Haw Par sealed the fate of Underwater World Singapore

Many Singaporeans may recognize “Tiger Balm” as the world leading brand for topical analgesics. Some may even know that the Haw Par Corp, a company listed in SGX, is the owner of this renowned healthcare brand.

However, not many people know that Underwater World Singapore (UWS) was owned by Haw Par Corp.

1) Haw Par and Underwater World Singapore

When Haw Par sealed the fate of Underwater World Singapore (UWS) on 26 June 2016, many Singaporeans were taken by surprise. Being a forgotten icon of Singapore tourist attraction, many of us have overlooked the fact that UWS has being around for 25 years already. Within this period of time, the landscape has changed and not surprising, there are stiff competition from new and existing attractions.

Haw Par share price

UWS holds special memories for me because this is one of the local attractions that my wife and I visited when we were dating. That was more than 7 years ago. The week before UWS closed shop, my family visited UWS for the very last time.

We were surprised that the place remained largely the same and there were not many notable upgrades for the facilities. In fact, the new S.E.A Aquarium of Resort World Sentosa would appear to be more refreshing to tourists than the UWS.

Nonetheless, in the corporate world, sentiments count for nothing. For Haw Par Corp, UWS is just one of the two aquariums that it owned under its Leisure segment. The other aquarium is in Thailand, Pattaya.

The number of visitors for both aquariums had declined by 16% since last year due to weaker tourist sentiments and stiff competitions from other attractions. As a result, revenue dropped to $12.7 million compared to $15.6 million in the previous year. Underwater World Singapore even incurred impairment charge of $4.6 million on its fixed assets due to “challenging operating environment”.

Hence, it can be seen that at the rate it is going, UWS is not financially sustainable for the Haw Par group, [This is a premium article. The rest of the content is blocked and can be accessible by SG Wealth Builder Members only. To read the full content, please sign up as member.]

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2 thoughts on “Haw Par sealed the fate of Underwater World Singapore

  • July 28, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    The move makes strategic sense in my book.
    Did they try to sell it to Straco?
    Maybe Straco with their know how could have re-lauched it successfully, as the did with the “Singapore Flyer”.
    Whilst Tiger Balm is a magic brand,as I understand that the bulk of Haw Par`s NAV was their investments in UOB,UOL et al.
    Despite the huge discount to NAV, Haw Par could be a Value Trap
    if the owners (Wee) have no interest to reduce the discount to NAV.A major long term investor from Canada, got tired of waiting! PGL

  • July 29, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Peter,

    Very interesting. I didn’t know Straco is actually a tourism asset operator until you mentioned it.
    Agreed with you on the point that Haw Par could be a value trap. In fact, I had written an article on it last year. Investors should tread carefully on this counter.


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