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Monday, July 13, 2009

Hotel dealmaker of the region

KUALA LUMPUR: A passion for putting together hotel transactions around the region has proven to be a boon for Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe.

Having brokered a number of prominent hotel deals, Previn, as he is fondly known to industry peers, and his agency are regarded as the “hotel dealmakers of the region.”

Since opting to specialise in the hotel sector in 2004, his real estate agency has brokered seven deals with total market value of close to RM1bil.

The disposal of part of the Sheraton hotel chain in 2005 for RM138mil set the pace.

In 2005, the sale of Grand Centrepoint Hotel to Tune Hotel group for RM12.5mil paved the way for the first Tune Hotel in the country.

Describing the Tune Hotel deal as his most exciting so far, Previn said the excitement was in doing a deal for a new Malaysian brand and having to convince the buyer that the property was at an ideal location.

Located at the corner of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur, the hotel has been refurbished and turned into the flagship property of Tune

According to Previn, his most memorable and rewarding deal to date is the sale of Four Seasons Langkawi Resort and Spa to Kingdom Hotel Investments for RM435mil in 2007.

Kingdom Hotel is a company affiliated to Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin AbdulAziz AlSaud of Saudi Arabia.

The deal won his agency Best Real Estate Investment Award Asia Pacific 2008 by Real Estate Facilities and Projects (RFP) magazine of Hong Kong.

This was followed by the 2008 sale of Intercontinental Hotel Hanoi to Berjaya Group for RM253mil, which clinched the Best Real Estate Transaction Award Asia Pacific 2009 from RFP.

Despite having won numerous awards over the years, Previn said that being voted the Real Estate Agent at the recent inaugural MIEA National Real Estate Awards was “the most humbling so far” because he was nominated against industry peers who were equally good.

“The award will spur us to aim for even higher achievements. Within the next two to three years, Zerin Properties will be opening offices in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, to market Malaysian properties,” he said.

What are the secrets to his success?

Previn attributes a generous dose of good luck, tremendous hard work and strong team spirit.

“We have stayed focused on what we aim to achieve and relentlessly seek to achieve those targets. I have been very lucky, my degree is in real estate and I’ve always enjoyed all facets of the real estate business,” he told StarBiz.

Previn began his career at Jones Lang Wootton, a leading international property consultancy firm in Kuala Lumpur, in the early 1990s.

There he was exposed to all aspects of the property industry, having started out in the research and consultancy department.

He then ventured into the valuation department and finally his passion for sales and marketing led him to the agency department.

He was then headhunted by another leading property consultancy to head the residential agency.

After a short stint with Tenggara Capital Bhd as commercial manager and head of marketing and sales (property), he left in 1998 to start a new hospitality management company, Signforce Sdn Bhd.

“My last position in Signforce was chief marketing officer overlooking the sales and marketing of some of the finest hotels and resorts in the region. This helped ignite my passion for the hospitality industry,” Previn said.

In 2002, he opened his own real estate agency.

“This was motivated by the need to spend more time with my family and a chance to build something meaningful,” he added.

From a one-man show, his agency has grown to 17 employees in Malaysia today.

In 2004, he initiated overseas expansion plans and opened offices in Singapore, Sydney and New Delhi.

Currently, the corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) portfolio contribute about 50% of the agency’s total fees, followed by residential property and office leasing which comprise 25% each.

According to Previn, the agency has always been focused on corporate and residental sectors.

“We now have a strong private wealth division that caters to mostly friends and families for their private investments. The M&A department is divided into office leasing, development and investments,” he said.

Going forward, Previn sees the agency growing into a boutique real estate investment house catering to corporate real estate M&A and private wealth real estate.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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