House of Tan Tock Seng's kin sold for $145m

THE Hong Kong-listed conglomerate founded by gambling billionaire Stanley Ho has made its first foray into the Singapore property market, and it is certainly an attention-grabber.

Shun Tak Holdings, via its wholly owned subsidiary Shun Tak Real Estate (Singapore), is paying $145 million for 9 Cuscaden Road, a bungalow put up for sale by the descendants of famed philanthropist Tan Tock Seng.

It was the first hotel redevelopment site on sale in Orchard in over 10 years.

The sum, one of the highest paid for a landed house, works out to about $2,145 per sq ft per plot ratio for a hotel redevelopment, including development charges.

The 25,741 sq ft freehold site is zoned for hotel use with allowable gross plot ratio of 4.2, but could alternatively be used for residential development, subject to approval. Shun Tak said it is at a preliminary stage of planning and will announce further details later.

Said Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia: "While the hotel zoning might deter potential bidders, it's a perfect fit for Shun Tak and would be a fresh injection of vibrancy into Orchard Road."

The site's zoning also means the purchase does not attract Additional Buyers' Stamp Duty, unlike a residential site, he noted.

The deal, brokered by JLL, comes nearly a decade after Mr Ho's aborted attempt to partner Genting International in building the Resorts World Sentosa.

Shun Tak is firmly rooted in Macau's tourism business, with operations spanning hotels, entertainment attractions, travel consultancies, conventions and transport.

Pansy Ho, managing director of Shun Tak and Mr Ho's daughter, said the firm would capitalise on its strength in hospitality and real-estate development and "apply our experience in serving the demands arising from the burgeoning China and Asian markets".

The Cuscaden Road site was put on sale last month with an asking price of $160 million to $170 million. It was the family home of the late businessman Tan Hoon Siang, who headed several rubber companies in Malaysia and great-grandson of Tan Tock Seng.

The land parcel was bought by the family in the 1950s.

Property analysts believe it is too early to say if this deal and the Shunfu Ville en-bloc sale announced last week are hints of a market upturn.

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