Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) shareholders gave an emphatic green light on Tuesday for the media group to put its retail malls into a real estate investment trust (Reit).
Shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposed deal at an extraordinary general meeting, with 99.79 per cent of those present and voting, in favour.
SPH chairman Lee Boon Yang said the transaction will offer shareholders "the best of both worlds", as SPH is set to retain a 70 per cent stake in the Reit post-listing. This will allow SPH shareholders to continue to benefit from the group's majority ownership of these quality properties through new revenue streams.
He added: "You can have your cake and eat it too."
SPH plans to inject its retail malls, including the upmarket Paragon, into a billion-dollar Reit, and the listing could take place as soon as early July. Under the deal, SPH will sell Paragon and Clementi Mall to the Reit for $2.5 billion and $570.5 million respectively.
Issues raised at this morning's EGM include the timing of the listing given the current overall market turbulence, especially in the reits sector, and whether SPH will evolve into a property group.
Mr Lee said: "Media will remain at the heart and core of our business. Property is an additional wing that's promising and has given us good bottomline support over the years."
Shareholders also voted for the proposed special dividend of 18 cents a share, once the initial public offer is completed, with 99.94 per cent in favour of the above.