Sim Leisure Group clarifies KidZania Singapore deal

PETALING JAYA: Sim Leisure Group has clarified that KidZania Singapore was a failed asset that had gone into receivership under a Singapore liquidator.

Sim Leisure, a theme park developer and operator said that Khazanah Nasional Bhd was never involved in negotiations for the group’s purchase of KidZania Singapore’s assets.

The group said it dealt with liquidators directly.

ALSO READ: Khazanah sells discontinued KidZania Singapore for RM380,000

“Khazanah was never involved in the process. As the asset was in the hands of the Singapore liquidator, all of Sim Leisure Group’s dealings were through the liquidator,” Sim Leisure said in a statement.

In late 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sim Leisure took up a bid from the liquidator for the non-movable assets of KidZania Singapore. However, the company faced significant risks due to various unknown factors.

It said travel restrictions during the lockdown prevented physical inspection of the asset, making it challenging to assess its condition and renovation costs.

Sim Leisure noted that the condition of the KidZania Singapore asset and the cost of renovating was unknown at the time and it still needed to secure the lease from the building owner, Sentosa Development Corporation.

Additionally, obtaining a license agreement from the licensor, KidZania Mexico, was necessary.

“At that point in time, such a bid would be considered high risk for the company,” it said.

ALSO READ: Govt to discuss Khazanah’s sale of Kidzania Singapore, says Anwar

Sim Leisure said it had purchased KidZania Singapore for S$110,000 (RM380,000), according to a filing with the Singapore Exchange on June 12.

Founder and executive chairman Datuk Sim Choo Kheng said: “In taking over failed assets like KidZania Singapore where we have been criticised for the purchase price. The general public do not understand that a failed theme park can end up as scrap metal most of the time, such as MAPs in Ipoh.”

“Unlike other failed assets such as hotels, resorts etc. which can be repurposed into residential apartments or other commercial use, failed theme park projects have very limited use.”

“There are many challenges facing the theme park industry in emerging markets. Theme Parks are a high risk, because it is a highly specialized business, which explains why so many projects fail. Most investors in this region do not have the experience and expertise in this highly specialised field, it’s a bit like a person who has done first-aid training trying to be a heart surgeon,” Sim said.

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