No plan to raise funds, Swire says

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 May, 2010, 12:00am

Swire Pacific has no immediate fund-raising plans after last week's shelving of a HK$20.84 billion initial public offering for its property unit.

'We have yet to take the decision internally as to whether we will proceed [with the IPO] and if so when. So, no decision,' said chairman Christopher Pratt at yesterday's annual general meeting.

Last Thursday, Swire Pacific announced it would not be going ahead with the Swire Properties flotation given 'the recent sharp deterioration in market sentiment'.

Pratt said it would not have been in the interests of the shareholders to cut the price of the IPO. 'Frankly, we've yet to sit down and coolly appraise what we learnt from the process,' he said.

When Swire Pacific secured stock exchange approval for the properties unit spin off on April 18, the group proposed a conditional special interim dividend of one Swire Properties share for every 10 Swire Pacific A shares held by shareholders. It also offered one share in the property unit for every 50 B shares held.

Pratt said after cancelling the IPO there was no plan to give shareholders a special dividend.

Shares of Swire Pacific rose 2.06 per cent to HK$89 yesterday in a market that rose 1.04 per cent. The stock has fallen 10 per cent since the start of the IPO road show on April 26.

Commenting on the current state of the residential property market, Swire Properties chief executive Martin Cubbon said the group was not too concerned about evidence of cooling. 'We are interested in growing our residential land bank and seriously looking at opportunities.'

Earlier this week a residential site in Tung Chung sold for a lower than expected price of HK$3.42 billion, or HK$2,378 per square foot, to Nan Fung Development. Analysts believed the auction could be a turning point for the market and revised downwards by 15 to 30 per cent their forecasts of prices at auctions over the next two months.