Singapore

BreadTalk looking to delist from SGX after $8.1m Q4 loss

BreadTalk Group chairman and founder George Quek is looking to delist from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in the latest development of an unfolding saga surrounding the home-grown brand after its dismal financial report on Monday.

Dr Quek is making a voluntary cash offer to buy back all of the issued ordinary shares at 77 cents a piece through BTG Holding, which he owns with his wife Katherine Lee and Minor International, a hospitality and leisure company listed in Thailand.

BreadTalk on Monday reported a net loss of $8.1 million for the fourth quarter last year, despite a net profit of $8.9 million in the same period in 2018, before the offer was announced.

It posted a net loss of $5.2 million for the full year, compared with a net profit of $15.2 million in 2018.

BTG Holding and investors linked to it must have more than 90 per cent of the total number of ordinary shares in issue by the close of the offer for it to go through, according to a regulatory filing.

A formal offer document setting out the terms and conditions of the offer will be sent to BreadTalk shareholders between 14 days and 21 days from Monday, the filing said.

BreadTalk noted in its financial statements filed at about 11pm on Monday that its operating environment "remains challenging across key markets, including Singapore, China and Hong Kong".

It said: "The management team has been working actively to turn around the loss-making businesses."

The coronavirus outbreak has added further challenges to operations, it added, and "the uncertainty in Hong Kong will continue to have a negative impact on our food atrium and bakery businesses in the territory".

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said the delisting proposal offers investors an opportunity to exit the investment to avoid short-term headwinds.

BTG's offer comes as Dr Quek recently took on major roles in the business after a series of resignations.

Mr Chan Ying Jian, who was BreadTalk's chief financial officer and chief investment officer, resigned to pursue other career opportunities earlier this year.

Dr Quek has since been overseeing the group's accounting, financial, treasury and tax matters with the help of the group financial controller and division financial controller.

He also took on the role of interim chief executive after Mr Henry Chu quit for health and personal reasons.

BUSINESS & FINANCE