City Harvest Church increases stake in Suntec Singapore

The City Harvest Church (CHC) has raised its shareholding in Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre to 39.2 per cent.

Executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain made the announcement at a service on Saturday.

In 2010, the church, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Urban Property Investments Limited acquired 20 per cent effective shareholding for an aggregate purchase price of S$43.75 million in Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Last year, it acquired an additional 19.2 per cent for a purchase price of S$54 million.

Together with the acquisition in 2010, the church now has an effective shareholding of 39.2 per cent in Suntec for an aggregate purchase price of S$97.75 million.

Pastor Zulkarnain said the balance 60.8 per cent effective shareholding in the property is held by Suntec Harmony Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Suntec REIT.

He added: “To put it simply, we are co-owners of this property together with Suntec REIT.”

Zulkarnain explained that the S$97.75 million forms part of the S$310 million budget that was previously announced to the church.

“The balance amount is for the committed rentals; the optional rentals in the coming years; refundable rental deposits; furniture, fittings and equipment costs, and periodic shifting costs,” he said.

The pastor also revealed that initially, with the purchase of this additional stake, the total budget would have reached S$327 million, which is S$17 million above the church’s original planned budget of S$310 million for the property.

But this will not be the case.

“We are still able and committed to keep to our original budget of S$310 million because our team has worked very hard to reduce the costs of shifting,” said Zulkarnain.

He said CHC’s “ownership-and-lease” model uses the share of dividends from the property to fund part of the rental costs for running weekend services.

“We arrived at a budget of S$310 million by calculating the point at which the return of our investments will cover most of the yearly rentals,” he explained.

“CHC intends to eventually become self-sustaining in respect to payments of future rentals.”

Zulkarnain said that the value of the property is expected to increase following the ongoing Asset Enhancement Initiative that Suntec REIT has embarked on for the convention centre.

Suntec REIT has budgeted S$180 million to carry out upgrading works, which include creating two levels of retail space.

To facilitate this upgrading, CHC will be holding its services for a period of time at Singapore Expo starting September 2012.

Pastor Zulkarnain also had an announcement on the church’s 2011 Building Fund campaign.

“For our Building Fund campaign last year, we pledged a total of S$23,640,715,” said Zulkarnain. “By the end of the Building Fund period this year, we had collected S$22,687,651. This is a very healthy 96 per cent fulfilment, better than previous years.”

The two announcements come a week before the church’s annual general meeting.

In a media release, the church said this move is in accordance with the Commissioner of Charities’ suggestion that the church reveals developments in its Suntec investments to its congregation.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 21 Jul 2012

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