comscore BNP sale, buyback to reduce its First Hawaiian stake to less than 50% | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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BNP sale, buyback to reduce its First Hawaiian stake to less than 50%

French banking giant BNP Paribas soon will no longer be the majority shareholder of First Hawaiian Bank.

Hawaii’s largest bank said today that BNP’s ownership of First Hawaiian could drop to as low as 48.8 percent following the completion of a public secondary offering by a BNP affiliate and a concurrent stock repurchase of additional First Hawaiian stock from BNP. The two transactions collectively would fetch the Paris-based company nearly $549 million.

Holding company First Hawaiian Inc. said the offering price will be $27.75 a share. That is a discount of 2.1 percent from Tuesday’s closing price of $28.35, which was up 14 cents on the day. The offering is expected to close on Thursday.

First Hawaiian said BNP intends to offer 15.3 million shares in the secondary offering and that underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 1.53 million shares. BNP would receive $424.6 million from the secondary offering and an additional $42.5 million if the underwriters — Goldman Sachs & Co., Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank Securities — purchase all of their allotment. The secondary offering and underwriting purchases would bring BNP’s total take to more than $467 million. First Hawaiian will not receive any of the proceeds from BNP’s sale.

In conjunction with that offering, First Hawaiian said it will repurchase directly from BNP a number of shares equal to about $81.8 million. First Hawaiian said the per share price it pays to BNP will be the same price paid by the underwriters in the secondary offering.

The completion of the public offering and the direct share repurchase would reduce BNP’s ownership stake of First Hawaiian to 49.9 percent from 61.9 percent. If the underwriters’ option is fully exercised, BNP’s remaining stake would be reduced further to 48.8 percent.

At one time BNP owned 100 percent of First Hawaiian, but sold a minority stake in the bank through an initial public offering in August 2016 and a January 2017 secondary offering to raise capital so it could meet regulatory requirements.

First Hawaiian’s IPO, which was priced at $23 on Aug. 3, 2016, closed the following day at $24.25 on its first day of trading. The secondary offering was priced at $32 a share, but the stock has languished since then and is down 2.8 percent this year and off 4.1 percent over the past 52 weeks.

Banking analyst Laurie Havener Hunsicker of Compass Point Research & Trading said in an April 27 investors’ report that BNP’s majority ownership has created an overhang on First Hawaiian’s stock. BNP repeatedly has said it intends to dispose of its entire stake in First Hawaiian but never offered a timetable.

“We note that the lack of clarity around the BNP Paribas stake sale has caused an overhang on shares, as well as lack of clarity on FHB as a standalone bank on everything from expenses to share repurchases,” said Hunsicker of Compass Point Research & Trading.

BNP, the owner of San Francicso-based Bank of the West, acquired 45 percent ownership of First Hawaiian in 1998 when First Hawaiian and Bank of the West merged. BNP then bought the balance of First Hawaiian in 2001.

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