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Stocks to watch: Ascott Reit, SGX, Sembcorp Marine


CAPITALAND's wholly owned subsidiary Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit) has expanded into the United States by acquiring a hotel in New York's Times Square for US$163.5 million.

The accretive acquisition of the 411-room Element New York Times Square West hotel in Midtown Manhattan, at an Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) yield of 6.2 per cent, is expected to increase Ascott Reit's distribution income in FY14 by US$0.8 million, translating into a rise in distribution per unit from 8.44 cents to 8.51 cents on a pro forma basis.

The property, which opened in November 2010, has had over 90 per cent occupancy in the last three years, according to Ascott Residence Trust Management CEO Ronald Tay.

After the acquisition, the hotel will continue to be operated by LG-39 Management LLC and its affiliates under the "Element" brand through a franchise by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc, he added.

Singapore Exchange (SGX) said on Wednesday that it was unaware of any possible reasons that could explain the unusual trading activity in its share price.

The local bourse was replying to queries from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) with regard to its unusual share price and volume on Tuesday, which saw SGX shares climb five cents to S$7.83, with 3.7 million shares changing hands. After the market closed, SGX issued a corrigendum, correcting the day in question to Wednesday, not Tuesday.

"The company and the board are not aware of any other possible explanation for the unusual trading activity," SGX said. "To the best of the knowledge of the board, the company is in compliance with the SGX-ST listing rules."

Sembcorp Marine (SembMarine) said on Wednesday that it has reorganised its business as part of an ongoing transformation for growth strategy.

From July 1, SembMarine will be one brand focusing on four key capabilities: rigs and floaters, repairs and upgrades, offshore platforms as well as specialised shipbuilding.