Singaporeans snap up bargains

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 June, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 June, 1993, 12:00am

SINGAPOREAN investors are flocking to New Zealand in droves to take advantage of the country's burgeoning economy and favourable property market.

Grand Central (NZ) Ltd - a wholly owned subsidiary of the city-state's publicly listed Grand Central Hotel Ltd - has been especially active and has recently completed several multi-million-dollar property deals.

Earlier this month, the company bought Wellington's Plimmer City Centre, located in the heart of the capital, for about $60 million and the Dominion Breweries (DB) Tower in Auckland for about $28.5 million.

Grand Central, which already owns two other large commercial buildings in Wellington, will spend up to $32 million on maintaining and improving the Plimmer City Centre, to increase patronage and leasing arrangements.

The Plimmer City Centre was owned by the Smart Group Ltd. It suffered huge losses in the wake of the 1987 stock market crash, which resulted in a virtual total collapse of New Zealand's commercial property market.

The sale to Grand Central will help Smart Group pay off large debts owed to banks and other financial institutions.

Quality Hotels, which has Singapore-based City Developments Ltd as a shareholder, has the Plimmer City Centre lease until 2008.

Auckland's DB Tower, used as the Dominion Breweries headquarters, is seen as a secure investment with the giant liquor conglomerate holding the lease until 1997.

Singaporeans have been the most active of the Asian investors, especially in the commercial property market.

A private Singaporean investment syndicate has bought the Clear Centre in Wellington for about $30 million.

The building, formerly occupied by Lion Breweries, is now leased to Clear Communications - the telecommunications company battling NZ Telecom for a share of the communications market.

Singaporeans also bought a large office block in Lower Hutt - a borough 10 minutes from Wellington's central business district - for about $9 million.

This buy is encouraging as it represents an overseas interest in property, not located in the centre of New Zealand's capital city.