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Amara opens luxury Shanghai hotel; office tower and mall to open in Q3

IT faced years of delays, but Amara Holdings' five-star hotel in Shanghai is finally open for business and will start ringing in revenue this year, the mid-cap hospitality group said on Monday.

"We just got the foreign guest licence late last week and are already having business from the banqueting side and hosting meetings for local corporates," chief executive Albert Teo told The Business Times in an interview.

Amara Signature Shanghai in Puxi comprises a 343-room luxury hotel, retail mall and Grade A office tower. The soft launch makes 102 rooms available for booking, and the hotel will be fully opened in the second quarter.

The office tower and mall will open in the third quarter.

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Co-working space operator Kr Space, which was spun-off from Ant Financial-backed 36Kr, has signed a 10-year lease for the entire office block, amounting to 4,000 square metres of constructed floor area.

Mr Teo hopes to ramp up operations at Amara Signature Shanghai quickly. Amara's last overseas hotel, Amara Bangkok, reported positive operating cashflows in its second year.

"I hope to repeat that kind of thing in Shanghai," he said.

By the end of 2017, the average daily rate of five-star hotels in Shanghai is expected to rise 3.2 per cent from a year ago to 965 yuan (S$201.90), with occupancy expected to rise to 72.5 per cent, said Amara, citing a Knight Frank report.

The Shanghai land was purchased in 1996 and has a lease that expires in 2037. Amara said it will review and seek relevant approvals in future.

In Singapore, where Amara owns and operates hotels in Tanjong Pagar and Sentosa, average occupancy is around 90 per cent, and revenue per available room should increase this year in line with the market, Mr Teo said.

Amara also develops residential properties.

It has sold seven of the 33 units at freehold apartment complex M5 at Jalan Mutiara, but sales have been halted.

"The market is poised to go up so we're reviewing our pricing," Mr Teo said.

Amara plans to launch another freehold project, the 56-unit freehold Muse @ Newton, as well as two pairs of semi-detached houses at 15 Bedok Avenue by the third quarter this year.

Amara shares fell two Singapore cents or 3.57 per cent to 54 Singapore cents on Monday before the news was released. It will announce full-year 2017 financial results on Feb 22.

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