Gaw Capital Partners seeking S’pore venture

Private equity fund manager Gaw Capital Partners hopes to break into the Singapore market with its bid to buy the historic Capitol Theatre and surrounding properties at City Hall.

The company intends to build an iconic entertainment and hotel project on the site if it wins the bid. The company has engaged Herzog & de Meuron – the architectural firm behind projects such as Beijing’s National Stadium and the Tate Modern in London.

Chairman Goodwin Gaw said he has been looking to invest in Singapore for a while, and the City Hall site is just what the company wants.

‘For years we have been searching for the right site, and this exciting and prestigious Stamford Road/North Bridge Road tender is a perfect fit with our commitment to excellence in heritage restoration and revitalisation,’ Mr Gaw said.

He was attracted by the ‘concept and price revenue’ tender process through which the site is being sold. Under this, tenderers submit their concept proposals and tender prices in two separate envelopes.

The concept proposals will first be evaluated against a set of criteria, and only those that meet the criteria will be considered. The site will then be awarded to the highest bid price among those with acceptable concept proposals.

This gives groups such as Gaw Capital with track records in conservation and refurbishment an advantage, Mr Gaw said. Most other sites in Singapore are sold through price-only tenders, which means smaller players are at a disadvantage competing against bigger and more established Singaporean developers. The bids for the City Hall site are still being evaluated.

Gaw Capital Partners was co-founded by brothers Goodwin and Kenneth Gaw in 2005 and specialises in adding value to under-utilised or distressed real estate through redesign and repositioning.

The group manages three real estate funds: Gateway China Fund I, Gateway Capital Real Estate Fund II and Gateway Capital Real Estate Fund III. The combined equity commitments of the funds exceed US$1.5 billion and they have US$4.8 billion of total assets.

Gaw Capital Partners also has a Los Angeles-based affiliate, Downtown Properties Holdings. Notable projects from them include the conservation and refurbishment of the Strand Hotel in Yangon, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles and Plaza 353 in Shanghai.

The company is on the lookout for other opportunities in Singapore and Vietnam, two countries in which it does not yet have a presence. Most of Gaw Capital’s assets are currently in Greater China.

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