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SingTel Unit Optus Signs MOU to Strengthen Australian Services

Optus, a Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) unit, Thursday announced the signing of a binding Memorandum of Understanding with Vodafone Hutchison Australia and Vodafone Network.

It said this will give its customers wider coverage through access to nearly 1,000 additional mobile sites, strengthening its 3G and 4G services across Australia.

The agreement is expected to provide an approximately 20-per cent increase in the overall number of mobile sites on the Optus mobile network by 2015 that will deliver better network consistency, faster data speeds and broader coverage for customers.

“Today’s agreement ensures Optus can accelerate its aggressive push to bring customers a leading mobile network for today and tomorrow,” said Kevin Russell, Chief Executive Officer, Consumer Australia, Optus.

“We will bring quicker data speeds, better call quality, and improved performance in more places to ensure Optus customers stay closer to family and friends through the latest mobile services,” Russell added.

The expanded joint venture network arrangement is subject to approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd closed Thursday at S$3.120.


Ascendas to Carry Out Private Placement of 150,000,000 New Units

Ascendas Funds Management (S) Limited, manager of Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (A-REIT), Thursday announced that it is proposing to carry out a private placement of 150,000,000 New Units to institutional and other investors at an issue price of between S$1.99 (the “minimum offering price”) and S$2.04 per New Unit to raise gross proceeds of between approximately S$298.5 million and about S$306.0 million.

Ascendas Funds, Citigroup Global Markets Singapore Pte Ltd and J.P. Morgan (S.E.A.) Limited (the “joint lead managers and underwriters”) have entered into a placement agreement in relation to the private placement.

The joint lead managers and underwriters have agreed to procure subscriptions for or place out, as applicable, and failing which, to subscribe and pay for, the New Units to be issued pursuant to the private placement at the issue price per New Unit.

The issue price will be determined by the joint lead managers and underwriters following a book-building process. Ascendas Funds will make an announcement via SGXNET once the issue price has been determined, which is expected to be no later than 3 May 2012.

Subject to relevant laws and regulations, Ascendas Funds intends to use the gross proceeds of approximately S$298.5 million from the private placement (based on the minimum offering price) for several areas.

Of this amount, some S$57.0 million will be used to wholly fund asset enhancement initiatives.

Another S$68.0 million will be used to fund the construction costs of the business park development at Fusionopolis; while another S$32.3 million will be for the construction costs of the Unilever Four Acres Singapore built-to-suit facility.

About S$90.0 million will be used to fund the forward purchase of a business space property located at No. 200 Jinsu Road, Jinqiao Export Processing Zone, in Shanghai, China.

Some S$46.5 million will be used for general corporate and working capital purposes, while the remaining S$4.7 million will be used to pay the estimated fees and expenses incurred or to be incurred by A-REIT.

Ascendas Funds said the private placement will provide A-REIT with greater financial capacity to capitalise on potential growth opportunities, including acquisitions of income-producing properties and built-to-suit development projects, as and when they may arise to create greater value and returns for unitholders.

Ascendas Funds will make a formal application to the SGX-ST for the listing of, dealing in, and quotation of, the New Units on the Mainboard. An announcement will be made upon the receipt of such in-principle approval from the SGX-ST.


PLife REIT Posts S$22.8-million Gross Revenue in 1Q2012

Parkway Life Real Estate Investment Trust (PLife REIT) Thursday announced gross revenue of S$22.8 million for the first quarter ending 31 March 2012 (1Q2012), up 6.0 per cent year-on-year.

Net property income was S$20.8 million for 1Q2012, up 5.6 per cent from 1Q2011.

PLife REIT said the higher revenue was primarily due to full-quarter contributions from the Japan property acquired in January 2011 and the three nursing home properties in Japan acquired in March 2012.

Revenue was also driven by higher rent from the Singapore properties.

PLife REIT said it will retain approximately S$3.0 million of income available for distribution for FY2012 to fund the capital expenditure needs of its existing properties, thereby reducing its reliance on debt.

Distribution per unit for 1Q2012 rose to S$0.0256, from S$0.0236 in 1Q2011.

Yong Yean Chau, Chief Executive Officer of PLife REIT’s manager, Parkway Trust Management Limited, said: “We are pleased to deliver a good set of 1Q2012 results despite challenging global market conditions. This has been made possible through carefully calibrated growth and effective cost-control, supported by stable rental revenue gains at our Singapore properties. We remain focused on executing our strategies to maintain our financial strength and steady growth pace for 2012.”

Moving forward, PLife REIT said it remains cautiously optimistic about its near-to-medium term acquisition prospects.

Yong added: “Our first foray into Malaysia signifies PLife REIT’s strategy to further diversify our revenue sources in growing healthcare markets, which will enlarge our earnings base whilst preserving overall portfolio defensiveness. We will continue to seek out yield-accretive acquisition opportunities in regional markets with strong healthcare demand drivers, to further strengthen our position and generate greater value for unitholders.”

Parkway Life Real Estate Investment Trust closed Thursday at S$1.865.


Cerebos Pacific First-quarter FY2012 Revenue Up, But Net Profit Down

Cerebos Pacific Limited Thursday reported first-quarter FY2012 sales revenue of S$241.2 million, up 4 per cent year-on-year.

However, net profit for the period dropped 13 per cent from a year ago to S$25.3 million.

For its Health Supplement Division, sales rose 4 per cent, driven by strong sales performances in Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Overall, the BRAND’S Essence of Chicken range is growing well in many markets and has been gaining wider consumer attention as a result of ongoing publicity for a new scientific discovery – the bioactive peptide ProBeptigen, which works to positively impact performance in the brain.

Cerebos Pacific said it is now understood that ProBeptigen in BRAND’S Essence of Chicken holds the key to aiding memory, mental sharpness, concentration, and learning motivation.

For its Food & Coffee Division (FCD), sales rose 5 per cent mainly due to better coffee sales in New Zealand. But Cerebos Pacific noted that the competitive retail landscape in Australia continues to present a challenge and tempered the division’s performance.

However, it said the FCD strategy to deliver more new product formats in the food category, coupled with the active exploration to extend coffee into Asian markets over the next few years, will strengthen its position for continued growth.

Looking ahead, President and Group CEO Eiji Koike expressed his determination to invest further to make Cerebos more sustainable.

“The group will continue to invest in its strategic priorities, namely customer relationship focusing on digital initiatives, research and new product development as well as supply chain management, in line with its vision to increase stakeholder value,” he said.

Cerebos Pacific Limited closed Thursday at S$5.890.


FSL Trust Secures Second Three-year Time Charter Contract with Petrobras

First Ship Lease Trust (FSL Trust) Thursday announced that its product tanker, FSL Hamburg, will be chartered to Petròleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) on a three-year time charter contract. This will be FSL Trust’s second time charter contract with Petrobras.

Subject to physical inspection of the vessel by Petrobras, FSL Hamburg will be chartered on a gross daily charter rate of US$14,000 a day for a period of three years from the third quarter of 2012.

The Trust also confirmed that its other product tanker, FSL Singapore, has cleared its physical inspection with Petrobras.

FSL Trust has incorporated a wholly-owned subsidiary, FSL Netherlands B.V., a private limited company in Amsterdam, to enter into the two time charter contracts directly with Petrobras.

FSL Netherlands B.V. will in turn enter into back-to-back arrangements with FSL-18 Pte Ltd and FSL-19 Pte Ltd, vessel-owning special purpose companies of FSL Hamburg and FSL Singapore respectively. FSL Trust said these arrangements will allow it to take advantage of efficient tax structuring for these time charters.

First Ship Lease Trust closed Thursday at S$0.193.


Venture Corporation’s 1Q2012 Net Profit Down 13.7 Per cent

Venture Corporation Limited Thursday announced revenue of S$574.3 million for the first quarter ending 31 March 2012 (1Q2012), down 2.3 per cent from S$587.6 million a year ago.

Profit attributable to shareholders fell 13.7 per cent from S$41.2 million in 1Q2011 to S$35.5 million for 1Q2012.

Diluted earnings per share registered S$0.129 for the quarter ending 31 March 2012.

Total shareholders’ equity of the group amounted to S$1.9 billion and the net asset value per share was S$6.84 as at 31 March 2012.

For the financial year ending 31 December 2011, the directors of the company proposed that a final one-tier tax-exempt dividend of S$0.55 per ordinary share be paid to all shareholders. This has since been approved by shareholders at the Annual General Meeting held on 20 April 2012.

Regarding the outlook, Venture Corporation said business sentiment of its customers remains encouraging with several customers anticipating improvements in the second half of the year.

It added that it is confident of supporting the business momentum of these customers and building further traction with several others. These customers span multiple product segments including test and measurement, medical and life sciences, networking, retail store solutions and industrial.

The group said it expects to capture additional revenue streams from a number of new opportunities, adding that these programmes will likely stream in towards the end of the year with more meaningful revenue contributions beyond FY2012.

It also said that with strong fundamentals and a long-term strategy in place, it remains well-positioned for the future.

Venture Corporation Limited closed Thursday at S$7.870.


Roxy-Pacific Posts S$9.0-million Net Profit in 1Q2012

Roxy-Pacific Holdings Limited, a homegrown specialty property and hospitality group, Thursday reported a net profit of S$9.0 million for the quarter ending 31 March 2012 (1Q2012), down from S$10.0 million in 1Q2011.

It said this was due to the absence of a tax write-back amounting to S$1.0 million in 1Q2011.

Revenue fell to S$38.1 million in 1Q2012 from S$50.4 million in 1Q2011.

Roxy-Pacific said the decrease in turnover was mainly due to lower revenue contribution from the Property Development segment as a result of the completion of several projects in 2011 and the gap in revenue recognition until the commencement of construction of newer projects.

On the other hand, the Hotel Ownership segment reported a 12-per cent year-on-year increase in revenue as a result of higher hotel room rates and occupancy rates.

Teo Hong Lim, Executive Chairman and CEO of Roxy-Pacific, said: “The group delivered a steady performance for the first quarter notwithstanding a dynamic and changing property landscape. Our balanced and diversified property portfolio, recently enhanced with the acquisition of the site of Jade Towers, comprises residential, mixed-use developments and commercial projects. This will put us on a firm grounding to navigate forward.”

“Having substantially sold development projects that were launched since December 2011, with Centropod@Changi and Millage achieving strong take-up rates of more than 80 per cent, we also look forward to launching The MKZ – a 42-unit residential project located on a freehold site in District 10. We will continue to focus on developing and positioning the right projects to the market,” he added.

Going forward, Teo said the group will continue to exercise prudence as it explores future suitable opportunities in the residential, commercial and mixed-use development segments.

With Singapore’s strong economy and high visitor arrivals to the country that have boosted the overall hotel industry, Teo added that the group expects demand for hotel rooms to remain strong this year.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the group expects to be profitable in 2012.

Roxy-Pacific Holdings Limited closed Thursday at S$0.420.