Gaw Capital keen on more S’pore properties

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HK private equity property group to expand footprint in Singapore

Hong Kong private equity property group Gaw Capital Partners (GCP) is keen to expand its presence here after investing around $500 million in Singapore in recent years.

It made its intentions clear last month when it completed the $342 million acquisition of PoMo, a nine-storey office and retail block in Selegie Road.

It intends to revamp the block, particularly its retail component, to tap the student population from the many educational institutions in the area.

President and co-founder Kenneth Gaw said: "Singapore's property sector is one of the very few major markets in Asia which suffered a downturn in the past few years. It is now on the cusp of recovery, and we are confident about buying into a recovery."

The group also owns Hotel G in Middle Road. It is a revamp of the former Big Hotel that GCP picked up for $203 million in late 2015 before forking out a further $10 million to refurbish and rebrand the asset.

Both properties are in the Bugis arts and cultural district.

"Other than Hotel G and PoMo, we are interested in acquiring other assets in the commercial office and residential sectors in Singapore," said Mr Gaw.

He and his elder brother Goodwin set up GCP in 2005. Since its inception, the group has raised equity of US$8.7 billion (S$11.6 billion) and has US$13.4 billion in assets under management. It specialises in adding strategic value to underutilised real estate through redesign and repositioning.

Mr Gaw noted that in Singapore, with the successful official launch of Hotel G last year, the group's asset management team has become familiar with the neighbourhood and its traffic flow.

"We're confident that we can add value to PoMo," he said.

GCP senior investment director Imelda Tham noted PoMo's strategic location in a vibrant arts and educational neighbourhood and its close proximity to several large educational institutions, which provide access to about 17,000 captive students and teaching staff in the area.

The Singapore Management University, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, LaSalle College of the Arts (McNally Campus), School of the Arts and Kaplan are among the educational institutions in the area.

Ms Tham said: "PoMo itself is anchored by Kaplan, which has a substantial student enrolment.

"We believe we can harness this potential by creating a more comprehensive retail tenant mix that engages the student population and draws higher foot traffic into the mall.

"The mall has a mix of food and beverage, fitness, and health and beauty tenants, and we are looking to introduce more experiential aspects by introducing an entertainment zone."