Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Frasers Centrepoint In $180m Allco Deal

Source : The Business Times, July 9, 2008

Allco Commercial Reit to be renamed Frasers Commercial Trust

IN what appears to be a sign of consolidation in the Singapore real estate investment trust (Reit) market, Frasers Centrepoint (FC) is buying 17.7 per cent of Allco Commercial Reit and 100 per cent of the Reit's manager, Allco Singapore, for a total consideration of $180 million.

Mr Lim: Frasers Centrepoint has plans to bolster and strengthen the financial position of Allco Reit

FC, a subsidiary of Fraser and Neave (F&N), had planned to list a commercial Reit called Frasers Commercial Trust (FCT) and recently received in-principle listing approval from Singapore Exchange. With the deal, FC will scrap the listing plan and rename Allco Reit as FCT.

Allco Finance Group, the Australian holding company of Allco Singapore, is said to be selling its stake to repay debt. For $104.3 million, Allco Finance and two of its subsidiaries will sell 125.65 million Allco Reit units to FC for 83 cents each. The unit price is a 42.4 per cent discount to the Reit's net asset value per unit and a 16.9 per cent premium to its last-traded price of 71 cents on Monday.

FC will also gain control of Allco Singapore by taking on all of its issued ordinary and preference shares for $75.7 million. The entire deal could be completed by Aug 6.

According to market watchers, Allco Finance ran a limited auction that aroused significant interest. As one observer put it: 'This would represent an immediate platform for a fund manager or property developer wanting to have a ready-made Reit.'

An FC spokesman told BT: 'Such an opportunity to acquire good quality commercial properties at an attractive valuation level is rare.' Allco Reit's property portfolio spans Singapore, Australia and Japan, and the deal will help FC gain $2 billion of commercial assets under management.

'Current Allco Reit unit holders will benefit from tapping into the professional management expertise, regional footprint and resources of one of Singapore's largest property companies,' FC chief executive Lim Ee Seng said in a statement yesterday.

Allco Reit will be able to leverage on a ready pipeline of commercial assets owned by FC. These comprise Alexandra Point, Alexandra Technopark and the office and ancillary retail components of Valley Point - properties initially set aside for the planned listing of FCT.

'Depending on prevailing market conditions and subject to the approval of shareholders, FC intends to inject its commercial assets within six to 18 months of completion of the acquisition,' an FC spokesman told BT.

Mr Lim noted: 'We have clear plans to bolster and strengthen the financial position of Allco Reit.' FC 'will be able to assist Allco Reit in negotiating the refinancing of its existing loans, which will bring clear benefits to Allco Reit's unit holders'. Details will be announced at the appropriate time, the FC spokesman said.

FC expects to use internal cash resources and existing credit facilities to fund the $180 million deal. The acquisition is not expected to have a material impact on the net asset value or pre-tax net profit of F&N or its subsidiaries for the year ending Sept 30, 2008.

Credit Suisse Singapore was FC's financial adviser on the acquisition.

News of the deal drove Allco Reit's units up 0.7 per cent or 0.5 cents to end at 71.5 cents yesterday. F&N shares, on the other hand, closed 0.9 per cent or four cents down at $4.39.

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