SINGAPORE (Feb 28): Ng Shin Ein, a non-executive director of the manager of Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust has called it quits amid a revolt by Sabana REIT’s unitholders.

According to Ng’s resignation letter, which was submitted to SGX late on Monday night by Kevin Xayaraj, the CEO of the manager of Sabana REIT, she had notified the board of her resignation on Jan 16.

Ng says she had expressed her “inability to contribute” to Sabana REIT management as a result of “certain internal dynamics within the company”.

Just three weeks later, on Feb 6, a number of dissident unitholders of Sabana REIT requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting to vote on resolutions to replace the manager of the REIT and perhaps liquidate the REIT’s portfolio and return the cash to investors.

Sabana REIT has been under pressure from minority unitholders who are dissatisfied with its performance.

The REIT was listed in 2010 with 15 properties valued at $851 million. Of these, five had been injected by its sponsor, Vibrant Group, under a sale-and-leaseback arrangement.

For 2011, the first full year following IPO, Sabana REIT reported distribution per unit of 8.77 cents. Its DPU climbed to 9.28 cents in 2012, and to 9.38 cents in 2013.

But its DPU began falling steadily after that. In 2016, its DPU was just 5.01 cents.

Noting the campaign by unitholders for the removal of the REIT manager, Ng says she withdrew her resignation “out of a sense of duty” given that the Sabana REIT management was “faced with various concerns”.

Before her departure, Ng says she “wanted to ensure that a basic framework and process for the Strategic Review was established”.

Ng adds that she continues to believe that it is essential that the fundamental issues relating to a pipeline of good properties, financing costs, and management are resolved.

The manager of Sabana REIT on Feb 17 announced the formation of a strategic review board committee to review the options available for Sabana REIT to enhance unitholder value.

It announced on Monday that it has appointed Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) as its financial adviser in relation to the strategic review of the REIT.

(See Sabana REIT manager appoints Morgan Stanley as financial adviser in strategic review)

Later on the same day, Ng reinstated her resignation.

In her resignation letter, Ng says that “while the basic framework and processes are now in place”, the reason for her earlier resignation remains.

“I am not confident that I can contribute meaningful,” she says.

Year to date, units of Sabana REIT are up 15.8% to close at 44 cents on Tuesday.

Find out the full story behind Sabana REIT’s disquiet in “In Sabana REIT’s strategic review a waste of time?” and “Sabana REIT’s purchase of Changi South property from Vibrant draws scrutiny” on pages 5 & 14 of The Edge Singapore (week of Feb 27), available at newsstands now.