Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ocean Financial Centre 63% pre-committed

The latest firms to lease space in OFC are BNP Paribas Singapore and ANZ

IN A show that prime office space is back in demand, Keppel Land said that the new Ocean Financial Centre (OFC), set to be completed in the second quarter of next year, is now 63 per cent pre-committed.

The latest companies with plans to lease space in OFC are BNP Paribas Singapore and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ).

At the topping out ceremony for the spanking new building yesterday, ANZ said that it will move into the financial centre in Q2 of next year, where it will take up 209,000 sq ft of space - amounting to about a quarter of OFC's net lettable area of 850,000 sq ft.

This is double the space that the bank currently occupies at OUB Centre, which it will vacate.

ANZ will be OFC's largest tenant among firms that have made known plans to take up space in the property.

ANZ Singapore's CEO Bill Foo said that the new premises will be able to accommodate its expansion plans.

The Australian bank said in May that it will hire 500 or more people here over the next 12 months as it ramps up its newly acquired retail, commercial and wealth management assets of British bank RBS.

ANZ's current head office at OUB Centre is about half the size of the space it will occupy at OFC.

The bank currently holds about 270,000 sq ft of space across Singapore - including its head office, support offices and retail branch network.

Said Mr Foo: 'The new building will help us to consolidate into one dominant location and this is where you have a lot of synergies and also efficiencies.

'It will also bring in a lot of departments of the bank, which will help us to function a lot more competitively . . .'

BNP Paribas will be occupying 58,000 sq ft of space in OFC.

Other tenancies clinched earlier at OFC include Drew & Napier, DMG & Partners Securities, Verizon Communications and Ifast - all of which will move out of Ocean Towers.

Asking rents at Grade A office buildings have been rising.

Last month, CB Richard Ellis said that prime office rents finally picked up in Q2 after a one-and-a-half- year slump.

The average monthly Grade A office rent was $8.45 per square foot, rising 5.6 per cent quarter-on- quarter.

Yesterday, Keppel Corp's CEO Choo Chiau Beng also reiterated Keppel Land's interest to sell its stake in the first phase of the Marina Bay Financial Centre to K-Reit Asia.

This will be done at a price that will 'satisfy both sets of shareholders, Keppel Land shareholders and K-Reit shareholders', said Mr Choo.

He added that Keppel Land may eventually pare down its stake in the investment trust to boost liquidity, if a good offer comes.

K-Reit, Mr Choo said, has a very strong balance sheet. 'What we see is that with this balance sheet growing and later on issuing new shares to buy buildings, Keppel group's stake will gradually go down.

'We are in no hurry to get rid of it . . . We will only sell our share down so long as it doesn't destroy any shareholder value for us.'

Source: Business Times, 8 Jul 2010

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