Singapore Reit closes malls in China amid Wuhan virus spread

Sasseur Reit's outlet mall in Chongqing, one of four malls in China it has temporarily closed. PHOTO: SASSEUR GROUP

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - In response to the Wuhan virus spread in China, the manager of Sasseur Real Estate Investment Trust (Sasseur Reit) has temporarily shuttered four outlet malls owned by the trust in the country.

Two of them, in Chongqing and Bishan, have been closed from Jan 26, while the other two, in Hefei and Kunming, have been closed from Jan 27.

"These efforts are intended to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus," Sasseur Reit's manager said in a filing with the Singapore Exchange on Tuesday (Jan 28).

Sasseur Reit's sponsor, Sasseur Cayman Holding, has also closed seven outlet malls it owns or manages in China. The malls - located in Hangzhou, Changsha, Nanjing, Lanzhou, Xian, Guiyang and Changchun - were progressively closed from Jan 26.

The reopening dates of all 11 malls will be announced in due course, Sasseur Reit's manager noted.

Local Chinese authorities have not imposed any regulations to direct the closures of the malls, said the Reit's manager. It added that the decision to shut them was made after careful consideration.

Sasseur Reit's manager and the sponsor "will not hesitate to take all necessary short-term measures to safeguard the health and safety" of shoppers, customers, employees and the general public, according to the bourse filing.

In addition, the sponsor has formed a high-level management task force to closely monitor the current situation.

The sponsor has also stepped up the cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and public areas within the malls, and implemented precautionary health and hygiene measures such as providing face masks and anti-viral tablets to employees.

The manager said it is difficult to ascertain the full financial impact on Sasseur Reit's performance, given that the situation relating to the spread of the virus remains uncertain and fluid.

"However, due to the unique business model of Sasseur Reit, the manager is of the view that the financial impact, if any, to Sasseur Reit should not be material if the crisis is resolved in the short term," it added.

Units of Sasseur Reit ended trading at 87.5 cents on Friday, down 2.5 cents or 2.8 per cent.

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