Exclusive: State investors plan to take private HK-listed BMW China partner Brilliance, sources say

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows a parking lot of Chinese carmaker Brilliance Automotive in Shenyang

By Julie Zhu and Yilei Sun

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – State-backed investors are considering taking BMW’s (DE:) main Chinese joint-venture partner Brilliance private, five people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, in the latest such deal targeting beaten down Hong Kong-listed stocks.

The take-private of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd (HK:), with a current market value of $4.6 billion, would be led by state-controlled Liaoning Provincial Transportation Investment Group which already owns 12% of Brilliance, said the people.

The privatisation would attract other Chinese state-backed investors and could kick off as soon as the fourth quarter of the year, said two of the people.

Brilliance’s parent, Huachen Automotive Group [LNGOVC.UL], said it had not obtained any relevant information about the Transportation Investment Group considering leading the take-private of Brilliance.

Brilliance, Liaoning Transportation Investment Group, the provincial state asset regulator and BMW did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The sources declined to be identified as the matter was confidential.

Based in Shenyang city of northeastern Liaoning province, Brilliance is 30% owned by parent Huachen Group, which is majority-owned by the provincial state asset regulator.

The regulator supports the take-private proposal and the Transportation Investment Group has talked to several banks for the deal financing, said three of the people.

Prospective investors believe Brilliance is undervalued in Hong Kong, the sources said, as the automaker is trading at 3.67 times expected earnings, way below the industry’s median multiple of 14.4, according to Refinitiv data.

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Hong Kong’s market has also underperformed major peers, with the blue-chip Hang Seng Index () down 16% as of Wednesday, compared with a 14% gain for China’s CSI 300. Brilliance shares have fallen 10% in the same period.

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