Shareholders approve Temasek buyout of Singapore rail operator

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Minority shareholders of Singapore's main rail operator SMRT Corp Ltd SMRT.SI voted overwhelmingly on Thursday in favor of Temasek Holdings' S$1.18 billion ($866 million) bid to take full control of the company.

Of the shareholders present at the meeting, 84.8 percent voted in support of the buyout, SMRT said in a statement. State investor Temasek, as majority shareholder, had no voting rights for the buyout of the 46 percent of SMRT shares it does not already own.

More than 4,000 shareholders attended the meeting.

SMRT has come under heavy criticism in recent years after a number of train breakdowns led to public anger in Singapore, long known for efficient and reliable public infrastructure.

“We expect the regulatory and operating environment to continue to be challenging due to cost uncertainties and heightened standards, especially in relation to an aging and expanded network,” SMRT’s group CEO, Desmond Kuek, said in the statement.

To ease SMRT’s finances and help it to focus on providing reliable services, Singapore’s transport regulator agreed to buy nearly S$1 billion worth of metro train assets from SMRT in July.

SMRT will become a fully owned subsidiary of Temasek after the acquisition and will be delisted from the Singapore Exchange. Temasek said the privatization would relieve SMRT from short-term pressures of being a listed company.

The deal is one of Temasek’s rare buyouts at a time when it is seeking to boost its U.S. exposure in difficult markets.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Susan Fenton