Metro invests in Australia, Singapore properties, engages Ascott to manage Indonesia student accommodation

The Cherrybrook Village Shopping Centre in New South Wales, Australia, which was acquired in October 2021 by Metro Holdings with its joint venture partner Sim Lian Group. Credit: Metro HoldingsThe Cherrybrook Village Shopping Centre in New South Wales, Australia, which was acquired in October 2021 by Metro Holdings with its joint venture partner Sim Lian Group. Credit: Metro Holdings

Metro Holdings, along with its joint venture partner Sim Lian Group, has acquired the Cherrybrook Village Shopping Centre in New South Wales, Australia, for around A$132.8 million, or around S$133.9 million, the Singapore-listed company said in a filing to SGX Friday.

In addition, Metro has acquired a stake in the 351 Braddell Road property in Singapore via its stake in the Boustead Industrial Fund, and in Indonesia, the company has tapped The Ascott Ltd., CapitaLand Investments’ lodging arm, to manage student accommodation and corporate leases, the filing said.

Under the Australia deal, Metro will increase its equity stake in the joint venture to 30 percent from 20 percent, with Sim Lian to hold the remaining 70 percent, the filing said. Metro’s capital commitment for the investment is around A$14.4 million, around S$14.5 million, the filing said.

Cherrybrook Village Shopping Centre, located around 30 kilometers northwest of Sydney’s central business district, has a net lettable area of 9,381 square meters and around 441 carpark spaces, the filing said, adding the property is anchored by a Woolworths supermarket, Martelli’s Fruit Market and 51 specialty tenants. The occupancy was at 98.4 percent as of end-September, Metro said.

“The Cherrybrook Village Shopping Centre acquisition reflects the logical step in the growth of our resilient Australian portfolio for stable and recurring income, and the increase in equity stake to 30 percent signifies our confidence in our partnership with Sim Lian,” Yip Hoong Mun, group CEO of Metro, said in the statement.

After the deal is completed, Metro and Sim Lian will hold 16 properties, including four office buildings and 12 retail centers in four Australian states, with a total appraised value of around A$1.07 billion, the filing said.

Metro entered the Australian property market in November 2019, investing for a 20 percent stake in a 14-property portfolio, with the 15th property added in November 2020, the filing said.

Tapping Ascott for management

Metro said that in Indonesia, it has tapped The Ascott Ltd., the lodging arm of CapitaLand Investment, to manage its M+ serviced residences in Trans Park Bekasi, Jakarta.

Trans Park Bekasi, which is 90 percent owned by Metro and 10 percent owned by Lee Kim Tah Group, has five 32-storey residential towers with 5,660 units, and is located in Indonesian conglomerate CT Corp.’s mixed-use development, which includes a hotel, the London School of Public Relations, apartments, shophouses, an office building, a supermarket, food and beverage outlets, cinemas and a theme park, the filing said.

Ascott will manage more than 200 units across two floors of student accommodation and three floors of corporate leases, Metro said.

Yip said engaging Ascott was part of an evolving strategy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Due to its close proximity to the trains and toll roads heading towards central Jakarta, M+ will leverage off the large number of multinational companies and expatriates in Bekasi, as well as tap on the growing student population of existing schools in the vicinity,” Yip said.

Metro operates in two business segments: property investment and development and in retail, which operates two department stores in Singapore and online platforms.