Malaysian Tycoon Lee Yeow Seng Doubles Down Singapore Bet With $394 Million Office Tower Purchase


Lee Yeow Seng—the CEO and key shareholder of Malaysia’s IOI Properties Group—has agreed to buy Shenton House, one of the oldest buildings in Singapore’s Raffles Place central business district, for S$538 million ($394 million).

Built in the 1970s, Shenton House is among Singapore’s first high rise structures along Shenton Way on the edge of the new Marina Bay downtown. The sale of the property to Shenton 101, a private company owned by Lee, is conditional on the Strata Titles Board’s approval, according to JLL, the sole marketing agent of the property.

“We will develop this strategically located and very prominent site into a premier Grade A office and luxury branded service residences,” Lee said in a statement. “This purchase demonstrates my continued confidence in Singapore’s prime office sector and residential rental market.”

The redevelopment of Shenton House, which sits on a 3,377 square meter site, will help to further rejuvenate Shenton Way amid the limited supply of Grade A offices and luxury rental residences in the core CBD area, said Tan Hoon Boon, executive director of JLL Capital Markets.

“This bid recognizes the attractiveness of Singapore’s office sector and residential rental market, underpinned by Singapore’s exceptional fundamentals as Asia’s financial and business center,” Tan said. The Shenton House deal comes on the heels of the sale of Far East Shopping Centre, one of the oldest commercial properties on the Orchard Road shopping belt, to Chinese steel tycoon Du Shuanghua’s Glory Property Development for S$910 million in September.

Lee’s IOI Properties has in recent years been stepping up investments in the Singapore CBD. The Kuala Lumpur-based company is set to complete the construction of IOI Central Boulevard Towers, a Grade A office tower near Shenton House, by year end. It is also building the Marina View Residences, as part of a mixed-use hotel, residential and commercial complex in Marina Bay.

IOI Properties also has interests in other Singapore assets such as the South Beach Development, a mixed use office and hotel complex across Marina Bay that’s jointly developed with billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s City Developments, as well as Cape Royale, a luxury residential condominium project built on Sentosa Island in partnership with tycoon Chua Thian Poh’s Ho Bee Land.

Yeow Seng and his brother Yeow Chor inherited the palm oil and property empire of their father, Lee Shin Cheng, who died in June 2019. With a net worth of $4.6 billion, the brothers ranked No. 6 on the list of Malaysia’s 50 Richest when it was published in May this year. Their father—who grew up poor on a rubber plantation—built palm oil giant IOI Corporation and developer IOI Properties. The two companies are commonly referred to together as the IOI Group.

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