Tropicana buys land again despite high gearing

KUALA LUMPUR: While many were guessing what would be the next asset that Tropicana Corp Bhd would hive off, the company sprang a surprise on the investing fraternity when it announced the purchase of 18 tracts of land measuring 103.82ha in Pulai, Johor, for RM366.5 million cash.

The property group announced to Bursa Malaysia last Friday that its wholly owned unit, Tropicana Desa Mentari Sdn Bhd, had entered into a conditional sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with Lee Pineapple Company Ltd to buy the land from Lee Pineapple.

The RM366.5 million purchase consideration translates into RM32.8 per sq ft.

The property developer said the proposed land acquisition is in line with the Tropicana group’s overall objective of increasing its landbank in strategic locations, especially in Johor.

However, the land purchase came as a surprise as many expect Tropicana, which currently has total assets of RM4.58 billion, to dispose of some to help reduce its borrowings and ease cash flow.

The group’s balance sheet as at June 30 had total borrowings of RM1.86 billon, including long-term debts of RM1.56 billion. Its cash balance was at RM371.9 million. It had a net gearing ratio of 0.63 times.

The group said it intends to fund the proposed land acquisition and the development cost through internally-generated funds and/or bank borrowings.

Last month, Tropicana unveiled its plan to sell its retail mall, Tropicana City Mall, to Capitamalls Malaysia Trust (CMMT).

Its subsidiary Tropicana City Sdn Bhd has entered into a Letter of Intent with AmTrustee Bhd, acting as trustee of CMMT on the acquisition.

Tropicana is selling the four-storey shopping mall and a 12-storey office block, known as Tropicana City Office Tower, and has granted CMMT an exclusive period of four weeks from Aug 23 to undertake a due diligence process on the proposed disposal.

Back on the group’s latest land purchase in Pulai, Tropicana estimates a potential gross development value of about RM6.4 billion based on the initial planning of the proposed development.

It is worth noting that the SPA is subject to certain conditions, including the vendor is to, at its own cost and expense, apply for and obtain the approval of the Johor Estate Land Board.

As a purchaser, Tropicana might, at its own costs and expense, be required to apply for and obtain the state authority’s consent.

Prior to the execution of the SPA, Tropicana said it had paid a deposit of RM3.67 million, adding that upon the execution of the SPA, it should pay to the vendor a balance deposit of RM33 million.

In addition, the company should pay the balance of the purchase price of RM329.9 million to the vendor on or before the payment deadline.

If the purchaser is unable to pay the balance purchase price for any reason, the payment deadline shall be automatically extended for one month after the deadline.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 17, 2013.


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