Crown Group plans major dual listing

Mr Sunito plans to raise at least $500 million should Crown Group list in Singapore.
Mr Sunito plans to raise at least $500 million should Crown Group list in Singapore.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

Aussie developer eyes Sydney and prefers Singapore over Hong Kong and Shanghai

Australian property developer Crown Group is planning a major dual listing in Sydney and one of three Asian cities - Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai - in 2018, said chief executive Iwan Sunito.

Mr Sunito has been in discussion with investment banks and said he spoke with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) yesterday on terms and conditions of a possible listing here. He plans to raise at least $500 million.

"We will be gathering key information about these markets over the next two months," said Mr Sunito, adding that the group is in talks with potential cornerstone investors.

The SGX declined to comment on Crown's potential listing, but said: "Singapore is Asia's wealth-management hub and a regional hub for institutional investors, with the third- largest concentration of ultra-high- net-worth individuals..."

It noted that "81 per cent of its asset under management is derived from outside Singapore".

"What this means is that issuers can access investors from international markets, China and South- east Asia at one go," it said.

GLOBAL PRESENCE

If you want to tap the China market, you would need to go to Shanghai because that is where the money is. But I don't want our cornerstone investors to be all Chinese companies because we want to have a global presence. The next leap is going to the US.

MR IWAN SUNITO, chief executive of Australian property developer Crown Group, on the company's direction.

While Hong Kong and Shanghai are in the running, Mr Sunito prefers Singapore as it is a global capital hub and close to the group's projects and offices in Jakarta and Sydney.

"I'm not known in Hong Kong. But I'm better known in Singapore because we have an office here. We have also appointed Julian Sedgwick - former head of (business development for) international residential sales at Savills Singapore - to head global sales and strengthen our distribution channels in Singapore."

Mr Sunito is aiming to raise more than $1 billion should his firm list here. "But if I raise just $500 million, that's good enough to start with. You don't need all the money to come from the listing. There are joint venture partners you can tap to grow the company.

"If you want to tap the China market, you would need to go to Shanghai because that is where the money is. But I don't want our cornerstone investors to be all Chinese companies because we want to have a global presence. The next leap is going to the United States."

But he did not rule out Hong Kong or Shanghai. "If our cornerstone partners say they can raise capital from Shanghai, then it may flow that way too."

Last year, Crown appointed former JP Morgan head of real estate investment banking Anthony Ryan to run its new global capital division and to tap investment funds.

Founded in 1996, Crown's Singapore office generated $20 million to $30 million in sales for the 2015 to 2016 financial year, owing in part to the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) for Singaporeans, which diverted interest to Australia.

Its Jakarta office has chalked up sales worth $100 million.

"ABSD is a blessing for us because Singaporeans start diverting their investment interest to Sydney," said Mr Sunito.

About 70 per cent of the firm's clients are Australians and the rest are foreigners. Mainland Chinese make up half of its foreign clientele, with the other half coming from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Crown Group plans major dual listing'. Print Edition | Subscribe