Ascott Reit buys hotel in Times Square

The Element New York Times Square West hotel has achieved 90 per cent occupancy in the last three years, said Ascott Residence Trust Management Limited's CEO Ronald Tay.
The Element New York Times Square West hotel has achieved 90 per cent occupancy in the last three years, said Ascott Residence Trust Management Limited's CEO Ronald Tay.PHOTO: ASCOTT RESIDENCE TRUST

Mainboard-listed Ascott Residence Trust (Ascott Reit) is expanding its footprint to the US by acquiring the 411-room Element New York Times Square West hotel for US$163.5 million (S$221 million).

The acquisition would have increased Ascott Reit's distribution income in financial year 2014 by US$800,000, translating into a rise in distribution per unit to 8.51 cents from 8.44 cents on a pro forma basis, the company said.

It follows Ascott Reit's purchase of three quality serviced residences and four rental housing properties in Australia and Japan.

"This US acquisition and our recent acquisitions in Australia and Japan with a total of 1,563 units will broaden Ascott Reit's earning base and increase our scale to 11,779 units. Ascott Reit's asset size will also increase by $519 million to $4.6 billion," said Mr Lim Jit Poh, Ascott Residence Trust Management Limited's (ARTML) chairman.

"When the acquisition of the new Cairnhill serviced residence in Singapore is completed in 2017 as targeted, Ascott Reit's asset size will expand by another $405 million to over $5 billion," he added.

Mr Ronald Tay, ARTML's chief executive officer, noted the acquisition of a quality asset that is centrally located in Times Square of Midtown Manhattan - the country's largest commercial, entertainment and media centre.

"With 411 rooms, this relatively new property, which opened in November 2010, has been achieving strong performance with over 90 per cent occupancy in the last three years," he said.

After the acquisition, the hotel will continue to be operated by LG-39 Management and its affiliates under the Element brand through a franchise by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Ascott Reit will partly fund the acquisitions of the properties in Australia, Japan and the US with the $250 million proceeds from its issuance of perpetual securities at a fixed distribution rate of 4.68 per cent per annum. The perpetual securities received strong investor participation with orders exceeding four times the issue size.

"Perpetual securities is a good source of funding to finance our acquisitions while maintaining our gearing at about 40 per cent," said Mr Tay.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2015, with the headline 'Ascott Reit buys hotel in Times Square'. Print Edition | Subscribe