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Giant Interactive Group Enters Into Definitive Merger Agreement For Going Private Transaction

NEW YORK, March 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  Giant Interactive Group Inc. (NYSE: GA) ("Giant" or the "Company"), one of China's leading online game developers and operators, announced today, March 17, 2014 in Shanghai, China that it has entered into a definitive Agreement and Plan of Merger (the "Merger Agreement") with Giant Investment Limited ("Parent") and Giant Merger Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent ("Merger Sub").

Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, Parent will acquire the Company for cash consideration equal to US$12.00 per ordinary share of the Company (each, a "Share") and US$12.00 per American Depositary Share of the Company, each representing one Share (each, an "ADS"), or approximately US$3.0 billion in aggregate cash consideration. This represents an 18.5% premium over the closing price of US$10.13 per ADS as quoted by the New York Stock Exchange (the "NYSE") on November 22, 2013, and a premium of 31.6% and 33.6%, respectively, over the Company's 30- and 60- trading day volume-weighted average price as quoted by the NYSE prior to November 22, 2013, the last trading day prior to the Company's announcement on November 25, 2013 that it had received a non-binding "going private" proposal from the chairman of the board of directors of the Company, Mr. Yuzhu Shi (and certain of his affiliated entities), and an affiliate of Baring Private Equity Asia (Baring Private Equity Asia together with funds managed and entities controlled by it, "Baring"), to acquire all of the outstanding Shares, including Shares represented by ADSs, not already owned by them. 

The consideration to be paid to holders of Shares and ADSs pursuant to the Merger Agreement also represents an increase of approximately 2.1% from the original US$11.75 per Share and US$11.75 per ADS offer price in the November 25, 2013 "going private" proposal.

Immediately following the consummation of the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, Parent will be beneficially owned by a consortium (the "Buyer Group") comprising a company owned by Mr. Shi, an affiliate of Baring and an affiliate of Hony Capital Fund V, L.P. (Hony Capital Fund V, L.P., together with funds managed and entities controlled by it, "Hony Capital"). As of the date of the Merger Agreement, the members of the Buyer Group beneficially own in aggregate approximately 49.3% of the issued and outstanding Shares. 

Subject to the terms and conditions of the Merger Agreement, at the effective time of the Merger, Merger Sub will merge with and into the Company, with the Company continuing as the surviving corporation and a wholly owned subsidiary of Parent (the "Merger"), and each of the Shares issued and outstanding immediately prior to the effective time of the Merger (including Shares represented by ADSs) will be cancelled in consideration for the right to receive US$12.00 per Share or US$12.00 per ADS, in each case, in cash, without interest and net of any applicable withholding taxes, except for (i) up to 59,890,972 Shares held by Union Sky Holding Group Limited, a company owned by Mr. Shi ("Union Sky"), 11,800,000 Shares held by Baring Private Equity Asia Holding (12) Limited, a company owned by Baring ("Baring SPV", and together with Union Sky, the "Rollover Shareholders"), and Shares held by Parent, the Company or any of their subsidiaries immediately prior to the effective time of the Merger, which Shares will be cancelled without payment of any consideration or distribution therefor, (ii) Shares owned by holders who have validly exercised and not effectively withdrawn or lost their rights to dissent from the Merger pursuant to Section 238 of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands, which Shares will be cancelled at the effective time of the Merger for the right to receive the fair value of such Shares determined in accordance with the provisions of Section 238 of the Companies Law of the Cayman Islands, and (iii) 37,500,000 Shares held by Union Sky immediately prior to the effective time of the Merger, which will be cancelled in exchange for Union Sky's right to receive a promissory note to be issued to Union Sky in the aggregate principal amount of US$450,000,000, which is equal to the product of (a) 37,500,000 and (b) US$12.00, which note will be issued by the Company and bear simple interest at two percent per annum. As a result of the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, Mr. Shi will retain approximately one-half of his pre-transaction beneficial ownership in the Company, while selling the remainder for cash and a promissory note based on the same price per Share and per ADS as is to be paid to unaffiliated holders of Shares and ADSs, respectively, in the Merger.

The Buyer Group intends to fund the Merger through a combination of (i) cash contributions from affiliates of Baring and Hony Capital pursuant to equity commitment letters, (ii) the proceeds from a committed and underwritten loan facility contemplated by a debt commitment letter dated March 17, 2014 pursuant to which China Minsheng Banking Corp., Ltd., Hong Kong Branch, BNP Paribas Hong Kong Branch, Credit Suisse AG, Singapore Branch, Deutsche Bank AG, Singapore Branch, Goldman Sachs (Asia) L.L.C., Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC, ICBC International Finance Limited and JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. have agreed as underwriters and/or mandated lead arrangers to underwrite and/or arrange (directly or through their affiliates) an aggregate of US$850 million in debt financing for the Merger, subject to certain conditions, and (iii) cash in the Company and its subsidiaries.

The Company's board of directors, acting upon the unanimous recommendation of the special committee formed by the board of directors (the "Special Committee"), unanimously approved the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, including the Merger, and resolved to recommend that the Company's shareholders authorize and approve the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, including the Merger. The Special Committee, which is composed solely of independent directors of the Company who are unaffiliated with Parent, Merger Sub or any member of the Buyer Group or management of the Company, exclusively negotiated the terms of the Merger Agreement with the Buyer Group with the assistance of its independent financial and legal advisors.

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, the Company is not permitted to pay any dividends or repurchase any Shares pending consummation of the Merger. As a result, the Company's board of directors has suspended the Company's previously announced share repurchase program and dividend policy.

The Merger, which is currently expected to close during the second half of 2014, is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval by an affirmative vote of holders of Shares representing at least two-thirds of the Shares present and voting in person or by proxy as a single class at a meeting of the Company's shareholders, which will be convened to consider the authorization and approval of the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, including the Merger, and the other closing conditions specified in the Merger Agreement.  As of the date of the Merger Agreement, the Rollover Shareholders and Vogel Holding Group Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Union Sky ("Vogel"), beneficially own in aggregate approximately 49.3% of the issued and outstanding Shares.  Pursuant to a support agreement among the Rollover Shareholders, Vogel, Parent and Giant Group Holdings Limited, the sole shareholder of Parent, the Rollover Shareholders and Vogel have agreed to vote all their Shares and ADSs in favor of the authorization and approval of the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, including the Merger. If completed, the Merger will result in the Company becoming a privately-held company and ADSs will no longer be listed on the NYSE.

Morgan Stanley Asia Limited and Duff & Phelps LLC are jointly serving as financial advisors to the Special Committee. Fenwick & West LLP is serving as U.S. legal counsel to the Special Committee and Maples and Calder is serving as Cayman Islands legal counsel to the Special Committee. Shearman & Sterling is serving as legal counsel to Morgan Stanley Asia Limited. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is serving as legal counsel to Duff & Phelps LLC.

Kilometre Capital is serving as strategic consultant to the Company.  O'Melveny and Myers LLP is serving as U.S. legal counsel to the Company, Grandall Legal Firm (Shanghai) is serving as PRC legal counsel to the Company and Conyers, Dill and Pearman is serving as Cayman Islands legal counsel to the Company.

China Minsheng Bank, Hong Kong Branch, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, ICBC International Capital Limited and J.P. Morgan are serving as financial advisors to the Buyer Group.  Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C. is serving as U.S. legal counsel to Mr. Shi and the Buyer Group. Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is serving as U.S. legal counsel to Baring and U.S. and English law legal counsel to the Buyer Group for the debt financing. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is serving as U.S. legal counsel to Hony Capital. Fangda Partners is serving as PRC legal counsel to Baring and Hony Capital. Linklaters is serving as U.S. and English law legal counsel to the mandated lead arrangers of the debt financing, and Appleby and Jun He Law Offices are serving as Cayman Islands legal counsel and PRC legal counsel, respectively, to the mandated lead arrangers of the debt financing.

Additional Information about the Transaction

The Company will furnish to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") a report on Form 6-K regarding the proposed transactions described in this announcement, which will include as an exhibit thereto the Merger Agreement. All parties desiring details regarding the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement, including the Merger, are urged to review these documents, which will be available at the SEC's website (http://www.sec.gov).

In connection with the Merger, the Company will prepare and mail a proxy statement to its shareholders. In addition, certain participants in the Merger will prepare and mail to the Company's shareholders a Schedule 13E-3 transaction statement. These documents will be filed with or furnished to the SEC. INVESTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY THESE MATERIALS AND OTHER MATERIALS FILED WITH OR FURNISHED TO THE SEC WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE, AS THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE COMPANY, THE TRANSACTIONS CONTEMPLATED BY THE MERGER AGREEMENT AND RELATED MATTERS. In addition to receiving the proxy statement and Schedule 13E-3 transaction statement by mail, shareholders also will be able to obtain these documents, as well as other filings containing information about the Company, the Merger and related matters, without charge, from the SEC's website (http://www.sec.gov) or at the SEC's public reference room at 100 F Street, NE, Room 1580, Washington, D.C. 20549. In addition, these documents can be obtained, without charge, by contacting the Company at the following address and/or phone number:

Giant Interactive Group Inc.
11/F No. 3 Building, 700 Yishan Road,
Shanghai, 200233, People's Republic of China
Phone: +86 21 3397-9999

The Company and certain of its directors, executive officers and other members of management and employees may, under SEC rules, be deemed to be "participants" in the solicitation of proxies from shareholders with respect to the Merger. Information regarding the persons or entities who may be considered "participants" in the solicitation of proxies will be set forth in the proxy statement and Schedule 13E-3 transaction statement relating to the Merger when it is filed with the SEC. Information regarding certain of these persons and their beneficial ownership of the Company's ordinary shares as of March 31, 2013 is also set forth in the Company's Form 20-F, which was filed with the SEC on April 18, 2013. Additional information regarding the interests of such potential participants will be included in the proxy statement and Schedule 13E-3 transaction statement and the other relevant documents filed with the SEC when they become available.

This announcement is neither a solicitation of proxy, an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell any securities and it is not a substitute for any proxy statement or other filings that may be made with the SEC should the Merger proceed.

Cautionary Statement concerning Forward Looking Statements

This news release may include certain statements that are not descriptions of historical facts, but are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as "will," "expects," "anticipates," "future," "intends," "plans," "believes," "estimates" and similar statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any such statements. Potential risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, uncertainties as to how the Company's shareholders will vote at the meeting of shareholders, the possibility that competing offers will be made, the possibility that various closing conditions to the Merger may not be satisfied or waived and other risks and uncertainties discussed in Giant's filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Schedule 13E-3 transaction statement and the proxy statement to be filed by the Company in connection with the Merger. Giant does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement, except as required under applicable law.

About Giant Interactive Group Inc.

Giant Interactive Group Inc. (NYSE: GA) is a leading online game developer and operator in China, and focuses on massively multiplayer online role playing games. Currently, Giant operates multiple games, including the ZT Online 1 Series, ZT Online 2, Elsword, and World of Xianxia. For more information, please visit Giant Interactive Group on the web at www.ga-me.com.

 

 

SOURCE Giant Interactive Group Inc.

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