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CapitaLand gets S$500m sustainability-linked loan; Ascott to redesign serviced residences

CAPITALAND has obtained a four-year S$500 million sustainability-linked loan from United Overseas Bank (UOB), the group said in a regulatory update on Thursday.

The property giant will be able to use loan proceeds for general corporate purposes, as the sustainability-linked loan is tied to its environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance as a group and not any specific project or property.

CapitaLand will also get interest savings if it maintains or improves its rating on the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark, an ESG benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments across the world.

CapitaLand said the loan is the largest sustainability-linked bilateral loan in Singapore's real estate sector. It is also the group's fifth sustainability-linked loan. 

In total, the property developer and its real estate investment trusts have raised over S$2.42 billion in less than two years through sustainable financing instruments. 

CapitaLand group chief financial officer Andrew Lim said the group continues to step up its ESG efforts and sustainable finance as they have delivered tangible returns.

"Through the sustainability-linked loans, CapitaLand has been able to capitalise on our achievements in ESG and add resilience to our capital position," he said.

Notwithstanding the current economic climate, CapitaLand has raised S$1.5 billion in 2020 through sustainable finance, Mr Lim added.

Leong Yung Chee, head of corporate banking Singapore at UOB, said CapitaLand's commitment to building sustainable cities and communities, along with the loan, exemplifies the collaborative efforts the lender seeks with its clients to help the latter achieve responsible growth. 

CapitaLand separately announced on Thursday that The Ascott Limited, its wholly-owned lodging business unit, will review the design of its lodging products and services. The move will allow Ascott's serviced residences to further tap the work-from-home trend which emerged as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Ascott is looking at upgrading its design to create a more productive workspace within the serviced apartment. This includes overall improvements to the ergonomics of workspaces which may include better task lighting, better use of space and appropriate wall features suited for videoconferencing or webcasting.

It may also further deploy digital solutions and technologies to provide convenience, value and safety for guests, such as the use of sensors at its properties, and smarter room energy and water management.

Having sensors will allow Ascott to conduct thermal scanning or track footfall and crowds to facilitate better safe-distancing measures.

In addition, Ascott will increase the adoption of mobile technology through the launch of a new mobile app later this year. The app will offer guests contactless services, and also in-room service and smart controls.

The mobile app will also allow guests to manage their Ascott Star Rewards loyalty points or redeem special flash deals.

Safe distancing in shared spaces and increased sanitisation will be part of the new normal, said Alfred Ong, Ascott's head of global operations.

As at 10.49am on Thursday, CapitaLand shares were trading up S$0.02 or 0.7 per cent at S$2.92, while UOB shares were 0.8 per cent or S$0.16 higher at S$19.86.

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