By Howard Lee
The iconic Singapore Flyer has been sold to Straco Leisure, a subsidiary of Straco Corporation, for S$140 million today (28 August).
Mr Tim Reid, the receiver of Singapore Flyer, was quoted by media as saying that both parties are "confident that the prospects of the Flyer are extremely exciting under the new ownership".
Straco Corporation has experiencing running tourist attractions in Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Xi'an and Xiamen.
Mr Lionel Yeo, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) was quoted as saying, “The Singapore Flyer is a key attraction in the local tourism scene. We are therefore pleased that Straco Corp, a Singaporean company with strong track record in managing overseas attractions, has chosen the Singapore Flyer as their first attraction in Singapore to establish a presence back home.”
The Flyer has been placed under receivership for more than a year, and tenants have suffered from lagging tourists numbers. Many have held out with the hope that a new player will take over soon.
Nevertheless, the take-over might not necessarily give the all clear for the Flyer. Travel agents say the Flyer is facing competition from newer attractions in Singapore. The preference of tourists not to take guided tours might also contribute to lagging sales.
The Flyer took more than two years to build and was first opened on 2008. It cost S$240 million to construct, and was experiencing financial difficulties since 2010.
Throughout its operation, it suffered from a number of breakdowns. An incident on 23 December 2008 saw 173 passengers trapped for about six hours, and an eventual cost of about $3 million to install additional back-up systems to prevent such accidents from happening again.
The Flyer was initially leased to Singapore Flyer Pte Ltd. On 28 May 2013, it announced that the Flyer was in receivership, and accounting firm Ferrier Hodgson was appointed as the receiver and manager of the company's charged assets.
Ferrier Hodgson has said that it will identify investors to manage and enhance the Singapore Flyer, and will ensure smooth operations at the Flyer throughout the receivership.
Merlin Entertainments, the British firm behind the famous London Eye and Legoland theme parks, was earlier noted to be keen in the deal, but abandoned talks in 2014.
Image - Singapore Flyer by Balou46, Wikimedia Commons