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Conglomerate Keppel sweetens offer for Singapore Press to $2.8 bln

·2-min read
Conglomerate Keppel sweetens offer for Singapore Press to $2.8 bln

(Adds details on consortium)

Nov 10 (Reuters) - Conglomerate Keppel Corp has raised its offer to buy Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) , excluding its media business, at a valuation of $2.8 billion, heating up a bidding war with a consortium that includes firms linked to state investor Temasek Holdings.

Singapore's Keppel in a statement late on Tuesday said it is now offering S$2.351 per share to SPH shareholders in cash plus stock, higher than its initial offer of S$2.099 and outbidding Cuscaden Peak's S$2.1 per share.

The improved bid sets up a battle among investors eyeing SPH's property assets, which include malls, student accommodation and elderly care facilities.

Keppel's revised offer increases its cash component by 20 Singapore cents per share, valuing SPH at about S$3.8 billion. That represents an 8.8% premium to SPH's last close of S$2.160.

"While we believe that this is an attractive acquisition, Keppel will remain disciplined. We ... have made it clear that this is the final consideration," Keppel Chief Executive Loh Chin Hua said.

Trading in shares of Keppel - which also counts Temasek as a major shareholder - SPH and other real estate investment trusts linked to the two companies were halted on Wednesday.

The Cuscaden Peak consortium comprises a unit of Singapore-based Hotel Properties Ltd, its Managing Director Ong Beng Seng and subsidiaries of Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd and CLA Real Estate Holdings, which are independently managed portfolio companies of Temasek.

SPH, which has been in talks with Cuscaden since late October, said in a separate statement that its shareholders would decide on Keppel's revised bid by Dec. 8.

The media and real estate firm holds stakes in a handful of malls in Singapore and Australia, its own student accommodations in Britain and Germany, a private nursing home in Singapore and aged care assets in Japan.

($1 = 1.3504 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Ramakrishnan M.)