Billionaire Wee Cho Yaw’s UOL to Buy Residential Site in Singapore for $ 400 Million Amid Strong Demand


A joint venture between UOL Group and Singapore Land, both controlled by billionaire banker and developer Wee Cho Yaw, has won the auction for a residential condominium in the main Bukit Timah district of western Singapore with an offer of S $ 550.80 million ($ 408 million).

UOL said it plans to build 200 spacious residential units on the site of the freehold Watten Estate Condominium, which currently has 104 townhouses and apartments built in 1983. The property, which sits on 220,241 elevated land square feet (20,461 square meters), is strategically located near prestigious schools such as Nanyang Primary and Raffles Girls’ Primary, he said.

“The acquisition is a timely replenishment for the UOL group, as most of our projects are largely sold,” Jesline Goh, director of investments and assets at UOL, said in a statement.

UOL has an 80% stake in United Venture Development, which will redevelop Watten Estate, while Singapore Land, partially owned by Philippine billionaire Lance Gokongwei’s JG Summit, holds the remaining 20%. Residential development is a brilliant sport for UOL, with sales up 81% to S $ 687.5 million in the first half, bolstered by the gradual recognition of revenue from its projects.

With strong residential sales, UOL has actively rebuilt its land reserve. In April, the company won a state land auction when it submitted the highest S $ 381.4 million bid for a 99-year residential leasehold site in the town of Ang Mo Kio, north of Singapore. The property right next to Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park was hotly contested, attracting a total of 15 bids.

Strong demand for new residential sites is not surprising given the high demand for housing in the city-state, even as Singapore continues to fight the pandemic amid a recent outbreak of Covid-19 infections . Developers sold more than 4,200 housing units in the three months ended September, up 23% from the previous quarter as prices hit an all-time high, government data showed.

One of Singapore’s largest real estate developers, UOL is controlled by veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw, 92, chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, the country’s third-largest bank in terms of assets. The bank was founded by his father Wee Khiang Cheng in 1935 under the name of United Chinese Bank. With a net worth of $ 6.8 billion, Wee ranked 9th on Singapore’s 50 richest list released in August.