Trans Tasman hangs on to local listing despite departure
By Chris Hutching
Listed Trans Tasman Properties' 61% shareholder, SEA Holdings, this week took another step in shifting the operations and focus of the company overseas by moving the head office to Singapore.
Chairman Don Fletcher said the move did not represent a "migration" of the company and it would remain listed and registered here.
But the fact remains that Trans Tasman is being removed further from the scrutiny of New Zealand shareholders, who have received no dividends for several years in spite of a strong return to profit recently.
A year ago they were offered 40c a share in a takeover by SEA when asset backing is 64c a share.
Although SEA's 40c a share bid only attracted a few minority sellers, the company has the right under takeover rules to seek another 5% between now and May 2005 and further 5% increments in subsequent years.
If SEA chairman, Hong Kong-based Jesse Lu, takes a long-term view then the parent company could acquire the necessary 75% stake in three years, giving it voting control over the constitution when it might decide to de-list and register Trans Tasman overseas in the same way Brierley Investments and Richina Pacific did.
Fletcher said he had yet to learn about Jesse Lu's intentions about further shareholding changes.
He said the company was a growth stock with a focus on Asia because the New Zealand property cycle was past its peak.
Profits were being ploughed back into the company but the directors would annually review the issue of paying dividends.
Fletcher said he would be back regularly in New Zealand to oversee the company's waterfront developments, sale of the Auckland Finance Centre in separate titles and the $5 million or 34% interest in Clearwater Resort in Christchurch.
Fletcher, Jesse Lu and SEA Holdings also have a significant stake in the planned Jack's Point resort at Queenstown.
A minority shareholder, Peter Rae, said he believed the investment strategy was on the right track but was puzzled why SEA would be bothered to retain its New Zealand Stock Exchange listing and bothersome minority shareholders.
One of the reasons might be the $150 million it would take to buy out minorities at the NTA value.
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