Samsung Says Tender Offer for AST Underway

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday it has begun its tender offer for 18% of computer maker AST Research Inc.

AST, with a product line that ranges from notebook and desktop machines to network servers, agreed last month that Samsung would acquire as much as 40.25% of the company as part of a capital infusion.

Under terms of the offer, Samsung, one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers, will purchase 5.82 million shares for $22 each. It will also purchase 6.44 million newly issued shares of common stock from AST for $19.50 a share.

In addition, Samsung will purchase 5.63 million newly issued shares at $22 each from AST concurrent with acceptance of the shares for purchase in the tender offer.

In Monday's Nasdaq trading, AST's stock closed at $15.375 a share, unchanged.

Separately, Standard & Poor's Corp. said Monday that it may upgrade AST's credit rating.

On Feb. 22, the rating agency had said that AST was dangerously low on cash and that it was considering lowering the company's rating from its current "B-minus" level. Such a move would have made it more expensive for the company to borrow money.

S&P; said Monday that it may upgrade AST's credit rating instead, based on the Samsung investment.

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