Melissa Tan | The Straits Times | Monday, Jul 01, 2013

CONGLOMERATE Fraser & Neave (F&N) may split its property arm from its other divisions, it said yesterday.

It told the Singapore Exchange that it would appoint advisers to look at what it could do to unlock shareholder value.

“This may involve a segregation of its property-related businesses from its non-property related businesses,” the company said.

The market has long speculated that the group would be broken up to extract more value. F&N, which is now chaired by Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said the board had made no decision on a restructuring.

It added that “any specific proposal or strategic option selected will be proceeded with only upon and subject to receipt of all relevant approvals. The board will keep the market appropriately informed of further material developments”.

F&N’s property arm includes real estate development, mall ownership and a serviced residence business.

The group also has a drinks and food business as well as a publishing unit.

On another front, F&N shareholders yesterday backed moves by the company to hand back some of the windfall it reaped when it sold stakes in Asia Pacific Breweries and other assets to Heineken last year.

Shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting yesterday overwhelmingly approved a cash distribution of $3.28 per share, with 100 per cent of votes in favour. The proposal required the backing of 75 per cent of those present.

TCC Assets and Thai Beverage – both controlled by Mr Charoen – together hold more than 90 per cent of F&N shares, so they will reap most of the payout.

The decision yesterday will result in the company paying out around $4.73 billion, given that there were just over 1.44 billion shares issued as of May 9.

This is about 84 per cent of the $5.6 billion the company collected by selling assets to Dutch brewing giant Heineken in a deal completed in November.

Just over 100 people attended the meeting, which lasted around 15 minutes, yesterday at the company’s Alexandra Point premises.

The cash distribution requires the approval of the High Court, which F&N expects to obtain on July 15 with the payment date estimated to be around July 31.

Fraser & Neave shares closed two cents down at $8.58 yesterday.

http://business.asiaone.com/news/property/fn-may-spin-property-business