On January 30, Seeking Alpha contributor Markus Aarnio already wrote an article entitled Tibet Pharmaceuticals Trading Below Net Cash. Tibet Pharmaceuticals (TBET) is the next one that's going private. Last week the company announced a non-binding proposal letter, as you can read in its latest press release:
its Board of Directors has received a non-binding proposal letter from its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hong Yu ("Mr. Yu"), for Mr. Yu to acquire all of the outstanding shares of the Company's common stock not currently owned by Mr. Yu, in a going private transaction for $3.00 per share in cash subject to certain conditions. According to the proposal letter, the acquisition is intended to be financed with a combination of debt and equity capital to be secured by Mr. Yu. Mr. Yu currently beneficially owns approximately 22.1% of TBET's common stock.
Many U.S. listed Chinese companies have their eye on going private, with a growing number of such transactions having closed recently. This is the combined result of the current weakness of the U.S. capital markets, significant losses in the value of many U.S. listed Chinese companies, and pessimistic market forecasts that have resulted in trading at values below what controlling shareholders, management or private equity firms may think certain companies are worth.
The United States is no longer the perfect honeymoon for Chinese companies that want to connect with Westerners. Going private seems to be the only solution for many U.S.-listed China companies. The enormous compliance costs associated with being listed in America are a heavy burden for these companies, especially if a U.S. listing doesn't give anything back. Trading and liquidity for many smaller companies is low, and the legal environment is quite different than in mainland China.
Low trading can be explained partly by the lack of attention Western analysts pay to Chinese businesses, particularly smaller ones from lesser-known sectors. When liquidity isn't good, it's difficult for Chinese companies to obtain further funding from the stock market.
A company's depressed market price and valuation is one of the reasons to go private. In the case of Tibet Pharmaceuticals, it is trading under cash value per share ($1.75) and a P/E below 3. As mentioned in two of my former articles (US-Listed China Stocks Vulnerable To Management Buy-Outs and Going Private Or Going Dark Opportunities And Risks For US-Listed China Stocks), there are several ways a company decides to go private.
Some of the reasons why Chinese companies may go private:
- To save costs. There are considerable costs associated with being listed on a U.S. exchange, including ongoing regulatory compliance and defending against shareholder lawsuits and other litigation.
- Strategic business reasons and the ability to manage the company. Private companies are not required to publicly disclose competitive information, are provided more flexible corporate governance, and can focus on business objectives rather than investor relations issues and the short-term pressures of appeasing shareholders.
- The ability to realize value. Going private may allow shareholders to realize a better price for their shares than they would otherwise realize from continuing to hold the shares or selling them on an exchange. Further, companies may go public because analysts consider a company's share valuations to be low when compared to what the company could generate from other equity markets such as Hong Kong or Mainland China.
After Harbin Electric and China Security & Surveillance, Tibet Pharmaceuticals is another example of a U.S. listed China company leaving the U.S. Capital Markets. Investors who can snap up shares of undervalued companies that trade lower than their cash value per share, such as Tibet Pharmaceuticals does, could benefit from the current disconnect many U.S. listed China stocks have with fair value or take-over value. This makes these companies attractive for management teams or private equity funds.
Disclosure: I am long TBET.