Bridgewater Founder Ray Dalio Joins Billionaires Taking Over ‘Business Houses’ in Singapore

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The family office of Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio has bought two multi-million dollar “business houses” in Singapore, as billionaires snap up heritage properties in the city-state.

The Dalio Family Office, which announced it would move to the Asian financial hub during the pandemic, bought two retail spaces on Club Street in 2021 for about S$25.5 million (US$18.9 million), according to two people with direct knowledge of the agreement.

Family offices (private wealth managers set up for wealthy people) have exploded in Singapore from a handful in 2018 to around 1,400 in 2023. They have invested in real estate in Singapore, with business houses being a popular choice. Sometimes the properties are empty or used as offices, residential buildings or commercial premises.

A development approval issued by the government in late 2023 for the site at 44 and 46 Club Street lists Tan Mae Shen, managing director of Dalio Family Office in Singapore, as the developer.

Renovation of the properties will be completed early next year, according to the application, and the company has begun hiring on LinkedIn. The Dalio Family Office is also expanding in Abu Dhabi after the billionaire walked away from his hedge fund.

A spokesman for Dalio declined to comment. Rawlinson & Hunter, a London-based professional services firm named in the property documents, also declined to comment.

Singapore is home to nearly 60 per cent of family offices in the Asia-Pacific region, according to KPMG. Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s family office has also opened a branch in Singapore, alongside many wealthy Chinese families.

There are around 6,700 businesses in a state of repair in Singapore. The buildings, whose design was introduced by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, served as commercial premises and accommodation for early traders at the former colonial outpost.

Zhang Ying, the wife of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, paid about S$45 million for three adjoining stores on nearby Duxton Road in January, according to government filings. Zhang is also a Singapore citizen.

Commercial home sales hit a record S$1.9 billion in 2021 and the median property price has risen from a range of S$5 million to S$8 million to S$15 million to S$20 million over the past decade, according to the real estate consultancy Knight Frank. .

The consultancy said the doubling of property stamp duty for foreigners to 60 per cent last year on residential purchases had fueled family offices’ interest in commercial houses, as the properties can serve as part of their assets and as Offices.

However, both store sales and the pace of new family office openings have slowed since the S$3 billion money laundering investigation in Singapore last August. Some of the defendants and their alleged associates were linked to family offices and acquired stores with the funds.

In response to the investigation, the Monetary Authority of Singapore tightened controls on family offices late last year, slowing sales of heritage properties.

In December, DBS bank put 10 commercial premises owned by two Chinese nationals with alleged links to an accused in the money laundering case on the market to recover their loan repayments.

“Some, but not all, properties associated with the bleachers are being sold and the market – especially foreign buyers – are waiting to see what price they get and put an end to the saga,” said a real estate agent who declined to be named. .

“But it has dampened the market for association stores, so I expect sales to be lower this year.”

Additional information from Ortenca Aliaj in London

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