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Court rules against S$17.5m collective sale of Beauty World Food Centre

[SINGAPORE] A potential S$17.5 million collective sale of the Beauty World Food Centre has been stalled, after the High Court on Tuesday declined to give three of its trustees the power to go ahead with the deal.

In a decision delivered in chambers, the court said the price may not be the best available because the option to purchase was granted to the interested buyer before a valuation was made.

However, this does not preclude the trustees from going back to court to ask for the power for another collective sale, their lawyer, Mr Jimmy Yap, told The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Mr Yap said he will be discussing the options with his clients.

The food centre, which occupies the fourth floor of the strata-titled Beauty World Centre in Bukit Timah, comprises 41 food stalls but the title of the property is contained in a single strata certificate.

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In 2016, a potential buyer expressed interest to purchase the centre, built in the 1980s, for S$17.5 million.

The potential buyer paid an option fee of S$175,000 to the stall owners but four of them, who own six different stalls between them, rejected the money because they were against the sale.

The transaction was held off until the court decided whether the three trustees have the power to sell the food centre.

The trustees - Mr Lai Chong Lee, Mr Tan Kock Meng and Mr Tan Han Soong, who are also stall operators - had asked the court to enable them to proceed with the intended sale even though trust documents neither spell out nor imply that they have the power to sell the property.

They said most of the owners are in their late 60s or 70s, and wish to retire from the business, which is becoming increasingly stressful.

They said that in the last few years, most of the stall owners have been in favour of a collective sale, as the only financially feasible way to retire is by converting their investment into cash.


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