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UOB CEO's daughter buys GCB from ex-Keppel CEO Choo for $39.5 million

Bloomberg • 3 min read
UOB CEO's daughter buys GCB from ex-Keppel CEO Choo for $39.5 million
The mansion at Ford Avenue in Singapore / Photo: Bloomberg
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A scion of the Wee family, Singapore’s richest banking dynasty, is buying a $39.5 million mansion, taking advantage of a lull in the high-end real estate market. 

Grace Wee Jingsi (who goes by the name Grant now), the youngest child of United Overseas Bank U11 -

  CEO Wee Ee Cheong, is buying the so-called good class bungalow at Ford Avenue, according to property filings lodged March-end seen by Bloomberg News.

The house is co-owned by Choo Chiau Beng, whose former roles include being CEO of the infrastructure giant now known as Keppel and Singapore’s non-resident ambassador in Brazil. He acquired the more than 19,500 square feet (1,810 square meters) house in 2007, the records show.

The sale comes after Singapore’s high-end property market saw a tepid 2023, dented by a major money laundering scandal and high interest rates. Last year’s transactions in the good class bungalow market were the lowest since 1996 when data became available, according to a recent estimate by CBRE Group Inc.

Still, the class of property, which number to about 2,800, are highly coveted by the ultra-rich. The March transaction price is more than double that of a slightly larger mansion in the area, which was sold in 2019 for US$17 million.

The transaction also comes amid renewed attention on where the Wee family’s US$10.6 billion fortune will be dispersed, after the death of its patriarch Wee Cho Yaw in February. Grace’s father Ee Cheong became the richest of the late Wee’s children, with a net worth of US$4.6 billion, according to Bloomberg estimates.

See also: AUM race: ESR Group, GLP Capital Partners, and CapitaLand Investment top APAC AUM

Grace, a former consultant at Boston Consulting Group, now runs a wellness club in Singapore, and like Ee Cheong’s two other sons, is not actively involved in UOB’s banking business. Grace didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment. 

Choo was CEO of Keppel between 2009-2013, when it still owned the world’s biggest builder of oil rigs, a unit he also led before his CEO tenure. His time at Keppel was marred by a scandal over illegal payments the company made to officials of Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Choo didn’t respond to a request for comment sent via LinkedIn.

The unit eventually agreed to pay US$422 million to end a US probe into the illegal payments. Keppel, backed by state investor Temasek Holdings sold off its oil rig unit in a major restructuring last year. The same year, Singapore’s anti-graft agency announced a decision not to charge unnamed executives allegedly involved in the case, citing insufficient evidence.

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