Horizon Towers case back in High Court

Horizon Towers case back in High Court

 

THE seemingly never-ending saga of the Horizon Towers collective sale is clearly losing steam.

 

Two of the nine sets of minority owners fighting the sale have dropped out of the High Court appeal that started yesterday, and even the number of onlookers in the public gallery was noticeably fewer than at previous hearings.

 

The dropouts – a couple representing themselves and a foreign firm – were not represented in court yesterday.

 

Minority owners Jasmine Tan and Rudy Darmawan are representing themselves and three others while Mr Quek Keng Seng is representing himself. The other minority owners are represented by Harry Elias Partnership.

 

Senior Counsel Harry Elias told the court that the $500 million sale price was not obtained in good faith. He highlighted the fact that a higher offer of $510 million from Vineyard Holdings in Hong Kong was not communicated to the owners.

 

Mr K. Shanmugam and his team from Allen & Gledhill, who are representing the buyers, applied successfully to participate in the court session.

 

Minority owners are appealing a decision in December last year by the Strata Titles Board (STB) to approve the $500 million sale of the 99-year leasehold Leonie Hill estate.

 

The on-off again sale has reflected the roller-coaster ride Singapore‘s property market has been on over the past two years or so.

 

The Horizon Towers deal was inked in January last year, before the market shot up. Hotel Properties, Morgan Stanley Real Estate and Qatar Investment Authority agreed to pay $500 million.

 

But as the market boiled over last year, minority owners felt they were getting a raw deal and tried to halt the sale. They had some success when the STB rejected the sale on a technicality, but that ruling was overturned by the High Court in October. The STB approved the sale in December.

 

But the once-hot market has cooled considerably since then. Sale volumes have thinned out dramatically although prices have generally held up.

 

The minority owners are still fighting the sale as they never wanted to sell from Day One. And the sale price of less than $900 per sq ft is still below prevailing market rates, said an industry source.

 

The hearing before Justice Choo Han Teck continues today.

 

Source: Straits Times

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