CapitaLand to buy real estate group Ascendas-Singbridge from Temasek in S$11b deal

Singapore’s CapitaLand is buying the owner of a clutch of real estate investment trusts from state investor Temasek in a deal valued at S$11 billion that the developer said will create the largest diversified property group in Asia.

CapitaLand will buy the holding companies of the business of the Ascendas-Singbridge Group, which manages Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, Ascendas India Trust and Ascendas Hospitality Trust, for cash and stock.

The deal marks one of the biggest consolidations in Singapore’s fragmented real estate investment trust sector, in which some segments, like retail, face increased challenges, partly due to the onslaught of e-commerce.

The deal will create a group with combined total assets under management of more than S$116 billion, CapitaLand and Ascendas-Singbridge said in a joint statement on Monday (Jan 14).

Real estate developer CapitaLand’s global businesses span shopping malls, lodging, offices, homes, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and funds. The deal will push CapitaLand ahead of its target to grow its assets under management to S$100 billion by 2020.

Ascendas-Singbridge is mainly a business space provider, such as logistics and business parks, as well as data centres.

“Geographically, the deal strengthens CapitaLand’s presence in our core markets of Singapore and China, while adding meaningful scale in India, US and Europe,” CapitaLand’s chief executive Lee Chee Koon said in a statement.

In a message to employees for 2019, Lee had cautioned against CapitaLand “continuing with the status quo”.

“Companies either thrive, survive, or erode, especially in a world that is constantly changing. This is a time when it is dangerous to stay contented,” he had said.

The Temasek deal will help CapitaLand diversify and give it a footing in new markets, analysts said.

“Industrials, which are being driven up due to e-commerce demand, is an area CapitaLand sorely lacked. CapitaLand’s retail mall business was also coming under a lot of pressure due to e-commerce,” said Wong Yew Kiang, an analyst at CLSA.

“Industrial asset class needs scale, you have to buy a big portfolio in one go if you want to make yourself relevant,” said Wong, adding investors could, however, be worried as the deal was coming when valuations had run up a fair bit and interest rates were set to increase.

The deal also gives the company a strong foothold in logistics and business parks.

“In an increasingly competitive global retail landscape environment, this consolidation will help scale and competitiveness for the companies,” said a person familiar with the transaction.

The target companies have a combined enterprise value of S$10.9 billion.

“Our complementary strengths position us strongly for growth amidst the changing real estate environment in Singapore and internationally,” CapitaLand’s chairman Ng Kee Choe said in the statement.

Under the agreement, Temasek will effectively receive about S$6 billion, half in cash and half in new CapitaLand shares, which will be priced at S$3.50 a piece.

After the deal closes, Temasek’s stake in CapitaLand will increase to about 51 per cent from about 40.8 per cent.

With Temasek owning stakes in both acquiring and target companies, the deal must receive approval from CapitaLand’s independent shareholders.

Trading in shares of CapitaLand, some of its listed REITs, and Ascendas-Singbridge’s REITs, was halted ahead of the announcement.

Temasek’s divestment plans come just days after a source said it was in talks to sell a small portion of its 24.9 per cent stake in beauty and health retailer AS Watson.

Source: Channel NewsAsia – 14 Jan 2019

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