Thumbs up for SPH Reit from shareholders

Thumbs up for SPH Reit from shareholders

SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) shareholders gave an emphatic green light on Tuesday for the media group to put its retail malls into a real estate investment trust (Reit) and pay a special dividend.

Shareholders voted overwhelmingly for the proposed Reit deal at a 90-minute long extraordinary general meeting (EGM), with 99.79 per cent of votes cast in favour.

SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang said the transaction will offer shareholders the chance to "have (their) cake and eat it too".

"SPH shareholders will get to enjoy the best of both worlds: The special dividend will reward you for your investment in SPH, and you will be able to participate in the performance and growth of SPH Reit."

SPH is set to retain a 70 per cent stake in the Reit post-listing, allowing SPH shareholders to continue to benefit from the group's majority ownership of quality properties through new revenue streams, Dr Lee said.

Last month, SPH announced plans to inject its retail malls, including the upmarket Paragon, into a billion-dollar Reit, with the listing happening as soon as early next month.

Under the deal, SPH will sell Paragon and Clementi Mall to the Reit for $2.5 billion and $570.5 million respectively.

On Tuesday, shareholders also gave the thumbs up to the proposed special dividend of 18 cents a share, to be paid out once the listing is completed. Of the votes cast, 99.94 per cent were in favour of the payout.

Questions raised at the EGM at the News Centre in Toa Payoh North included the timing of the listing, given the current overall equity market turbulence,and whether SPH will eventually evolve into a property group.

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