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Blackstone to Buy into State-owned Firm
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US private equity firm Blackstone will spend at least US$200 million to buy a stake in Bluestar Group, a major state-owned supplier of chemicals and related services, according to a source close to the Chinese company.

The source, who declined to be named, said the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission has given the green light to the two companies to go ahead with the deal.

"But they still have to work out an agreement," said the source, saying the two sides are negotiating the amount of stake and price.

The source denied earlier reports that Blackstone would spend US$500 million for a 30 percent stake in Bluestar.

The buzz is that Bluestar is planning its initial public offering in Hong Kong. If the deal goes through, Blackstone - as a large international fund - is likely to be Bluestar's strategic investor in the IPO, said a mainland analyst of the chemical industry who also did not want to be named.

With money from a strategic investor, observers say, Bluestar may increase its net asset value from 2.4 billion to as much as 15 billion yuan by increasing equity ownership of its subsidiaries and associated companies before the IPO.

The Blackstone decision was made, according to sources, "after contacting other companies in China, not just Bluestar".

The Blackstone-Bluestar marriage would be the first deal undertaken by the US private equity fund to buy a Chinese company after the Chinese government took a 9.9 percent stake in it in May.

Analysts noted that Blackstone, which had its IPO in the New York Stock Exchange in June and opened its first office for the Chinese market in January, has to make aggressive moves in the market it has just entered.

Bluestar, whose parent company is China National Chemical Corp, the largest chemical industry company in the country, holds stakes in New Chemical Materials, Bluestar Cleaning and Shenyang Chemical Industry.

(China Daily July 4, 2007)

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