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Sabana Reit manager waiting for approval for appointment of new CEO candidate

THE manager of Sabana Shari'ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana Reit) has identified a candidate to be appointed as chief executive and has submitted an application to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for the appointment.

The application is pending approval, the manager said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Monday.

It was responding to earlier queries from the SGX on Jan 12, where the bourse operator had asked a number of questions, including those about the manager's search for a new chief executive.

Sabana Real Estate Investment Management's current chief executive Kevin Xayaraj tendered his resignation in May last year, after unitholders revolted over the Reit's proposed acquisition of a Changi South property.

Mr Xayaraj had then agreed to stay on with the manager until the end of 2017 to ensure a proper handover and smooth transition for his successor.

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In its response on Monday, the manager said that it had previously found it challenging to recruit a suitable candidate who was willing to be the chief executive while discussions with ESR Funds Management (formerly known as Cambridge Industrial Trust Management) to explore options relating to its strategic review exercise were still ongoing.

"Prospective candidates were also concerned that their potential tenure as chief executive might be very short and lack a strategic mandate in the event any potential proposal from the ESR-Reit manager materialises," it said.

However, discussions with the ESR-Reit manager have since stopped, as announced on Nov 25 last year, said the manager, and the application for the appointment of the candidate identified for the position of chief executive is now pending approval.

On a questions about its audit committee, Sabana Real Estate Investment Management said that it has also identified a new third independent director, and is awaiting approval from the MAS on the appointment.

The manager added that it has not received binding offers in the course of its ongoing strategic review. Once the new chief executive and the new third independent non-executive director are appointed, the review will cease.

Until then, it will remain open to considering proposals from prospective strategic partners, it said.

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