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

A scion in Singapore’s Wee banking family buys a mansion worth $39.5m, taking advantage a slump in the luxury real estate market.

Bloomberg News obtained property documents filed at the end of March that showed Grace Wee Jingsi as the youngest daughter of United Overseas Bank (UOB) CEO WeeEe Cheong.

Choochiau Beng co-owns the house. Choo was previously Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Brazil, as well as CEO of infrastructure giant Keppel. According to records, he purchased the house measuring more than 1,810 sqm (19500 square feet).

Singapore’s property market experienced a weak 2023 after a major scandal involving money laundering and high rates of interest. CBRE Group Inc. estimated that last year’s sales in the good-class bungalow market were at their lowest level since 1996, when data was first available.

The ultra-rich are still very interested in this property class, which has about 2,800 properties. The March transaction price was more than twice as high as the US$17m sold for a slightly smaller mansion in this area in 2019.

The transaction is also occurring amid renewed concern about how the Wee’s US$10.6-billion fortune will be distributed, following the February death its patriarch Weecho Yaw. Bloomberg estimates show that Grace’s dad Ee Cheong, the son of late Wee Cho Yaw, had a net-worth of US$4.6Billion.

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Grace, a former Boston Consulting Group consultant, runs now a wellbeing club in Singapore. Like Ee Cheong’s sons, Grace is not active in UOB banking. Grace didn’t reply to a comment request sent by email.

Choo was Keppel’s CEO between 2009 and 2013, when it owned the world’s biggest builder oil rigs. This unit, which he had also led prior to becoming CEO, is still in existence. His tenure at Keppel has been marred by the scandal of illegal payments to officials of Brazil’s state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Choo has not responded to a LinkedIn message asking him for a comment.

The unit ultimately agreed to settle a US investigation into illegal payment by paying US$422 million. Keppel, supported by Temasek Holdings and a state investor, sold its oil-rig unit as part of a major restructuring in the last year. Singapore’s anti corruption agency announced that they would not be charging unnamed executives in the case because of insufficient evidence.

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