Suntec revamp focus for Reit: deputy CEO

Suntec revamp focus for Reit: deputy CEO

SINGAPORE - The $410 million remaking of Suntec City will be the biggest focus for Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (Suntec Reit) for the next three years, said its deputy chief executive officer.

"You look at the size itself, you look at what we have to execute and deliver, I think we are going to be very busy making sure this works," said Susan Sim.

But acquisitions are not being ruled out.

"Price must be correct, opportunities must be there," she told The Business Times. The Reit currently owns Suntec City, Park Mall, as well as a one-third interest in One Raffles Quay, Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) Towers 1 and 2 and the Marina Bay Link Mall.

It was reported to have pursued a stake in MBFC Tower 3, which eventually went to DBS Group Holdings in December last year. Suntec City, comprising five office towers, Suntec City Mall and the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre (Suntec Singapore), has not seen many changes since it began operating in 1995, Ms Sim observed.

The remaking of Suntec City refers to Suntec City Mall and Suntec Singapore.

It would have been easy to not rock the boat, as she pointed to average occupancy rates that never fell below 98 per cent at Suntec City Mall in the past 32 quarters. But Ms Sim believes the retail landscape here is set to evolve and there are opportunities to tap.

This decade should see solid growth in the Marina Bay area, identified as a growth area by planners and which Ms Sim feels can offer more than shopping and hotel-centric Orchard Road, which had been the focus in the 2000s with the opening of malls such as Ion Orchard and 313@Somerset towards the end of that decade.

Besides being a prime office district, Marina Bay also has attractions such as Gardens by the Bay to pull tourists in, Ms Sim said and pointed to upcoming developments such as the $7 billion Marina One project and the South Beach area for growth opportunities in the office, residential and retail segments.

Her optimism also stems from Orchard Road having little space left for new developments.

"I can't see how you can put in more square footage in there," Ms Sim said.

The remaking of Suntec City, thought up in 2010, also allows the "right-sizing" of certain operations and a chance to make Suntec City more relevant.

"The market has gotten more sophisticated; shoppers are more discerning, diners are more discerning," Ms Sim said.

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