A Chinese investor has acquired three strata units in an office building along Singapore’s Scotts Road from a company controlled by Indonesia’s Widjaja family for S$10.1 million ($7.33 million), setting the highest price per unit of area ever recorded for a strata space within the upscale Orchard Road shopping area, according to Cushman & Wakefield, which brokered the deal.
The unnamed mainlander is paying the equivalent of S$4,028 per square foot to purchase 2,497 square feet (232 square metres) of strata space on the sixth floor of the nine-story Thong Teck Building at 15 Scotts Road, C&W Singapore executive director and head of capital markets Shaun Poh told Mingtiandi on Friday, with records showing that Top Global, which was bought out last year by a private vehicle controlled by its chairwoman Sukmawati Widjaja, as the vendor.
Selling the three units, which are currently leased to a pilates studio, will leave Top Global with only Levels 1, 2 and half of the third floor as the property investment firm owned by the family which controls Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas Group continues to sell down the 23 strata units it purchased in the building two years ago.
Wealthy foreign investors are dominating the city’s strata office market this year with the latest deal coming just a month after Suntec City in the downtown core saw at least three record-breaking deals in a span of four months. Such a trend is the clearest sign yet of the Lion City’s safe haven status for private wealth.
Top Global Cashes Out
In securing a piece of the freehold 1973-vintage building, the Chinese investor, who is said to intend holding the property for long-term investment, paid a premium of 13 percent over the S$3,568 per square foot price that Singapore-based watch retailer Cortina Holdings shelled out last month when it purchased the fourth floor in the same building for S$49 million.
Top Global, which was privatised in August last year, purchased its basket of properties in the Thong Teck Building for S$170 million in 2019 and made its first disposal late last year when it sold eight units for S$31.93 million. The selling price translated to around S$3,694 per square foot for the combined area of 8,643 square feet.
Since then, the property firm has sold all of its holdings on the 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the building located opposite the Far East Plaza shopping centre and a few minutes’ walk from the famous Orchard Road shopping belt. Top Global still has two and a half floors in its portfolio following this latest sale.
Sukmawati Widjaja, who also goes by Oei Siu Hoa is the younger sister of prominent Singaporean investor Oei Hong Leong and has served as vice chair of Sinar Mas Group since 1988. Sukmawati completed the privatisation of Top Global in August last year in a deal which valued the company at S$106 million.
Wong Xian Yang, C&W’s head of research for Singapore, said Singapore’s strata office market continues to attract family offices and ultra-wealthy individuals who are less sensitive to interest rate hikes and are looking for small investments providing long-term capital appreciation.
“The Singapore market is benefitting from a flight to safety as capital is gravitating towards ‘safe haven assets for wealth preservation and diversification,” said Wong. “While large ticket deals remain challenging due to heightened borrowing costs, private wealth such as high networth individuals and family offices are on the lookout for bite-sized investments such as strata offices and shophouses.”
Over the past 12 months, the property agency said its capital markets team has brokered close to S$150 million worth of strata office deals in the city – with 15 strata units at 15 Scotts Road accounting for S$70 million of that amount thanks to sales to 10 family offices and wealthy individuals.
Foreigners Snapping Up Strata Units
Including the Scotts Road sale, Singapore has now recorded at least four record-breaking strata office deals in the past five months, including a set of high water mark transactions in Suntec City.
Thai national Phucherlin Klongkitjakon, who is a director and board member of Cambodian beverage distributor IQPS Trading, purchased the top floor of Suntec Tower One last month for S$39.7 million, or about S$3,850 per square foot, to set the highest price per unit ever recorded in the commercial complex.
That sale broke a record of S$3,350 per square foot set a week earlier when the 31st floor of Suntec Tower Two was sold to a buyer from Fujian, China – with that deal also surpassing the S$3,300 price per square foot record set by a different Chinese investor who had purchased the 30th level of the same office block in June.
Along Orchard Road, a portfolio of 39 strata commercial lots in Singapore Shopping Centre are currently being marketed for S$40 million, or around S$1,739 per square foot for the 23,000 square foot space.
“Strata subdivision of commercial developments in Orchard Road is no longer allowed,” said Swee Shou Fern, investment advisory at Edmund Tie and the sole marketing agent for the assets. “This portfolio of prime commercial space offers an affordable option for owner-occupiers looking to operate business in a central location.”
145 strata office units changed hands in Singapore during the first half of the year for a total of S$365 million, which was down from the 172 transactions worth S$461.9 million seen in the second half of last year.
The 2022 first-half tally was also down from the S$703.5 million generated from sales of 169 units during the same period last year.