Mapletree starts work on new business park tower

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THE Alexandra area could soon boast the tallest business park in Singapore.

Property firm Mapletree Investments is now building a 30-storey business park tower there and plans to expand into more sectors of real estate, it said yesterday as it posted its report card for the year.

The unlisted company also aims to venture into Europe and the United States, partly due to a weak outlook for Asia, group chief executive Hiew Yoon Khong said in a statement.

Mapletree, a unit of Temasek Holdings, is known for developments such as the VivoCity mall at Harbourfront and its flagship Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang.

It said yesterday that it has started on Mapletree Business City's second phase, which includes the 30-storey tower, due for completion in 2016.

Mapletree Business City II will stand on the site of The Comtech at Alexandra Terrace, right next to the existing Mapletree Business City. Its development will cost an estimated $700 million.

Besides the 30-storey tower, Mapletree Business City II will also include three podium buildings ranging from five to eight storeys over a total site area of 108,000 sq m.

The development's gross floor area will be 124,800 sq m.

The new business park tower is part of the group's "ongoing efforts to rejuvenate and transform the Alexandra precinct", it said yesterday.

Mapletree is poised to undergo a transformation as it seeks its fortunes in new markets.

Mr Hiew said yesterday that Mapletree would "begin expanding beyond Asia into regions such as Europe and the US, and into new real estate sectors, to further diversify earnings".

"While... the outlook for Asian markets remains stable, it is not expected to be robust," he noted.

The group earned $859.4 million for the 12 months to March 31, down 7.8 per cent from the year before.

Revenue for the period came in at $548.6 million, 20 per cent lower than the $686.3 million it notched up the preceding year.

Mapletree said the revenue decline was due mainly to the deconsolidation of the Festival Walk mall in Hong Kong and the Mapletree Anson office building in Tanjong Pagar.

It spun off Festival Walk to the Mapletree Greater China Commercial Trust and sold Mapletree Anson to Mapletree Commercial Trust.

The group grew its total assets under management to $24.6 billion, up 13 per cent from $21.8 billion the preceding year.

Its low debt levels also put it in a position for more acquisitions in the near future, it added.

Mapletree has already made some recent purchases in sectors away from its previous mainstay, which was industrial and commercial property.

It said last month that it was buying a 49 per cent stake in Oakwood Asia Pacific, the Asia arm of US-based serviced apartment operator Oakwood Worldwide, for an undisclosed sum.

It plans to open more than 100 corporate and serviced apartment properties in the next five years as part of its US$4 billion (S$5 billion) foray into the booming serviced apartment business.

melissat@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times, 17 May 2014