Chip Eng Seng and a joint venture between SingHaiyi Group and Haiyi Holdings—which are controlled by property tycoon Gordon Tang and his wife Celine—are buying a 21% stake in a Singapore office tower partly owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as the billionaire couple steps up real estate investments in the Lion City.
Existing shareholders and the new investors will redevelop the 50-story office skyscraper, valued at S$1.68 billion ($1.24 billion), Perennial Holdings, which arranged the transaction, said in a statement. Besides Alibaba (which has a 50% stake in the property) and the Tang-backed companies, other key owners include real estate firm Perennial, palm oil giant Wilmar International and its controlling shareholder, billionaire Kuok Khoon Hong.
“The proposed acquisition presents an opportunity for the company to acquire a meaningful stake in a prime real estate site located within the central business district,” Chip Eng Seng said in a regulatory filing to the Singapore Exchange. “Furthermore, the company is able to participate in a large-scale development project which, when completed is expected to be an iconic landmark.” The transaction will be completed by the end of this month.
The grade A office building—which sits on a 10,984 square meter site on 8 Shenton Way—will be transformed into a mixed-used complex comprising office, retail, hotel and residential components. When completed in 2028, the property’s gross floor area will increase to 1.55 million square feet (144,000 square meters) from 1.05 million square feet, Perennial said.
Perennial—whose shareholders include Kuok, Wilmar, Singapore billionaire Ron Sim, Perennial CEO Pua Seck Guan and Chinese private equity firm HOPU Investments—will provide property and asset management services for the project.
The redevelopment of 8 Shenton Way (formerly known as AXA Tower) comes as developers are cashing in on the booming demand for luxury homes in the Singapore CBD. City Developments—controlled by billionaire Kwek Leng Beng and his family—are among the real estate companies actively redeveloping older buildings in the city’s financial district, with projects such as CanningHill Piers along the Singapore River and the redevelopment of the Fuji Xerox Towers in the Tanjong Pagar district.
The Tangs are also actively investing in redevelopment sites in and around the CBD, with Chip Eng Seng and SingHaiyi agreeing in December to buy Peace Centre/Peace Mansion near the Orchard Road shopping district for S$650 million. In May, the duo partnered with a unit of Hong Kong-listed Chuan Holdings to buy the Maxwell House in Tanjong Pagar for S$276.8 million. Both properties will be redeveloped into a mixed-use commercial and residential complexes, subject to regulatory approvals.
With a net worth of $1.06 billion, the Tangs ranked No. 39 in the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published in August. Their biggest asset in the city-state is a stake in Suntec REIT, which owns prime commercial properties in the financial district.