By Anshuman Daga and Kane Wu
SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) - The race to buy Global Logistic Properties <GLPL.SI> narrowed to between a Chinese consortium backed by the company's management and a rival group led by Warburg Pincus, sources said, as bidders submitted offers for the $10 billion-valued firm.
An acquisition offers a chance for bidders to grab control of Asia's biggest warehouse operator, which counts Amazon <AMZN.O> among its clients and is benefiting from rising demand for modern logistics facilities, driven by a boom in e-commerce business.
Friday marked the deadline for parties to submit binding offers for GLP. Reuters was not able to confirm if more than two bids were submitted.
At current valuations, a successful transaction will rank as the largest Asian buyout by private equity groups, which are increasingly targeting bigger takeovers after raising record funds, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Singapore-listed GLP was thrust into the spotlight late last year after sovereign wealth fund GIC, which owns a 37 percent stake, nudged it to start a strategic review of its business. JPMorgan was then hired by GLP as its financial adviser.
GLP's shares have since soared nearly 50 percent to the highest in more than three years.
After months of negotiations with a special committee of GLP's independent directors, the race has narrowed to between a group led by Chinese private equity firms Hopu Investment Management and Hillhouse Capital Group, with the support of GLP CEO Ming Mei, and a rival consortium headed by Warburg Pincus and its logistics partner e-Shang Redwood, the sources said.
GLP, GIC, Warburg Pincus, Hopu, Hillhouse and a spokeswoman for the consortium declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorized to speak about the deal.
Hopu's founder Fang Fenglei, one of China's best known dealmakers, is a GLP board member, and Hopu, partly owns GLP's China business. The Chinese consortium has also brought in co-investors such as property developer China Vanke <000002.SZ> and Ping An Insurance Group of China <2318.HK> for a bid for GLP, sources have said. "The management group and Warburg Pincus are the most serious bidders. Some other parties are keen on picking up specific assets and not the entire company," said one source. Concerns over the transparency of the sale process and business ties of the management-backed consortium have forced some potential bidders to re-evaluate their interest and sparked complaints to GIC, sources said. Last week, GLP said it was in discussions with shortlisted bidders and had taken measures to alleviate potential conflicts of interest following a Financial Times report that almost all the potential bidders were dropping out due to concerns an insider bid will make other submissions pointless. Some of the potential bidders such as Blackstone Group <BX.N> and Asian buyout firm RRJ Capital were unlikely to submit individual bids, sources said.
Blackstone declined to comment. RRJ did not respond to an emailed request for comment. GLP owns and operates a $41 billion portfolio of industrial assets spread across China, Japan, Brazil and the United States. It gets two-thirds of its revenue from China, where it has a dominant market position. Around 20 lenders are working with three consortia in the hope of securing a role on the deal, IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication, reported last week.
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE and Kane Wu and Carol Zhong in HONG KONG; Additional reporting by Julie Zhu in HONG KONG; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)