[CEO Signature] Steering Suntec REIT for Long-Term Growth

Chong Kee Hiong

Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director
ARA Trust Management (Suntec) Limited,
Manager of Suntec REIT

Listed in 2004 on the Singapore Exchange, Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust (“Suntec REIT”) has been actively acquiring and revamping its assets. Mr Chong Kee Hiong, the newly-appointed CEO of the Manager, shares some of the business strategies of both Suntec REIT and ARA Asset Management Limited (“ARA”).

Suntec REIT’s investment portfolio contains more than one type of property: commercial and retail properties in both Singapore and Australia. How does the diversification benefit investors? What are the challenges faced in managing multiple portfolios?

As one of the pioneer real estate investment trusts in Singapore, Suntec REIT is the first composite REIT listed on the Singapore Exchange. Our assets under management (“AUM”) have grown significantly from our first flagship property, Suntec City, to seven high quality assets spanning across Singapore and Australia. Investing in different segments and countries enables Suntec REIT to diversify its income streams and mitigate the impact of different property cycles. The office, retail and convention businesses constitute approximately 66.0%, 31.0% and 3.0% of Suntec REIT’s income respectively. The Singapore portfolio accounts for approximately 85.0% of the REIT’s income. Our diversified portfolio forms the foundation for our long-term growth. From an initial AUM of S$2.2 billion in 2004, we have grown to S$9.9 billion, making us one of the largest REITs listed in Singapore. Managing both office and retail assets in Singapore and Australia requires strong management expertise and a deep understanding of the local market. This is an advantage we possess as part of ARA. The ARA Australia team, established since 2015, has more than 15 professionals covering investments, asset management and operations. They are able to react to ground situations promptly, actively manage the tenants and assets, and source for assets first hand.

You are a veteran in the real estate industry, having helmed senior positions in various hospitality and serviced apartments companies. How has your experience in a different sector contributed to your current role as CEO?

Regardless of the asset class, the key to steering a successful real estate business boils down to people. We achieve growth organically and through redeveloping assets and accretive acquisitions. We differentiate ourselves by having good and talented people to do these roles well and bring value to all stakeholders. My previous experience working with people across Asia, Europe and United States, in acquiring and managing overseas assets and in managing foreign currency exposure, ties in well with Suntec REIT’s diversification strategy.

Six months on board, what is your vision for Suntec REIT?

My vision is to build a growing organisation that attracts and retains a strong and talented team who proactively manages our portfolio and pursues accretive acquisitions with prudent capital management. This would allow us to continue our journey in transforming our assets into even more vibrant commercial and lifestyle destinations and lead Suntec REIT to its next phase of growth.

What is ARA’s strategy to create value for the REITs it manages?

ARA operates a strong investor-operator philosophy and its local teams undertake proactive asset management strategies. As an example, Suntec REIT completed the repositioning of Suntec City Mall in 2017 and recently embarked on upgrading works for Suntec City Office to cater to the evolving needs of its tenants. Such asset enhancement initiatives are common among all our REITs.

ARA is present in 23 countries today. Our REITs leverage the ARA Group’s strong real estate expertise, global network and local resources in key gateway cities to successfully diversify geographically. Both Suntec REIT and Cache Logistics Trust, listed in Singapore, have expanded significantly in Australia over the past few years.

“Regardless of the asset class, the key to steering a successful real estate business boils down to people. We achieve growth organically and through redeveloping assets and accretive acquisitions. We differentiate ourselves by having good and talented people to do these roles well and bring value to all stakeholders.”

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