The Ascott to invest S$70m in Europe, Asia

The Ascott, one of the world’s largest serviced-residence companies, plans to invest in at least 12 properties for this year, covering cities like Shenzhen, Chennai and Doha.

The company, which is a unit of Singapore’s CapitaLand, said it has US$800 million (S$1 billion) available to expand its business this year.

Other than Asia and the Middle East, The Ascott is also looking at furthering its presence in Europe.

One of them is Paris, the most visited city in the world.

And it may become even more popular with tourists as a sliding euro makes it cheaper for overseas travellers to visit Europe.

The Ascott, which is the largest Singapore investor in France, says a weak euro also means a good time to pick up European properties for cheap.

The Ascott chief executive officer Lim Ming Yan said: “That… had generated a lot of demand because it has become a lot cheaper for travellers to go (to) Europe.

“The exchange (rate) will obviously affect us but on the other hand the absolute value in the euro term has gone up, so the two will compensate each other and on the whole, we expect that to be neutralised.

“(All in all), I will say that (at) this point in time, with the euro devaluing, it gives us a lot more opportunities to look into new opportunities and new projects in Europe”.

In total, The Ascott is investing US$54 million (S$70 million) to renovate 16 properties across Europe and Asia.

CapitaLand chief executive officer Liew Mun Leong said: “So for us who can afford to buy this at this low-time of capital value, it’s (considered to be) 6 o’clock in the property clock as far as capital value is concern(ed).

“You buy, you renovate, then you can get very high yields”.

The Ascott also point to the growing number of interstate travellers within the european countries, adding that they use a lot of service apartments.

Meanwhile, in Asia, the company intends to almost double its presence in China by 2015.

It also plans to speed up expansion in India, where it is targeting 4,000 apartments over the next five years.

Mr Lim said: “Although we have six projects under various stages of development, we haven’t yet got operating properties so that, to me, is a very major untapped market.

“So we will want to do a lot more in India. ”

Overall, The Ascott plans to add a total of 2,000 to 3,000 apartments globally this year, bringing the total number of units up to 29,000.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 12 Jan 2011