Stake changes: Far East Organization boosts interest in F J Benjamin via equity fundraising

Singapore 50 dollar bill

Western Properties, part of the Far East Organization group, will boost its interest in storied Singapore luxury-brand distributor F J Benjamin to 16.7 percent from 7.4 percent after subscribing for 120 million new shares in a S$3 million fundraising, according to a filing to SGX Tuesday.

The subscription shares will be issued at S$0.025 each, marking a premium of around 19.05 percent to the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of S$0.021 a share for all trades on Tuesday, the filing said.

F J Benjamin said it would use the funds for additional working capital and to explore expansion opportunities as the region recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the company said it would explore collaboration with the Far East Organization, both within its existing brand portfolio and for new businesses.

Nash Benjamin, CEO of F J Benjamin, said that after two years of Covid-related disruptions, consumer spending is beginning to return as Southeast Asia starts to open borders and ease restrictions.

“We expect to see an increase in traffic to the malls and are positioning ourselves for expansion,” he said in the statement. “This timely investment is clearly an expression of confidence in FJB’s prospects and we are grateful for their support.”

Western Properties became a substantial shareholder of F J Benjamin earlier this year after converting warrants into shares, and after the subscription, it will become the company’s second-largest shareholder after the Benjamin family, the filing said.

The deal will require shareholder approval at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), the filing said.

Ng Chee Tat Philip, CEO of Far East Organization and the son of late property titan Ng Teng Fong who founded the company in 1960, is deemed interested in the shares of F J Benjamin as he is the sole shareholder in Western Properties, the filing said. After the share subscription is complete, Ng will see his total interest in F J Benjamin will rise to around 16.8 percent, the filing said.

Far East Organization is Singapore’s largest private property developer, developing, owning and managing projects in the residential, hospitality, retail, commercial, medical and industrial sectors. The group also has projects in Australia, Japan and Malaysia.

F J Benjamin distributes and retails brands including Superdry, Guess, La Senza and Pretty Ballerinas across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Under its deal with Alibaba’s Lazada, the company operates online LazMall stores for Pretty Ballerinas, La Senza and Superdry.