GIC 'nudging GLP to address gripes over sale'

A bidding process for Global Logistic Properties has been running since the start of the year. Potential acquirers had been pressing for months to get increasingly detailed financial information on the company.
A bidding process for Global Logistic Properties has been running since the start of the year. Potential acquirers had been pressing for months to get increasingly detailed financial information on the company.PHOTO: GLP

Global Logistic Properties team urged to share info transparently and be more responsive: Sources

The litany of complaints about the biggest Asian buyout deal became so bad that GIC decided to act.

A bidding process for Global Logistic Properties (GLP), the US$9.7 billion (S$13.4 billion) warehouse developer, has been running since the start of the year.

In May, representatives of GIC, the company's largest shareholder, called the GLP working team managing the sale into their offices and instructed the assembled group to be more responsive to bidders' questions and share information transparently in the auction, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the discussions were confidential.

Potential acquirers including Warburg Pincus, Blackstone Group and RRJ Capital had been pressing for months to get increasingly detailed financial information on GLP as they compete with a rival consortium that includes the company's chief executive officer.

At the heart of the issue for the bidders is whether the management-backed group, which also includes Chinese private equity firms Hillhouse Capital Management and Hopu Investment Management, has an advantage over other buyers with privileged access to information.

"Everyone has to be on a level playing field," Mr Justin Tang, a director of global special situations at Religare Capital Markets, said. GIC "can step in as an ombudsman and ensure it's run according to generally accepted principles".

Some bidders had told GLP that documents they needed were trickling in too slowly and important details were blacked out, the people said. The information they were looking for related to the company's joint ventures, fund management performance, employment agreements and appraisals of certain assets, they said.

The May discussion was held in a closed meeting room to prevent uninvolved parties from observing the conversation, one of the people said. For GIC, calling the meeting followed multiple conversations with the parties running GLP's strategic review, including the bankers and lawyers advising a special board committee.

GLP had already been taking steps to address the concerns raised by bidders, according to one person. GLP ended up extending the deadline for final offers to June 30 to give buyers more time to vet its network of warehouses, which sits at the centre of the burgeoning logistics sector in China, Japan, Brazil and the United States.

Additional documents have gradually been added to the physical data rooms and online document repositories being run by GLP, according to the people.

As that date approaches, GIC has become comfortable that information access for all shortlisted bidders has improved, one of the people said.

"The strategic review has always been undertaken independently in the interest of all shareholders," GLP chairman Seek Ngee Huat said in an e-mailed statement on Monday in response to Bloomberg queries. "The special committee is focused on ensuring that the process is fair and transparent in order to maximise value."

As a shareholder with a large stake, GIC works with all parties in this process, a spokesman for the sovereign fund said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg queries, adding that GLP and its board are responsible for the process.

"GIC, GLP and its board need to exercise great care in our respective purviews," GIC said in the statement. "We will continue to monitor carefully the developments and decide our next course of actions accordingly."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'GIC 'nudging GLP to address gripes over sale''. Print Edition | Subscribe