Heeton Holdings has finally sold its entire interest in the completed iLiv@Grange project.

This was through a sale of shares in a wholly-owned subsidiary of Heeton which in turn owns 100 per cent interest in the company that developed the 30-unit freehold project.

The deal values the entire 16-storey project (on an en-bloc basis) at S$95 million, which works out to S$1,623 per square foot based on the total strata area of 58,534 sq ft.

In a filing on late Friday night, the mainboard- listed property and hotel group said it had completed the disposal of its entire shareholding interest in Heeton Residence on Sept 30, 2016, to a group of Singaporean private investors whom it said are not related to Heeton, its controling shareholders and directors; it did not name these investors.

Heeton Residence is the sole shareholder of Heeton Realty, the developer and owner of the iLiv@Grange project at 74 Grange Road.

An ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) search showed that Heeton Residence’s new shareholders are Chew Gek Khim, executive chairman of The Straits Trading Company; KSH Holdings’ executive chairman Choo Chee Onn; Michael Tan Wee Chong and Diana Goh Yan Ching. All are investing in their private capacities and have equal stakes.

Heeton’s chief executive Eric Teng Heng Chew, prior to joining the company on Jan 4this year, had been adviser at The Straits Trading Company. He was also previously CEO of Straits Trading’s property and hospitality divisions from 2010 and 2011 respectively until 2013. Mr Teng had also served as CEO of the Tan Chin Tuan Foundation and still remains an adviser to the foundation.

Heeton and KSH Holdings have been co-investors in property ventures in Singapore and abroad.

When contacted by The Business Times on Wednesday, Mr Teng said that the project had been valued at about S$108 million (on an en-bloc basis) at end-2015.

The development received Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) in October 2013 and under Singapore’s Qualifying Certificate (QC) rules, had two years after the TOP date, that is, until October 2015, to finish selling all the units in the private housing development.

Housing developers that come under QC rules may seek permission from the authorities for more time to dispose of the units subject to paying extension charges to the state.

Heeton already paid extension charges for the first year of extension to the tune of 8 per cent of the purchase price of the site.

Based on the S$72.8 milion land cost, the charge would have been around S$5.82 million. Had the group decided to hang on to the project and pay extension charges for the second year, the amount would have been higher at 16 per cent of land cost or S$11.65 million (assuming no units in the project had been sold).

Factoring this in, the consideration offered by the buyers seemed “reasonable and offered a viable exit option for the company – given current market conditions”, said Mr Teng.

Heeton noted that the residential property market is not recovering due to various factors, including cooling measures, new supply and macro-economic conditions.

Mr Teng also revealed that 20 of the 30 units at iLiv@Grange have been leased; the average gross monthly rental is S$3.50 psf.

Heeton had in the past attempted with the help of property consultants to find an en-bloc buyer for iLiv@Grange – but to no avail.

BT reported previously that iLiv@Grange comprises one, two and three-bedroom apartments as well as two penthouses. Many of the two-bedders have substantial void areas.

The QC rules are aimed at preventing hoarding and speculation of private-sector residential land by foreign developers – defined as any company that has even a single non-Singapore citizen director or shareholder. This effectively covers all listed companies – including Heeton Holdings.

The iLiv@Grange transaction will see Heeton Residence’s equity ownership change from being 100 per cent owned by listed Heeton Holdings to a private structure, with full ownership by Singaporeans.

This would set the stage for Heeton Residence (which will be renamed following the change in ownership) to seek a clearance certificate from the authorities, followed by a further application to cancel the QC, say market watchers.

Adapted from: The Business Times, 6 October 2016

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