Keppel announces highest profit in six years of $1 billion

All segments of Keppel's business registered improved performances in 2021 compared with 2020. PHOTO: KEPPEL

SINGAPORE - Full-year earnings at Keppel Corporation exceeded the $1 billion mark for the first time in six years after a robust performance from all the group's business segments, it reported on Thursday (Jan 27).

Earnings came in at $1.02 billion for the 12 months to Dec 31, 2021, reversing losses of $506 million in 2020.

All segments of Keppel's business registered improved performances in 2021 compared with 2020, resulting in revenue of $8.63 billion, up 31 per cent from 2020.

Keppel's divisions include urban development, connectivity, energy and environment, and asset management. Urban development contributed almost 75 per cent to the 2021 bottom line.

As a result, Keppel is proposing a final dividend of 21 cents a share, taking total dividends for 2021 to 33 cents a share.

"That is more than triple the total dividend in 2020. This translates into a gross dividend yield of 6.4 per cent on the company's last transacted share price of $5.12 as of Dec 31, 2021," said Keppel chief executive Loh Chin Hua.

He noted in an update delivered during the results briefing on Thursday that Keppel's proposed acquisition of the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) portfolio "received overwhelming support" from shareholders during its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Dec 9 last year.

At the EGM, 98.22 per cent, or shareholders of 380.9 million shares, backed Keppel's proposal to buy SPH at $2.351 a share. This includes cash as well as units in Keppel Reit and SPH Reit.

The next step in the process is for SPH to call a scheme meeting to allow its shareholders to vote on Keppel's proposal.

"On Keppel's part, we have put our best foot forward, and we will respect the outcome of the process," Mr Loh said.

SPH is also considering another privatisation offer by Cuscaden Peak, which is offering each SPH shareholder the option of an all-cash offer of $2.36, or $2.40 a share comprising $1.602 in cash and units of SPH Reit.

Apart from the SPH portfolio, Keppel is also exploring several other merger and acquisition opportunities. These include "data centre platforms in Asia, Europe and the US. We are also looking at asset management platforms and in the environmental engineering and solutions space", Mr Loh said.

Discussions to combine the Keppel Offshore & Marine rig-building unit with Sembcorp Marine are "progressing steadily", with definitive agreements expected by the end of March, he added.

Keppel has received bids for its logistics business, and expects definitive agreements on its divestment of that business also by the end of March.

The company's home sales in China improved in 2021, even though sentiment was affected by the debt issues faced by some of China's largest property developers such as Evergrande as well as a slowdown in the Chinese economy, Mr Loh said.

Last year, Keppel Land sold 4,870 homes, a 46 per cent increase from the 3,340 moved in 2020. The total sales value was $4 billion in 2021, up 60 per cent from 2020.

Mr Loh said "sustainability, being asset-light and harnessing technology" will enable Keppel to stay relevant and grow faster than before.

Keppel shares closed down 1.12 per cent at $5.29 on Thursday.

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