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Eng Wah properties put up for sale

Portfolio worth around $190m; bulk of proceeds may go to shareholders

(SINGAPORE) Eng Wah Organisation, the subject of a reverse takeover, has put a portfolio of five cinema, retail and office properties up for sale, which sources suggest could be worth about $190 million.

The five are Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre and Jubilee Theatre at Ang Mo Kio – both of which are shopping/ entertainment complexes anchored by Eng Wah cineplexes – as well as the former Mandarin Theatre in Kallang Bahru and Empress Theatre in Clementi (which have been shut down) and the 16th floor of Orchard Towers.

The space in Orchard Towers comprises offices spread across three units – one occupied by Eng Wah and the other two leased out. There are plans for a collective sale of Orchard Towers, which stands on a freehold site in the prime Claymore area.

The other four properties are on sites with remaining leases ranging from 61 to 70 years.

Of the four cinema/retail assets, the ones in Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh (both close to MRT stations) can be refurbished and repositioned for a higher yield, while the other two properties at Clementi and Kallang Bahru, which are currently vacant, are candidates for redevelopment, said Jones Lang LaSalle’s regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt. JLL is marketing the portfolio through an expressions of interest exercise that closes on Feb 14.

‘Eng Wah is open to selling the entire portfolio of five properties or any one or more of these properties individually,’ he added.

Eng Wah is prepared to lease back the cinema space in Toa Payoh and at Jubilee Theatre in Ang Mo Kio if the buyer offers it at a mutually agreeable rental rate. However, leaseback is not a condition for the sale, Mr Lui added.

The cinema-cum-entertainment group is in the midst of a reverse takeover by Japanese pharmaceutical firm Transcutaneous Technologies (TTI).

Eng Wah has said that upon completion of the deal, the group’s operations would be discontinued and substantially all its assets would be disposed of.

An earlier BT commentary pointed out that except for $10 million which will go to TTI, Eng Wah will distribute all proceeds from the sale of assets, together with cash in hand, to its shareholders.

At the time that the RTO was announced in May last year, Eng Wah managing director Goh Min Yen said the group was studying various options, including selling the entertainment businesses to the Goh family.

On the stock market yesterday, Eng Wah closed unchanged at 68.5 cents. It stood at 40.5 cents just before it made its RTO plans public.


Source: Business Times 10 Jan 08


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