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Parkway’s Novena bid poised to set govt land sales record

(SINGAPORE) Hospital operator Parkway Holdings looks set to shatter all records for government land sales (GLS) with its $1.25 billion bid for a hospital site at Novena.

Parkway’s bid, which works out to be about $1,600 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), topped the previous record set by Australia’s Lend Lease, which paid $1,455 psf ppr (or $617.2 million) for a commercial site just above Somerset MRT Station in August 2006.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will assess all bids and award the site in a few weeks’ time, but it is unlikely that Parkway’s bid will lose out to the two other bidders, Napier Medical and Raffles Medical Management, which put in bids of $694.5 psf ppr and $344.1 psf ppr respectively.

On its likely win, a spokesman for Parkway Holdings said: ‘We believe that the value we have placed in this tender reflects ParkwayHealth’s desire to enhance Singapore’s position as a global medical hub with leadership in specialist services.’

He added that the hospitals that it operates – East Shore, Gleneagles and Mount Elizabeth Hospitals – are operating at capacity and the new hospital will add beds and critical space needed.

The Novena site, which has a permissible gross floor area of 778,768 sq ft, is the first hospital site to have been launched in about 30 years. URA said that the last hospital site launched was at Mount Elizabeth in 1976.

Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak, who had earlier estimated that the Novena site could fetch bids of $770-860 psf ppr, said that it is difficult to price the site. However, he believes the broad range of bids received suggests that his estimated price would be closer to market expectations.

Mr Mak also noted that Parkway’s bid could boost the value of neighbouring properties, especially Novena Medical Centre, where medical suites sold for around $2,500-3,000 psf last year.

Parkway has not indicated that there could be medical suites for sale if it builds a hospital, but Mr Mak estimates these would have to sell for around $4,000 psf. He added that a unit at Mount Elizabeth Hospital recently sold for around $5,000 psf.

Still, Mr Mak does not believe Parkway’s record bid price will be used as a benchmark for future land sales, and may be considered more of an anomaly.

The possibility of injecting the new hospital into Parkway’s healthcare real estate investment trust, Parkway Life Reit, also seems unclear. ‘To put it in the Reit, the land price should be lower to make the deal yield accretive,’ he added.

Napier Medical director Mark Wee also ‘cannot fathom’ Parkway’s bid except to suggest that it could have been a defensive play against competition.

Based on Napier’s own projections, a new hospital would probably not make money for the first six years either.

 

Source: Business Times 16 Feb 08

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