SPH On The Lookout For More Property Ventures (BT)

BackDec 31, 2010

(SINGAPORE) Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is on the search for more property investments as one of its projects, Clementi Mall, opens its doors next month.

The group will continue to focus on the media business but it is also keen on real estate, particularly the retail sector.

Clementi Mall - in which SPH has a 60 per cent stake - will obtain its first Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOP) in early January 2011, and the second TOP in mid-March.

The six-storey development, which also has a basement shopping level, will offer around 190,000 square feet of retail space. To date, 85 per cent of the space has been taken up.

'We expect full tenancy commitment when the mall officially opens in April 2011,' said owner CM Domain's general manager Linda Kwan. 'We are getting many positive responses and interests from retailers for shop space.'

Clementi Mall will have direct links to Clementi MRT station and the bus interchange. Its anchor tenants include department store BHG, which will take up over 11,000 sq ft of space on the third level. FairPrice Finest, McDonald's, Foodfare, Challenger and a public library are some of the other tenants.

NTUC FairPrice Co-op and NTUC Income Insurance Co-op are the other investors in Clementi Mall, holding a 20 per cent stake each.

SPH is interested in more real estate investments. For the full year ended Aug 31, operating revenue from its property division came up to $356.1 million - some 25 per cent of the $1.4 billion group topline.

'SPH is familiar with retailing, having owned the upmarket Paragon mall along Singapore's Orchard Road shopping belt since 1997,' said chief financial officer Tony Mallek.

Nevertheless, 'we had earlier said that we will explore projects whenever the right opportunities arise.'

Retail assets are typically favoured for the recurring income streams they generate over their lifetimes. By contrast, residential development projects contribute to earnings over a span of just a few years.

Before Clementi Mall, SPH was developing Sky@eleven, a condominium site off Thomson Road which obtained TOP in May this year. The group has recognised final contributions from the project.

Mr Mallek did not reveal how much SPH plans to set aside for property ventures. 'It depends on the opportunities available and their potential,' he said.

The group has a considerable war chest - its cash and cash equivalents amounted to $461 million as at Aug 31.

SPH gained two cents on the stock market yesterday to close at $4.01, the highest in more than two weeks. According to Bloomberg, UOB Kay Hian issued a 'hold' call on the counter this month, while Credit Suisse rated it 'neutral'.