|Belle Vue Residence: Wing
Tai has upped the ante in the race for big names by commissioning
eminent Japanese architect Toyo Ito for its luxury development in
Oxley Walk. Mr Ito is well known here for designing Vivocity
To date there are only about 30 winners
of the prestigious Pritzker Prize - the architectural equivalent of the
Pulitzer Prize - and thanks to Wing Tai Holdings, Jean Nouvel, the latest
recipient, will be the 10th winner to design a building here.
Mr Nouvel, who follows in the footsteps
of architects like Philip Johnson, Kenzo Tange and James Stirling, will
design his first project here - a luxury 43-unit apartment building in
District 9 to be called Le Nouvel Ardmore.
On the choice of architect, Wing Tai
deputy chairman Edmund Cheng said: 'Architecture influences who we are by
defining how we live. That is why we set high standards for the architecture
in our developments - to provide timeless elegant designs and thoughtful
For Le Nouvel Ardmore, Mr Nouvel has
created a 33-storey tower derived from the concept of a rotating Rubik's
While the tower will not actually
'rotate', automated screens will be incorporated into the facade so
homeowners can 'frame their own views' and create unique living spaces.
Mr Nouvel's design also calls for an
outer structural lattice in the form of a grid detached from the living
spaces to create an buffer of greenery and layering of spaces.
Besides giving the tower a distinctive
look, the buffer space will be planted at certain levels to correspond to
the villas-in-the-sky ambience of the development.
Internally, units will have high ceilings
bathed in light from big windows that will provide 270 degree views.
'We know who our buyers are, we
understand their needs and lifestyle requirements,' said Mr Cheng. 'They
have keen appreciation for differentiation and seek sophistication in their
As homebuyers become more discerning,
developers here are increasingly commissioning big-name architects.
'Discerning homebuyers and investors are
increasingly drawn to good architecture,' said Mr Cheng. 'They have a higher
sensitivity towards good design and are willing to spend not only on the
interior of their apartments but also the exterior. Projects equated with
quality are likely to attract higher premiums for their uniqueness and
Wing Tai seems to have upped the ante in
the race for big names by commissioning eminent Japanese architect Toyo Ito
for its other luxury development, Belle Vue Residences in Oxley Walk.
Mr Ito, who received the 2002 Gold Lion
Award at the International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale, is
already well known here for designing Vivocity.
For Belle Vue Residences, he has pushed
the boundaries by coming up with a floor plan inspired by the branches of a
tree and setting a distinctly organic tone.
The 176-unit development will have
intimate pockets of space designed to mimic nature's branching pattern,
integrating interior and exterior spaces.
The organic branching effect also results
in more exposed wall surfaces and windows for more natural light and better
As a result of organic planning, there
are about 160 unit types, with most responding to the landscape in unique
ways. - 2008 September
could do with Wing Tai plainspeak
Wing Tai Holdings holds its
fourth-quarter and full-year results briefing next Tuesday, it will be the
last of the major Singapore-listed property groups to announce results for
the period ended June 30, 2008. Net earnings are expected to be lower than
the $382 million record performance for the preceding year. But the wait may
still be worth it, if the Cheng brothers who helm the group once again give
a candid assessment of the state of the Singapore property market.
The duo has made some of the frankest
pronouncements on market prospects. Last August, during the early days of
the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, Wing Tai chairman Cheng Wai Keung was
probably the first major developer to say publicly that sub-prime woes had
slowed property transactions across the entire market in Singapore.
He said: 'Yes, temporarily, it has
affected some of the take-up rates. But it is actually not a bad thing. The
market needs a bit of consolidation. High-end home prices have gone up 100
per cent within the last 6-9 months. It's just not sustainable. But if
sub-prime settles within a reasonable period, I believe there is still room
to grow in the property market. We're not at the end of the property cycle.
'On the other hand, if sub-prime or the
credit market continues to be in turmoil and it affects confidence in
general, then, of course, it will be a completely different scenario,' he
That was in August last year. By February
this year, when the sub-prime crisis and its bite on the local property
market had worsened, some developers here were still singing a positive
tune, hoping the sub-prime gloom would blow away after mid-year.
But Wing Tai deputy chairman Edmund Cheng
told BT at the time that it may not be realistic to expect sub-prime
problems to fade away by mid-year. 'They are likely to linger beyond this
year, as the exposure has extended to many other areas, and it may still
take some time for the full extent of exposure to be discovered,' he said.
Now, with the official forecast for
Singapore's GDP growth this year trimmed and all-round warnings for tougher
times ahead, the market will hopefully once again be able to count on the
Cheng brothers to deliver an honest verdict for the property market - and
perhaps even offer some advice for property investors caught in the
After all, Wing Tai itself has been
through tough times. It was one of the worst-hit developers during the Asian
financial crisis. It chalked up huge losses and was strained by a pile of
It had bought some high-priced
residential plots in Singapore in June 1997, on the eve of the Asian crisis.
These included a 99-year leasehold residential site at Draycott Park that it
purchased at $1,103.60 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) and another
plot in the Newton Road area for $611.91 psf ppr. The price of the Draycott
plot remained a record for 99-year leasehold prime district residential land
for about a decade.
Wing Tai had high net gearing ratios
(over 1) during the Asian crisis years and again during the more recent
property slowdown in 2000-2004. Today, the group is in much better financial
shape. As at March 31, 2008, its net gearing ratio was 0.5.
Like all developers, Wing Tai will try to
hold off launches given the current weak market sentiment, especially since
it has strengthened its financial position from the recent Singapore
residential market boom between 2005 and 2007.
But, as Morgan Stanley Research said in a
recent report: 'Should the residential market remain subdued for a prolonged
period, Wing Tai may have no choice but to stomach lower selling prices to
entice buying activity, particularly if the other developers have cut
selling prices in their projects.'
The group's existing Singapore
residential land bank was by and large acquired at more attractive prices,
except for a 40 per cent stake in a 99-year leasehold plot at Alexandra Road
bought for $639 psf ppr late last year.
Fortunately for Wing Tai, its other prime
district freehold sites like Anderson 18, Ardmore Point, Belle Vue and
Newton Meadows were acquired between 2005 and May 2007 at relatively
attractive prices of $1,650 psf ppr and $1,369 psf ppr for Anderson 18 and
Ardmore Point respectively and about $660 psf ppr for both Belle Vue and
If necessary, Wing Tai could take a hit
on selling prices for new condos on these sites and should still be able to
make a decent profit. Wing Tai seems to have learnt its lessons from the
past and, hopefully, history will not repeat itself. As a bonus, the Cheng
brothers may again offer probing insights into the local property market
next week. - 2008 August
Wing Tai chief cautiously upbeat on
Wing Tai Holdings' head honchos yesterday
said the US sub-prime woes have slowed property transactions across the
whole market here but believe that property prices are still on a growth
path 'if the sub-prime (crisis) stabilises within a reasonable period'.
|Mr Cheng: Sub-prime crisis has temporarily affected
Wing Tai chairman Cheng Wai Keung said: 'Yes, temporarily, it has
affected some of the take-up rates. But it is actually not a bad thing. The
market needs a bit of consolidation. High-end home prices have gone up 100
per cent within the last six to nine months. It's just not sustainable. But
if sub-prime settles within a reasonable period, I believe there is still
room to grow in the property market. We are not at the end of the property
Mr Cheng and his brother, Edmund, the group's deputy chairman, were
fielding questions during the group's full-year results briefing.
'On the other hand, if sub-prime or the credit market continues to be in
turmoil and it affects confidence in general, then of course it will be a
completely different scenario,' he added.
Mr Cheng also acknowledged that Wing Tai had seen an increase in buyers
not exercising options but the rate is 'not alarming', at 'just a handful'.
Buyers giving up options is a factor of two things: how aggressively a
developer pushes for a sale and its selling price. 'Our style is that given
that the market is slow, there's no point to push for a sale (and then have
the buyer) back out later. Secondly, our pricing maximises our profit but we
also leave something on the table (for the buyer) so at least he has a hope
that the price is supportable,' Mr Cheng said.
As for the proposed changes to legislation governing collective sales, Mr
Cheng reckons they will slow down en bloc sales since such deals will now
take longer to execute. 'From a positive angle, it will slow down supply of
land with redevelopment potential which means there will be less competition
for companies that already have some landbank. But on the other hand, if you
have less land to buy, then you cannot grow your business as fast as you
would like to.
'But given the recent run-up in property prices, people will be a lot
more cautious in buying more development land. So in a nutshell, I think
it's good. At least it allows the market to consolidate and adjust itself,
and also takes away some of the uncertainty under old en bloc rules. -
BUSINESS TIMES 2007 August 31
Wing Tai's Cheng family own all of
222-yr-old Gieves & Hawkes
Admiral Lord Nelson wore it. So did the
Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
Now businessman Cheng Wai Keung and male
members of his clan are also outfitted in them - suits from Gieves &
Hawkes (G&H), the upmarket purveyor of menswear from London's Saville
Mr Cheng, chairman and managing director
of Wing Tai Holdings, and his family will soon own all of G&H in a 2.28
million (S$5.98 million) takeover exercise.
The amount is for the remaining 29 per
cent of the company that Hong Kong-listed USI Holdings, an associate of Wing
Tai, does not already own.
Singapore-based Mr Cheng, who confirmed
the deal, said the transaction was done through USI whose core business is
garment manufacturing for international labels like Gap, DKNY and Ralph
USI, whose chairman is Christopher Cheng,
elder brother of Wai Keung, has controlled 71 per cent stake of G&H
since 1997. It amassed the stake through a combination of share purchases in
the open market on the London Stock Exchange where the 222-year Gieves &
Hawkes is listed, and a loan note which was converted into equity.
Explaining the decision to purchase and
delist it eventually, Li Kwan, USI's group financial controller (apparel
division), told BT in a telephone interview from Hong Kong: 'It is a
historic name and we want to build on it. By taking it private, it's easier
for us to expand.' In its offer document, USI noted that market sentiment
towards smaller quoted companies such as G&H has been poor. There were
also 'significant' costs borne by G&H associated with maintaining its
public company status and a listing for the shares.
According to Mr Li, USI made an offer of
25.5 pence for each G&H share, a 21 per cent premium from the pre-offer
price of 21 pence. The 25.5 pence offer was also the tailoring firm's net
Since last month's offer, the
thinly-traded counter, which has a market capitalisation of 7.9 million, has
hovered around 24 pence. Mr Li expects minority G&H shareholders to
accept USI's offer which closes at end-May. Delisting could then take place
at the end of next month.
Founded in 1780, G&H has seven
outlets around the world and owns the freehold land at No 1 Saville Row, one
of the best known addresses in men's tailoring. The G&H shops in Hong
Kong, Taiwan, China are held by licensees. It does not have a presence in
Singapore. The firm, however, lost money in the last two years, no thanks to
the foot and mouth disease in Britain and last year's terrorist attacks in
the US. 'These were the exceptions. Otherwise we have been making profits,'
said Mr Li.
Prior to the two years, G&H chalked
up an after-tax profit of 500,000 for the year ended Jan 31, 2000.
The purchase of G&H has made
chairman Christopher Cheng the purveyor of 'bespoke' suits would cost
between 2,000 to 3,000 apiece. An off-the-peg suit from No 1 Saville Row
would set back a customer by about 1,000. - by
Loh Hui Yin Singapore
Business Times 15 May 2002
Wing Tai Holdings said it has sold a block of 58
freehold apartments at The Tessarina condo in Bukit Timah to IP Property
Fund Asia for $54.4 million. Wing Tai has agreed to lease back the units for
three years, assuring the investor of a yield during this period.
BT understands the price works out to
about $655 per square foot and the gross yield on the investment for IP
Property Fund Asia - whose investors include ING Group and Singapore's
CapitaLand - is 'in excess of 4 per cent'.
Analysts said the deal is slightly
profitable for Wing Tai, which is said never to have made a provision for
the development. The condo stands on the former Rothmans site that Wing Tai
bagged in 1994.
The $655 psf average price for the deal
is based on the 58 units' total saleable area of about 83,000 sq ft. This
includes roof terraces, private enclosed space and air-con ledges, sources
Wing Tai said in a statement the 58 units
sold comprise a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, with sizes
ranging from 990 to 1,851 sq ft. There are also two penthouses.
Jones Lang LaSalle brokered the deal, the
developer said in a statement yesterday.
With the deal, the 443-unit Tessarina is
more than 85 per cent sold. IP Real Estate Asset Management managing
director Robert Lie said that with the lease-back arrangement, 'we are
confident that it will provide good rental yields in the future in line with
our fund's objective'.
The company, a 50:50 joint venture
between ING Real Estate and CapitaLand, manages the IP Property Fund Asia.
Besides ING Group and CapitaLand, with respective stakes of 52 and 20 per
cent, the fund's other investors include a Dutch pension fund and ING Life,
an insurance company in Australia.
The Tessarina is the fund's seventh
acquisition since it was set up in late 1998. Its earlier investments here
are Caltex House (25 per cent), 11 apartments at Parc Stevens, 20 condo
units at The Avalon and 22 apartments at 11 Amber Road. The fund also has a
70 per cent interest in two blocks of serviced apartments in Bangkok and has
invested in the Hong Kong residential property market.
All the investments have positive carry -
that is, returns are more than enough to pay interest expenses, said Dr Lie.
The fund has raised equity of US$193
million, of which a little over 70 per cent has been invested. On average,
the acquisitions are geared at about 50 per cent, which means the fund
should be able to buy total assets costing some US$400 million.
IP Property Fund Asia is still
scouting for more investments in Hong Kong and Bangkok, although Dr Lie is
not ruling out another investment in Singapore, where the fund still has
capacity to invest about US$20-30 million - 'if we find the right project'.
This takes into account a limit of investing not more than 50 per cent of
assets in any one country. - Singapore
Business Times 2003
Home shopping scales new heights
Two new stores widen consumers'
choices in picking the finest for their personal and office spaces as well
From fashion, WingTai Asia Group
subsidiary Wing Tai Branded Lifestyle has expanded into a retail segment
that one would have expected it to move into much earlier.
|Living it up: The
2,500-sq ft Zone Singapore is making its debut at Raffles City and is
stocked with more than 2,000 products to furnish all areas and rooms
of a house
As a leading Singaporean property
developer, one would have thought that Wing Tai's retail arm might have
added furniture and home decor stores to its retail offerings long ago.
But better late than never, as they say.
And now that Wing Tai Branded Lifestyle has stepped into this space, it's
not pulling any punches.
Zone Singapore is a one-stop store for
home, bathroom, kitchen and office ware - the first franchise store in Asia
for a Danish brand founded by Poul Jepsen.
Making its debut at Raffles City, the
2,500 sq ft store is set up to furnish all areas and rooms of a house. The
2,000-plus products are categorised into PersonalZone (bath accessories),
LivingZone (living area), FoodZone (kitchen) and WorkZone (office).
Zone has teams of designers in Denmark,
Hong Kong and China that conceptualise Scandinavian-style products. The
focus is on classic functionality and quality, says Mr Jepsen, who was in
Singapore for the launch of the Raffles City store this week. 'But we also
want to reach out to the younger crowd, so there's a variety of new
materials used, like rubber and silicone.'
Mr Jepsen founded the brand in 1991,
having grown up as part of a family with a homeware business.
Helen Khoo, executive director of Wing
Tai Branded Lifestyle, says that Zone is an extension of the group's
lifestyle activities. 'Shopping for the home has also become like buying
fashion. Home furnishing is an expression of the owner's personality. We had
to look for the right partner to bring in - and Zone was just what we were
Zone is run on a franchise basis, a
proven and systematic retail model. 'We're not wasting a lot of time and
effort reinventing the wheel,' says Ms Khoo. 'We just need to understand
local consumers' needs.'
Zone is distributed in the United States
and some European countries and has standalone stores in Cyprus, Greece,
Sweden, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Hong Kong.
The company aims to have 100 stores by
In Singapore, Wing Tai Branded Lifestyle
plans to set up three to five stores over the next two years, plus at least
one in Kuala Lumpur by next year.
With products ranging from a slim
satin-steel sugar dispenser at $12.50 to a saucepan with lid at $702 and a
seven-cm satin-steel York candlestick holder at $22 to a coconut designer
vase at $162 as well as cotton washcloths at $8.50 to five-litre stainless
steel pedal bins at $192, Zone is pretty much the equivalent of a high
street fashion brand for homeware.
'The choice of Zone as a partner reflects
WingTai's retail outlook,' says Ms Khoo.
'We started with mass brands that are
affordable and accessible, like G2000, before we moved up the market to UK
high street brands. Now, we're concentrating on the mid to mid-high range of
brands. We're moving in sync with our property arm,' which is now building
Mr Jepsen chose Wing Tai Branded
Lifestyle as its local partner because of its retail experience.
'We also prefer to partner with fashion
retailers because they understand the way we display our products,' he says.
'Like fashion, we'll have new products in the shop every month to create the
demand among consumers.'
- 2007 September 8 SINGAPORE