03 Apr

The Ascott Group Officially Opens Somerset Lake Point in Bangkoks Prime Business District

The Ascott Group, Asia Pacific’s largest serviced residence company, has officially opened Somerset Lake Point, a prime residential project in the heart of Bangkok's thriving Sukhumvit business district.

The twin tower development comprises a 26-storey 199-unit serviced residence and a 31-storey 157-unit non- serviced apartment block.

The 1.24 billion Baht (US$30 million) development made headlines in September 2000 when it was acquired by IP Thai Property Fund (IPTPF), and became Bangkok’s second largest property acquisition for the year involving a foreign investor. The contract to manage and market the serviced residence was awarded to The Ascott Group, following the acquisition.

IPTPF is a joint venture between I.P. Property Fund Asia Limited (with 70 per cent stake) and The Ascott Group (with 30 per cent stake). I.P. Property Fund Asia is managed by I.P. Real Estate Asset Management, a joint venture between ING Real Estate and CapitaLand Limited.

The Ascott Group’s chief executive officer, Mr Kee Teck Koon, said: "In just six months since operating the property, we have more than doubled Somerset Lake Point’s occupancy to over 80 per cent, and at higher than market rental rates. This project demonstrates a key competitive edge - our ability to bring new properties to stabilised occupancies in the shortest time possible.

"We achieve this benchmark by deploying specially trained teams who implement a honed rapid-fire pre- opening model to shorten the various phases of launching a property from design, planning and marketing to profitable operations."

Mr Kee added that the group plans to open its top of the line 300-unit The Ascott Piraya serviced residence and 101- unit Somerset Riverton by end 2002. Its current presence in the city includes the 93- unit Stamford Court Thonglor (to be renamed Somerset Thonglor), 118-unit Omni Tower serviced residence, and 61-unit Kallista Residences for long staying guests.

"We are poised to become a significant player in Bangkok’s serviced residence market with over 1,000 units by 2002. This is in line with our strategy to build critical mass in gateway cities, and drive higher operating margins than our competitors by clustering our portfolio to exploit economies of scale and maximise our revenue," he said.

Mr Kee said that The Ascott Piraya, which carries the group’s flagship The Ascott brand, will be targeted at top executives and depict a distinguished and elegant lifestyle. The Somerset brand, which is directed at middle to upper management executives, is contemporary, stylish and friendly.

He added that the group’s aim to grow its serviced residences from 6,000 to 15,000 units by 2005 will be driven by its expertise in transforming its The Ascott and Somerset brands, which are regional market leaders, into global brands.

Mr Kee said that the company will also leverage its brand strength to grow its stock of managed or leased properties to one-third of its portfolio and increase its fee-based income to one quarter its revenue.

"The better margins from our growing scale and increase in our fee-based management contracts will contribute to our goal of achieving a return on equity of 12 - 15 per cent by 2005," he said.

Somerset Lake Point serviced residence features furnished studio apartments and two bedroom units, with kitchens and modern amenities. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, gymnasium, squash courts, business centre and library.

At the non-serviced residential tower, fitting out works and marketing of the two, three and four bedroom units have begun. The apartments are furnished to similar standards as the serviced residence units, with separate recreational facilities.

The Somerset Lake Point development boasts spectacular views of a lake and is close to shopping and entertainment facilities.

I.P. Property Fund Asia, is a fund set up in Guernsey, Channel Islands. It is co-sponsored by ING Real Estate and CapitaLand Limited with commitments from both Dutch and Australian investors.

I.P. Property Fund Asia's investment is focused on real estate in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. It has invested in Caltex House, a prime office building at Raffles Place in the heart of Singapore's financial hub; and listed real estate stocks in the region.

The fund's first investment in Thailand is Somerset Lake Point, and it has plans to pursue further investments in the country.

The Ascott Group, Asia Pacific’s largest serviced residence company, owns and / or manages over 6,000 serviced residence units in 16 cities in 10 countries.

Created through the merger between The Ascott Limited and Somerset Holdings Limited in November 2000, the group is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, Southeast Asia's largest listed property company. The Ascott Group’s shares are listed on the Singapore Exchange as "Ascott".








Ida Lim, Vice President
Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Tel: (65) 65867-230 Hp: (65) 962-88339 Fax: (65) 62272-220

Dennis Foo, Chief Corporate Officer
Tel: (65) 5867-181 Hp: (65) 967- 44353 Fax: (65) 5867- 202