Keppel Raises Offer in Bidding War for Singapore’s SPH
(Bloomberg) -- A bidding war is heating up over a Singapore media and property company, as entities linked to the city state’s investment firm rival each other in a rare clash.
Keppel Corp -- which is linked to Temasek Holdings Pte. -- raised its offer to buy Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. by 12% after a rival entered a bid. The offer of S$2.351 per share includes additional cash of S$0.20 per share and is “final,” according to a statement filed on the Singapore Exchange late Tuesday.
The offer is the latest twist in a takeover rivalry and tops a bid last month from Cuscaden Peak Pte. The consortium which also includes investment giant Temasek, in addition to Mapletree Investments Pte. and a company tied to Singapore property tycoon Ong Beng Seng, offered S$2.10 a share, marginally higher than Keppel’s original proposal in August.
The raised bid was spurred by improvement in economic conditions as well as SPH’s recent financial performance, Keppel’s Chief Executive Officer Loh Chin Hua said at a media and analyst briefing on Wednesday. Synergies have become clearer after interaction with SPH’s management over the past few months, he added.
Keppel, whose operations span from rig building to infrastructure and renewable energy, may lift its trading halt tomorrow morning to give investors and analysts time to digest the latest announcement, Loh said. The firm managed assets worth S$37 billion ($27.5 billion) as of the end of December.
The Keppel-Cuscaden bidding war for SPH is setting up a tantalising takeover battle that’s rarely seen in Singapore. Prior to Keppel raising its bid, SPH shareholders have lamented that the company is still undervalued even with Cuscaden’s offer.
Up for grabs are SPH’s assets including shopping malls located in Singapore and Australia, student accommodation in the U.K. and Germany, and a local nursing home chain, according to its website. It also has investments in the education and events business.
The company saw its fortunes improve in the financial year ending Aug. 31, as it garnered a net profit of S$92.9 million, reversing the net loss in the previous period.
SPH and Keppel as well as their real estate investment trusts suspended trading on Wednesday morning. SPH’s shares closed at S$2.16 on Tuesday, while those of Keppel last traded at S$5.31.
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