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Blackstone to buy Sandcrawler building in Singapore for S$176m

US PRIVATE equity giant Blackstone Group is planning to buy Lucas Real Estate Singapore’s iconic facility, the Sandcrawler, at an indicative price of nearly S$175.8 million, The Business Times (BT) has learnt.

The sale process is ongoing and will be subject to approval from JTC Corporation. BT understands that CBRE brokered the deal.

The futuristic-looking, horseshoe-shaped building’s design was inspired by the Star Wars franchise’s giant fictional vehicles with the same name.

Located within the Fusionopolis cluster in Buona Vista, the state-of-the-art complex houses Lucasfilm’s visual effects and animation studio, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

The eight-storey building’s occupancy rate is said to be in the high-90 per cent range. Market watchers said the indicative price tag of around S$175.8 million reflects a net yield of about 4 per cent based on its existing rental income. Aside from ILM, major tenants included Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech), DBS’s innovation centre, Lucasfilm’s parent firm The Walt Disney Company, as well as ESPN Asia Pacific.

The 22,500-square-metre campus features a metallic external facade. It has office space, retail areas, lush gardens, and a 100-seat theatre with an exterior resembling Darth Vader’s signature helmet. The building premises are also adorned with movie posters and memorabilia such as stormtrooper helmets and a Yoda fountain.

BT has reached out to Disney and ILM Singapore for comment.

Attendees at the building’s official opening in January 2014 included Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as well as Lucasfilm founder and Star Wars director George Lucas.

ILM Singapore was the company’s first international studio beyond its San Francisco headquarters.

CNBC reported in 2014 that Mr Lucas himself invested in the Singapore facility, although Lucasfilm declined to provide details on the size of its investment then.

By Fiona Lam, The Business Times/ 13-Jan-21

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