Despite the failure of a HK$520 million (€51.2m-$66.7m) share placement early this month, Moulin International says it can carry out the $450 million purchase of 56 percent of the Eye Care Centers of America retail chain in the USA by using bank borrowings and cash reserves. The deal should be completed right after a special shareholders meeting on Feb. 28. When announcing the deal in December, JP Morgan Chase committed to provide up to $340 million for the purchase and working capital.
Moulin says the secondary placement was never part of the purchase plan. Rather, it had been intended to improve the stock's liquidity, to broaden the shareholder base in the USA and to reduce the debt/equity ratio of the parent company. The management says it chose not to proceed when it decided that the offering was going to be priced at a level ?not reflective of Moulin's true value.?
Having dashed up 19 percent to a 12-month high early in February, Moulin's stock price in Hong Kong had tumbled and then crawled back by Feb. 17 to HK$6.20, the bottom of the indicative range. Local reports say the offering was unable to generate sufficient interest, possibly because investors are still processing the ECCA acquisition. Moulin has in fact postponed rather than canceled the placement, while ECCA itself has extended until March 1 a cash offer, originally set to expire on Feb. 16, to redeem $130 million worth of high-interest and floating-interest bonds and securities.
A circular sent to Moulin shareholders says ECCA has about 2.5 percent of the optical retail market in the USA. On a pro-forma consolidated basis, Moulin expects the deal to cause its turnover to more than double to HK$2.84 billion (€279.5m-$364.1m), while net earnings should go up 40.7 percent to HK$182 million (€17.9m-$23.3m). Earnings per share are expected to climb by 41.1 percent to HK$0.597.
Meanwhile, shareholders voted to change the company's name to Moulin Global Eyecare Holdings. The company believes the new name will be more reflective of its total business, once it acquires ECCA.