Wednesday, September 24, 2008

S'pore Govt Land Sales In FY2007 Double To $12.4b

Source : The Business Times, September 24, 2008

The total is $2b shy of FY1997's record sales of $14b

The government sold some $12.4 billion worth of land in the financial year ended March 31, 2008 - double the sales of $6.2 billion achieved in the previous year.

The numbers mark a steady increase for 10 straight years now, ever since the property slump in 1997-98. But the $12.4 billion value is still around $2 billion shy of the record achieved in total state land sales during the property boom in the 1997 financial year. Then, the state netted about $14 billion.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which appoints agencies to conduct state land sales, announced the figures yesterday in its annual report. The private sector contributed the bulk of revenue, accounting for a record $10.4 billion of land sales.

Top deals included the purchase of a land parcel at Irrawaddy Road by Parkway Holdings for $1.25 billion in February 2008, and the sale of the iconic South Beach site, which was snapped up by a consortium comprising City Developments and overseas partners Istithmar (part of the Dubai World Group) and United States-based Elad Group for some $1.69 billion in September 2007.

The public sector accounted for the remaining $2 billion of land sales.

The year was marked by 'urgent strong demand' for land for office, hostel, international schools and other commercial uses, SLA said.

'2007 was a busy year,' said chief executive Lam Joon Khoi in the annual report. 'We achieved high levels of operational output across all functions.'

The government agency has been working to release state properties for adaptive interim development. For example, it has launched eight transitional office sites since July 2007.

There were also other signs that FY2007 was a boom year for the property sector. During the year, SLA launched 78 tenders, which works out to one tender every 4.5 days - an 8 per cent increase from 2006. The number of tenders awarded also increased by 56 per cent.

And with the strong growth in the property market, SLA registered a high volume of 537,600 instruments and caveats lodged for HDB and private properties during the year. By contrast, some 380,400 instruments and caveats were lodged in FY2006.

SLA also said that on the back of the property boom and strong demand for state properties, its operating income achieved an all-time high, increasing by 14 per cent to $100.9 million from $88.6 million a year ago.

SLA's total operating surplus for the year ending March 31, 2008 was $17.1 million - slightly under the surplus of $17.2 million reported for the previous financial year.

SLA also said that it managed some four million sq m in total estimated gross floor area of state properties as at March 31, 2008, which is a new high. This translated into an occupancy rate of 87 per cent.

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