DBS puts 46 retail units, HDB shops on market for S$210 million

Citi Commercial Pte Ltd

DBS has put up for sale a portfolio of 46 HDB shop and shophouse units, and private strata retail units with a total guide price of about S$210 million.

The Business Times understands that the units previously served as full-service bank branches some years ago, and have a total space of around 69,500 square feet (sq ft). The 46 units are available for purchase individually. Sales are said to have begun a few weeks ago.

Among those located in Housing and Development Board estates, the properties are in places such as Bishan, Hougang, Tanjong Pagar, Jurong West, Clementi, Marine Parade Central and Bukit Batok. The 10 private strata retail units are in Thomson Plaza, Gleneagles Medical Centre, The Centrepoint in Orchard Road and at 6 Raffles Quay (formerly known as John Hancock Tower).

“Our branch footprint has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years.” - DBS spokesperson”

A DBS spokesperson said the sale of the 46 units, which are in 29 locations, is being undertaken because they are “non-strategic properties, and property management is not core to the bank’s business”.

“Many of these units came into our possession following DBS’ acquisition of POSB in 1998, resulting in duplicate branches in close proximity, and form a subset of our broader property portfolio,” she added.

DBS to lease back space it occupies

Of the 29 locations, 16 are partly being used by the bank for its 24/7 self-service branches (without counter services) and ATMs. The space that the bank uses in these 16 locations accounts for just over 10 per cent of the total space being put up for sale.

“Our operations in these locations will not be impacted as we will lease back all the space which we currently occupy, so there will be no reduction in our branch or ATM footprint, and we continue to serve our customers in the area,” the spokesperson said.

BT understands that the locations of the units occupied by the bank for 24/7 self-service branches include 1 Tanjong Pagar Plaza, Block 107 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, Block 153 Bukit Batok Street 11, Block 501 Jurong West Street 51, Block 960 Jurong West Street 92, Block 43 Holland Drive, Block 201A Tampines Street 21, Block 260 Bangkit Road, Block 301 Ubi Avenue 1, Block 629 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, and Block 254 Serangoon Central Drive.

The remainder, or close to 90 per cent, of the space that DBS has put up for sale is either being leased out – with some of this having been tenanted for the past 10 to 20 years – or vacant, said the spokesperson.

Word in the market is that the HDB properties in the portfolio of 46 units have balance tenures ranging from about 44 years (for a shophouse unit at Block 107 Toa Payoh Lorong 1) to 68 years (for two shophouse units at Block 501 Jurong West Street 51).

Gleneagles Medical Centre and 6 Raffles Quay are freehold buildings. Thomson Plaza is on a site with some 51 years’ balance leasehold tenure. The strata unit in The Centrepoint has around 54 years’ balance tenure.

DBS is understood to have appointed CBRE, Cushman & Wakefield, JLL, Knight Frank and Triple One Properties to market the units.

Range of price points

The unit with the highest guide price, of slightly above S$19.4 million, is a 5,145 sq ft space at 6 Raffles Quay. Two units on the second level of Gleneagles Medical Centre in Napier Road have guide prices of nearly S$10 million (for a 700 sq ft unit) and close to S$8.5 million for a 592 sq ft unit.

In the HDB segment, the highest guide price, of about S$10.4 million, is for a 5,554 sq ft unit at Block 210 New Upper Changi Road. This property, with a balance tenure of around 54 years, is a stone’s throw from Bedok MRT station and next to the Sky Eden@Bedok project.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the shophouse unit at Block 107 Toa Payoh Lorong 1, with an estimated balance tenure of 44 years, has a guide price slightly above S$2.2 million. In the private strata retail segment, a couple of units sized 366 sq ft each in Thomson Plaza have guide prices of close to S$2 million apiece.

POSB acquisition

Following the acquisition of POSB in 1998, DBS had about 170 bank branches. This has decreased to about 70 branches, a figure that has “remained relatively unchanged over the past few years”, said the spokesperson.

The 70 branches comprise full-service branches (with counter services), financial planning branches and 24/7 self-service branches, many of which are manned by digital ambassadors.

In addition, the group has a network of about 1,900 self-service banking machines (including ATMs) and POSB Cash-Points (at merchant outlets including Giant, Cold Storage and 7-Eleven), compared with just 950 ATMs back in 1998.

“Over the past 25 years, the branch network was streamlined due to duplicate branches in close proximity to one another, and declining branch footfall with more customers preferring to bank online or outside branch operating hours,” said the DBS spokesperson.

“To cater to this, we invested in digital banking and increased our physical touchpoints (which include self-service banking machines and cash-points at selected merchants).” These days, customers can perform the five most popular over-the-counter transactions (including passbook replacement, cash deposit and debit/ATM card issuance) outside normal branch operating hours by using self-service machines across all 70 branches, she added.

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