Temasek and Hotel Properties—controlled by billionaire Ong Beng Seng and wife Christina Ong—have teamed up to acquire the commercial properties held by Singapore Press Holdings for about S$$3.4 billion ($2.5 billion) in an all-cash bid that tops a recent offer from Keppel Corp.
Ong and Hotel Properties hold a 40% stake in Cuscaden Peak, a consortium formed with companies affiliated with Temasek to acquire all the shares of Singapore Press for S$2.10 each, Hotel Properties said Friday in a filing to the Singapore Exchange. Units of Temasek’s CLA Real Estate Holdings and Mapletree Investments, another company linked to the Singapore government-owned investment firm, will each hold 30% stakes each in the consortium, it said.
Cuscaden’s bid comes on the heels of the offer made in August by Keppel, another Temasek-affiliated company with businesses spanning oil-rig building, real estate and telecommunications. Keppel—which is offering to buy Singapore Press in a cash and share transaction valued at S$2.099 a share—said it is reviewing Cuscaden’s offer and will make an announcement at an appropriate time.
Keppel’s bid and Cuscaden’s proposed offer are conditional on the completion of the restructuring of Singapore Press’ media business. Shareholders approved the restructuring, which calls for the spinoff of the publisher of the Straits Times into a non-profit entity, last month.
Hotel Properties—owner of the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore—said its participation in the bid for Singapore Press “is strategic in nature to generate better returns through investments for the longer term.”
Should Cuscaden succeed in acquiring Singapore Press, it will be obliged to undertake an offer for SPH REIT, which owns commercial properties in including its crown jewel Paragon, a shopping mall in Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping belt, and the Westfield Marion Shopping Centre in Adelaide, Australia.
With a net worth of $1.7 billion, Ong and wife Christina ranked No. 25 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published in August. He is the managing director of Hotel Properties, which has interests 38 hotels and resorts across 15 countries in Asia, Europe, South Africa and the U.S. Christina runs Como Hotels & Resorts, retail empire Club 21 and London-listed handbag maker Mulberry.