that foreign investors were being allowed to buy shares. “Already, we’re seeing the company slip further out of Kiwi ownership,” Mr. Norman said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/business/global/shares-rise-after-ipo-of-new-zealand-power-utility.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Messy Path to Privatization for New Zealand Power Company

AUCKLAND — Aerial shots of majestic dams and steaming geothermal power stations amid lush countryside form the backdrop for television advertisements promoting the initial public offering of the government-owned electricity company Mighty River Power.

Selling stakes of as much as 49 percent of several state-owned companies has been a key part of the National Party’s policy since its successful 2011 campaign for a second term in government. On Friday, Mighty River Power is to be the first offering.

But behind the slick marketing campaign, the path to its partial privatization has been halting and messy, putting a big question mark over government hopes that New Zealanders will diversify away from real estate investment.

In late April, the opposition Labour Party and its potential coalition partner, the left-leaning Green Party, said that if elected to government next year, they would create an intermediary between generators and retailers that they say would slash prices for consumers.

The Labour Party says it will reduce power bills for businesses and save households between 230 and 330 New Zealand dollars, or between $190 and $280, per year. That amounts to 500 million to 700 million dollars annually.

“Since the deregulation of the market, electricity prices have risen at twice the rate of inflation,” said Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker. “The lesson of the deregulation of the telecom industry in the 1980s is: If you don’t get the regulatory framework right before you privatize, you entrench and make worse profiteering.”

The government plans to run the companies on a mixed ownership model, retaining a 51 percent stake but listing the remainder on the New Zealand stock exchange, the NZX. On Wednesday, the government announced that the shares would be priced at 2.50 dollars.

Prime Minister John Key said the Labour Party was playing a “political game” that could deter foreign investment in New Zealand, but he insisted the opposition policy would not delay the I.P.O.’s of Mighty River Power or any other state-owned companies.

“They are policies of the far left that work in countries that want to do that, but if you’re a high-growth, modern O.E.C.D. country like New Zealand, far-left policies should be left for places like North Korea,” he said, referring to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of free-market democracies.

About 440,000 New Zealanders, or almost 10 percent of the population, registered their interest in buying Mighty River Power shares, according to government figures. Provisional government figures also state that about 113,000 will end up as shareholders. The offer will consist of as many as 686 million shares.

The government said Wednesday that 86.5 percent of Mighty River would be New Zealand owned: 26.9 percent by New Zealand retail investors, 8.6 percent by New Zealand institutions and 51 percent by the government.

Chris Marshall, who serves on a community board of the Auckland municipal government, said he was opposed to asset sales on principle but had decided to take advantage of the investment opportunity.

“Right from the start I thought: I don’t think it’s a good idea, but if they’re going to do it I’m going to buy as many shares as I can,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of people in that position.”

A former member of both the National Party and the Green Party, he said he believed the Labour-Green plan was, politically, a “masterstroke” but that he thought it was likely to deter a lot of potential investors.

“I don’t know anyone who’s a mom-and-dad investor who’s actually going for these shares,” said Mr. Marshall, who has traded shares himself for more than 40 years. “I know some friends, who are experienced investors, who haven’t; and one of them, who was going to buy it for himself, his wife, his grandchildren and whatever, he’s decided: ‘I can’t be bothered.”’

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/business/global/09iht-privatize09.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Alibaba Buys Stake in Sina Weibo, a Chinese Answer to Twitter

Alibaba is taking an 18 percent stake in Sina Corporation's Weibo, the most popular of China's microblogging services.Carlos Barria/ReutersAlibaba is taking an 18 percent stake in Sina Corporation‘s Weibo, the most popular of China’s microblogging services.

5:32 p.m. | Updated

The Internet giant Alibaba was once known as China’s answer to eBay. Now it is forging closer ties to the country’s counterpart to Twitter.

Alibaba agreed on Monday to buy an 18 percent stake in the Sina Corporation’s Weibo, the most popular of China’s microblogging services, for $586 million. It has the right to raise its stake to 30 percent in the future.

The deal values Weibo at about $3.3 billion — equivalent to Sina’s entire market value as of Friday.

Alibaba and Sina also agreed to cooperate in improving ways to marry social networking with e-commerce, as microblogging services like Sina’s continue to grow in popularity. Sina Weibo said that last year it had more than 46 million daily active users, an increase of 82 percent from the period a year earlier.

That remains a fraction of Twitter’s user base, however. And a recent study of about 30,000 Sina Weibo users found that about 57 percent of the sampled accounts had no measurable activity or posts.

Alibaba continues to grow, most recently being valued by analysts at more than $55 billion. It has reshuffled its management ranks ahead of a much-anticipated initial public offering that could come as soon as this year.

The growth of social networking and its close ties to the continuing boom in mobile Internet usage have prompted a natural response: how to make money from the phenomenon. Sina and Alibaba expect their efforts to yield about $380 million in advertising and commercial revenue for the Weibo service over the next three years.

“We believe that the cooperation of our two robust platforms will bring unique and valuable services to Weibo users, as well as making the mobile Internet a core part of Alibaba’s strategy,” Jack Ma, the Alibaba chairman, said in a statement.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/alibaba-buys-stake-in-sina-weibo-a-chinese-answer-to-twitter/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Russia’s Largest Stock Exchange Begins Trading

Traders at the Micex in 2008.Alexey Sazonov/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesTraders at the Micex in 2008.

MOSCOW — Russia’s main stock exchange has garnered enough investor interest for an initial public offering, another milestone in the country’s capitalist evolution.

The Moscow Exchange, better known by its original name, Micex, for the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, is scheduled to begin trading Friday in Moscow on its own trading platform.

The stock will price near the bottom of the expected range, valuing the company at slightly more than $4 billion, a financial industry official briefed on the plan said Thursday evening.

The listing drew interest from specialized investors in financial services companies and institutional investors in the United States and Europe, the official said. Micex has also benefited from the publicity of mergers and acquisitions in the stock exchange business worldwide, including the announced sale of the New York Stock Exchange.

The seesaw fortunes of the Russian companies that list on Micex have made it one of the world’s most volatile markets. From its inception in 1992 until the start of the 2008 recession, the Russian stock market had been in either the top five performing markets in the world or the bottom five in every year except one.

The company managing the exchange, though, has made an argument that it is a far safer bet than the companies it lists because it earns fees on both long and short trades and from foreign currency deals, its original niche.

The Russian central bank founded Micex as a market for trading rubles into foreign currency legally, something that had been tightly regulated in the past. That was the best thing that ever happened to early post-Soviet financiers, who knew which way that bet would go and made easy fortunes on Micex.

The exchange evolved to trade stocks when they appeared in Russia in the early 1990s and presided over the panic selling of state bonds in the 1998 default. By 2011, it was the dominant exchange after it merged with a rival, the Russian Trading System. The main product of the Russian Trading System was a dollar-denominated derivative of an index fund for the Russian market, used primarily to short the entire country’s economy, a position sometimes used as a hedge by nervous companies making other investments. Last year, this product accounted for 34 percent of all derivatives trades on Micex.

Other revenue streams are interest income from obligatory deposits that brokerage firms place with the exchange to trade, fees charged to issuing companies and data sales.

The central bank will remain the largest shareholder after the issue of 10 to 15 percent of the shares. The organizing banks are expected to announce the size of the float on Friday.

Mattias Westman, founder of Prosperity Capital Management, the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, which manages $4.5 billion in stocks and other assets, many of which are traded on Micex, said owning shares in the stock exchange was also a way to bet on the strengthening domestic financial system.

Micex’s offering, he said, “is a symptom of the whole market maturing,” 20 years after the end of the Soviet Union.

Bruce Bower, portfolio manager at Verno Capital, a Russia-focused fund, said the exchange’s mix of offerings for investors wanting either long or short positions, its interest earnings and fees for currency exchange made it a relatively safe stock as “the financial utility for Russia.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/business/global/russias-largest-stock-exchange-begins-trading.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: InterMedia Forms Media Group Focusing on Puerto Rican Viewers

Alan J. Sokol Alan J. Sokol

InterMedia Partners, the private equity firm that owns the Puerto Rican broadcast network WAPA Television and the cable channels WAPA America and Cine Latino, announced on Wednesday that it would merge its Spanish language properties under the Azteca Acquisition Corporation to form a new Hispanic media company called the Hemisphere Media Group.

The new company will have its headquarters in Miami, where the two largest Spanish language broadcasters in the United States, Univision and Telemundo, are also based.

Alan J. Sokol, a senior partner at InterMedia who will become the chief executive of Hemisphere Media, said the company’s goal was to offer alternative programming for Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans and other Latinos in the United States, not to compete directly with the Telemundo or Univision.

“Univision and Telemundo are primarily targeted to the Mexican population in the United  States,” Mr. Sokol said. “That leaves a significant part of the audience underserved.”

Azteca Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition corporation, was set up by the private equity investor Gabriel Brener. It raised $100 million in an initial public offering of stock in July 2011. The transaction announced on Wednesday is valued at $400 million: $100 million from Azteca and $300 million from the combined value of the InterMedia properties.

InterMedia will continue to own a majority share in the company. The remaining shares will be publicly traded.

“We are thrilled to be merging with and taking public these exciting, highly profitable and complementary companies, which have performed exceptionally under the operational and industry expertise of Alan Sokol and his teams,” Mr. Brener, the chief executive of Azteca Acquisition, said in a statement. “Hemisphere will meet the growing media demands of Hispanic consumers.”

Mr. Sokol, who was the chief operating officer at Telemundo before joining InterMedia, said that unlike traditional private equity firms, which take over ailing companies and cut their budgets, InterMedia plans to build Hemisphere Media.

“We’re doubling down,” Mr Sokol said. “Our intent is to have a public platform that we can grow and create an even bigger Hispanic media media business.”

InterMedia bought WAPA in 2007 from LIN TV for $130 million.

“We’ve owned these assets for five years,” Mr. Sokol said. “We’ve built them. We’ve nurtured them. We’re big believers in them.”

WAPA TV had its share of controversy this fall, when La Comay, an outspoken puppet that hosted the network’s most highly rated show, SuperXclusivo, was accused of making derogatory remarks about a slain publicist.

Antulio Kobbo Santarrosa, the puppeteer who played La Comay, resigned from the show this month after guidelines were put in place to manage the content of the show. The network is working on a replacement for SuperXclusivo, Mr. Sokol said.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: January 23, 2013

An earlier version of this post misstated the job that Alan J. Sokol will take at Hemisphere Media. It is chief executive, not chief operating officer.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/intermedia-forms-media-group-focusing-on-puerto-rican-viewers/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Hong Kong Takes a Second Look at Changes to Corporate Database

HONG KONG — The second-highest official in Hong Kong said Wednesday that the government was reviewing a proposed rule change that had triggered a groundswell of worry among global banks, accounting firms, investors and media companies who fear the loss of a powerful tool against corruption in China.

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief secretary and second-ranking official, said that the city’s financial services regulators had begun holding discussions with its privacy commissioner about the proposed rule change. The change, contained in a bill that the administration began pushing through the legislature last month, calls for deleting the identity numbers and addresses of company directors from Hong Kong’s corporate registry starting next year.

“We will continue to listen to public views,” Mrs. Lam said.

Many financial institutions around the world depend on Hong Kong’s corporate registry for information about businesses here and in mainland China. They use it to check whether company directors have ever been associated with fraud or corruption at other businesses, in Hong Kong or in mainland China.

Banks consult the registry, which is available online and at a Hong Kong government office, before agreeing to help a company do an initial public offering on stock exchanges in Hong Kong or in mainland China. Hedge funds, private equity firms and other investors check the registry before buying large blocks of stock in companies. Journalists check the registry for investigative reporting.

Including the identity numbers and addresses is what makes it possible to ascertain whether a director in a company is someone with a background of fraud and other corrupt dealings, or simply someone with a similar name. There have been a series of cases in mainland China in which an individual accused of having a shady background has maintained that he or she was being confused with someone else, only to be found out based on the registries.

David Webb, a corporate governance activist in Hong Kong who maintains a database of directors of local companies, welcomed the government’s willingness to review the draft rule.

“It’s encouraging if they’re starting to think about it,” Mr. Webb said. “It is important to be able to identify people uniquely.”

He noted that his database has 19 people named Chan Chikeung and 12 people named Chan Waikeung, who need to be distinguished by identity numbers.

Mainland China also has corporate registries. But the Chinese government closed them to investors and other users, starting in Beijing more than a year ago and later in other Chinese cities as well, after short-sellers from the United States used research in those registries to document widespread fraud and other abuses at Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges.

Lack of access to mainland registries has made the registry in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to Chinese rule in 1997 but which retains a separate legal system, much more important in recent months.

Mrs. Lam said that the Hong Kong administration and legislature had held discussions dating at least to 2009 before adopting a new ordinance on companies last summer. The ordinance had broadly worded provisions encouraging privacy in corporate records, and there was little discussion about what that privacy might mean for financial markets.

The controversy began this winter when the government sent an implementing bill to the legislature with detailed changes to laws, including the deletion of data from the registry.

China’s incoming leader, Xi Jinping, has called for a crackdown on corruption but has been silent about the role of Hong Kong. The city is popular among mainland officials and their families as a safe place to park large sums of money beyond the reach of the Chinese police and tax collectors, and the city now has some of the world’s highest real estate prices partly as a result, creating an affordable-housing problem.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/17/business/global/hong-kong-takes-a-second-look-at-changes-to-corporate-database.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Private Equity in China: Which Way Out?

HONG KONG — Welcome to the private equity game in China: you can buy in anytime you like, but you can never leave.

At least, that is how it is starting to seem for many of the firms that bought in big during the boom of last decade.

Starting from a base of almost nothing in 2000, global private equity funds and their start-up local counterparts rushed into the Chinese market — completing nearly 10,000 deals worth a combined $230 billion from 2001 to 2012, according to a report released this week by China First Capital, a boutique investment bank based in the southern city of Shenzhen.

But of those deals, some 7,500 remain ‘‘unexited,’’ according to the report, meaning the private equity investors have yet to find a way to cash out of their investments and pocket their profits.

In the West, private equity firms make money by selling to peers in a given industry, selling to other private equity funds or recouping their outlay via dividends that the target company pays by taking on new debt. But the Chinese private equity market has been overly reliant on one well-trodden exit route: the initial public offering.

In retrospect, that has proved to be a bad choice.

Beijing flashed a regulatory red light at new stock listings last summer, and since then, the backlog of applications for companies waiting to list on the Shanghai and Shenzhen markets has grown to nearly 900. Many of those include private equity investors seeking to cash out.

At the same time, interest among investors in American stock markets for new offerings from China remains scant after a series of accounting fraud scandals that triggered a crackdown by the Securities and Exchange Commission and, more recently, prompted a standoff between the regulator and the Chinese affiliates of the world’s biggest auditing firms.

‘‘In China, historically the exit route has been an I.P.O. on the U.S. markets, but at the moment that route is not looking very encouraging,’’ Lucian Wu, managing director of Paul Capital, which has $6 billion in assets under management, said at an industry forum in Hong Kong on Thursday. ‘‘With the domestic market essentially shut until the regulators decide otherwise, the I.P.O. market in China is not really there.’’

Exits are crucial because private equity funds typically raise money to invest over a fixed period — often a comparatively short three to five years in China — after which it must be returned to investors. Because of the lack of exit opportunities, pension funds, university endowments and other big institutional investors in the United States, Europe and Asia have taken a more cautious approach toward investing more money.

‘‘There is increasing skepticism about the ability to put large amounts of money to work here in Asia. The exits haven’t been there,’’ David Pierce, the chief executive of Squadron Capital in Hong Kong and the chairman of the Hong Kong Venture Capital Private Equity Association, said at the forum, which was organized by Mergermarket and Ernst Young.

‘‘There are good reasons why institutional investors will continue to put more money out here, but they are more cautious,’’ he added.

Some industry players see so-called secondary deals, or a sale of an asset between two private equity firms, as a viable exit path from Chinese investments given the chilly market for I.P.O.’s. But those deals, too, bring challenges because the institutions that invest in private equity funds may have stakes in both the buyer and the seller.

For them, a secondary deal is ‘‘like moving something from your left hand to your right hand — and at a higher price,’’ said Mr. Wu of Paul Capital.

For private equity firms in China, domestic and foreign, the net effect is that there is no easy way out.

‘‘If you need to or want to do an exit in 2013, you will need to be more creative, because the I.P.O. route, with a few exceptions, is probably not going to be available — and if it is available, it won’t be at an interesting valuation,’’ said Tim Gardner, a partner at the law firm Latham Watkins in Hong Kong who specializes in private equity and mergers acquisitions.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/private-equity-in-china-which-way-out/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: A.I.G. to Sell Remaining Stake in Asian Insurer

American International Group's offices in New York.Eric Thayer/ReutersAmerican International Group’s offices in New York.

HONG KONG– The insurance giant American International Group said on Monday that it had started a process to sell off its entire stake in the Asian insurer AIA Group, ending an association that dates back more than 90 years.

A.I.G.’s 13.7 percent stake was worth 52.2 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $6.7 billion, based on AIA’s most recent share price.

Shares in the Asian insurer, which traces its roots to a firm established by an American entrepreneur in Shanghai in 1919, were suspended from trading in Hong Kong on Monday pending an announcement on the outcome of the sale process. In the end, A.I.G. may sell only part of its stake. A.I.G said it would sell the shares to institutional investors and will use the proceeds from the deal for general corporate purposes.

A.I.G., which is based in New York, became a fully private enterprise last week for the first time since 2008 after the Treasury Department sold its remaining shares in the company in a $7.6 billion deal.

The American insurance giant has been gradually reducing its stake in AIA since the Asian insurer was first spun out in a Hong Kong stock market listing in 2010 that raised 159.1 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $20.51 billion — the third biggest initial public offering in the world at the time.

In September, A.I.G. raised about 15.7 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $2 billion, when it sold a portion of its shares in AIA at 26.50 Hong Kong dollars apiece. That deal included a three-month lockup on A.I.G. selling additional shares in AIA, which expired Dec. 10. The Asian insurer’s stock last traded on Friday at 31.65 Hong Kong dollars.

AIA has a network of 260,000 agents and more than 21,000 employees across the Asia-Pacific region, and it is the leader in the life insurance market in several countries in the region.

However, A.I.G.’s move to cash out of AIA doesn’t mean it is exiting Asia altogether. The American company announced plans last month for a Chinese joint venture with the People’s Insurance Company (Group) of China. As part of their cooperation, A.I.G. bought a $500 million stake in P.I.C.C. during the Chinese company’s Hong Kong stock market listing.

The American and Chinese insurers said they planned to distribute life insurance and other insurance products in major cities across China, and intended to sign final documentation of the joint venture by May 31 of next year. A.I.G. also owns 9.9 percent of P.I.C.C. Property and Casualty, a subsidiary of the Chinese group that is also listed in Hong Kong.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 17, 2012

An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that A.I.G. became a fully private enterprise last week for the first time since 2009. The correct year is 2008.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/a-i-g-to-sell-remaining-stake-in-asian-insurer/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: Trulia Jumps 30% in Debut

Trulia, the real estate information site, rose 30 percent in its debut to open at roughly $22, defying the recent lackluster performance of newly public stocks.

It’s a solid debut for the start-up, which priced its offering at $17 per share late Wednesday, above its expected range of $14 to $16 per share. The company, which is based in San Francisco and trades under the symbol “TRLA” on the New York Stock Exchange, raised $102 million in its initial public offering.

As the housing market begins to show signs of life, investors are warming up to companies like Trulia that focus on real estate. Trulia’s I.P.O. follows last year’s debut of rival Zillow, which wowed Wall Street with a 79 percent pop on the first day pop. Earlier this month, Zillow successfully pursued a second stock offering, raising $172 million, more than in its I.P.O.

Trulia, a real estate information site.Trulia, a real estate information site.

Zillow fell about 1 percent on Thursday morning to $45 per share. However, its shares remains 125 percent above their offering price.

Despite rising enthusiasm for Trulia and Zillow, some analysts have questioned whether their financial results merit such lofty valuations. Trulia, which helps consumers find information on real estate listings and home loans, has yet to record a profit. The company’s revenue nearly doubled in 2011 to $38.5 million, but its loss widened to $6.2 million. In its prospectus, the company also warned that it expects to make significant, future investments to expand its business, which could hamper future profitability.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/trulia-jumps-30-in-debut/?partner=rss&emc=rss