--Singapore Press Holdings says it may list a real-estate investment trust
--SPH didn't give specifics on timing, size of IPO or assets to be listed
--Analysts say possible REIT could include Paragon Shopping Center
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SINGAPORE--Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. , the city-state's largest publishing company, is considering listing its property assets in a real-estate investment trust, offering the latest sign that Singapore's listings scene is coming alive after a tepid 2012.
In a filing to Singapore Exchange on Sunday, the publisher said it hadn't decided which properties would be included in the REIT, and that the timing of any initial public offering would depend on market conditions and regulatory approvals, among other things. It also didn't reveal how big an IPO might be.
The filing comes as at least two other companies prepare for REIT listings in Singapore this year. And it follows the successful US$1.3 billion flotation last week of China-focused REIT Mapletree Greater China Commercial Trust (RW0U.SG), which was backed by Singaporean state investment company Temasek Holdings Pte.
Analysts said the success of the Mapletree deal could catalyze Singapore's IPO market, which last year saw around US$5 billion worth of IPOs pulled due to volatile markets and weak demand.
Singapore has relied on REITs and business trusts in an effort to keep up with rival Hong Kong, the top global IPO market from 2009 to 2011. Trust listings contributed more than half of the IPO proceeds in Singapore over the past five years.
SPH is considering an REIT listing as it faces declining revenue at its main newspaper and magazine business, which saw falling circulation and advertising income in fiscal 2012. In the year ended Aug. 31, SPH saw operating revenue from newspapers and magazines fall 1% to 1 billion Singapore dollars (US$800 million). The segment contributed nearly 79% of the group's overall operating revenue in the fiscal year.
Operating revenue from its property arm, meanwhile, climbed 14% to S$191.4 million, helped by higher rental income from its malls.
The company publishes 18 newspapers, including its flagship broadsheets The Straits Times and The Business Times, as well as magazines and books. It also runs outdoor advertising and events businesses, and its properties include shopping malls.
SPH has developed residential property but its real-estate business mainly comprises shopping malls. Analysts say an REIT listing would likely include the publisher's main retail asset, the Paragon Shopping Center in Singapore's prime Orchard shopping district. Independent appraisers estimated the mall, which SPH bought in 1997, to be worth S$2.43 billion as of August.
The company's other retail assets are Clementi Mall in western Singapore, acquired in 2010 and valued at S$598 million in August, and the Seletar Mall project, which is due to be completed next year.
At least two other companies are also planning to list REITs in Singapore. Overseas Union Enterprise, a Singapore-based developer of offices and hotels, could initiate an $800 million hospitality REIT IPO in the third quarter, while fellow developer Soilbuild is planning an industrial property REIT that could raise about $400 million, according to people with knowledge of these deals.