Sep 30, 2016

    Shareholders say yes to SMRT privatisation

    TWO closely-watched SMRT shareholder meetings yesterday ended with overwhelming support for the transport company.

    In the first meeting, 98.84 per cent of shareholders voted in support of selling its rail assets to the Government as part of the New Rail Financing Framework (NRFF) deal.

    Shareholders also gave the thumbs-up to the privatisation offer by Temasek Holdings. Some 84.83 per cent of shareholders present voted yes, and their shares represented 92.89 per cent of the shares' value.

    Around 4,000 shareholders had gathered at Star Theatre - which has a capacity of 5,000 - to attend the extraordinary general meeting, which started at around 2.30pm.

    The question-and-answer session for the first meeting was lively, with many voicing concerns over Temasek Holding's buy-out offer.

    As a result, voting did not start until 4.15pm, only to be disrupted by technical issues.

    The delay was caused by a computer glitch in the electronic voting system.

    When voting was due to commence, activist shareholder Mano Sabnani stood up to protest that some of the devices failed to register a "No" vote on the scoreboard while they were being tested.

    He said the system appeared to accept only a "Yes" vote.

    Chairman Koh Yong Guan asked for shareholders' patience as officials tried to pinpoint the issue.

    As at 4.30pm, the issue remained unresolved and some shareholders started to leave.

    The final result for the asset sale came in at around 4.35pm, after several restarts.

    The NRFF will see the Government take over SMRT's train assets, allowing the operator to focus on providing and, hopefully, improving services.

    Shareholders first voted on whether to approve the sale of SMRT's train and other rail assets to the Government as part of the NRFF deal struck in July.

    This was followed by a scheme meeting, in which they will decide whether to accept Temasek Holdings' buy-out offer of $1.68 per share. The takeover offer is structured as a scheme of arrangement.

    For its bid to succeed, Temasek needs more than 50 per cent of shareholders present in person or by proxy to vote "yes". These shareholders will also have to hold at least 75 per cent of the value of total shares held by all at the meeting.

    Temasek, a 54 per cent shareholder of SMRT, abstained from voting.

    One shareholder, Mr Yap, said before the voting began yesterday that he would accept the offer as the offer price is higher than what he paid in the early 2000s.