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Saturday, June 18, 2011

EPF in S$3.2b Singapore project

PETALING JAYA: The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) has entered into a joint-venture agreement with Singapore's GuocoLand group to develop a piece of land for mixed-used development above Singapore's Tanjong Pagar MRT station.

A statement from GuocoLand Ltd said the agreement was for the development of a piece of land at Peck Seah Street and Chon Guan site, known as the Tanjong Pagar White Site.

The EPF purchase and 20% joint-venture involvement in the upcoming S$3.2bil mixed-use development marks another milestone for the pension fund which has been on an acquisition trail since unveiling its interest in acquiring property assets since August 2010.

In 2010, the EPF announced that it had allocated 1bil for property purchases. The fund has so far bought three in Britain, totalling 486mil. But merely buying properties for their yield is not the EPF's strategy.

CEO Tan Sri Azlan Zainol said about a month ago that the fund would like to actively drive some of its investments in property and banking.

This joint venture with GuocoLand will be one of them. The objective is to actively drive an investment, in this case property development. The aim is to diversify its income, not just from investment, but also to be an active partner in the business. As it is, it is getting yields of 5.6% from its British investments.

As for this Singapore joint venture, it would have a commercial component, a hotel and residential development, the statement said.

The stake is estimated at S$640mil. GuocoLand units will hold the remaining 80%.

GuocoLand won the 99-year leasehold plot in a government land tender in November last year with its offer of S$1.708bil or S$1,006 per sq ft per plot ratio. The S$3.2bil development cost includes the price of the land. The acquisition of the site between GuocoLand and Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority was completed in February this year.

Three wholly-owned subsidiaries of GuocoLand Singapore Pte Ltd will undertake these developments. Belmeth Pte Ltd will undertake the commercial component, Guston Pte ltd the hotel project and Perfect Eagle Pte Ltd the residential component.

Three EPF subsidiaries have been set up for the purpose. These are Kwasa Singapore Trio Pte Ltd, which will undertake the commercial component with Belmeth, Kwasa Singapore Duo Pte Ltd with Guston for the hotel project and Kwasa Singapore Solo Pte Ltd with Perfect Eagle to build the residential component.

GuocoLand is required to allocate at least 60% of the maximum 1.7 million sq ft gross floor area to offices and another 10% for hotel use.

In line with this, the development will potentially feature over a million sq ft of grade A office space, a five-star hotel and retail space, as well as Singapore's tallest ever residences, which will reach a height of 280m.

The entire development would be completed in 2015 or 2016 but residential units could be launched as early as 2012, GuocoLand said in February.

The developer has also appointed Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) as the project's architects. SOM is the firm behind the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the upcoming One World Trade Center in New York City. The firm also designed Singapore's Changi Airport Terminal Three.

By The Star

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