A fund led by Singapore’s Boustead Projects and Metro Holdings is acquiring an industrial facility in the city-state’s Paya Lebar region for S$98.8 million ($75.16 million) as Boustead expands its management of third party capital.
The SGX-listed duo, together with an independent institutional investor, have jointly entered into a put and call option agreement to purchase the J’Forte Building food processing facility in Tai Seng on behalf of Boustead Industrial Fund, according to a joint announcement on Monday.
The fund is acquiring the facility through a sale and leaseback arrangement which allows for the seller, Japanese restaurant operator Suki Sushi Pte Ltd, to continue to occupy around 60 percent of the building’s 17,931 square metre (193,000 square foot) gross floor area for 10 years on a rental basis, the statement indicated.
“The J’Forte Building is a good addition to the BIF portfolio given its high specifications, prime location, long remaining leasehold land tenure of about 44 years and zoning for food processing operations, which is in limited supply in the area,” Boustead executive deputy chairman Yu Wei Wong said in the statement. “This transaction demonstrates the ability of our strategic partnership to build a resilient real estate portfolio in the highly sought-after Singapore industrial real estate sector.”
Future Paya Lebar Town
The buyers see the sale and leaseback as providing stable rental income from the asset, while also allowing for future appreciation of the property’s value as Singapore invests in the redevelopment of the Paya Lebar airbase nearby.
Located at 26 Tai Seng Street right across the Upper Paya Lebar road and the Tai Seng MRT station, J’Forte spans eight floors of industrial space with basement carpark and a so-called white space permitted for commercial, hotel, residential, sports or recreational use on the ground floor.
Boustead Industrial Fund – which is 49 percent owned by the institutional investor while Metro and Boustead hold 26 percent and 25 percent respectively – is paying around S$5,510 per square metre of the existing floor space. Factoring in the upfront land premium for the balance of the property’s first 30-year leasehold payable to JTC Corp., a regulatory body overseeing industrial development in the country, the total cost of acquisition is estimated at S$109.5 million.
“The J’Forte acquisition deepens Metro Group’s investment in our home market – Singapore. It also marks our continued collaboration with BPL, an established and reputable real estate developer and operator,” Metro Holdings chief executive officer Yip Hoong Mun said, noting that the investment is expected to generate stable and recurring income for the group.
The building has 44 years left on its land tenure and serves as the headquarters of the seller, Suki Sushi, as well as for Singaporean restaurant operator TungLok Group.
The new owners also have the option of extending the existing building with the potential to boost the floor space by as much as 29 percent before the property reaches its maximum allowable GFA of 23,061 square metres, said Daniel Ding, head of land, building and global real estate for the capital markets team at Knight Frank in Singapore, who brokered the deal.
Ding said the asset is poised to benefit from the government’s redevelopment plan for the Paya Lebar airbase, which is less than four kilometres (2.5 miles) from J’Forte. Under the redevelopment scheme, the state will start relocating the airbase by 2030 and transform the 3.8 kilometre runway into a greenbelt for a new town consisting of commercial and industrial developments along with public and private housing as well as recreational areas.
“The lifting of height restrictions around the air base will also allow better optimisation of land and rejuvenate the surrounding areas. Almost 800 hectares of land will be freed up and redeveloped into a new and green live-work-play town,” he added.
Beefing Up Portfolio
The Tai Seng facility marks the first asset that Boustead Industrial Fund bought from a counterpart other than its sponsor, Boustead, with that acquisition bringing the fund’s total assets under management to S$749 million across 16 properties in Singapore. Following the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in 15 weeks, or around the middle of May,the portfolio will have an average occupancy rate of 98 percent and a weighted average lease expiry of 6.1 years.
In November 2021, the fund completed its purchase of a seven-storey high-spec industrial building at 351 Braddell Road in Toa Payoh for S$121 million from its sponsor. That property joined 14 initial assets used to seed the Boustead Industrial Fund for its launch in March 2021, with those properties also having been purchased from the sponsor for about S$511 million.
Knight Frank’s Ding said demand for food processing facilities will remain strong in Singapore as recent global crises such as the Ukraine-Russia war and the COVID pandemic have highlighted the importance of food security.
“Rising demand for food-delivery services and the need of F&B operators to streamline their retail space in Singapore will also contribute to the demand for food factories here. In support of our nation’s goal to achieve “30 by 30” to produce 30 percent of the country’s nutritional needs by 2030, we can expect a healthy demand for food factories to meet this requirement,” he added.
Data released by JTC last week showed that average rents for industrial assets in Singapore rose by 2.1 percent last quarter compared to the previous three months, bringing rental growth for the industrial sector to 6.9 percent for the full year of 2022.
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