SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - To ease cash flows for all its mall tenants amid the conoravirus outbreak, CapitaLand on Monday (Feb 24) said it will release one month's worth of security deposits to offset their rental payments for the month of March 2020.
This is on top of other potential rental relief measures it had announced last week. Singapore's largest retail landlord had said after Singapore's Budget announcement on Feb 18 that it will offer various forms of support "in a targeted manner", which may include flexible rental payments and a one-time rental rebate of up to half-a-month for eligible tenants of its malls.
Food services and retail tenants operating more than 3,500 stores across CapitaLand malls in Singapore stand to benefit from the support package.
The support package is in addition to the 15 per cent property tax rebate granted by the government under Budget 2020 to qualifying commercial properties. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had urged landlords to pass this rebate on to tenants by reducing rentals. CapitaLand said on Feb 19 that it will pass the full savings on to its tenants.
For tenants that upskill their employees during the virus outbreak as encouraged by the government, CapitaLand also plans to offer training programmes under its Biz+ Series of tenant engagement events.
The proposed training opportunities will further prepare the tenants to future proof their skill set so they will be more ready for the eventual recovery after the outbreak, said Tony Tan, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Mall Trust's (CMT) manager, on Monday.
"CMT cannot achieve sustainable distributions without embracing and considering the needs of our retailers," Mr Tan added.
CapitaLand is prepared to do more should the situation worsen, according to Jason Leow, president, Singapore & international at CapitaLand group.
The group had also met representatives from the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) and Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) on Friday during a dialogue session facilitated by Enterprise Singapore.
At the session, CapitaLand provided RAS and SRA more details of the support package it drew up for its mall tenants, to help food services and retail firms to tide over the challenges brought on by Covid-19.
Andrew Kwan, vice-president of RAS, said on Monday: "The release of security deposits, coupled with the rental rebate for F&B (food and beverage) operators, is tangible relief at a time of great need."
"We urge other landlords to take the cue from CapitaLand and offer urgent and immediate cost relief measures for their tenants. Only when all parties work together can we save jobs during this difficult time," Mr Kwan added.
SRA president R Dhinakaran also said he hopes other landlords will follow suit to help keep Singapore's retail ecosystem going. "Singapore's retail sector is facing unprecedented challenges and many of our members are facing cash flow issues," he noted.
Two weeks ago, CapitaLand first announced it is offering mall tenants the flexibility to operate shorter hours. It has also put in place a $10 million marketing assistance programme to fund retailer-driven and mall-wide promotional activities to boost sales for its tenants.
Shares of CapitaLand ended trading down $0.03 or 0.8 per cent at $3.70 on Friday. CMT units fell $0.02 or 0.8 per cent to close at $2.50.