Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ascendas-Reit Allays Fears Over TT International

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Tenant has placed security deposit of 11.4 months rent, it says

ASCENDAS-REIT (A-Reit) has come out to reassure investors that its tenants are not in breach of rental obligations.

Reit manager Ascendas Funds Management said yesterday that tenant TT International placed a security deposit equivalent to 11.4 months' rent, or $6.86 million. 'If the tenant should default on its rental or lease obligations, this security deposit could be used to offset any potential negative impact on A-Reit's financial results in the near term,' it said.

The announcement was made after TT International said recently it was in default on certain fixed-rate notes and would seek a halt on repaying money owed to its principal bankers and all unsecured creditors.

TT International Tradepark (TTIT), a subsidiary of TT International, rents a six-storey warehouse and adjacent 10-storey office building from A-Reit, near Jurong East MRT.

With a net lettable area of 42,765 square metres, the property accounts for 2.3 per cent of A-Reit's total net lettable space.

TTIT has a 10-year lease from March 2004 and accounted for 1.8 per cent of A-Reit's total gross monthly revenue at Sept 30. TTIT's current rent is $1.30 per sq ft per month.

The real estate investment trust manager said: 'At this juncture, TTIT is not in arrears on its rental obligation.'

A-Reit has 88 properties in Singapore. Fifty-two of these are sale-and-leaseback properties, which A-Reit says have security deposits of 8-15 months. The weighted average time to expiry for the 52 properties is 7.8 years and none of them is up for renewal until the second half of FY2009/10.

An A-Reit spokeswoman said 80 per cent of A-Reit's total rental income is paid by Giro, so defaults if any can be managed quickly. She said this is not an issue at present.

A-Reit has more than 860 international and local companies as tenants. Major tenants include SingTel, C&P Logistics, Siemens, TT International, Honeywell, Zuellig Pharma, LFD (Singapore), OSIM International, Venture Corporation, Federal Express, Freight Links Express, Johnson & Johnson, RSH, Infineon Technologies, Procter & Gamble and Hyflux.

No Govt Plan To Fund Marina IR: Iswaran

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

GLCs, as commercial enterprises, will make their own investment decisions

The government does not plan to fund the Marina Bay Sands project if casino operator Las Vegas Sands runs into financial problems, a trade minister said yesterday.

Mr Iswaran: No request for a government bailout from Marina Bay Sands

'There's been no request for a government bailout from Marina Bay Sands and neither does the government intend to do one,' Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said on the sidelines of an event yesterday.

'This has always been a commercial project and the solutions to the challenges posed by the current economic environment and the financial market situation really lie in the commercial sector as well,' he said.

Las Vegas Sands said on Tuesday that it would halt expansion in Macau to focus on completing the Marina Bay project - dubbed as the company's No 1 priority by chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson.

The casino operator, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, also said that it was working to raise about US$2 billion in capital and would channel some of the funds to the project here.

But Las Vegas Sands admitted that there would be delays, noting that the casino would be opened in two phases which will extend into early 2010. The project was slated to open fully in 2009.

Las Vegas Sands has proposed to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to modify the project timeline, said Mr Iswaran, adding that STB has not decided if the casino operator would be penalised for the changes under the development agreement.

'So far, STB has not agreed to any of these variations,' he said. 'Their proposal was to complete the whole project by 2009. If there's a variation to that, we need to look at that and see whether there are legitimate reasons for it.'

Mr Iswaran declined to reveal what specific requests had been made by the casino operator, citing confidentiality issues.

Disclosures would be made 'at the appropriate time', he said.

He added that while the government is still studying the proposal, STB has 'very clear rights' under the development agreement outlining the original project timeline.

'We have those rights and they've been very well demarcated,' he said. 'They're there to be exercised, if there are any eventualities.'

STB declined to reveal the terms of the development agreement when contacted.

The delay is unlikely to change the creation of the 10,000 jobs from the casino, said Mr Iswaran.

Market talk has been that government-linked companies (GLCs) could be poised to take a stake and inject funding if needed.

In response, Mr Iswaran said that GLCs are 'commercial enterprises'.

'They have to make their own decisions on whether an investment makes sense for them or not,' he said. 'It's not for the government to tell them what to do.'

Banyan Tree Sinks Into The Red For Q3

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

BANYAN Tree Holdings reported a net loss of $4.88 million for the third quarter ended 30 September 2008, and a flat revenue of $82.75 million as business was hit by the political turmoil in Thailand.

In comparison, the company earned a net profit of $49.1 million in 3Q07, bolstered largely by a one-off exceptional gain of $44.5 million then.

For the nine months ended 30 Sep, net profit plummeted 78 per cent to $13.98 million while revenue grew 19 per cent to $321.72 million.

'We are approaching the outlook of the group more cautiously given the increased deterioration of the global financial situation and a period of great uncertainties,' warned the group, adding that the political turmoil in Thailand, if protracted, could have significant impact. 'We expect fourth quarter results to be lower than last year.'

However, the group expects Banyan Tree to remain profitable for FY2008.

Ho Bee's Q3 Net Profit Falls 52.3%

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Property Group Ho Bee said net profit for the third quarter this year fell 52.3 per cent to S$18.72 million compared to a year ago.

Revenue was down 59.4 per cent at S$52.55 million. This was due mainly to the lower recognition of revenue from property development projects in the current quarter.

It said the expected completion of five of the group's residential projects by the 1st half of 2009, namely, The Coast, Paradise Island, Orange Grove Residences, Vertis & Quinterra will have a significant contribution to the Group's revenue and earnings for FY 2009.

Hersing Sees 64% Fall In Q3 Profit

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Hersing Corporation, which owns the ERA real estate marketing franchise here, said that net profit for the third quarter fell 63.5 per cent to S$1.1 million, from S$2.9 million a year ago as its real estate business segment took a hit.

Turnover for the three months ended September 30, 2008 fell 21.6 per cent to S$44.5 million, from S$56.8 million in Q3 2007.

The company was hit by lower revenue in its real estate segment, which showed a decline of S$14.1 million for 3Q 2008 as compared to the corresponding period as the high level of activity seen in 2007 could not be sustained. Increases in turnover in Hersing's financial services and self storage segments of S$1.2 million and S$0.7 million respectively were not large enough to offset the decline suffered in the real estate segment, which remains as the core business of the group, Hersing said.

Earnings per share fell to 0.29 Singapore cents, from 1.03 Singapore cents in Q3 2007.

Looking ahead, although group's self storage and financial services are expected to show growth, the real estate segment activities are expected to slow down further in the coming months, Hersing said.

CDL Q3 Net Profit Slips 11%, Defers South Beach Project

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

City Developments has posted an 11 per cent drop in third quarter net earnings to S$150.8 million. Net profit for the first nine months of this year dipped 1.8 per cent to S$480.95 million.

It also revealed that that the construction of the group's South Beach project has been deferred. 'Under the current economic turmoil and the presently high construction cost environment that Singapore is currently experiencing, the group and its two joint-venture partners for the South Beach development have agreed in principle, to defer the construction of this project.

'The consortium believes that construction cost will come down over time and therefore, it will delay the development of South Beach till construction cost reverts to more reasonable level. The Group has a one-third share in South Beach,' CDL said in its results statement.

Sands Proposes To Open Marina IR In Stages: STB

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Las Vegas Sands, squeezed by a global credit crunch, has asked to open its Singapore Integrated Resort project in stages instead of in one go at the end of next year, the Singapore government said on Thursday.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said it was considering a proposal by Las Vegas Sands for the complex to be opened progressively from the end of 2009.

'As discussions are still under way, we are not able to provide more details,' STB deputy chairman and chief executive Lim Neo Chian said in a statement.

Las Vegas Sands, headed by gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson, on Tuesday announced a halt to some developments in the southern Chinese gambling enclave of Macau due to trouble accessing credit during the global financial crisis.

Around 9,000 construction workers are to lose their jobs as a result, the head of Sands Asia said on Thursday.

But Las Vegas Sands said this week that completion of the Singapore project remains its top priority.

The company said it was 'in the process of' raising an additional US$2 billion in funding commitments.

The Casino Regulatory Authority of Singapore has allowed Las Vegas Sands to raise its original gaming table count to 1,000 from 600. -- AFP

Genting Trims Losses In Q3, IR Soft Open Early 2010

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Genting International Public Limited Company said net loss for the third quarter this year was at S$116.83 million compared to S$393.38 million a year ago.

Revenue slipped 1 per cent to S$177.43 million.

The quarter's results were, however, affected by higher bad debts and exchange losses but these have been cushioned by fair value gains on derivative financial instruments of S$17.1 million recognised in the current quarter.

The group also recognised an impairment loss of S$100.8 million on goodwill arising from its acquisition of Genting Stanley in the current quarter. The impairment loss can be attributed to the general economic slowdown in the UK and the rest of the world. The slowdown has adversely affected business volumes at the Group's UK casinos.

It said construction is on track for its Singapore Integrated Resort's soft opening by early 2010.

Dubai Villa Prices Fall 19% In One Month

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

(LONDON) The advertised price of villas in Dubai dropped 19 per cent between September and October after banks reduced loan-to-value ratios, HSBC Holdings plc said in a report yesterday.

Dubai property prices, including villas and apartments, fell 4 per cent in the month to October, while in Abu Dhabi they declined 5 per cent, HSBC said in an e-mailed note. The report is the first statistical evidence of a weakening housing market in the United Arab Emirates.

Dubai rental yields increased to 6.3 per cent in October from 4.7 per cent in September, it said. -- Bloomberg

Owners Of Homes In Vicinity Of Forced Sales Feel The Pinch

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

(WASHINGTON) If you live in a neighbourhood that has a homeowners association, brace yourself. Neighbours losing their homes to foreclosure and short sales not only are dragging down your property values but also are setting you up for higher fees. There's even a threat that your entire neighbourhood could grow shabby over time, if cash runs short for upkeep.

Associations often lose six months of dues, sometimes more, from each homeowner who slides into foreclosure or short sale. Budget trouble can hit any community where homes are being lost, whether they're neighbourhoods of detached houses or townhouses, or condominium apartment buildings.

When some people don't pay, of course, the remaining neighbours must spend more to keep things running. Trash still needs to be hauled; insurance bills need to be paid; grass needs to be mowed. Soon, snow will need to be cleared.

For the time being, associations can try to trim expenses. Maybe only one snow plow will tackle your neighbourhood instead of the two trucks you've had before. Your board may look for cheaper insurance policies or management companies.

But it's almost irresistible for board members to cover some of today's budget shortfall by postponing expensive repairs and maintenance. They're also more likely to starve the reserve account that all associations are supposed to maintain to cover inevitable, big-ticket repairs.

New-home developers, who keep control of the homeowners association until the project is almost completely built out, are notorious for under-funding reserves, even in good times. It's easier to attract new buyers when the association fees are low, and builders will be gone before those big-ticket repairs have to be made.

But construction is on hold in many of these new developments, foreclosures are causing dues to go unpaid, and builders are strapped.

They're still in charge of these associations, and that doesn't bode well for amassing reserves. Eventually, when this foreclosure mess is over, and homeowners are fully in control of these associations, they're going to face big deferred maintenance bills with few reserves to handle them.

Pia Trigiani, a community association lawyer who heads Virginia's new Common Interest Community Board, said associations normally allocate about 4 per cent of their budget for unpaid dues. Now, she said, they're wise to set aside 8 to 10 per cent of their budget, especially in new communities where the builder hasn't finished the development. -- LAT-WP

One-Third Of US Properties Sold At A Loss

Source : The Business Times, November 13, 2008

Home values slide 9.7% in third quarter, the seventh consecutive decline

(SAN FRANCISCO) One-third of US homeowners who sold their property in the 12 months through September lost money as foreclosures depressed prices and more Americans became unemployed in a weakening economy, reported.

Home values fell 9.7 per cent in the third quarter, the seventh consecutive decline, to a median US$202,966, Seattle-based Zillow, a seller of real estate data, said in a report yesterday. One in seven homeowners had negative equity, or owed more on their mortgages than their houses were worth.

'It's clear we are at a unique point in history,' Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice-president of data and analytics, said in a statement.

'We've had seven consecutive quarters of decline, and we expect that to continue until at least the middle of next year. Most markets are still seeing five-year annualised returns, but we will see more markets slip into flat or negative long-term change as the economy continues to suffer.'

Stricter mortgage standards and record foreclosures are deepening the housing recession amid climbing unemployment.

US payrolls fell for a 10th straight month in October and have dropped by 1.2 million so far this year, the Labor Department said last week. The jobless rate is at a five-year high of 6.3 per cent.

The 30.2 per cent of homeowners who sold at a loss at the end of the third quarter compared with 23.7 per cent at the end of the second quarter, Zillow said.

Almost one in five transactions were foreclosure sales. California had 14 of the 17 markets where more than half of homes sold were sold at a loss, according to Zillow. -- Bloomberg

Major Economies To Shrink

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2008

PARIS - LEADING industrialised nations appear to be in a 'protracted' downturn, with the US, Japanese and eurozone economies likely to shrink next year, the OECD said on Thursday.

In the eurozone, the economy will not begin to grow again until the third quarter of 2009, when it should expand 0.1 per cent. -- PHOTO: AFP

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development predicted a return to modest growth in 2010 but warned that the United States, the world's largest economy, would suffer a whopping 2.8 per cent contraction in fourth quarter 2008.

It called for further government stimulus measures and steps to shore up financial markets but also warned against any move that would distort competition or threaten the operation of open markets.

The OECD, the Paris-based grouping of the world's 30 most developed countries, issued a one-page statement ahead of an emergency summit in Washington on Saturday of 20 developed and developing nations aimed at dousing a global financial and economic firestorm.

'The OECD area now appears to have entered recession,' the statement said, with OECD projections pointing to 'a protracted downturn.'

It sees the OECD countries contracting 0.3 per cent in 2009, after growth of 1.4 per cent this year, before rebounding to 1.5 per cent in 2010.

The US economy will contract 0.9 per cent in 2009, Japan 0.1 per cent and the eurozone 0.5 per cent after posting respective gains this year of 1.4 per cent, 0.5 per cent and 1.1 per cent.

In 2010, according to the OECD, the United States should grow 1.6 per cent, Japan 0.6 per cent and the eurozone 1.2 per cent.

The OECD said the US econony shrank 0.3 per cent in the third quarter this year and would contract 2.8 per cent in the fourth, thereby meeting the traditional measure of recession - two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

The United States will not enjoy positive growth - 0.6 per cent - until the third quarter of 2009, according to the OECD.

The Japanese economy will also see negative growth in the final two quarters of 2008 before returning to positive territory - 0.8 per cent - in first quarter 2009.

But in the third quarter of 2009, Japan will slip back and its economy will contract 0.3 per cent.

In the eurozone, the economy will not begin to grow again until the third quarter of 2009, when it should expand 0.1 per cent.

The OECD said its analysis was based on an assumption that the 'extreme' financial market distress that erupted in mid-Sept would be 'short-lived' but 'followed by an extended period of financial headwinds through late 2009, with a gradual normalisation thereafter.'

It said it expected a continued moderation in inflation while 'against the backdrop of a deep economic downturn, additional macroeconomic stimulation is needed,' suggesting that tax cuts for credit-strapped households could prove effective.

The OECD said that in the US and Japan the scope for additional interest rate cuts to spur momentum had narrowed. The US Federal Reserve has already slashed its benchmark rate to a record low 1.0 per cent while the Bank of Japan last month reduced its key rate to 0.30 per cent.

Many OECD members in recent weeks have adopted vigorous measures to revive their struggling banks, notably through direct injections of capital and credit guarantees aimed at inducing them to start lending money again.

'The need for further measures to stabilise financial markets cannot be excluded,' the OECD said.

It also called for 'international cooperation ... to avoid measures that distort competition' and said that regulatory and supervisory frameworks would have to be 're-examined.'

'When addressing these issues, it will be important to focus on reforms to the global financial architecture and at the same time resist pressures for a wider rollback of open markets which would prove costly,' it added. -- AFP

Eurozone to contract 0.5% in 2009: OECD

PARIS - THE eurozone economy will be in recession at the end of 2008 and is likely to contract 0.5 per cent in 2009, the OECD said on Thursday.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based grouping of the world's 30 most developed-countries, said the eurozone will show negative growth in the final two quarters of 2008.

For all of 2008, however, growth is expected to come to 1.1 per cent.

The eurozone economy will not begin to grow again until the third quarter of 2009, when it should expand 0.1 per cent. But for the full year, the area's economy will show a contraction of 0.5 per cent.

In 2010, economic growth in the euro area should be 1.2 per cent, according to the OECD. --AFP

STB Considers Sands Proposal

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2008

The parent company has asked to open the Marina IR in stages.

THE Singapore Tourism Board on Thursday confirmed that it has received a proposal from Marina Bay Sands to defer the opening of certain portions of the Marina Bay integrated project.

The Marina Bay Sands project hit the headlines recently because of concerns over its parents company Las Vegas Sands' ability to continue operating. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

STB chief Lim Neo Chian said: 'Marina Bay Sands had earlier committed to completing the integrated resort in a single phase by end 2009. However, it recently submitted a proposal for a progressive opening from end 2009 onwards. STB is considering the proposal.'

He declined to reveal more details as 'discussions are underway'.

The Marina Bay Sands project hit the headlines recently because of concerns over its parents company Las Vegas Sands' ability to continue operating.

The casino operator's auditor said it may not be able to meet lenders' requirements unless it raised more capital and downsized its developments.

That put the spotlight on Singapore's first IR which watchers worry may fail should the operator go bankrupt. However, the company said on Tuesday, during an earnings call, that the Singapore project remain its 'top priority'.

It is also suspending projects in Las Vegas and Macau, but going full steam ahead to continue with the Marina Bay Sands IR.

Mr Lim said on Thursday: 'We welcome LVS' affirmation that it will focus its development activitie and available capital principally on the timely completion of two of its developments - one of them being the MBS.'


Source :《联合早报》November 13, 2008











Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between Oct 27th - Nov 1st, 2008

Govt Won't Bail Out IR If It Goes Bust

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2008

Marina project stays with Las Vegas Sands, but questions still linger

THE Government yesterday made clear it will not bail out the Marina Bay Sands resort should its cash-strapped parent, casino operator Las Vegas Sands, go bust.

News of extra capital and the company's commitment to complete the Marina Bay project was welcomed as an 'important assurance' by Mr Iswaran. -- ST PHOTO: WANG HUI FEN

Putting an end to speculation about a Government-backed rescue, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said yesterday: 'There was no request for a Government bailout for Marina Bay Sands and neither does the Government intend to do one.

'I think it has always been a commercial project and the solutions to the challenges posed by the current economic environment and financial market situation really lie in the commercial sector as well.'

Asked if there could be a role for a Government-linked company, he said these were commercial enterprises and would have to make their own decisions on whether an investment makes sense.

'It's not for the Government to tell them what to do,' he said.

On Tuesday, the casino operator said it had secured US$2.14 billion (S$3.22 billion) in capital-funding commitments.

Billionaire chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson declared the Singapore project the company's 'No. 1 priority', as it was suspending construction of projects in Macau and Las Vegas.

News of extra capital and the company's commitment to complete the Marina Bay project was welcomed as an 'important assurance' by Mr Iswaran, who spoke to reporters while attending an industry event.

But questions linger over the project's timeline and when the integrated resort (IR) will open.

Mr Bradley Stone, Las Vegas Sands' executive vice-president, said on Tuesday that the casino, two of the three hotel towers, most of the convention space and a portion of the retail mall will open by the end of next year.

Other facilities will open in early 2010. The original plan was to open the whole complex at the same time next year.

Ms Iswaran said Las Vegas Sands had asked to modify the timeline, but so far, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) 'has not agreed to any of these variations'.

The project details, including possible penalties for delays, are laid out in a development agreement signed by Sands and the STB.

The STB said on Tuesday that it had various options under the agreement, the ultimate being the right to 'step in and resume possession of the land, the IR and any other structure on the land, and deal with them as STB sees fit' should the project be wound up or if a receiver is appointed over its assets.

Asked about the possibility of imposing penalties for delays, Mr Iswaran said yesterday: 'I think we need to look at what actually are the specific proposals and requests before we make some decisions on that.'

Knight Frank's director of consultancy and research, Mr Nicholas Mak, said the clause allowing the Government to step in and take over the land and whatever is on it should the project fail is not unusual.

It allows the Government to prevent the project from stalling and becoming an eyesore in the prime Marina Bay district.

On the issue of the 10,000 jobs promised by the IR, Mr Iswaran said that while hiring may be delayed, there is no reason to believe the jobs would not materialise.

Sands has also given an assurance that the number of employees needed 'has not changed by one person'.

Redas Offers More Insights After Bleak Reports

Source : The Business Times, November 12, 2008

It calls meeting to advise analysts that URA data may not give full picture

The recent string of negative reports on the property market has prompted the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) to engage analysts and offer them alternative sources of market data.

This came as analysts have drawn very bearish conclusions in recent weeks, based on official supply numbers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

These included a string of research notes from firms such as Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs which have projected significant falls in mass-market, mid-tier and high-end private home prices.

Redas' position is that URA's numbers are general in nature. On certain specific issues, they feel it is better to check with property consultants who can provide more detailed data.

Sources say the industry body met property analysts from local and foreign research firms last Friday. The meeting was chaired by Redas president Simon Cheong, who is also chief executive of upscale residential developer SC Global Developments.

Analysts from several foreign banks - including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Nomura and UBS - attended the meeting, together with those from key local research firms such as DBS Vickers and CIMB-GK.

Also present were members of Redas' management committee including representatives from CapitaLand, City Developments, Keppel Land and Far East Organization.

Sources say consultants from all the major property firms in Singapore - CB Richard Ellis, Colliers, DTZ, Jones Lang LaSalle, Knight Frank and Savills - as well as a legal advisor close to Redas also lent their weight.

Redas held the meeting to give equity analysts a more in-depth understanding of property issues in the light of the difficult economic environment, BT understands.

The perception is that while there are seasoned analysts who know the market well, there are others who are either new to the area of property research and lack historical perspective, or too young to fully understand the workings of the market.

The major property consultancies were there to offer help to analysts, and the legal advisor was present to explain technical issues including those involving the rights of buyers and sellers in property transactions.

Sources say one analyst present at the meeting suggested that the large developers could release their own data regularly to further improve clarity.

This is the first time Redas had organised such a briefing but based on the response, more such dialogues may be organised in the future. Views were freely exchanged, sources who were present told BT. Analysts also said they would take Redas' points into consideration.