Allianz Real Estate and Gaw Capital have agreed to acquire the Duo Tower and Duo Galleria in Singapore for S$1.6 billion ($1.2 billion), according to a joint announcement by the two companies.
The Munich-based insurer is set to own a 60 percent stake in the office tower and gallery-style shopping mall, while Gaw Capital, which is representing a sovereign wealth fund in the transaction, will acquire the remaining 40 percent.
“Singapore is an established 24/7 city and has one of the most institutionalized commercial real estate markets in the world given its position as a key headquarter location for corporations in Asia,” said Allianz Real Estate’ chief executive officer of Asia Pacific, Rushabh Desai, adding that the complex is an “unparalleled live-work-play environment and is poised to establish itself as one of Singapore’s key business hubs.”
97% Occupied Live-Work-Play Complex
The complex in Singapore’s Bugis area, which has 557,972 square feet (51,837 square metres) of grade A office space, is being sold roughly eight months after being put on the market by a joint venture between Malaysia’s strategic investment fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and Singapore’s state-owned investment company, Temasek Holdings.
The 39-storey commercial tower, which will be jointly managed by Allianz Real Estate and Gaw Capital, was completed two years ago according to a design by German architect Ole Scheeren and is currently 97 percent occupied.
The new owners are paying the equivalent of S$2,590 per square foot for the combined complex, with the office space commanding rents of S$12 per square foot per month this year, on a par with Singapore’s prime Marina Bay submarket.
“This deal reflects the strength of Singapore market in attracting international insurance capital,” Stuart Crow, Head of Capital Markets in Asia Pacific for JLL, which represented the sellers in the transaction, told Mingtiandi. “We are seeing an increased appetite for JV deals as investors are looking for more creative strategies to access investment opportunities.”
Law firms Rajah & Tann and Allen & Gledhill advised the buyers of the property, with KPMG and Arcadis also assisting the joint venture between Gaw Capital and Allianz.
US pharma giant Abbott Laboratories is renting 100,000 square feet as the building’s anchor tenant, with Mastercard occupying another 74,000 square feet and Chevron occupying a further 72,000. DUO Galleria, a retail centre linked to the office tower, has 59,873 square feet of lettable space, dominated by mid-range food and beverage outlets.
Underground linkways give pedestrian access to the Bugis MRT Interchange, with Marina Bay accessible in 15 minutes on the Downtown Line from the property, which received a Platinum ranking on Singapore’s Green Mark sustainable building scale.
Local hotel investment specialist RB Capital was earlier said to be in talks to buy the 340-room hotel portion of the Duo project in a separate transaction, however, a source close to those discussions indicated that those negotiations have shown little progress in recent weeks.
Gaw, Allianz Link Up Again
“We are delighted to be partnering with Allianz Real Estate to acquire this iconic asset,” said Gaw Capital’s managing principal and head of capital markets, Christina Gaw. “The acquisition of Duo deepens our strong partnership with Allianz Real Estate and we look forward to working together to add strategic value to the property.”
In November last year Allianz acquired a 50 percent stake in a portfolio of mainland China logistics assets from a Gaw joint venture for an undisclosed sum, and in 2017 Allianz had taken a 30 percent stake in a $550 million outlet mall fund set up by a JV between Gaw Capital and TH Real Estate.
The purchase is Gaw Capital’s second major acquisition in Singapore in five months after the firm completed its S$710 million acquisition of Robinson 77 in February of this year.
While Gaw Capital declined to name the sovereign fund involved in the Duo Tower and Galleria acquisition, the fund manager has been known to work with Korea’s KIC on investments in Hong Kong and other markets in the region.
Singapore CBD Rents at Ten-Year High
The acquisition comes as grade A office rents in Singapore’s central business district hit a ten-year high in the second quarter of this year, growing over 12 percent year on year to reach an average of S$9.93 per square foot per month.
Transactions in Singapore’s office property investment market jumped 176 percent to S$2.63 billion in the period from April to June compared with the first three months of the year, bringing the rolling 12-month volumes of office and mixed-use commercial deals to S$7.17 billion, according to Colliers International.
“For investors, the Singapore office market offers favourable demand-supply fundamentals over 2019 to 2023,” said Colliers International’s head of research for Singapore Tricia Song, who added that positive investment sentiment in the office market was supported by rising central business district rents in recent years.
Last month, Frasers Property sold a 50 percent stake in Frasers Tower at 182 Cecil Street in Singapore to Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) for S$442.7 million, with the NPS paying the equivalent of S$2,865 per square foot of net lettable area for the 685,886 square foot building.
Three months ago, AEW paid Oxley Holdings S$1.025 billion to buy Chevron House, a 32-storey commercial tower in Singapore’s financial district.