Telstra, Ping Autohome $1.6 billion deal on track despite rival bid


Melbourne / Bloomberg

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, 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.

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