Singapore builder Low Keng Huat is continuing to expand its real estate investment business with the recruitment of a senior dealmaker to join its top management.
Alvin Teo, formerly the head of real estate for local investment manager Sun Venture, has joined Low Keng Huat as an executive director, according to an announcement to the Singapore exchange on Monday, and has been tasked with leading the group’s property business in the city-state.
In its statement, Low Keng Huat said the nominating committee of its board had recommended Teo’s hiring, “given his extensive network and experience in the real estate business in Singapore and his strong leadership and organisational skills”.
While at Sun Venture, Teo had led the S$655 million ($488 million) acquisition of 71 Robinson Road in the Tanjong Pagar area from Commerz Real in 2019. He also cooperated with Low Keng Huat on investments in Jurong East and Paya Lebar.
Teo, who declined to be interviewed for this story, is gaining 2.5 million shares in the 52-year-old firm, according to corporate records, giving him a 0.34 percent stake in Low Keng Huat worth S$1.1 million ($819,989) at yesterday’s closing price.
After starting his career with property agency Knight Frank in 1995, Teo spent a decade climbing the ranks at Cushman & Wakefield before joining Sun Venture in 2008. The investment company now lists director Rayson Yeong as the top name in real estate investment for the company, with Teo understood to have left Sun Venture in January.
With units focused on investments in technology, public equities and buyout strategies in addition to its real estate division, Sun Venture in December recorded the UK’s biggest property transaction of 2020 when it agreed to purchase 1&2 New Ludgate, an office complex in the City of London, from UK developer and investor Land Securities Group for £552 million (then $742 million).
That purchase was the Singapore firm’s second UK acquisition after it had acquired One New Oxford Street in London’s Midtown area from a Nuveen fund in July last year for around £174 million.
Low Keng Huat’s hiring of Teo signals the firm’s intention to further expand its real estate investments in Singapore, which already include the BT Centre that opened on Balestier Road in late 2019.
For its fiscal year ending 31 January, Low Keng Huat posted a net profit attributable to shareholders of S$48.7 million, up from S$12.8 million a year earlier, according to financials released at the beginning of this month.
The group’s revenues jumped by S$26.7 million from a year earlier to reach S$73.4 million, with its revenue from development projects increasing by S$32.6 million. By contrast, its income from investment properties fell by S$900,000, due in part to rental rebates at its retail projects.
Low Keng Huat’s 40 percent stake in Westgate Tower, a 20-storey office tower in Jurong East, came through the developer’s tie-up with Sun Venture, which owns the other 60 percent, to purchase the property from CapitaLand and a pair of its REIT affiliates for S$579.4 million in 2014.
Under Teo’s leadership, Sun Venture also worked with Low Keng Huat and local engineering firm Guthrie to develop Paya Lebar Square, a 13-storey office and retail project next to Paya Lebar MRT Station, which was completed in late 2011.
After selling off the office units on a strata-title basis, Low Keng Huat retains a 55 percent stake in that property, according to its most recent annual report.