UOL-SingLand JV to buy Watten Estate Condominium for S$550.8m

Michelle Zhu
Published Thu, Oct 28, 2021 · 09:01 AM

UOL Group and Singapore Land Group (SingLand) have clinched a tender to purchase Watten Estate Condominium (WEC) in what may be the biggest collective sale in Singapore's residential market so far this year. 

At the price tag of S$550.8 million, the deal is a 10.2 per cent premium to the S$500 million minimum price announced by the property's marketing agent JLL in September 2021.

WEC's last collective sale attempt was launched in July 2019 at a reserve price of S$536 million. The property was first put up for en bloc sale in 2007 at the price of S$480 million. 

In their respective bourse filings on Thursday (Oct 28), UOL and SingLand disclosed that the tender was awarded to their 80:20 joint venture (JV) between United Venture Investments (UVI) and Singland Residential Development (SRD).

UVI and SRD are the wholly-owned subsidiaries of UOL and SingLand, respectively. UOL is a controlling shareholder of SingLand, which was formerly known as UIC (United Industrial Corporation).

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UVI will pay 80 per cent of the consideration or S$440.6 million for the acquisition based on its proportion of ownership of the JV, with SRD to fund the remainder.

Acquiring WEC is in the ordinary course of business and will enable both groups to replenish their land banks for residential development in Singapore, said both groups in their announcements. SingLand added that the JV parties intend to redevelop the property into a condominium, subject to the necessary approvals from relevant authorities.

Both JV parties intend to formalise their terms in connection with the property's acquisition and redevelopment - and share risks and rewards in proportion to their subsidiaries' equity stakes in the JV.

"The acquisition is a timely replenishment for UOL Group as most of our projects are substantially sold. The prime freehold site is located in the exclusive residential enclave at Watten Rise, which is within 1 km of 2 prestigious primary schools, Nanyang Primary and Raffles Girls' Primary schools," commented UOL's chief investment and asset officer Jesline Goh. 

"Leveraging our product DNA and experience in developing luxury collection projects like MeyerHouse, a high-end project which saw healthy take-up with all of its 6 penthouses sold, we plan to develop another luxury project with about 200 larger format units on elevated ground," she added. 

According to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority as at Oct 28, units at MeyerHouse have transacted for between S$4.4 million and S$14.2 million, at a unit price range from S$2,351 to S$2,740 per square foot (psf) over the last 2 years. 

The Business Times understands from JLL that the estimated breakeven price of WEC's redevelopment is around S$2,650 psf. 

WEC comprises 104 units of townhouses and apartments built around 1983. Spanning 220,241 square feet, the freehold elevated site at 36-44 Shelford Road is zoned residential with a gross plot ratio of 1.4 and an allowable height of up to 5 storeys.

The property can be redeveloped into 286 units based on the mandatory minimum average size of 100 square metres, according to JLL.

In a press statement issued Oct 28, JLL's executive director of capital markets Tan Hong Boon said the tender for WEC was "hotly contested" with several competitive and close bids above the S$500 million reserve price. 

He noted that the $550.8 million sale price reflects a unit land rate of approximately S$1,723 psf per plot ratio, including an 8 per cent bonus gross floor area and the corresponding development charge.

"With this elevated site amidst the predominantly low-rise and landed housings in the surroundings, new units of the proposed development could potentially enjoy unblocked views over lush greenery," said Tan. 

Shares of UOL closed at S$7.26 on Oct 28, down S$0.07 or 0.96 per cent, while shares of SingLand closed at S$2.69, down S$0.01 or 0.37 after the news.


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