A joint venture between Singapore- listed Lum Chang Holdings and a closed-end fund of LaSalle Investment Management Asia on Thursday signed a conditional share sale agreement to go ahead with the acquisition of The Verge, a struggling mall in Little India.

The deal was closed at S$189.8 million. The Business Times understands the duo plans to tear down the mall and build in its place serviced residences with some retail and possibly office components. The deal is expected to be completed in November.

The fund, LaSalle Asia Opportunity V LP, is an opportunistic Pan-Asia fund. The seller is a company that is 90 per cent owned by the Bursa-listed Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom. The mall is located between two MRT stations – Little India interchange and Rochor.

Lum Chang and LaSalle are old partners. Lum Chang had previously teamed up with LaSalle Investment Management to develop Twenty Anson in Tanjong Pagar; Lum Chang took a 5 per cent equity stake and did the construction of the office development. The remaining stake was held by a unit of LaSalle Asia Opportunity Fund III. This was before CapitaLand Commercial Trust acquired the office building in 2012.

Lum Chang and LaSalle were also previously involved in what is now called the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, before it was sold to the Riady-owned OUE Ltd, which subsequently injected it into its hospitality trust in 2014.

But before all this, the hotel was held by LC Development, and LaSalle Asia Opportunity II SARL. LC Development, which was at one point an affiliate of Lum Chang, has since been sold to Aspial Corp and Fragrance Group last year.

In its statement, Lum Chang said of the partnership: “The board is of the view that the respective expertise and skills of each of the joint venture parties is complementary, and further constitutes a welcome renewal of the parties’ business ties.”

Adapted from: The Business Times, 23 September 2016

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