Office market is ‘bottoming out’

Raffles Place is not likely to lose its lustre as a business district, said Ms Lynette Leong, chief executive officer of CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT), which has three office properties in the area.

Despite some financial institutions moving to Marina Bay, she is seeing interest from existing tenants and potential tenants for more office space in the Trust’s Raffles Place properties, which include One George Street, HSBC Building and Six Battery Road.

“We believe the enlargement of the Central Business District by the extension of its boundaries … to encompass Marina Bay is well planned to meet this anticipated growing office demand,” said Ms Leong.

CCT, which held its AGM yesterday, assured the 230-odd unitholders present that the office market is bottoming out and CCT intends to ride the upside of the recovery through its “well-located properties and financial flexibility”.

“If the property has reached an optimal stage of its life cycle, then we will divest the asset and reinvest the sale proceeds into assets which have got better potential for upside,” said Ms Leong of CCT’s portfolio reconstitution strategy.

Under this strategy, CCT recently sold one of its assets, Robinson Point, to a private fund run by AEW Asia for $203.25 million.

Besides its properties in Raffles Place, CCT also counts Wilkie Edge, Bugis Village, Starhub Centre, Raffles City, Golden Shoe Car Park, Market Street Car Park and Capital Tower in its Singapore portfolio.

However, Ms Leong said with 4.5 million sq ft of office space coming on stream in the next two years, there was uncertainty clouding the recovery of office rentals.

CCT also told unitholders that as of the end of last month, the trust had tenants committed to renew close to 8 per cent of the leases due, leaving a balance of about 16 per cent of leases unrenewed. Distribution per unit for Q1 rose to 1.93 cents per unit from 1.62 cents in the corresponding period last year.

Source : Today – 29 Apr 2010

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