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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Singapore group may sell tower to ING

Menara Standard Chartered likely to go for RM300M, sources say

DUTCH insurer ING has emerged as the front-runner to buy the Menara Standard Chartered on Jalan Sultan Ismail for almost RM300 million, sources said.

A decision and an announcement on the winner may be made as soon as next week, a source told Business Times.

It is believed that the Government of Singapore Investment Corp Real Estate (GIC RE) is selling the office building to ING Real Estate Investment Management.

While it could not be determined how much ING would be paying for the property, industry executives estimate it would be around RM900 per sq ft.

"Based on the recent Menara Citibank transaction of RM970 per sq ft, Menara Standard Chartered should go for about RM900 psf," one source said.

It was also reported that the owners were looking for a yield or return on investment of about six per cent.

Based on a nett lettable area of 321,000 sq ft, the building could be sold for around RM285 million.

ING said it could not comment on the matter immediately.

"The purchase of properties is an ongoing investment initiative that ING Malaysia conducts in the markets we operate in of which to date we have an estimated investment assets under management of RM10 billion," said Karen Yoong of ING Insurance Bhd's Branding & Corporate Communications division.

GIC RE did not respond to Business Times' query while calls to Rahim & Co's representative handling the deal went unanswered.

According to GIC RE's website, it bought Menara Shahzan Insas through its affiliate Reco City Sdn Bhd in November 2001 for RM135 million.

Built in the mid-1980s, Menara Shahzan Insas is a 42-storey office tower with a total gross floor area of 46,700 sq m.

The building was later renamed Menara Standard Chartered in July 2004 after Standard Chartered Bank relocated its corporate headquarters there.

The website also said the building required extensive renovation due to its age and condition at the time of acquisition.

Once renovation was completed, GIC RE repositioned Menara Standard Chartered as a premium office building, attracting class "A" office rentals and international tenants.

GIC RE is one of three business units under GIC, one of two of Singapore's investment arms. Temasek is the other arm that is more well-known among investors. Together, they manage Singapore's foreign reserves.

GIC RE's website states that its current assets in Malaysia include holdings in the Sunway Pyramid Mall, Sunway Hotels and Resorts and a stake in the City Square shopping mall in Johor Baru.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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