Business

After years of litigation, deal finally struck over Capitol Singapore

Perennial Real Estate and Chesham Properties end years of litigation

A deal has finally been struck after years of litigation over the iconic heritage property Capitol Singapore, deadlocked as relations soured between the shareholders - real estate veteran Pua Seck Guan and a member of the prominent Kwee family.

The Stamford Road project, which had been described by a High Court judge to have "fallen into economic slumber", is finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

A settlement was inked yesterday that is expected to result in units of Mr Pua's Perennial Real Estate and Chesham Properties, an affiliate of Mr Kwee Liong Seen's Pontiac Land, parting ways; and one of them owning the entire project.

The settlement provides for a mechanism by which either Chesham or the Perennial units will acquire all of the other's shares in three associated firms that hold the properties. These are Capitol Investment Holdings, Capitol Retail Management and Capitol Hotel Management.

The sale and purchase of shares is expected to be completed within 19 weeks of the date of the settlement agreement, according to an SGX announcement released after market hours yesterday.

No shareholder approval is required for the settlement agreement. Further details on the purchase price were not disclosed.

A Perennial spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday: "We are pleased that we have arrived at a settlement with our partner, which will allow both parties to move forward with our respective plans with regards to Capitol Singapore. Further details can only be provided at the appropriate juncture."

The two were part of a consortium - also including Osim's Mr Ron Sim - which put in the winning bid in 2010 for the restoration and development project. The aim was to return the heritage properties, Capitol Theatre, Capitol Building and Stamford House, to their former glory and add new vibrancy to the City Hall area with a luxury hotel, retail shops, residences and a theatre.

But by 2016, the project, valued by market observers at more than $1 billion, had stalled amid a bitter feud, with Perennial Real Estate launching winding-up applications on the three associated firms.

The High Court dismissed Perennial's application in March last year, ruling that it would not be just and equitable to wind up the companies as there was an exit mechanism available to Perennial. Perennial appealed the ruling but lost.

Observers say the settlement is a boon for the project, which had been deadlocked as Mr Pua and Mr Kwee had not been on speaking terms for more than a year at the time of the winding-up applications.

BUSINESS & FINANCE