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SPH to put Kim Seng Road site up for tender

SINGAPORE, 10 October 2003 - Singapore Press Holdings Limited today announced that it will be putting its Times House site at Kim Seng Road for sale by tender next week, a move which is in line with the Group’s policy to divest its non-core assets.

It will invite bids on Wednesday, October 15, 2003. The tender will close at 3 pm on November 18, 2003.

The 10,485-square metre site, strategically located at the junction of Kim Seng Road and River Valley Road, is zoned in the 1998 Master Plan for Residential use, with the first storey for commercial, at a plot ratio of 2.8 and a building height of up to 25 storeys.

A landmark press building for 45 years (from April 1958 to February 2002), Times House was the headquarters of the SPH’s English flagship daily, The Straits Times - Singapore’s leading newspapers - and its sister publications including The Business Times, The New Paper, and Berita Harian. The building was vacated when SPH staff moved into the new headquarters at News Centre in Toa Payoh North in early 2002.

Mrs Sng Ngoi May, SPH’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Services, who also oversees properties, said: "We consider property assets as non-core and have said that we will divest them in a manner that would maximise shareholders’ value.

"With the recent interest for development land, the site should attract buying interest and competitive bids."

Mrs Sng added that SPH is putting the Times House site on the market first because it is currently vacant whereas the other non-core SPH properties are operationally occupied or tenanted.

These are the Times Industrial Building in Thomson Road, Paragon shopping complex in Orchard Road, and four bungalows - three of them in Nassim Road and one in Yarwood Avenue. Together, they have a book value of about $1.1 billion.

Please see Appendix for further details on the site which are provided by Knight Frank Pte Ltd, the property consultant firm which is handling the tender for SPH.

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings

For more information, please contact:

Irene Ngoo
Assistant Vice President
Corporate Relations
Singapore Press Holdings
Tel: 6319 1216
Fax: 6319 8150

About SPH
Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited is the leading news and information provider, offering quality content for print, Internet, TV and radio. It publishes 14 newspapers in the four official languages and six lifestyle periodicals. Everyday, 2.78 million individuals, or 90 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of the SPH publications while the online editions of its six main dailies enjoy some 120 million pageviews a month. SPH has ventured into the broadcast medium and operates two popular free-to-air TV channels, Channel U in Chinese and Channel i in English. It also operates two entertainment radio channels, UFM 100.3 FM in Chinese and WKRZ 91.3 FM in English, under a joint venture company UnionWorks with NTUC Media.

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About Times House site and its attractions
The site enjoys dual frontages, being strategically located at the junction of Kim Seng Road and River Valley Road. A new development on the site would thus have a high visibility in view of its prominent frontage.

It is only about 5 minutes’ drive from the downtown office district, Chinatown as well as the main shopping street of Orchard Road.

The area is an established residential area which is also sufficiently well served by food and shopping establishments at Great World City, just opposite the site, as well as Valley Point and other eating outlets and shops in the River Valley area.

Apartments built on the site should be attractive to both owner-occupiers and investors buying to let out the units. This is evidenced by the strong take-up rate of service apartments at Great World City and the rentability of units in the nearby Melrose Place and Aspen Heights which are further down River Valley Road. The sale prices of units in these developments are still holding up at an average of $820 to $950 psf.

If used to build a residential development, the site can accommodate about 250 apartments with an average size of about 1,200 sq ft per unit. Commercial use can be incorporated on the first storey if desired.

Recent months have seen a revival of buying interest for land by developers. For instance, response for the government sale site at Jellicoe Road was strong with the highest bid by Capitaland at $244 psf plot ratio, which was 12 per cent higher than the next bid put in by Centrepoint Properties Ltd.

Within the vicinity of the site, Jervois Court together with Goldhill Mansion and some other adjoining interests with a total land area of 101,800 sq ft was sold for $105 million, or about $370 psf per plot ratio, inclusive of development charge. The allowable building height for this site is however subject to evaluation.

The Times House site, which is in a better location and with a better site configuration and frontage, is expected to fetch a very good price.

New residential developments in the vicinity, such as The Aston at Zion Road, is selling at about $730-$860 psf. Sheares Ville at Holt Road is selling at about $850-$870 psf, 7 Holt Road at about $850 psf and The Imperial, further down River Valley Road, is selling at $870-$920 psf.