Hotel firm of tycoon in Singapore graft probe approved to revamp shopping belt

Pedestrians at Orchard Road in Singapore, on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.
Pedestrians at Orchard Road in Singapore, on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023.

By Selina Xu

(Bloomberg) — Singapore’s Hotel Properties Ltd., whose managing director Ong Beng Seng is currently under a graft probe, has won government approval to redevelop three of its properties on Orchard Road, the city-state’s famed shopping strip.

The government greenlit the company to redevelop a project that will be about 1.2 million square feet, according to a stock exchange filing by the firm on Monday. The company’s shares jumped more than 11% as of 3:40 p.m. Singapore time, the most since June 12.

The government is trying to rejuvenate the Orchard Road shopping district as a pedestrian-friendly and green urban destination. Hotel Properties is proceeding with the project just weeks after Ong was arrested in an ongoing investigation by the country’s anti-graft agency, involving Transport Minister S. Iswaran. Officials have yet to file any charges against either party.

Analysts are upbeat about the move. The approval could “potentially yield significant upside,” wrote DBS analysts in June 12 note. “As the project will likely entail significant capital expenditure, the question will be if the group will seek capital partners” to develop the site together.

Hotel Properties will redevelop the Forum shopping mall, voco Orchard hotel and HPL House into a mixed project comprising a hotel, retail, office and residential components. The project will also have a rooftop garden and a performance theater.

The timeline for the proposed redevelopment has not been determined, the company said in the filing.

Ong, whose Hotel Properties has a portfolio of nearly 40 hotels and resorts across 15 countries including the Four Seasons in Singapore and the Maldives, is worth about $1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. His Singapore Gp Pte also owns the rights to the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix franchise.

More projects near Orchard Road are also slated for completion within the next two years, including Trifecta, a new sports-themed attraction at Somerset.

—With assistance from Faris Mokhtar.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.