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Lian Beng given 1-year extension to sell properties that may compete with subsidiary

CATALIST property player SLB Development has obtained regulatory approval for its controlling shareholder Lian Beng Group to be given a one-year extension to dispose of competing business in Australia and Singapore.

SLB, in a regulatory filing on Thursday, announced that unfavourable property market conditions Down Under and in the city-state have resulted in its parent company Lian Beng not being able to divest competing business by April this year. The deadline was a year from SLB's Catalist debut in April 2018.

Last year, Lian Beng, in a bid to mitigate potential conflict of interest with SLB, had offered to dispose of three properties in Australia, as well as to wind up or liquidate two companies. 

However, Singapore and Australia separately saw their property markets hit by cooling measures, including tighter borrowing limits implemented in recent times to rein in the property "euphoria". Consequently, Lian Beng was unsuccessful in its attempts to divest properties in these two markets as planned.

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"None of the offers developed into binding agreements for sale as the parties were unable to agree on the commercial terms of sale," SLB said.

Because Lian Beng holds just a minority interest of 30 per cent or less, it has to depend on its majority joint-venture partners to assist in the sale of the properties, said the statement.

The Singapore Exchange has agreed to afford Lian Beng an extension of time to divest the properties, provided that some conditions are satisfied. To this, SLB noted that Lian Beng has developed an action plan to sell the properties or its stakes in the vehicles that own the properties by the extended deadline of Apr 19, 2020.

Further, SLB's management will update its audit committee quarterly on the disposal of the properties. Should Lian Beng's Australian properties undergo development before they are divested, the first right of refusal will be granted to SLB to purchase Lian Beng's stakes in the properties so that property development activities will be undertaken by SLB on mutually agreed terms.