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Opinion
Andy Mukherjee

A Swiss Activist Stirs Up Trouble in Singapore

How the merger bid for a small, Shariah-compliant REIT became the subject of confrontational shareholder capitalism.

Singapore loves REITs.

Singapore loves REITs.

Photographer: Maverick Asio/SOPA/LightRocket/Getty

There’s a glitzy side of Singapore property: the cavernous shopping malls; the tall office buildings; the pricey condominiums; the luxury hotels; and the hospitals where rich Indonesians and Bangladeshis seek treatment and five-star customer service.

But there’s also a vibrant market at the non-sexy end of the spectrum: the warehouses, the factory sheds and, increasingly, the data centers. Their owners are industrial real estate investment trusts, which collect rent and pass it on to unitholders. It’s something that appeals to an aging population that values the certainty of dividends more than the headiness of growth.