About Us

Heritage

Straits Trading was founded in the early years of Singapore's colonial history by James Sword, a Scottish businessman and Herman Muhlinghaus, a German entrepreneur, to engage in tin smelting - then a key industry in a region looking to scale up its industrial base. The Straits Trading Company Limited was incorporated on 8 November 1887 with an initial capital commitment of $150,000 Straits dollars.

By the 1900s, Straits Trading had become a renowned name in tin smelting, with its Pulau Brani smelter famed for its production of "Straits Tin", which by the 1900s had gained international recognition as the purest quality of tin in the world. By 1912, the company was producing two-thirds of Malaya's tin output.

Despite our success in tin smelting, Straits Trading's structure and business had to evolve to remain relevant amid the changing economic landscape in Singapore and elsewhere in the region. Under the guidance of Tan Sri (Dr) Tan Chin Tuan, who served as Chairman of Straits Trading for more than 20 years since 1965, Straits Trading went on to expand into new emerging sectors such as property equity investments and hospitality as early as the 1960s.

2008 was a major inflection point for Straits Trading. In April that year, Straits Trading was acquired by The Cairns Pte Ltd, a member of the Tecity Group which is a privately-held investment group of companies founded by the late banker and philanthropist, Tan Sri (Dr) Tan Chin Tuan. With this transformational takeover, the new management team, headed by our Executive Chairman Ms Chew Gek Khim, began a new path as a corporate transformer to build meaningful business platforms that has enabled Straits Trading to become a thriving investment company with diversified interests across the Asia Pacific in Real Estate, Hospitality and Resources today.

Milestones

1887 - 2004
2008 >
1887 - 2004
1887
1887

Founders James Sword and Herman Muhlinghaus incorporated The Straits Trading Company Limited on 8 November 1887 with an initial capital of $150,000 Straits Dollars.

1890
1890

Straits Trading opened its first large smelting plant at Pulau Brani, Singapore. It moved its head office from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, first in Raffles Place and then Collyer Quay.

1902
1902

Straits Trading added 8 furnaces in Butterworth, Malaysia and stamped its world leadership as a quality tin smelter.

1912
1912

Straits Trading became the largest tin smelting company in the world, smelting two-thirds of Malaya's tin that accounted for more than half the world's supply. Straits Trading smelted 36,500 tons of 48,000 tons exported from Malaya then.

1912-1937
1912-1937

Straits Trading revolutionised mining methods. These included the horizontal and vertical gravel pump, and the dredge, transforming the industry radically for 25 years until 1937.

1923-1965
1923-1965

Sir John Bagnall and Sir Ewen Fergusson kept Straits Trading resilient throughout two world wars and the Depression. Sir John directed Straits Trading's recovery during the two postwar years. Sir Ewen rebuilt Straits Trading, gaining success and prosperity into the 1960s.

1965-1992
1965-1992

Tan Sri (Dr) Tan Chin Tuan led Straits Trading into its golden era. The company diversified its investments and established a network of worldwide businesses that laid the foundation for a globalised future.

1960-2006
1960-2006

Straits Trading formed its property division in 1960. It developed and constructed many prestigious projects into the next century, including the first iconic 21-storey Straits Trading Building (1972), Great Eastern Centre and China Square Central (2002), and good class bungalows at Cable Road and Nathan Road (2006).

1982
1982

Malaysia Smelting Corporation Berhad, in which Straits Trading held a 58% interest, took over the smelting business.

1997
1997

Straits Trading began its hospitality business when Rendezvous Hotels International Private Limited took over management of the Observation City Hotel in Perth, Australia.

Rendezvous Hotel Singapore at Bras Basah Road was completed and was officially opened a year later in 1998.

2004
2004

MSC successfully acquired Rahman Hydraulic Tin Sdn Bhd, the largest and one of Malaysia's oldest tin mining companies.

2008 >
2008
2008
  • Corporate

    Tecity Group acquired a majority stake in Straits Trading.

    Articulated Straits Trading's vision to be a corporate transformer to shape and transform its investments into businesses of enhanced value.

2009
2009
  • Corporate

    Strategic review of hospitality business.

  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Reorganised our hospitality assets and formed Rendezvous Hospitality Group Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary, which operates 15 Rendezvous and Marque hotels in the Asia Pacific region.

    Completed the redevelopment of the new Straits Trading Building in November.

2010
2010
  • Corporate

    Straits Trading adopted an active capital management strategy to redeploy capital to higher yielding assets.

  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Re-launched the Straits Trading Building after two years of redevelopment.

    Commenced divestment of low-yielding residential properties.

2011
2011
  • Resources

    MSC began divesting its non-tin assets and refocused on core tin business.

    MSC completed its secondary listing on the Singapore Exchange on 27 January.

2012
2012
  • Corporate

    Straits Trading celebrated its 125th anniversary

2013
2013
  • Corporate

    Straits Trading completed its corporate transformation, creating the Straits Trading Real Estate Ecosystem to drive its platforms of growth in Real Estate, Hospitality and Resources.

  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Acquired a 20.1% stake in ARA Asset Management for a total purchase price of $294.4 million.

    Incorporated Straits Real Estate in November with a capital commitment of up to $950 million.

    Formed Far East Hospitality Holdings, a joint venture with Far East Orchard Limited, gaining a 30% stake in an established international hospitality owner and operator.

    Injected Rendezvous Grand Hotel Singapore and Rendezvous Gallery into Far East Hospitality Trust- a joint venture with Far East Orchard Limited.

2014
2014
  • Corporate

    Straits Trading accepted the competing general offer for its stake in WBL, unlocking $508 million in shareholder value which was reinvested into its new businesses.

  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Sold the Straits Trading Building for S$450 million.

    Hospitality business achieved operational turnaround.

    Subscribed into the ARA Summit Development Fund I L.P. which invests in real estate development projects in Australia.

    Acquired a retail mall in Chongqing, China - 悅地 My Place - for approximately RMB 668.4 million.

    Acquired Suntec REIT units, one of the largest SGX-listed real estate investment trusts that owns prime office and retail space in the Central Business District of Singapore.

  • Resources

    Malaysia Smelting Corporation ("MSC") becomes the largest independent tin smelter in the world.

2015
2015
  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Subscribed into the Greater Tokyo Office Fund which specialises in acquiring distressed office properties.

    Subscribed into ARA Harmony Fund III, L.P., which has five income-producing commercial properties in Malaysia.

2016
2016
  • Corporate

    Reaped its first harvest from the Straits Trading Real Estate Ecosystem.

  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    Divested 114 William Street (Australia) and the capital is recycled.

    Made maiden entry into the Japanese residential market (Osaka).

2017
2017
  • Real Estate and Hospitality

    ARA Asset Management is privatised; Straits Trading becomes the only publicly-listed entity in Singapore with a significant stake in it.

    Launched the Nikko AM-Straits Trading Asia ex-Japan REIT ETF together with Nikko Asset Management.

    Sold Wisma Straits Trading in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for RM55 million.

Past Chairmen

MR JAMES SWORD Co-Founder 1887-1900
MR HERMAN MUHLINGHAUS Co-Founder 1887-1900
MR CHARLES MCARTHUR 1900–1910
MR WALLACE COOK 1910–1918 and 1921–1923
MR W. F. NUTT 1918–1921
SIR JOHN BAGNALL 1923-1947
MR WJ WILCOXSON 1923-1936
SIR EWEN FERGUSSON 1947-1965
TAN SRI (DR) TAN CHIN TUAN 1965-1992
MR HOWE YOON CHONG 1992-2007
MR TANG I-FANG 2007
MR BOBBY CHIN YOKE CHOONG 2008