NUS link in Gillman Heights sale under query

Fresh revelations about the relationship between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and purchaser Ankerite have surfaced, adding a new twist to the Gillman Heights condominium collective sale brouhaha.

Acting for a group of minority owners fighting to scupper the Strata Titles Board’s (STB) approval of the S$548-million sale of the property to developer CapitaLand, Senior Counsel Michael Hwang revealed in submissions to the High Court last Friday that condo majority owner NUS became a shareholder of Ankerite sometime around July 5 last year — about five months after the en bloc sale was inked.

This fact, which was not available to the STB before it approved the deal, meant the Board was unable to make a “fully-informed judgment”.

CapitaLand had reportedly announced on May 15 last year that HPL Orchard Place and “two private funds” had bought 50 per cent of its subsidiary Ankerite.

The court learnt on Friday that the NUS was one of the two unidentified private funds and had acquired a 15-per-cent stake in Ankerite. The NUS owns 303 units, or about half, of the property.

The 22 owners are also citing other grounds to oppose the sale of the sprawling 607-unit Alexandra Road estate. They revolve around how the former HUDC estate’s age was calculated, the way the sale process was conducted and how the sale price was arrived at.

One of the issues was whether Gillman Heights had acquired consent from 90 per cent of the owners for an en bloc sale if it were less than 10 years old.

Although it was completed in 1984, the condo only underwent privatisation in 1995 and acquired the Temporary Occupation Permits or Certificates of Strata Completion (CSC) in 2002. At the time, the NUS had agreed to the en bloc sale on June 22, 2002, the agreeing signatories made up 82.43 per cent only.

However, Senior Counsel Quek Mong Hwa, who is representing the majority owners, said en bloc sales of three privatised HUDC estates — Amberville, Waterfront View and Farrer Court — had been successfully completed before the Gillman Heights saga.

Two other similar estates, Minton Rise and Tampines Court, were also awaiting approval from the STB.

In his rebuttal, Mr Hwang said these estates did not have Temporary Occupation Permits or Certificates of Strata Completion issued by the Building and Construction Authority at the time the en bloc sales were completed.

On Sunday, some of the 22 minority owners told TODAY they were fighting to overturn the deal because they “love their homes”. The hearing continues tomorrow. – TODAY/ar

Source : Today – 17 Mar 2008

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