About this series
Building Asia is a collection of business stories on CNA that examines the financial forces driving Asia’s position as an economic powerhouse.
Soilbuild – Building for tomorrow is the 15th episode in the Building Asia with UOB series and was first aired on 4 October 2021. It looks at how UOB helped Soilbuild privatise its Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), to optimise the REIT’s performance and operations.
Lim Han Qin (Director, Soilbuild Group):
Soilbuild has been in the construction and property business for close to 50 years, in both public and private building works across Singapore.
We also develop our own state-of-the-art business parks and industrial properties.
Soilbuild was founded by my father Lim Chap Huat and two other partners in 1976. He started the business with two years’ experience, a civil engineering diploma and with an initial capital of S$25,000. Today, the Solaris @ one-north is our award-winning business park development and part of three high-specifications Solaris branded projects.
Soilbuild focuses on three areas – Develop, Construct and Manage.
Our construction business has further expanded into pre-casting and pre-fabrication to improve construction productivity.
Edmund Leong (Head Group Investment Banking, UOB):
UOB has been the key relationship bank for Soilbuild since 1983.
With the bank’s regional network, we have supported the group’s expansion into Malaysia, United Kingdom, Australia, Vietnam and Myanmar.
We were also involved in the 2010 delisting of Soilbuild Group Holdings Ltd and we facilitated the privatisation of Soilbuild Business Space REIT. This is by providing comprehensive advisory and acquisition solutions to their consortium and operating subsidiaries.
Lim Han Qin:
As Soilbuild manages the properties we develop, we set up a Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, to hold our income-producing assets.
Over time, this grew to almost four million square feet of business space in Singapore, but the REIT faced constraints in growing bigger as a listed entity.
So in April 2021, we decided to privatise the trust to optimise the REIT’s performance and operations.
We sought UOB’s on the process and financing solutions, and it proved invaluable.
When Soilbuild approached us on their privatisation plans, we understood the quality of the group’s portfolio and so, we were aligned with their plans.
Without this, the privatisation would not be able to go ahead.
Lim Han Qin:
What was so impressive was the speed and level of commitment from UOB.
They recognised that timing was crucial and everything was settled in less than a month.
We agreed to lead the acquisition financing deal and provide funding certainty to the consortium.
With the privatisation, Soilbuild is in a strong position to undertake strategic growth plans and realise the full potential of their portfolio.
As their banking partner, we are pleased that UOB has opened doors for them to have more diversified and resilient income streams.
Lim Han Qin:
We are looking to add new development that will deliver on our vision to be a preferred partner for innovative, practical and quality integrated real estate solutions.
It is good to know that we can continue to turn to UOB for the next stage of our business.