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China Eastern Sells Stake to Singapore Airlines

An announcement of the deal ends months of waiting by investors.
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China Eastern Airlines (CEA) - Get China Eastern Airlines Corporation Ltd. Report at long last has announced that it's selling a sizeable equity stake to Singapore Airlines, according to a published media report.

The airline, one of China's top carriers, said Sunday that it would sell a combined 24% stake to Singapore Airlines and Singapore Airline's parent, Temasek Holdings, for HK$7.2 billion, or $923 million,

The Wall Street Journal

reported on its Web site Sunday.

The announcement comes three months after Singapore Airlines said it was in talks to make an investment in China Eastern.

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The sale marks another step in the liberalization of China's airlines and could set the stage for foreign investment in other Chinese carriers, the report noted.

China Eastern will sell a total of 2.98 billion new Class H shares for HK$11.3 billion in a private placement, according to the report. Class H shares are listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by mainland Chinese companies.

Singapore Airlines will pay HK$4.7 billion for 1.24 billion of those shares, while Temasek will shell out HK$2.5 billion for 649 million of them, the report said. The remaining 1.1 billion shares will be purchased by China Eastern's parent, China Eastern Air Holding, for HK$4.2 billion.

China Eastern's shares last traded on May 21 and were then suspended after Singapore Airlines announced it was in talks to take an equity stake in the Chinese carrier.

The Wall Street Journal's

report noted that the deal values China Eastern's Class H shares at HK$3.8, slightly higher than their closing level of HK$3.76 on May 21. The company's New York shares closed May 21 at $48.05.