Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Stand-Alone Casinos To Be Allowed: Iswaran

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

But govt considering IRs' requests to open in phases

MARINA Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) may be allowed to open in phases but will not be allowed to open as stand-alone casinos.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran told Parliament yesterday the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and other government agencies are considering requests by MBS and RWS to phase the opening of the integrated resorts (IRs).

'If the requests are allowed, they will also be subject to various terms and conditions,' he said. 'Even as we do so, our expectation remains that each development will open as an integrated resort, and not just a stand-alone casino.'

Mr Iswaran's comments are the clearest indication so far that even though MBS and RWS will be allowed to apply for casino licences upon spending at least 50 per cent of committed investment capital and building at least 50 per cent of committed gross floor area, this does not mean either will necessarily be allowed to open in phases.

According to the Request for Proposal for Marina Bay, if the IR is developed in phases, the public attractions at the Bayfront Promontory, the Waterfront Promenade, Event Plaza and infrastructure work must be completed in the first phase.

In response to NMP Eunice Olsen's question on when the IR's boost to the GDP can be achieved and whether the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) anticipates the financial crisis affecting business prospects, Mr Iswaran said he expects, 'there may be some impact'.

In 2006, when it was announced that Las Vegas Sands had won the Marina Bay site, MTI said that based on its simulation, visitor arrivals and tourism revenue from MBS could add $2.7 billion to Singapore's GDP by 2015, or about 0.8 per cent of the GDP at that point.

When Genting International won the Sentosa site in the same year, its chairman and CEO Lim Kok Thay said RWS was expected to generate $15 billion in revenue by 2015, accounting for half of the $30 billion tourism revenue target set by STB by 2015.

Mr Iswaran said yesterday: 'It is premature to try to ascertain in quantitative terms what the exact impact (of the global financial crisis) will be, given the volatile economic conditions.'

He was, however, more upbeat on the longer term prospects of the IRs, saying he believes they will still add as many as 40,000 jobs by 2015. This is on top of the 20,000 direct jobs created by the IRs.

UK Economy Will Contract By 1.7% In 2009: Industry Body

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

(LONDON) Britain will suffer its sharpest economic contraction in almost two decades next year and the number of people out of work could rise to nearly three million by 2010, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said yesterday.

It said it expects the British economy to contract by 1.7 per cent in 2009 and blamed the fallout from global financial turmoil for the massive revision to the 0.3 per cent growth forecast it had issued in September.

'What is clear is that the short and shallow recession we had hoped for a matter of months ago is now likely to be deeper and longer-lasting,' said John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general. 'The banking system has come under immense strain, sending consumer and business confidence plummeting in its wake.'

The CBI said it expected unemployment to reach two million by the end of this year and rise to 2.88 million, or 9 per cent of the workforce, in 2010 - the year by which the ruling Labour Party must call a general election.

That would be the highest jobless total since the last quarter of 1993. Official figures released last week showed British unemployment rose to its highest since 1997 in the three months to September, with 1.825 million people out of work.

The CBI said a deteriorating labour market and weak consumer confidence would weigh on household spending. It predicted household consumption would contract by 1.8 per cent in 2009. 'This latest forecast shows that 2009 is going to be a very tough year for business, with the sharpest fall in GDP since 1991,' said Ian McCafferty, the CBI's chief economic adviser.

Reduced spending and falling commodity prices will ease price pressures, the CBI said, predicting the inflation rate would fall to 1.7 per cent by the end of next year from 4.2 per cent last quarter. -- Reuters

US Recession To Extend Into Next Year: Survey

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

(NEW YORK) The United States has entered a recession that will persist into next year, and economies around the world will follow suit, according to a survey of business economists.

After growing 1.4 per cent this year, the US will contract 0.2 per cent in 2009, according to the median estimate in a poll taken by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).

A majority of respondents said the UK, euro area, Japan, Canada and Mexico are either now, or will soon be, in a recession.

'Business economists became decidedly more negative on the economic outlook for the next several quarters as a result of the intensification of credit- market stresses,' Chris Varvares, president of Macro-economic Advisers LLC in St. Louis and of NABE, said in a statement.

Pessimism about the outlook for stocks, construction, home prices and employment means household wealth and spending will keep weakening, the report said.

Of all the measures undertaken so far to stem the slump, the US Treasury's bank-capital injections and Federal Reserve support for the commercial paper market will prove the most effective, the economists said.

The jobless rate, now at a 14-year high of 6.5 per cent, will climb to 7.5 per cent by the end of 2009, according to the median forecast. Last month, the group anticipated it would peak at 6.4 per cent by the middle of next year.

Car sales, which the group last month projected would stabilise in 2009, are now forecast to keep sliding. Purchases will decline 6.7 per cent in 2009 after dropping 17 per cent this year, according to the survey.

Similarly, the economists said housing starts won't bottom until next year. Builders will break ground on 870,000 homes in 2009, the fewest in 50 years of record-keeping. Property values are likely to fall another 3.5 per cent in 2009 after dropping 6 per cent this year, the group said.

The outlook for home sales was less dire, with almost all respondents projecting purchases would reach a low by next June.

On a quarterly basis, the business economists projected the US would shrink at a 2.6 per cent annual pace from October to December and at a 1.3 per cent rate in the first three months of next year.

The world's largest economy would resume growing in the second quarter of 2009, expanding at a 0.5 per cent pace.

Fed policy makers are likely to hold the benchmark interest rate at one per cent through the third quarter of next year, even as the outlook for growth dims and inflation is projected to cool, the survey showed. -- Bloomberg

Ho Bee's Sale Of Frontech Centre Hits Snag

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

Purchaser backs off from deal, misses Nov 14 deadline

HO Bee Group's proposed $30 million sale of its Frontech Centre has fallen through.

The company said yesterday that it had received notice on Nov 12 that the purchaser was not going ahead with the deal.

No details of the purchaser were revealed, except that it is a company registered as AG Frontech Pte Ltd. However, it is understood that the purchaser is a US-based property fund.

No reason for the collapse of the deal was given. Ho Bee said that it wrote to the purchaser on Nov 12, saying it was willing and ready to complete the sale on Nov 14 as agreed. However, the purchaser failed to complete the transaction.

Following legal advice, Ho Bee has given the purchaser 21 days' notice as of yesterday to complete the acquisition.

Frontech Centre is an eight-storey high-tech industrial building with a gross floor area of 71,992 square feet and a lettable area of about 69,382 sq ft.

Ho Bee said earlier that it planned to use the sale proceeds to cut its borrowing and increase working capital.

The $30 million price for the Frontech Centre was arrived at by taking into account the open market value of $18.5 million as at Dec 31, 2007, as appraised by Colliers International.

No revaluation was conducted for the purpose of the sale, save the last valuation.

More Steps To Stimulate China Market On The Cards

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

But measures likely to have little impact, recovery not in sight for another year

(BEIJING) China is likely to roll out more measures before long to stimulate demand for housing, but recovery in the all-important property market is unlikely for another year.

Next turning: Nationwide urban real estate prices rose only 1.6% in the year to October, the weakest rise since Beijing started publishing the data in 2005, and economists expect prices soon to be in outright decline despite steps to boost the economy

Nationwide urban real estate prices rose only 1.6 per cent in the year to October, the weakest rise since Beijing started publishing the data in 2005, and economists expect prices soon to be in outright decline despite steps to boost the economy.

'The immediate impact of the stimulus policies is limited,' said Li Zhanhong, vice-president of Jinke Group, a developer headquartered in the western city of Chongqing.

China lowered mortgage rates, reduced down payments and cut transaction taxes on Oct 22 to make it easier for people to buy homes. Then on Nov 9 it unveiled a broad package to stimulate domestic demand with a headline price tag of 4 trillion yuan (S$895 billion).

Comments a day later by Premier Wen Jiabao raised expectations that additional steps could emerge when top officials gather to chart economic policy for 2009.

Mr Wen instructed provincial officials to 'properly guide and control' the real estate sector, which he described as a pillar industry critical for everything from steel to home appliances.

'That's the strongest signal yet, which says that the government is going to support the real estate market,' said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist of Industrial Bank in Shanghai.

Analysts say China still has plenty of policy leeway to aid a sector that makes up a quarter of China's fixed asset investment, for example by further cutting taxes and mortgage rates.

'More forceful measures will come out during the economic work conference later this month,' said Fan Xiaochong, vice-president of the Beijing-based Sunshine 100 Real Estate Group.

The problem for developers is that policies in the pipeline, notably a plan by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development to spend 900 billion yuan on affordable housing over three years, are likely to lower average house prices.

Stephen Green, head of China research at Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai, said the laudable aim was to provide subsidised housing for low-income migrant workers. The initiative would also stir demand for cement, steel and construction workers.

But he said it could face opposition from developers and local governments. Low-cost housing is less profitable than high-end developments and, despite market segmentation, will augment overall supply in a market that is already overstocked.

'The developers - a considerable political force in Beijing, some believe - will not be fans since the policy runs the risk of bringing down urban house prices,' Mr Green said in a report.

Sun Mingchun, an economist for Nomura in Hong Kong, judges that oversupply is so great that prices could fall 20 per cent from peak to trough, but by no more than 30 per cent.

Mr Sun is positive in the long term given China's urbanisation and rising incomes, but he said in a report that a price correction that started in early 2008 could last about two years.

With buyers holding off, Vanke, China's biggest listed developer, reported a 35 per cent fall in property sales in October from a year earlier, the fifth monthly decline in a row.

'Whatever measures the government takes, the ultimate goal is to boost transactions, not prices,' Mr Li of Jinke Group said.

Forecasts that the property market will start to revive by this time next year could prove to be optimistic in the light of October indicators pointing to a sharp slowdown in growth, said Mr Lu, the Industrial Bank economist.

As for developers, they will be scrambling for cash as the year draws to a close to pay for land they have already bought and to pay back bank loans.

'Developers may possibly resort to a fresh round of price competition at the year end,' Jinke's Mr Li said. -- Reuters

Sellers Slash Asking Prices For Homes In UK

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

(LONDON) Increasingly desperate sellers slashed asking prices for homes in England and Wales by 2.9 per cent in November, pushing them 7.1 per cent below their level a year ago, a survey showed yesterday.

Property website Rightmove said sellers were recognising the need for more drastic action as the traditional season for moving home drew to a close.

Still, the annual fall in property asking prices remains around half the drop in selling prices recorded by Britain's biggest mortgage lenders.

'Some sellers could avoid months of disillusionment and despair if they started marketing at an asking price a lot closer to where evidence indicates they are likely to end up,' said Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director.

Many banks have clamped down on lending over the past year, squeezing the life out of the property market.

All regions in England and Wales registered year-on-year falls in asking prices. Wales saw the steepest fall of 11.2 per cent. The number of new sellers dwindled to just 20,000 a week, almost half the number this time last year.

However, the bulk of the survey was conducted before the Bank of England's 1.5 percentage point interest rate cut on Nov 6 which took official rates to 3.0 per cent, their lowest in more than 50 years.

'The lowest base rate since 1955 and the promise of further aggressive cuts gives the potential for a greater volume of sales in 2009,' Rightmove added. -- Reuters

Launches Of Private Homes In October Drops Almost 80% On-Month

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 November 2008

Only 159 private homes were launched in October this year - the lowest in more than a year.

The slide of almost 80 per cent from the 767 units launched in September was due to poor economic conditions, and the technical recession that has hit Singapore.

October's figure was even lower than the 194 units launched in August 2008, which was traditionally a slow period due to the seventh lunar month.

The central region made up almost half of the new launches in October, at 74 units.

The number of new homes sold in October also fell to 112 units from 373 a month ago.

Homebuyers stayed out of the market in October as confidence was shaken by financial turmoil and news of job cuts. And buyers were only willing to spend on properties that offered value for money.

"Price is a factor in today's market. Projects priced well in very good locations have a strong take-up," said the head of research and consultancy at Jones Lang LaSalle, Chua Yang Liang.

Analysts expect the housing market to stay weak.

Dr Chua said: "This pendulum effect we see in supply and demand will continue going into (the) next few months as developers try to ascertain what the demand is. Buyers being sensitive to market news will continue to fluctuate in their behaviour."

Analysts also said new home sales could hit lows not seen since the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

"Taking into consideration the continued lack of activity in the next two months going into the end of 2008, we expect total home sales to hit just above 4,000, potentially below 4,500. It will probably be the first time in almost 11 years that new home sales take-up will hit below 5,000," said the managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, Donald Han.

Experts said the earliest recovery could be in mid-2009, if the global economy and stock markets pick up.

Dr Chua said: "We have to see the global economic situation coming to more stable conditions before the buyer market would stabilize. Global economic fundamentals must return (and) stock markets must be predictable." - CNA/yt

Dismal Sales Of Private Homes In Oct

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 18, 2008

112 new private homes sold as sales dip to lows last seen in 2003 Sars period

A MERE 112 new private homes were sold by developers last month, the lowest figure since monthly data was made public amid the boom in June last year.

The October figure is sharply down from 376 units sold in September, according to the data released yesterday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Developers launched just 159 units last month, down from 767 units in September and a 12-month average of 559 units.

Analysts suggest last month's very thin sales are comparable to the first quarter of 2003 when the Sars outbreak crippled economic activity. Developers sold just 427 units of new private homes then.

In the first three quarters of this year, sales of private homes slumped to 3,890 units, a far cry from 14,811 for all of last year.

'The fall in the number of units launched was largely due to an obvious weakening in economic conditions, and Singapore's entry into a technical recession,' said Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

'In October, all major stock markets globally suffered their worst performance in decades. Singapore was not spared. In the face of such massive losses in the bourses, both sellers and homebuyers retreated to the sidelines, resulting in the low launch and sales volume.'

Things were so bad last month that some projects - among them a 59-unit landed project Watten Residences - recorded no sales at all.

Since monthly data was made available, last month was the first with not a single sale of a non-landed private residential unit at above $2,500 per sq ft (psf), Mr Mak said. In the high-end market, two condo units were sold at $2,306 psf and $2,407 psf.

There were a few quirks in the figures. For instance, a mass market condo, Lakeshore in Jurong West, sold for a relatively high $1,038 psf, said Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development, Mr Ku Swee Yong.

Two posh 99-year leasehold bungalows at Sandy Island at Sentosa Cove were sold for a high $2,033 psf and a possible record price of $2,169 psf, or above $13 million each.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said such deals last month seemed to show prices have remained fairly stable in the past two months.

'However, it is very likely that the persistent thin volume will have a downward effect on prices.'

Overall, the only project that did well was a 12-unit cluster housing development, Jewel, near Serangoon New Town, which caught the market in time. All 12 units were sold from $286 psf to $342 psf, or $1.3 million to $1.4 million each.

Over 60 per cent of the 159 units launched were landed properties, marking the first time that landed supply has exceeded non-landed supply but demand was far weaker, said Jones Lang LaSalle.

'In this current market, pricing is a great determinant of demand,' said its local director and head of research for South-east Asia, Dr Chua Yang Liang.

Chesterton Suntec International's head of research and consultancy, Mr Colin Tan, said: 'The stand-off is continuing as there are still many unrealistic sellers out there taking their cues from the quarterly price index.'

The index, which has showed only a small drop, seemed to suggest the market is still in fairly good shape.

'If the correct market signals are not given, the stand-off between buyers and sellers will likely continue with prices edging down very slowly,' he said.

'At the end of the day, sellers may not sell until they are forced to. This will occur when there is panic selling... The sharp correction will affect confidence.'

Property consultants are expecting the sluggish sales momentum to last the rest of the year and possibly through to Chinese New Year in late January given economic and job market uncertainties.

'It may well be that the fourth quarter will see a total sales volume of around 500 units, a level that was last seen in the first quarter of 2003,' said CBRE's Mr Li.

Savills' Mr Ku believes that transaction levels of new homes will remain roughly around 150 to 200 units for the next six months, with possibly 500 to 700 sub-sales and resale deals per month.

'The average number of monthly transactions for the last 10 years is about 1,300 per month, so we should be seeing lower than average transaction volumes.'


'In the face of such massive losses in the bourses, both sellers and homebuyers retreated to the sidelines, resulting in the low launch and sales volume.'

Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak

Cluster Homes Drawing Flak From Residents

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 18, 2008

Those living next to these developments say they have led to more traffic and noise

WHEN Dr Francis Oen, 47, moved into his terrace house near Lower Delta Road a decade ago, the area was a mix of bungalows, semi-detached homes and terrace houses.

Now, Dr Oen's home faces 11 units of cluster homes, each five storeys high.

'It changes the characteristics of the neighbourhood and disrupts the look of the place,' the Bukit Teresa Close resident said last week.

Like Dr Oen, other home owners have taken issue with these high-density developments, which often take the form of row houses. They have become increasingly popular in recent years because they combine condo-style shared facilities - like pools and gyms - with the space of landed premises.

Since 2003, about 100 sites have been approved for such developments.

Neighbouring property owners say these high-density clusters have changed the character of landed estates, leading to more traffic and noise.

The Straits Times recently visited eight estates with cluster homes - including recently completed units and ongoing developments - and spoke to nearby landed residents.

Traffic was the top concern of those who took issue with cluster homes.

Mrs Anne Baillie, who lives near 100 or so cluster homes in Kew Crescent in the east, has to deal with heavy traffic and parked delivery trucks when driving her car out. The 46-year-old said: 'I have to be extra careful.'

Lorong Selangat, in the Braddell area, has one set of partially occupied cluster homes, with another set under way.

Resident Tan Tiong Yong, 47, said the noise level in his formerly 'very quiet' neighbourhood increases when children play around the swimming pool shared by the cluster homes.

Still, some residents concede that cluster homes are unavoidable. Dunsfold Drive resident Ted Teo, 63, who lives near an ongoing development of 18 cluster bungalows, said: 'I suppose land is scarce, so the Government has to relax (its rules).'

Introducing cluster homes was meant to offer home buyers more options, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Property agents said cluster homes are also usually 10 to 20 per cent cheaper than the typical landed property.

Because of complaints from residents and feedback from focus groups, the URA has decided to revive a 2001 guideline to cap the number of units allowed for cluster homes in each development.

The change, which was made known on Nov 3, will bring densities closer to those of the surrounding area.

Most landed residents said they were relieved by the decision. But with the rule taking effect on Feb 3 next year, it will not affect ongoing developments.

At Bukit Teresa Close, home to both an existing and an ongoing development, resident Simon Cheong, 60, is wary.

'I don't know how this is going to operate when everybody has moved in. I think there's going to be a lot of hassle.'

Reassuring - But More Needed From SC Global

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

SC GLOBAL Developments last Wednesday reported a decent set of third-quarter results, posting a 121 per cent jump in net profit to $9.6 million. This was despite weaker sales as the company improved its pre-tax margins with higher selling prices for homes and lower sale costs and expenses.

But what was of more interest to market watchers was the fact that the company also announced that in order to boost its cash in hand, it recently drew some $100 million from its reserve facilities - a move that is a common practice for listed companies here. SC Global cited volatile financial markets and the credit environment in October and November as reasons for the move.

The developer's move also seems to be aimed at alleviating investor concerns about SC Global. 'SC Global is trying to tell the market that it does have the means to raise money if it needs to,' said one property analyst. The company had cash and cash equivalents of $67.4 million at end-September. Assuming that not too much of the newly raised money is spent over the current quarter, SC Global should be able to boost its cash and cash equivalents to well over $100 million by the end of this year.

The company also hinted in its Q3 results that its debt-to-equity ratio - which now stands at 3.38 times - could be reduced somewhat if its stake in Australian-listed AVJennings (AVJ) crosses the 50 per cent mark. Right now, SC Global's stake in AVJ stands at 49.63 per cent, and 'should the group consolidate AVJ as a subsidiary, it is expected to significantly reduce the group's gearing ratio', SC Global said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

SC Global's moves to improve its cash position and assure investors that gearing could be reduced in future are certainly commendable.

However, its stock has been battered, along with the general market, and despite all the good news - better earnings during a quarter where most developers saw profits fall, as well as the securing of $100 million of cash and the news that gearing could be lowered - its share price has not recovered.

SC Global has current liabilities of $13.5 million, while long-term liabilities stand at $1.3 billion, one analyst pointed out. In view of this, $100 million seems like a small amount, he noted. This view assumes that SC Global won't generate significant amounts of cashflow in the future by selling more units in its inventory.

DBS Vickers analyst Adrian Chua pointed out in a note a day after the results that operating cashflow for SC Global continues to be negative in Q3 2008 due to an increase in non-cash working capital, and that its gearing ratio continues to be one of the highest among property developers, with its loans entirely secured against its properties. But financing for the remainder of SC Global's landbank projects at Ardmore and Sentosa have been secured, although construction tenders have not yet been called, he added.

Right now, some analysts are pricing in a worst-case sector scenario of zero sales, credit tightening, asset devaluation, and even potential customer default - which has led to a plunge in SC Global's share price. The stock has lost 76.7 per cent so far this year.

While it is good that SC Global is taking steps to improve its cash position and gearing, whether the developer succeeds in convincing investors depends a lot on how much the general market sentiment improves or worsens going forward - and whether the developer continues to generate cashflow by selling more of its luxury homes.

About 50 Homebuyers Walked Away From Deals In October

Source : The Business Times, November 18, 2008

But trend not likely to escalate as it was a month when bourses tanked

The number of private homes returned to developers shot up last month on the back of a sharp dive in confidence due to the stockmarket crash.

Homebuyers returned 50-odd units to developers in October, compared with 10-plus units each in the preceding month and in October last year. The figures were estimated by BT from statistics on developers' sales released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday. The figures exclude executive condos.

October also saw developers launching and selling the lowest number of private homes since URA started making monthly housing sales data available in June last year. Developers sold 112 private homes in October, down about 70 per cent from 376 units in the preceding month and 80 per cent below the 566 units sold in October last year. The 159 private homes developers launched last month was also 79 per cent lower than September and 75 per cent below that in the same year-ago period.

Buyers who returned the 50-plus units last month probably did so before the options were due to be exercised, industry observers reckon. Buyers who walk away from a deal before the option is exercised forfeit a quarter of the 5 per cent option fee, equivalent to 1.25 per cent of the purchase price of the unit.

'The stock market was at its worst in October. So some buyers may have got jittery and decided it was better to forego 1.25 per cent of the purchase price - that's $12,500 for a $1 million property purchase - than to be saddled with uncertainty. They worry that property prices may drop much further in the next six months. So it's a matter of weighing risks, even for people who can afford to take the hit,' said a seasoned property agent.

Another industry observer said another factor for the forfeitures could be if buyers failed to secure the required quantum of housing loan from banks, which have become more cautious in lending. 'Some buyers may also have observed developers trimming prices and got cold feet,' he added.

On a brighter note, he does not expect the number of units returned to developers to keep rising in the months ahead. 'Anybody who buys now must have done his homework. Things are a lot clearer now.'

Agreeing, DTZ executive director Ong Choon Fah said: 'October was an exceptional month with so much stockmarket turmoil and fear all around. Hopefully, we won't get a repeat of this. People will be much more considered when buying homes henceforth and therefore the number of units returned should revert to a more normal situation.'

October saw a total of 14 units returned at Concourse Skyline at Beach Road, 11 units at The Peak @ Balmeg in the Pasir Panjang area and five units each at Silversea at Amber Road, Tresalveo at Marymount Terrace and VIVA at Thomson Road/Suffolk Walk. Nonetheless, all these projects still saw units being sold in October.

CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) said, based on transacted prices, prices have 'remained fairly stable for the past two months, with due consideration that factors such as floor height, orientation and liveable space affect prices'.

'However, it is very likely that the persistent thin volume will have a downward effect on prices. The sluggish sales momentum is likely to remain for the rest of the year as macro factors such as the economic recession and retrenchment will erode consumer confidence,' CBRE's executive director Li Hiaw Ho added. He predicts Q4 may see sales volume of around 500 units, a level last seen in Q1 2003.

Knight Frank director Nicholas Mak said that homebuying sentiment is expected to weaken in the face of economic and job market uncertainties. 'Launches are expected to be held back till at least after Chinese New Year 2009,' he added. The lowest-priced apartment/condo sold in October was a unit at The Linear ($554 psf) while the highest-priced unit was an apartment at Orchard Scotts ($2,407 psf).

Savills Singapore's Ku Swee Yong noted that despite a weak month, The Lakeshore in Jurong and Hillvista in the Hillview area crossed $1,000 psf. The $2,169 psf of land area achieved at Sandy Island on Sentosa Cove is probably the highest price for a landed home in Singapore, he added.

Around 63 per cent of the 112 units sold in October were in Outside Central Region. However, in terms of the 159 units launched in the month, the lion's share (46.5 per cent) were in the Core Central Region.

Sands Has Funds For IR

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 18, 2008

LAS Vegas Sands Corp has enough money to finish Singapore's first casino without help from the city-state's government or billionaire Kwek Leng Beng after the company raised US$2.1 billion (S$3.2 billion), President William Weidner said.

Las Vegas Sands, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, halted developments in Macau and Las Vegas to focus on finishing a Singapore project and the casino part of its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, site. -- PHOTO: LAS VEGAS SANDS

Parts of Marina Bay Sands will open later than the end of 2009, as originally scheduled, on construction snags and an 'unprecedented' shortage of raw materials that is now 'opening up', Mr Weidner said in an interview in Las Vegas on Tuesday. 'We have all the money required to be able to complete the project.'

Las Vegas Sands, controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, halted developments in Macau and Las Vegas to focus on finishing a Singapore project and the casino part of its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, site.

Bloomberg news said the company raised US$2.1 billion last week selling stock and warrants, prompting auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC to remove a warning that there was 'substantial doubt' the company could survive on Monday.

Mr Adelson and Mr Weidner plan to travel to Asia within the next two weeks to assess the company's developments, said Mr Weidner, who is also Las Vegas Sands' chief operating officer.

Raising cash and mothballing developments 'gets us through what we anticipate to be a very rough 18 months approximately ahead of us until we see recovery, somewhere in 2010 or 2011', Mr Weidner told an investor meeting in Vegas on Tuesday.