* Trust to be backed by oil storage assets
* IPO could happen by December (Adds comment, background)
By S. Anuradha
SINGAPORE, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Singapore’s Universal Terminal, backed by China’s state oil giant PetroChina , plans to raise as much as S$1 billion ($800 million) in an initial public offering of units of a business trust, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The trust will be backed by oil storage terminals, the sources said on Wednesday. Southeast Asia has seen growing demand for oil storage capacity, thanks to the region’s status as a major oil trading centre and aspiring hub for the growing liquefied natural gas trade.
Universal Terminal, owned by Singapore’s privately held Hin Leong Group and PetroChina, operates one of the largest commercial oil storage complexes in Asia.
Companies have been taking advantage of Singapore’s lucrative business trust regime to list assets like hotels, ports, ships, infrastructure and golf courses.
Business trusts and real estate investment trusts (REITs), have become main attractions on the Singapore Exchange as investors seek steady returns in a low interest rate environment.
The REIT index on SGX has risen nearly 7 percent so far this year, beating the benchmark Straits Times Index’s 4 percent gain.
One source familiar with the matter said the deal could attract investors interested in oil assets as well as investors who are seeking a yield play.
“This will not be a typical real estate yield play that you typically see in Singapore,” the source said.
IPO flow on the SGX has slowed significantly this year, with nine issues that raised about $1.4 billion up to Aug. 13. There were 13 IPOs that raised a total of $4.4 billion during the same period a year earlier, Thomson Reuters data shows.
Accordia Golf Trust, which raised S$758.6 million in the biggest IPO to date in Singapore, has fallen 16 percent from its IPO price since making the debut on Aug. 1.
DBS, HSBC and Standard Chartered are the banks on the Universal IPO, which is targeted for as early as December, the sources said.
Officials at Universal Terminal and the banks were not available for comment.
(1 US dollar = 1.2504 Singapore dollars)
Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar and Rujun Shen in SINGAPORE; Editing by Matt Driskill