Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hope In Sight For Tampines Court Sale?

Source : The Straits Times, Jul 22, 2008

AN ELEVENTH-HOUR bid by the owners of Tampines Court to save their collective sale from petering out seems to be paying off.

The deal was in danger of collapsing after the sales committee delayed seeking mandatory Strata Titles Board (STB) approval for the sale.

The STB had scheduled to hear the case only next month, but the sales agreement with Far East Organization and Frasers Centrepoint expires this Friday. The two property giants do not look keen to grant an extension.

As a result, the sales committee last week applied successfully to the High Court to have the STB hear the case earlier.

At yesterday's hearing, those who objected to the sale had their say, clearing the way for lawyers for majority and minority owners to submit closing statements in writing by Thursday.

The STB had initially set yesterday's hearing for Aug 7, but that would have killed the $405 million collective sale as it would come after the July 25 deadline.

The deadline fix stemmed from the sales committee's decision to delay seeking mandatory STB approval for the deal until Jan 7, although all the necessary conditions had been met as early as July 25 last year.

It wanted to wait until the board had ruled on the Gillman Heights sale. Any ruling could have had a bearing on the fate of the Tampines Court deal as both are former Housing and Urban Development Company estates.

The squeeze on dates became potentially disastrous when the STB dismissed an appeal to bring forward the Aug 7 hearing, forcing majority owners to appeal to the High Court last week.

Lawyer N. Sreenivasan, who represents the minority owners, said yesterday the High Court did not explicitly order the STB to rule by Friday. But the board's deputy president, Mr Alfonso Ang, said it was likely to, in the 'spirit' of the court's order.

Sales committee chairman Mathew Lee, who spent the most time on the witness stand yesterday, was grilled on whether he had acted in the owners' best interests on the issue of the estate's valuation and the method of distribution of sale proceeds.

The lively session also drew a few laughs, particularly when Senior Counsel Andre Yeap, who represents the majority owners, said Mr Sreenivasan was 'highly intelligent', to which the latter interjected: 'No, I am not.'

Resident Niamh Choo, who also took the stand, told The Straits Times later that one of the minority owners' biggest concern was that some of the proceeds would be distributed unfairly.

In his closing statement, Mr Yeap said there was insufficient evidence that the sale lacked good faith.

Mr Sreenivasan will make his closing statements to the board today.

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