Business trusts are business enterprises structured as trusts and they are an alternative to companies as a business structure. In Singapore, the business trusts are registered under the Business Trust Act, Chapter 31A of Singapore and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).
Like a company, a business trust operates and runs a business enterprise. However, business trusts are distinctively different from companies in a few ways.
First, unlike a company, a business trust is not a separate legal entity. It is created by a trust deed under which the trustee-manager has legal ownership of the trust assets and manages the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust.
Second, whereas companies are restricted to paying dividends out of accounting profits, there are no such restrictions on trusts. Business trusts are able to pay distributions to their investors from their surplus operating cash flows. Hence, the distribution per unit ("DPU") of a business trust can be in excess of its earnings per unit.