Monday, October 23, 2006

Tussle for Stanchart?

Will there be another major tussle for a prized asset between the investment arms of Singapore and Dubai?

The scenario has arisen again following Dubai investment company Istithmar's purchase of a 2.7 per cent stake in Standard Chartered Bank, in which Singapore investment arm Temasek Holdings is the biggest shareholder with nearly 12 per cent.

Dubai Ports World had trounced Singapore port operator PSA International, which is part of Temasek, for the coveted Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co or P&O earlier this year.

LONDON (Reuters) - Standard Chartered shares hit a six-month high on Monday on speculation that Dubai and Singapore might compete to build stakes, stoked by a newspaper report that Dubai's investment arm wanted to lift its holding to 20 percent.

Sunday's Observer said Istithmar, the Gulf emirate's investment arm which bought a 2.7 percent stake in Standard Chartered earlier this month, might buy up to a one-fifth holding, worth about 4 billion pounds.

Such a move would pit Istithmar against Singapore investor Temasek, which is the biggest shareholder in the Asia-focused bank after buying 12 percent last year for about $4 billion (from the estate of the late Singapore tycoon Khoo Teck Puat).

Dubai outbid Temasek last year in a hard-fought battle to buy ports operator P&O for $6.8 billion.

Or will Temasek and Istithmar work together to gain greater control of Stanchart?

After all, they had worked together to jointly buy a substantial stake in Bangkok-listed Bumrungrad Hospital in January this year as a springboard to healthcare ventures in Asia and the Middle East.

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