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Stanchart joining quest for space in Changi

Bank seeks to build complex of up to 400,000 sq ft to house backroom operations: sources

STANDARD Chartered looks set to be the next financial institution to head out east to Changi Business Park (CBP), which is fast becoming a hub for financial backroom operations.

Already, Citibank, Credit Suisse, DBS and OCBC have either staked their claims on space there, or are in the process of doing so.

As for Standard Chartered, sources say that it is looking to build a complex of between 300,000 and 400,000 sq ft to consolidate its backroom operations currently spread out in locations like Tampines, Bukit Merah and Bras Basah.

It is also understood that the bank expects to increase its headcount when it expands its offices to CBP.

It has already committed to take up over 500,000 sq ft of space at the upcoming Marina Bay Financial Centre.

Industrial and business parks developer Ascendas, which is a subsidiary of JTC Corporation, is said to be the developer of Standard Chartered’s CBP offices.

It will be a built-to-suit building which will be leased to Standard Chartered in a similar way that Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (in which Ascendas holds a 60 per cent stake) is developing and leasing to Citibank its new backroom office space at CBP.

Earlier, Citigroup said it would invest $220 million to cover the capital, relocation, rental and operating costs of the new CBP office and will lease the space until 2016 and has an option to extend its lease for another six years.

CBP is a 66.54 ha business park which currently comprises around 60 development plots. JTC revealed earlier that about 50 per cent of these have already been allocated. While it is not clear which plot will be the site for Standard Chartered’s new backroom office, a JTC map of the area reveals that Ascendas has been allocated plots near The Signature, which is also near Expo MRT Station.

Other plans afoot at CBP include a hotel.

While the idea of a hotel was first mooted several years ago, there was little interest from industry players then.

It is understood that interest for a hotel has now been revived with CBP growing to become more than just a business park.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han believes that while CBP may not have the critical mass to become a sub-regional town centre, it could become a fringe commercial centre along the lines of Harbourfront or Alexandra Road which Mr Han believes came about through ‘organic growth’.

With more businesses moving to CBP, Mr Han says that the authorities may have to, ‘over time, transform CBP into a fringe centre too’.

Mr Han also believes that in the process, Singapore Expo could be amalgamated to create the critical mass that will sustain support functions like the hotel as well as retail facilities.

For now, however, Mr Han reckons CBP is still ‘a bit disconnected’.

 

Source: Business Times 12 Feb 08

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