Shanda gaming co-founder buys GCB for $23 million

SINGAPORE - The Chinese turned Singaporean co-founder of Shanda Group is understood to have picked up a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) along Cable Road for S$23 million.

The price works out to S$1,518 per square foot (psf) based on the freehold land area of 15,148 square feet.

Chrissy Luo, who bought the bungalow in trust, is the wife of Chen Tianqiao.

The couple, who now reside in Singapore, in 1999 founded Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, which expanded to a big-time online entertainment developer and publisher in China before it became a privately-owned global investment group a few years ago.

Shanda Group is now headquartered in Singapore, with "main offices" in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Menlo Park, according to information on the group's website.

It invests across a variety of asset classes, including venture capital (VC), private equity, public securities and real estate, primarily focused on the financial services, technology and healthcare sectors.

It is the single largest shareholder of three famous US listed companies - Legg Mason, Lending Club and Community Health Systems.

Read also: Banker Wee Cho Yaw buys all 45 unsold units at The Nassim for $411.6m

Shanda's VC portfolio comprises 11 advanced tech companies (eight in the US, two in Israel and one in Iceland), and more than 120 Chinese companies primarily focused on Internet and mobile applications.

The group's property arm has operations in China and the US. "We are also one of the largest timberland owners in North America," Shanda said on its website.

Having made their fortune, the Chens are also active in philanthropy.

Through the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute, they have been working with leading universities and research institutions in the US and China on fundamental brain research with a particular focus on brain discovery, treatment and development.

Last month, the Chens were in the news in the US for a US$115 million donation to the California Institute of Technology or Caltech in Pasadena to set up a neuroscience research centre.

The couple made the donation after viewing a news clip of a Caltech scientist helping a quadriplegic use his thoughts to control a robotic arm so that - for the first time in more than 10 years - he could sip a drink unaided, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Mr Chen is chairman and CEO of Shanda Group and his wife, the vice-chairman.

The Singapore bungalow along Cable Road that Ms Luo bought recently is within the Chatsworth Park GCB Area.

Spanning two storeys and with five bedrooms, it was developed in 2005 by The Straits Trading Company, which sold it later in the same year for S$9.2 million to a Japanese family who are Singapore permanent residents (PRs).

They held it for 11 years before selling it recently to Ms Luo; the transfer was registered early last month.

Inclusive of this deal, 2016 ended with 37 transactions in GCB Areas totalling S$788 million - an improvement on the 33 deals totalling S$715 million in 2015 and 28 deals amounting to S$626 million in 2014.

Despite the steady improvement in GCB sales volume, last year's showing is way shy of the recent high in 2012, when 54 bungalows totalling S$1.17 billion changed hands in GCB Areas.

Bungalows in GCB Areas are the most prestigious form of landed housing in Singapore, with planning conditions to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.

Only Singapore citizens are allowed to buy landed residential properties in GCB Areas under a policy change that took effect in the second half of 2012.

Prior to that, Singapore PRs could seek the Singapore Land Authority's approval to acquire such properties provided the land area did not exceed 1,393.5 square metres (around 15,000 sq ft).

Good Class Bungalow deals in 2016

  • A charming single-storey bungalow on a sprawling site in Queen Astrid Park has changed hands for S$44.5 million. The buyer is understood to be a family member of Goh Hup Jin, son of billionaire paint tycoon Goh Cheng Liang.
  • A house along Kingsmead Road where the late Raffles Institution principal Philip Liau used to reside is being sold for S$29 million.
  • The price works out to S$1,065 per square foot based on the freehold land area of 27,228 sq ft.
  • The buyer is understood to be Darwin Indigo, a nephew of Wilmar executive deputy chairman Martua Sitorus. Mr Indigo, who is in his mid-30s, is deputy country head (Indonesia) at Wilmar International.
  • The S$29 million transaction is the biggest deal in a GCB Area since a S$32 million sale along Queen Astrid Park in July last year.
  • Ezra Holdings' Lee family has put their waterway-fronting Sentosa Cove bungalow on the block. The exclusive 2-storey 5-bedroom property comes with a price tag of S$26 million, or S$2,258 per square foot on land area.
  • The property is held by Lee Kian Soo, Ezra's founder and chairman and father of Lionel Lee, the offshore marine firm's chief executive and managing director.
  • In October last year, Mr Lionel Lee and his mother sold their GCB along Windsor Park Road for $21.8 million.
  • The freehold property at 122 Windsor Park Road, off Upper Thomson Road, has a land size of 20,383 sq ft, which works out to a price of about $1,070 per sq ft (psf).
  • In Jan 2016, a GCB along King Albert Park, which comes with a swimming pool, was sold by upmarket developer Simon Cheong.
  • The property fetched S$25 million, which translates to S$1,493 per square foot (psf) based on the land area of 16,750 square feet. The bungalow's built-up area is said to be around 10,000 sq ft.
  • The buyer, who is expected to occupy the bungalow once the existing lease ends, is Fang Koh Look, founder of Absolute Kinetics Consultancy, an SME that provides workplace safety training and medical services in addition to distributing mobile pre-paid cards.
  • Over at Wilkinson Road, off Tanjong Katong Road, a fully owned unit of Soilbuild recently paid S$19.28 million for an old, two-storey bungalow. The price works out to S$1,203 psf based on the freehold land area of 16,031 sq ft.
  • The bungalow could be easily 40-50 years old, said Lim Chap Huat, executive chairman of Soilbuild, when contacted by The Business Times. "We are buying it from a family."
  • The site is zoned for two-storey bungalow use. Mr Lim said the group plans to redevelop the site into two brand-new bungalows. Work should start around the middle of this year and the new bungalows should be completed in about two years.

This article was first published on Jan 20, 2017.
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