Thursday, August 14, 2008

BHP Billiton To Lease Office Space At MBFC

Source : The Business Times, August 14, 2008

Aussie firm will take up 150,000 sq ft at Marina Bay Financial Centre's Tower 2

Mining and resources giant BHP Billiton of Australia is leasing about 150,000 sq ft at Marina Bay Financial Centre, BT understands.

The space will be in MBFC's 50-storey Tower 2, under the mega project's first phase, which is slated for completion in second quarter 2010.

With a view to grow: The space BHP Billiton will be leasing at MBFC is said to be more than twice its existing space in S'pore, suggesting expansion plans here --

BHP Billiton is one of the world's biggest producers of primary aluminium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, iron ore and metallurgical coal. It is also a major producer and marketer of export thermal coal and has a significant oil and gas business with production operations in Australia, the UK, Gulf of Mexico, Algeria and Pakistan, according to information on the group's website.

Singapore is already one of BHP Billiton's three centralised marketing hubs (the other two are in The Hague in The Netherlands and Antwerp in Belgium) focusing on the Asian energy market, base metals, stainless steel materials and carbon steel-making raw materials. The centre in The Hague focuses on aluminium, petroleum and the European energy coal market, while the Antwerp office serves the group's diamond customers around the world.

BHP Billiton's Singapore operations are currently located at Capital Tower and Springleaf Tower, both near Tanjong Pagar MRT Station. Market watchers expect the group to give up its existing premises when it moves to MBFC. The 150,000 sq ft or so it will be leasing at MBFC is said to be more than twice the group's existing space in Singapore, suggesting expansion plans in Singapore.

BHP Billiton, which is listed on the Australian and London bourses, posted profit after taxation of US$13.5 billion for the year ended June 30, 2007, up 28.2 per cent from the preceding year.

Some property market watchers were pretty impressed with news of BHP Billiton's leasing deal at MBFC given the slower office leasing market.

MBFC is iconic of Singapore's ambitions to be a major financial centre. Including the latest leasing deal with BHP Billiton, MBFC's 2.9 million sq ft total net lettable area of offices is about 60 per cent pre-committed.

Monthly rents in the development are in the region of $16 per sq ft, said Kevin Wong, chief executive of Keppel Land, at a results briefing last month. KepLand is developing MBFC jointly with Hongkong Land and Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Holdings/Hutchison Whampoa.

However, BHP Billiton will probably be paying less than the $16 psf rental being quoted, given the size of space it is leasing, market watchers reckon.

Earlier tenants clinched at MBFC include Standard Chartered, which is taking 508,298 sq ft at the 33-storey Tower 1, also in the project's first phase. Barclays and American Express International have signed up for Tower 2, also in Phase 1 and where BHP Billiton will be housed.

The second phase of the project, expected to be completed in 2012, will include Tower 3, with about 1.3 million sq ft of offices, of which about 700,000 sq ft have been leased by DBS.

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