SPH Gets Rival Offer from Singapore Tycoon, Temasek Units
(Bloomberg) -- A rival bid for Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. has emerged, backed by units of investment giants Temasek Holdings Pte. and Mapletree Investments Pte., along with a local property tycoon.
Cuscaden Peak Pte., a consortium which also includes a company tied to Ong Beng Seng, has offered S$2.10 a share for the company, a filing showed Friday. That compares with an earlier offer of $2.099 per share from Keppel Corp., a deal worth S$2.2 billion ($1.6 billion).
The latest offer sets up a tantalizing takeover battle that’s rarely seen in Singapore and may generate excitement given the involvement of entities linked to Temasek, the state-owned investor. Temasek is also a shareholder in Keppel, whose August bid was made in an effort to expand in retail malls, student accommodation and senior living.
Media-shy Ong, whose Hotel Properties Ltd. owns properties in Singapore, Thailand and U.K., is known for bringing the Formula One night race to the city-state.
“It may have been that Ong Beng Seng came up with a pitch that was compelling enough for the other members of the consortium and by extension, Temasek,” Justin Tang, the head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore. “If there is anyone that can make the SPH property assets work harder, it is him.”
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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.
SPH closed at S$1.99 on Thursday, and has been little changed over the past month. Its shares as well as those of its real estate investment trust were halted on Friday.
The offer is contingent on the completion of the spinoff of SPH’s media operations as announced in May, and approval by a majority of its shareholders, according to the filing. The restructuring of the media business, which includes the Straits Times newspaper, was approved last month and is expected to be completed in December.
About 40% of Cuscaden shares are held by Tiga Stars Pte., an investment holding company that itself is 70% owned by Hotel Properties and the remaining 30% by Como Holdings Inc., which is ultimately owned by Ong, according to the filing.
The remaining 60% is split evenly between Adenium Pte., a wholly owned subsidiary of CLA Real Estate Holdings Pte., an independently managed portfolio company of Temasek; and Mapletree Fortress Pte., an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of property investor Mapletree. Temasek also owns Mapletree.
Shares of Hotel Properties climbed 4.6% in Singapore on Friday, the most since March. Keppel REIT rose 2.7% to the highest level in more than two months.
Keppel said it’s reviewing the matter and will make an announcement at an appropriate time. The company plans to delist SPH as part of the transaction, which is comprised of cash and Keppel REIT units, it said in August.
The new offer is also subject to SPH accepting and finalizing the terms and entering into a definitive agreements on the proposal. Should that happen, the consortium will have an obligation to make a chain offer for all units in SPH REIT.
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