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Singapore’s City Harvest Church Doubles Convention Center Stake

Singapore’s City Harvest Church doubled its stake in a downtown convention center last year to 39.2 percent for an additional S$54 million ($43 million).

The church bought 19.2 percent of Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Centre for the amount, Executive Pastor Aries Zulkarnain said at a church service on July 21. City Harvest first invested less than S$44 million for 20 percent of the convention center in 2010, he said. The property is partly owned by Suntec REIT, which said in October it has a 60.8 percent effective stake.

“To put it simply, we are co-owners of this property,” Zulkarnain told the congregation at the convention center.

The increased stake was disclosed a month after Kong Hee, the founder and senior pastor of the church, was charged with four officers in Singapore’s Subordinate Court with conspiracy to misuse S$50.6 million of the church’s funds. City Harvest denied allegations it was cheated and said it’s standing by them.

Suntec REIT announced a S$180 million plan in October to upgrade the convention center, with work scheduled to start in mid-2012. Yeo See Kiat, chief executive officer of the management company of Suntec REIT, couldn’t immediately be reached for a comment.

In April 2010, City Harvest proposed in a notice to its members to spend S$310 million for a stake in the convention center, as well as rents and renovation costs related to the use of that space for its services.

Zulkarnain said at the service Suntec REIT’s asset enhancement plan will “increase the value of the property further.”

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