Temasek trims exposure to Sembcorp Marine

Temasek trims exposure to Sembcorp Marine
Sembcorp designs and builds tankers, containers and oilrigs

Temasek has raised S$327.6 million ($261 million) from the sale of its entire direct stake in Singapore-based rig and shipbuilder Sembcorp Marine as it continues to reshuffle its extensive portfolio.

The deal was done after the close of trading Monday and came at a discount of just 2.8%, which looked tight for the size of the deal — it accounted for just 3.2% of the company but 12 days of trading volume. Indeed, there was speculation yesterday that the bookrunner may not have been able to place the entire block. Such talk was further fuelled by a 6.3% drop in the share price yesterday and by the fact that there was no message about coverage levels or the number and types of investors participating in the transaction.

The only information on the order book, according to sources, was that the demand came mainly from Asia and the US. There were also a small number of orders out of Europe.

Temasek sold 62.4 million shares, which represented its entire direct holding in the rig builder. The Singapore investment holding company also has exposure to Sembcorp Marine through its approximate 49% stake in Sembcorp Industries, a company that aside from the marine unit is also active within power generation, water and wastewater operations, and integrated urban developments in Vietnam, China and Indonesia that comprise industrial parks as well as businesses, commercial and residential space. Sembcorp Industries owns 61% of Sembcorp Marine, according to its website.

The shares were offered in a range between S$5.25 and S$5.30, which translated into a discount between 1.9% and 2.8% versus Monday’s close of S$5.40. The range was narrow, which is usually a sign that the bookrunner knows that it will be difficult to push the price beyond the bottom of the range. So, it was no surprise that the price was fixed at the S$5.25 for the maximum discount.

However, there was talk in the market that some bank had been sounding out investors for a Sembcorp Marine deal at a lower price at S$5 earlier in the day, which suggests that there may also have been some price competition between banks for the offering. The deal launched with UBS as the sole bookrunner.

Temasek would obviously be keen to get as high a price as possible for its shares, but, according to a source, the seller is also believed to have had a minimum price target of S$5.20 in mind, which would explain both why it is selling now and why the discount was so tight.

Sembcorp Marine has had a strong run in the past couple of months and before Temasek’s sell-down, it was up 41% year-to-date. It has closed above S$5.20 since mid-February and finished at a seven-month high of S$5.43 last Friday.

However, the stock took a beating yesterday when it fell 6.3% to S$5.06 — 3.6% below the placement price. Equity markets across Asia were also lower with the Singapore Straights index down 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index losing 2.2% as investors once again worried about a hard landing in China and a potential Greek default. China lowered its growth forecast on Monday, which some investors took as an excuse to take profits after the recent run-up in share prices.

One observer noted that Sembcorp Marine is a high-beta stock and probably would have underperformed the market on a down-day even if there hadn’t been a block trade and hence the drop wasn’t that significant. However, it didn’t exactly instil a lot of confidence and does suggest that the shares weren’t all placed with long-term investors.

In late February, Sembcorp Marine said its net profit fell 13% to S$752 million in 2011 amid a volatile and uncertain macroeconomic environment that affected the global markets. Its fourth-quarter profit dropped 4% from a year earlier to S$229 million, but, according to Bloomberg, exceeded analysts’ expectations. Investors also welcomed the company’s strong order book that as of late February amounted to S$6.3 billion, including S$1.3 billion of orders secured since the beginning of this year.

“Despite the global macro-economic uncertainty, fundamentals for the offshore oil and gas industry remain intact, underpinned by healthy oil prices and projected increases in exploration and production spending,” the company said in the earnings release. “The offshore market continues to display signs of cyclical improvement, especially in the deep and ultra-deep water segments, fuelled by the growing needs of operators in multiple regions, in particular the ‘Golden Triangle’ of Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa.”

In early February, the company’s wholly-owned shipyard in Brazil received a $792.5 million order for a drillship from Sete Brasil. The order, which is the first-ever for the new Brazil shipyard, is due for delivery by the second quarter of 2015 at the latest.

Temasek has been undertaking an extensive review of its investment portfolio since the middle of last year and has been offloading several positions that were considered as non-core holdings. Earlier this year, it reduced its stake in Thai telecom holding company Shin Corp for the second time in five months and cut its stake in India’s ICICI Bank by nearly half.
 

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