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MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Mapletree acquires Festival Walk for a whopping HK$18.8b

The retail mall is Mapletree’s first commercial property acquisition in Hong Kong.

Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd announced that it has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Swire Properties Limited to acquire a major regional retail mall with an office component located in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Tong known as Festival Walk. The agreed property value is HK$18.8 billion or about S$2.9 billion.

Mapletree is acquiring Festival Walk together with other institutional investors as capital partners. Festival Walk is Mapletree’s first commercial property acquisition in Hong Kong. It will be a seed asset for a portfolio of Hong Kong commercial properties, which Mapletree plans to build under a Hong Kong focused fund over the next two to three years.

Commenting on the significance of the acquisition, Mapletree Group Chief Executive Officer Mr Hiew Yoon Khong said, “This acquisition is a milestone as we have secured a good size and high quality asset in our first retail project in Hong Kong. Given that Festival Walk is 100% occupied with good quality tenants, upon completion, it will immediately provide good and stable returns to us and our capital partners. What is especially attractive about this asset is that the rental income has increased consistently year on year since inception reflecting the quality of the mall. We are very confident that this trend will continue into the future.

Additionally, we will identify asset enhancements opportunities that draw on the inherent merits of the mall to further increase its value. As part of the business continuity for Festival Walk as well as to build up our breadth and depth in retail skills, we are pleased to welcome the experienced and strong mall management team into the Mapletree Group.”

Completed in 1998, Festival Walk consists of a seven-storey mall centrally located within the lively district of Kowloon Tong. The development enjoys excellent connectivity to various parts of Hong Kong as well as mainland China, capitalising on its location on top of a multi-modal transportation hub, comprising a direct rail connection to mainland China, Mass Transit Railway system, bus interchange and local taxis with a large car parking provision. Festival Walk’s accessibility allows it to serve the large middle income residential as well as the City University of Hong Kong catchments in its immediate vicinity. Being a regional mall, it is further positioned to tap a large market of tourists particularly from China.

Last year, the mall attracted a total footfall of nearly 40 million shoppers. With a net lettable area of 580,000 square feet of retail lettable area, the mall features tenants including international brands H&M, I.T., UNIQLO, Toys” R” Us, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Escada, Chanel, Anteprima, Marks and Spencer and AMC cineplex. In addition, Festival Walk has a four-storey, 220,000 sq ft Grade-A office lettable area. Major office tenants include multinational corporations such as Ove Arup, ANZ Bank and Prudential Assurance.

Mr Hiew added, “Festival Walk presents Mapletree and its capital partners a significant and impactful entry into the retail property scene in Hong Kong. Mapletree entered Hong Kong six years earlier through its logistics real estate business. Today, we are excited to expand our footprint in the dynamic Hong Kong market where we can further build our presence in the city.

More importantly, this acquisition reinforces our strategy to scale up in key markets in Asia. With this latest purchase, Mapletree’s total asset under management will grow a further 19.5% to about S$17.8 billion, of which 41% of it is constituted by overseas assets.”

“In line with our business model as an asset and capital manager, this asset is acquired with Mapletree leading a consortium of sophisticated real estate institutional investors. With Festival Walk as a seed project for our HK focused fund, Mapletree will continue to pursue more investment opportunities in the Hong Kong commercial, retail and office spaces for this new fund.”

The acquisition is expected to be completed by end August 2011.

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