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Ezra's Lee family puts Sentosa bungalow up for sale

The price tag is said to be S$26m, and follows sale of a GCB by family last October
Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 05:50

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The Sentosa Cove bungalow (above) is held by Lee Kian Soo, Ezra's founder and chairman and father of Lionel Lee, the group's CEO.

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In October last year, Mr Lionel Lee and his mother sold their GCB along Windsor Park Road (above) for S$21.8 million.

Singapore

EZRA Holdings' Lee family has put their waterway-fronting Sentosa Cove bungalow on the block, months after they sold a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) along Windsor Park Road last October for a cool S$22 million.

The Business Times understands that the exclusive two-storey five-bedroom property in the South Cove precinct was put on the market after the Chinese New Year festivities. It comes with a price tag of S$26 million, or S$2,258 per square foot on land area, which industry watchers deem "reasonable".

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.

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Based on a corporate profile search, the Sentosa Cove property is listed as Mr Lionel Lee's address.

The property, which boasts a private berth, has a total floor area of 12,400 sq ft and a land area of 11,515 sq ft. The bungalow is on a site with a balance lease term of about 91 years.

The most recent transaction of a villa on Sentosa Cove was in the fourth quarter of last year, when a bungalow along Lakeshore View fronting Serapong Golf Course sold for S$23.8 million or S$2,775 psf. This was the highest price (on psf of land) fetched by a bungalow in the waterfront housing district in more than two years.

In October last year, Mr Lionel Lee and his mother Goh Gaik Choo are said to have sold their Balinese-style GCB located off Upper Thomson Road for S$21.8 million; the price translated to $1,070 psf on the freehold land area of 20,383 sq ft. Completed in 2006, the house has two storeys, a basement carpark and a roof terrace for functions.

These properties are not the only assets that have been shuffled or sold by the family, particularly by Mr Lionel Lee, in recent months.

Last month, the 42-year-old unloaded 20 million shares in Catalist-listed Select Group for S$7.1 million to his mother Ms Goh, cutting his stake from 23 per cent to some 9 per cent in the food caterer.

In late January, he forked out S$60,200 to scoop up one million Ezra shares, barely two weeks after a forced sale of 11.5 million Ezra shares which were held by his private vehicle.

The forced sale of S$913,341 worth of Ezra shares on Jan 12 was triggered by the sharp fall in the counter which had caused covenants of a banking facility to be breached. It was reported that the shares were pledged for a loan facility for a company unrelated to Ezra.

Despite its recent pick-up, Ezra's stock price has suffered a hammering, having lost over 20 per cent of its value this year - it's down over 75 per cent from a year ago - amid a slumping oil and gas market with pundits expecting more pain ahead before things look up.

The oil rout - there have been hopeful intervals of higher prices - has led to spending cuts, layoffs and less contracts to dish out, all of which have hit industry players hard. The Lees' flagship firm Ezra and its other listed subsidiaries have not been spared.

The gloomy backdrop has led to a complete turnabout in the company's fortunes with Ezra reporting its first ever quarterly loss of US$55 million over the quarter ended Nov 2015.

Ezra's other divisions, subsea services provider EMAS offshore suffered a similar fate over the period while its fabrication arm Triyards held up relatively better although profits dived 25 per cent largely owing to the absence of a one-off gain reported a year back.

The company has also seen a string of board and management changes over the past year.

The elder Mr Lee, a corporate veteran, assumed the post of Ezra chairman - again - in February after Koh Poh Tiong stepped down from the position he held for three years; Mr Lee, the founding chairman had earlier held this position till late 2012.

In late January, its chief financial officer Eugene Cheng stepped down citing "personal and family reasons" and in place, Triyards chief executive Chan Eng Yew was appointed interim CFO - he holds both positions concurrently.

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