Real estate: local firms in Singapore

Allen & Gledhill LLP

Allen & Gledhill LLP handled an additional range of real estate transactions during the Covid-19 period. It advised on a series of acquisitions and disposals, including advising OUE Commercial REIT Management on the S$1.27bn divestment of 50% of OUE Bayfront, OUE Tower and OUE Link. The real estate team has landed a number of major engagements in residential, data centres and other technology assets. Ho Kin San and Eudora Tan are now the firm’s most active partners in big-ticket real estate transactions with Penny Goh having moved into a strategic role for the firm.

Practice head(s):

Ho Kin San

Testimonials

‘Ability to appreciate client’s commercial objectives and help the client to navigate the legal landscape in fulfilling those objectives.’

‘Highly effective and efficient team that delivers on timely assignments.’

‘Depth of experience and ability to deliver.’

‘Ho Kin San is very sound in the law, has a very keen knowledge of the commercial aspects of complex real estate transactions and is able to provide balanced advice. Always very responsive.’

‘Fock Kah Yan – very experienced and good attention to detail.’

Work highlights

  • Advised Perennial Real Estate Holdings Limited on the divestment of a half-stake in AXA Tower based on an agreed property value of S$1.68bn.
  • Advised OUE Commercial REIT Management Pte. Ltd on the S$1.27bn divestment of 50% of OUE Bayfront, OUE Tower and OUE Link.
  • Advised Frasers Centrepoint Asset Management Ltd. on the S$1.06bn acquisition by Frasers Centrepoint Trust of 63.11% of the total issued share capital of AsiaRetail Fund Limited.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP continues to make an impression in major commercial and residential real estate transactions, along with collective real estate sales and real estate financings. It represents an impressive number of corporates, developers and investment funds, among others. While Singapore deals remain its core focus, the firm is increasingly active in other markets such as Cambodia and Myanmar. Norman Ho is one of the most experienced real estate specialists in the market, while Elsa Chai is another with an established record in conveyancing. Benjamin Tay now leads many of the firm’s key deals.

Practice head(s):

Norman Ho; Elsa Chai

Other key lawyers:

Benjamin Tay; Gazalle Mok

Testimonials

‘I’ve observed great teamwork and strong dedication from the team to provide adequate support to clients like us.’

‘Highly experienced individuals with lots of business sense.’

Key clients

GCREF Acquisitions XVIII Limited

AirTrunk Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Golden Compass (BVI) Ltd.

OUE Hospitality REIT Management Pte. Ltd. OUE Hospitality Trust Management Pte. Ltd

Boustead Industrial Fund Management Pte. Ltd.

Mediacorp Pte. Ltd.

Lucas Real Estate Singapore Pte. Ltd.

BreadTalk Group Pte. Ltd.

Eu Realty (Singapore) Private Limited

United Overseas Insurance Limited

Kims Land Pte Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted as Singapore local counsel for Sydney-based hyperscale data centre provider AirTrunk relating to Singapore real estate matters in relation to the S$1.4bn refinancing of its existing banking facilities.
  • Acted for Golden Compass (BVI) Ltd in the S$700m  acquisition of the balance issued and paid-up share capital of Oxley Beryl Pte. Ltd., the registered proprietor of the now strata-subdivided 32-storey commercial tower of the property known as Oxley @ Raffles.
  • Acted for Boustead Industrial Fund Management (as fund manager) in Boustead Industrial Fund’s S$422m million acquisition of a portfolio of real estate assets and interests comprising investments in business parks, logistics and industrial properties.

WongPartnership LLP

WongPartnership LLP‘s large-scale resources and expertise is expertly deployed in a range of real estate matters, from commercial and residential acquisitions and disposals, to joint-development projects, and green and sustainability-linked loans. The firm has landed a series of major engagements from ultra high net-worth individuals and family offices in relation to substantial development projects. Dorothy Ng is a hugely experienced real estate specialist and is at the forefront of the practice alongside senior figures Monica Yip, Tan Teck Howe, Serene Soh, Cornelia Fong and Angela Lim.

Practice head(s):

Dorothy Ng

Testimonials

‘The team is proactive and able to view the matter holistically and not just from pure real estate or conveyancing perspective.’

‘WongPartnership displayed professionalism and solid legal knowledge. The team was able to propose innovative ways to structure my transaction most efficiently and effectively.’

‘Serene Soh is outstanding in her legal understanding and accessibility.’

‘WongPartnership displayed professionalism and solid legal knowledge. The team, led by partner Tan Teck Howe and assisted by associate Lee Si Min, were very responsive and able to adapt and propose solutions to our many changing requests and ad-hoc issues that cropped up. They were able to propose innovative ways to structure my transaction most efficiently and effectively.’

‘Tan Teck Howe is meticulous and reliable in his work. He takes an issue, simplifies it to help the client to understand better and then advises the client accordingly.’

‘Monica Yip is calm and hands-on in her approach. She possesses well-rounded knowledge and understanding of both real estate and corporate law, which makes her a go-to lawyer.’

‘Cornelia Fong – reliability, integrity and honesty. Provides reliable information and preliminary searches for the client to execute important decision regardless if the decision made will lead to loss of engagement for services.’

‘Dorothy Ng and her partner Bonnie Wong are known for delivering excellent work and expertise on time. While they can be a bit expensive in terms of billing, it is a price worth paying.’

Key clients

ESR-REIT

UOL Group Limited

M + S Group

CapitaLand Group/CapitaLand Commercial Trust/CapitaLand Malls Asia Trust/Ascendas REIT

Mapletree Group/Mapletree Industrial Trust

AIMS AMP – Capital Industrial REIT

Resorts World Sentosa

Shimizu Group

Arkema Pte Ltd

Changi Airport Group (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

NTUC Income Insurance Co-Operative

Manulife Financial Corp

Parkway Trust Management Limited/ Parkway Pantai Group

ARA Asset Management Limited

United Overseas Bank Limited

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited

Perennial Group

Grab

Central Provident Fund Board

Lendlease

Work highlights

  • Acted for Blackstone in the acquisition of the building known as Sandcrawler located within the Fusionopolis business park in the one-north district for an aggregate consideration of approximately S$176m.
  • Acted for the purchaser, a subsidiary of The Place Holdings Limited, in the collective purchase of Realty Centre, an office building, for S$148m.
  • Advised for a syndicate of lenders on the S$1.22bn green loan facility granted to South Beach Consortium Pte Ltd for the refinancing relating to the landmark South Beach project.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow achieved further growth in data centre acquisitions, and ESG and sustainability-linked initiatives. The firm is also noted for its tax structuring expertise in the real estate segment. Leveraging its multi-jurisdictional model, the Singapore team has advised on a series of cross-border investments and developments across Asia Pacific. Geraldine Ong is one of the most experienced real estate specialists in the market, notably advising a large number of Chinese and Southeast Asian developers, and is at the forefront of data centre developments. Sharon Tan is another key member of the team.

Practice head(s):

Geraldine Ong

Other key lawyers:

Sharon Tan

Testimonials

‘I was very impressed with this legal firm and the level of professional service that they were able to provide in a timely and efficient manner. This was particularly important as we were working across different time zones and on time-sensitive matters. The knowledge of the firm partners on real estate law in Singapore was next to none. The firm went beyond their duties and on our instructions, discussed lease matters with our landlord. ’

‘With Geraldine Ong heading the Real Estate practice, the team provided us with prompt, practical and value-added advice. ’

‘The corporate real estate team, led by Geraldine Ong, provides sound legal advice in a commercial context and their turnaround time is superb. They do not charge for every single minute spent and are mindful that clients need to manage external legal spending. I appreciate the many occasions they have provided legal advice, not just for Singapore, but also regional legal advice, on an ex gratia basis. The quality of their work is superb and their turnaround time is exceptional.’

‘Geraldine Ong is service and client-oriented, and provides excellent commercial and pragmatic legal advice.’

‘We started working with Geraldine Ong when she was with Drew & Napier. Her enthusiasm is infectious. She does not simply provide advice based on the typical run of the mill, cut and dry legal position. Instead, she puts herself in the shoes of her clients when guiding us through the issues and solutions. Drawing from her wealth of experience and expertise, she went the extra mile to formulate out-of-the-box solutions.’

‘In particular, I would like to point out the excellent service provided by Geraldine Ong and Sharon Tan. The advice they provided was sound and always provided in a timely and professional manner. I would have no problem recommending them to anyone in need of expert real estate legal advice in Singapore.

‘Our deal was supposed to be straightforward but turned out to have a few unexpected deviations unique to our situation and circumstances. Despite this, Sharon Tan was able to provide clear, holistic and practical advice to address the unique situation and get the deal across. Her responses are timely and she is always available. Truly a reliable advisor.’

‘Sharon Tan and her team are my go-to real estate experts. They are knowledgeable, efficient, and reliable. Excellent level of service!’

BH2I

BH2I is a niche hotels and leisure firm, launched in March 2020 by former Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore partner Benjamin Hirasawa. He and his team are active in regional engagements, including Thailand and Myanmar, for an impressive client base of hotel businesses and investors; notably a number of private equity houses. His practice includes engagements on substantial multi-use international hospitality developments.

Practice head(s):

Benjamin Hirasawa

Testimonials

‘The firm’s focus on hospitality. They know in depth about this industry.’

‘Ben Hirasawa is an excellent lawyer, and very easy to work with. He is able to provide practical and sound advice to clients.’

‘This is a practice that is small but diverse and are specialists in their field. They collaborate with experts to ensure the right outcomes for their clients.’

‘Ben Hirasawa is one of the most hard-working people I have met. he is extremely knowledgeable and yet commercial and is truly an expert in his field.’

‘This firm is handling a lot of real estate issues related to the hospitality sector and franchising sector. They handle acquisitions and disputes. Some of the top hotel brands in the world are their clients.’

‘Benjamin Hirasawa, the Managing Partner is very active, and gets work done quickly. He communicates often and well, and he will call clients to speak by phone and makes time for everyone. He is very commercially oriented and experienced, especially in the hospitality sector and franchising, as well as in acquisitions and disputes.’

Key clients

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts

BlackRock

Capella Hotel Group

Hilton Yes InterAsia Asset Management

Just Co Pte Ltd

Lodgis Hospitality Holdings Pte Ltd

Accor

Oaktree Capital

Oakwood Worldwide (Asia) Pte Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted as the sole counsel to Lodgis Hospitality Holdings Pte Ltd advising on new market entry into Thailand via the merger and acquisition of an existing hotel operating company.
  • AdvisedCapella Hotel Group in connection with its global development, operations, retention and expansion strategy.
  • Represented private equity joint venture hospitality platform in connection with investment and creation of a joint venture vehicle to acquire hotels, and develop a new midscale brand portfolio.

Dentons Rodyk

Dentons Rodyk has one of the largest real estate teams in the Singapore market, embedded in a strong international network. It continues to represent some of the leading Singapore developers, REITs and investors.  It consistently advises on headline deals in the market, including the headline sale of Keppel Bay Tower. Liat Yeang Lee is co-head of the team, noted for real estate acquisitions and disposals, collective purchases and developments. Maureen Ann leads the land rights and leasing practice, and Melanie Lim and Pat Lynn Leong are co-heads of the corporate real estate team.

Practice head(s):

Pat Lynn Leong; Melanie Lim; Liat Yeang Lee

Other key lawyers:

Maureen Ann

Key clients

Keppel Corporation Limited

Boustead Fund

CEL Development Pte. Ltd., SingHaiyi Investments Pte. Ltd. and Chuan Investments Pte. Ltd.

Chempaka Development Pte Ltd

Frasers Property Limited

Certis Cisco Security

RL EAST PTE LTD

Riverhub Pte Ltd.

TSRC NOVENA PTE. LTD.

Areca Investment Pte Ltd subsidiary of CapitaLand

Work highlights

  • Acted for Agathese Pte. Ltd. (as vendor) and Keppel Land (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (as covenantor) in the divestment of 100% stake in the entity which holds Keppel Bay Tower to the Singapore Exchange-listed Keppel REIT.
  • Acted for the vendors in the S$332m sale of a portfolio of JTC industrial properties to Boustead Industrial Fund.
  • Acted for the joint tenderers in their enbloc S$276.8m acquisition of the development known as Maxwell House at 20 Maxwell Road, Singapore.

Drew & Napier LLC

Drew & Napier LLC has a large team of real estate specialists, including an impressive number at director level. It represents a range of regional developers, corporates, financial institutions and investors. The team continues to work on a significant number of real estate asset acquisitions and disposals, along with other headline real estate transactions. Ho Soo Lih and Lau Sok Hiang are key names in corporate real estate, with Yeong Wai Cheong on the real estate finance side.

Practice head(s):

Ho Soo Lih; Lau Sok Hiang

Other key lawyers:

Yeong Wai Cheong; April Mak

Testimonials

‘Drew and Napier LLC are professional and their legal work is up to mark. In fact, they sometimes go above and beyond the routine to ensure that the legal matters are satisfactorily resolved for the client, even when it seems that the matter is a bit grey. They actually called up a contact in the government to clarify certain matters that were not in black and white. They are also responsive and will call the client back to update the progress. ’

‘The Drew team looks after the client’s best interests, very efficient and depth of knowledge in real estate transactions due to their experience in wide and varied types of transactions.’

‘The real estate team is very thorough in their review of legal documents and able to distil key risks for the client. In a class of their own where it comes to looking after client interests and are also able to tap on other areas of practice to help clients where necessary.’

‘Lau Sok Hiang is the lawyer I worked with. She is very friendly and provided good legal advice on the matter at hand. She talked to her contacts in the government to understand the implications of purchasing a certain property which was near the main mass transit lines. As such, she was able to give us the most updated advice when purchasing the property.’

‘Lau Sok Hiang listens to the client and takes time to explain the issues clearly. She is a joy to work with. Complex negotiations move along better with Sok Hiang around.’

‘We work closely with Yeong Wai Cheong,  for most of our conveyancing matters. Mr Yeong is very professional and prompt in providing advice to our queries. Mr Yeong and his team maintained the same service standard despite the pandemic. Excellent!’

‘Ho Sooh Lih is outstanding. He does very detailed work, leaves no gap in the entire process, 24/7 prompt response on any issue, allows the client to get total confidence. A pleasure to work with him and their fees are quite reasonable.’

Key clients

CA Indosuez (Switzerland) SA, Singapore Branch

Citibank

CPF Board

DBS

dormakaba Production GmbH & Co. KG.

Far East Organisation (Note to researcher: We are acting for the Far East Organization in a number of ongoing development projects, including the sale of units in existing development (residential, commercial and mixed) projects.)

GuocoLand Limited

KOP Group Limited

Lucrum Capital Group

Markham Agro (19 HK) Pte. Ltd.

OCBC

Reignwood Group

Riway (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.

Soilbuild Business Space REIT

Soilbuild Construction Group of Companies

UOB

UOL Group Limited

VP Bank Ltd

UBS Singapore

Work highlights

  • Acted for Far East Organisation, one of Asia’s largest real estate groups and the largest private property developer in Singapore, in the sale of units in various residential, commercial and mixed developments.
  • Acted for UOL Development (Bartley) Pte Ltd, the developer of the residential development project known as Botanique at Bartley in the sale of the units at Botanique at Bartley.
  • Acted for SGX Mainboard-listed Tuan Sing Holdings Limited in the divestment of its property holding subsidiary 39 Robinson Road Pte. Ltd,  which owns freehold office tower Robinson Point.

Shook Lin & Bok LLP

Shook Lin & Bok LLP has a long-established real estate practice that has eminence in Singapore and regional transactions, including China, India and Indonesia-related deals. It also has a solid background in REIT transactions. Chew Mei Choo has more than 30-years of experience in corporate real estate, including commercial, industrial and residential property transactions. Lee Chau Hwei provides further Singapore and regional expertise, including extensive REIT experience, as does senior figure Tan Woon Hum.

Practice head(s):

Chew Mei Choo; Tan Woon Hum

Other key lawyers:

Lee Chau Hwei; May Loo

Testimonials

‘The Shook Lin & Bok team is professional, sincere and most importantly, contactable. They are pro-customer and deliver on time, every time.’

‘We have been engaging Ms Chew Mei Choo, partner of corporate real estate practice, for many years. She is experienced, sharp and provides invaluable advice. New partner May Loo is another individual worth special mention. She is bright, really knows her stuff and has done outstanding work for us.’

Work highlights

  • Acted for Digital Realty Singapore 2 Pte Ltd in respect of its acquisition of a Loyang site to develop its third data centre facility in Singapore.
  • Acted as local counsel to DHI Holding (S) Pte Ltd. in relation to the S$289m acquisition of Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore, a luxury serviced residences and hotel business in Singapore’s central business district.
  • Acted for HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore) Limited, the trustee of CMT (acquiror) and CCT (target) in the proposed merger of CMT and CCT.