Over two years after saying goodbye to its long-term head of Singapore, Frasers Property Ltd has appointed Soon Su Lin to lead its home city operations, giving Frasers Property Singapore its first chief executive since 2019.
Soon, who led the firm’s business in Bangkok for four years, will relocate back to the city-state to take up her new position from April, and will report directly to Panote Sirivadhanabhakdi, the group CEO and youngest son of Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.
The appointment comes more than two years after Frasers Property Singapore’s team reorganisation, when former CEO Christopher Tang retired in late 2019 without an immediate replacement.
“We knew that at the right time and when the right leader was ready, we would have an FPS CEO again,” Frasers told Mingtiandi in an email response last Friday. “The recent announcement of Ms Soon’s (appointment) is about executive development and rotation, and demonstrates how we are able to maximise the leadership expertise in the group.”
Team Welcomes New Head
“Su Lin has been my choice to take on the Singapore leadership role with her deep knowledge of the real estate landscape,” Panote said. “She brings with her a wealth of leadership experience in development and investment, sharp insight and a strong track record of delivery. I look forward to supporting her in the transition to her new role.”
Soon, 61, will oversee the retail, commercial, industrial and residential businesses of the group, which sponsors three SGX-listed REITs: Frasers Centrepoint Trust, Frasers Logistics & Commercial Trust and Frasers Hospitality Trust.
“Frasers Property has a strong and established presence in Singapore with continued potential for growth,” said Soon, who has over 30 years of experience in the industry from consultancy, sales and leasing to property development.
“I look forward to returning home to continue working with Panote and the senior management team, and to lead a strong team as we continue building a more resilient, future-ready real estate business in Singapore,” she said.
When Tang retired from the top Singapore post at the age of 60 in October 2019, remaining as a senior advisor to the company, Frasers appointed Low Chee Wah as the new head of its retail platform in Singapore instead of lining up a direct replacement. Now that Soon is taking over, Low will continue to oversee the firm’s retail operation under her leadership.
Prior to her new role, Soon was the CEO of Frasers Property Thailand from 2017, leading major projects including the development of One Bangkok, a 20 million square foot (1.82 million square metre) integrated district in the capital comprising Grade A office towers, hotels, premium residential blocks and retail spaces. The project is expected to be completed this year.
She also led the development and asset management of The Parq, a mixed-use development in Bangkok spanning 1.4 million square feet in built area.
Both projects are by a joint venture of the unit of Frasers and TCC Assets Thailand, which is also controlled by billionaire Charoen and where Soon has served as CEO for development business.
From 2006 to 2012, the National University of Singapore graduate also held the chief executive position at Orchard Turn Developments, a JV between CapitaLand and Hong Kong builder Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, where she oversaw the construction and operations of ION Orchard retail mall and The Orchard Residences in Singapore’s posh shopping district.
Northpoint City South Wing Eyed
While the parent firm reinforces the Singapore team, its retail trust continues to watch for growth opportunities in the city-state. Richard Ng, the CEO of Frasers Centrepoint Trust’s manager, has expressed interest in buying the South Wing of Northpoint City mall in the northern suburb of Yishun to add to the REIT’s S$6.2 billion ($4.6 billion) portfolio.
Ng said the trust has been eyeing the 99-year leasehold extension of the mall, which sponsor Frasers Property developed in 2017. The property has a book value of $1.1 billion and spans 290,000 square feet of net leasable area, wherein Thai firm TCC Prosperity maintains a 50 percent stake.
“It’s a question of when Frasers Property intends to sell the asset,” Ng said Wednesday in an online briefing. “Of course it definitely makes a lot of sense for us to have that asset as well, because we already own the North Wing, so it’s a question of when it is timely for them to divest. Our headroom is there.”
The REIT is ready to snap up more assets in Singapore and grow its portfolio thanks to its ample debt headroom with gearing of 34.5 percent, he said.
While the option of going overseas has always been considered, Ng said FCT’s immediate focus remains the Singapore market because there is still a portfolio of five retail malls it bought in 2020 for S$1.06 billion that needs to be integrated and stabilised.
The trust reported a stable occupancy rate of 97.2 percent in its retail portfolio last quarter and saw tenant sales surpass pre-pandemic levels in December as shopper traffic rebounded amid looser quarantine measures, according to a regulatory filing last week.
Leasing traction at all of FCT’s nine shopping malls in the country remained healthy, with only 22.8 percent of the total (by gross rental income) requiring renewal for the remaining three quarters of fiscal 2022.
“We are also very mindful that this pandemic is still evolving, so we still have to continuously monitor the situation, be agile and adaptable,” Ng said. “Portfolio-wise, we’re in a pretty good position, (as well as) balance-sheet-wise. If there’s any opportunity that comes out, we could really act very quickly.”