United Engineers Limited (the “Group”) was established in 1912 and its businesses span real estate, distribution, engineering, as well as agricultural technology and manufacturing all over Asia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
The Group played a pivotal role in Singapore’s physical and economic transformation. With a history of over hundred years, the Group’s innovations are imprinted today in many local landmark structures such as the former Singapore Supreme Court, Cavenagh Bridge, OCBC Centre and British High Commission. Over the years, the Group has won several awards. It was honoured as the 11th oldest company by Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. In recognition of its contribution to Singapore’s development over the decades, the Group was awarded the Singapore Golden Jubilee Business Award organised by Singapore Business Federation, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority and DP Information Group. Its flagship building, UE BizHub CITY, was also marked a historic site by Singapore National Heritage Board.
The Group’s history can be traced back to the nineteenth century when Riley Hargreaves & Co. (founded in 1865) and Howarth Erskine & Co. (founded in 1875) came together to form United Engineers Limited. In the early days, the main business of the company comprised the importing, supplying and manufacturing of the heavy equipment needed in industry at that time. During the Second World War, many of the Group’s operations were destroyed. However after the war, the Group swiftly re-established its business and also became a major player in the thriving shipbuilding and ship repair sectors.
The Group was the contractor of choice in several extensive reconstruction projects after Independence as Singapore embarked on major rebuilding phase and actively developed new infrastructure. During this period of restoration and growth, the Group achieved a number of breakthroughs in engineering technology and fortified its position as a prominent player in the engineering industry. The Group was the first contractor to introduce light-gauge steel for roof structures and the Space Deck structural system; the only foundry that could meet the strict quality requirements of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping; and also the first local private company to computerise operations. Whilst the Group achieved all these, it was also concurrently starting new ventures and expanding into new business sectors such as construction and real estate, trading, property management and environmental engineering.
In the new millennium, the Group’s real estate business has developed numerous iconic buildings including Eight Riversuites, orchardgateway, UE BizHub EAST and the mixed-use development at one-north. The Group also owns several office and industrial buildings such as UE BizHub CITY, UE BizHub TOWER and UE BizHub WEST. Additionally, the Group manages shopping malls such as Rochester Mall and UE Square Shopping Mall, as well as operates the Park Avenue chain of hotels, serviced apartments, serviced offices and convention centre.
In 2013, the Group acquired another centennial company, WBL Corporation Limited (“WBL” and together with its group of subsidiaries, the “WBL Group”). Founded in 1906, WBL is also a pioneer in many industries in Singapore especially in the automotive and transportation sectors and has created many well-known consumer products. After the First World War, WBL launched the first local Yellow Top taxi services and double-decker bus services, as well as introduced the first commercial aviation service between Singapore and Malaya. WBL had wide-ranging interests and investments in automotive dealership, heavy equipment, technology, manufacturing, financial services and real estate. In 1989, WBL was named as one of the 66 companies of the future “that could make our world different tomorrow” by Wall Street Journal.
After the acquisition of WBL Group in 2013, the Group continued to integrate and divest non-core businesses, and the existing business portfolio now spans real estate, distribution, engineering, as well as agricultural technology and manufacturing. 2017 saw a major corporate milestone for the Group with Yanlord and Perennial becoming major shareholders. In February 2020, UEL was delisted from the Singapore Stock Exchange following its successful compulsory acquisition by Yanlord Investment (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. (formerly known as Yanlord Perennial Investment (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yanlord Land Group Limited. With this, the Group can continue to leverage on its shareholder’s wealth of experience in property development for its next phase of development and growth.