Friday, October 12, 2007

More Checks On Outdoor Display Areas

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

HDB, SCDF, NEA and town councils will intensify enforcement to ensure the appropriate use of outdoor display areas by HDB shop retailers.

Some retailers have misused the areas outside their shops by illegally subletting the spaces or displaying wares beyond permitted limits, blocking access routes needed in case of emergencies.

Allen & Gledhill Tops In Financial Law Market

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

ALLEN & Gledhill (A&G) and WongPartnership (WP) continue to dominate Singapore's financial and corporate law market, says the latest International Financial Law Review 1000 (IFLR1000).

The annual publication, now in its 18th edition, is a guide to leading law firms for corporate finance worldwide.

It says that A&G and WP continue to grab the 'lion's share of important deals' and explore 'avenues of growth' to 'sustain their positions at the top'.

A&G is ranked tier 1 in all four categories while WP is ranked tier 1 in two categories. Also making tier 1 for one category - restructuring and insolvency - are Rajah & Tann and Drew & Napier.

IFLR1000 says 'regional markets continue to be a source of opportunity' and the legal market is 'poised for greater sophistication'.

Noting that securitisation is still at a nascent stage in Singapore, it says loan packages are becoming more complex and innovative. This is because of the introduction of high-quality capital fund-raising and the growing popularity of retail structured notes and commercial mortgage-backed securities.

IFLR1000 notes that law firms are 'inundated with work' on acquisitions, alliances and joint ventures and are also kept busy by fund-raising activity, en bloc acquisitions and real estate lending.

Medium-sized firms such as Stamford Law Corporation and Venture Law are ranked tier 2 in some categories.

IFLR1000 says smaller players such as TSMP Law Corporation have broadened the depth of their practices, noting its recent joint venture with Australian firm Allens Arthur Robinson.

Recommendations are made based on face-to-face and telephone interviews with leading private practice lawyers and in-house counsel, IFLR100 says.

One Raffles Quay Resolution Passed

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

KEPPEL Land said that shareholders have passed a resolution to sell the group's one-third interest in One Raffles Quay and buy new units in K-Reit Asia.

K-Reit Asia also said yesterday that its unit-holders have passed a resolution to buy a one-third interest in One Raffles Quay and place new units under the equity fund raising to Keppel Land.

Hersing Trims Profit-Sharing Rights In Unit

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

US$18m proceeds to be invested in other operations, including self-storage business

THE Western Union Company has agreed to acquire 49 per cent of the profit-sharing rights in Western Union Global Network Pte Ltd (WUGN) from listed real estate player Hersing Corporation for US$18.33 million.

Hersing said yesterday it will use the proceeds to expand its other operations, including its fast-growing self-storage business.

Hersing entered into a joint venture with Western Union in 2001 to form WUGN to offer money transfer services in Singapore.

Under that agreement, Hersing owned 255,000 Class A ordinary shares and Western Union held 245,000 Class B ordinary shares, representing 51 per cent and 49 per cent of WUGN respectively.

Hersing's Class A shares had all the rights of ordinary shares, including the right to any profit distribution or dividends from the joint venture.

Western Union's Class B shares had all the rights of ordinary shares except for the right to distribution of any profits or dividends.

Effectively, the Class A shares gave Hersing the benefit of 100 per cent of its economic interest in WUGN.

Now, Hersing and Western Union have entered into a new arrangement, effective Jan 1, 2008. Under this, the Class B shares of WUGN will be converted to shares that will rank equally with the Class A shares. This will reduce Hersing's right to any profit distribution or dividend declaration to 51 per cent.

'The purpose of the proposed transaction is to enable Western Union to participate in the financial results of WUGN in proportion with its 49 per cent shareholding,' Hersing said in a statement.

Hersing will realise a significant capital gain and improve its cash flow. The cash obtained from the divestment will 'enable the company to exploit any opportunity, should one arise, to expand the group's businesses', it said.

Hersing said yesterday it plans to aggressively expand its Storhub self-storage operations in key Asian cities in the next three years.

In Singapore, the group has three Storhubs - at Kallang, Changi and Toa Payoh - and will open a fourth by the end of this year. A fifth, at Tampines, is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2009.

Hersing says it introduced the self-storage business to Singapore in 2003 and now has more than 2,500 store rooms.

Between 2003 and 2006, Storhub's revenue grew by a compounded annual rate of 62 per cent to $6.2 million.

'Our success in Singapore shows we have grasped the secret of succeeding in the self-storage business,' said Hersing chairman Harry Chua.

'We believe that the group can replicate this success throughout Asia. We believe that with the ever- increasing consumer purchasing power in Asia-Pacific, there will always be a strong demand for offsite storage space, as proved in the US.'

Stanchart Hires Deutsche Banker For Rates Derivatives

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

Standard Chartered said on Friday that it has hired former Deutsche Bank executive Nitin Gulabani as its global head of interest rate derivatives for wholesale banking.

Mr Gulabani, who will be based in Singapore, will be further developing the London-based emerging markets bank's interest rate derivatives business including product development and sales across all client segments.

Prior to joining StanChart, Mr Gulabani spent 11 years at Germany's Deutsche Bank where he was most recently global head, currencies and commodities Asia Pacific. -- REUTERS

Sing Holding's $63m Building Sale

Source : TODAY, Friday, October 12, 2007

Property investment group Sing Holdings has sold a commercial building to Develica Asia Pacific for $63 million.

In a joint statement, Sing Holdings said it will book a net gain of about $15.9 million from the sale of the 10-storey EastGate building, which was purchased in the mid-1990s and has a net saleable area of 5,354 sq m.

Sing Holdings said it plans to use the proceeds of the sale for its residential property business.

The property will change hands on Dec 13.

No End To The Search

Source : TODAY, Friday, October 12, 2007

S’poreans should not adopt a ‘not-in-my-backyard mindset’

Letter from ALICE LEONG

I READ with curiosity the letter from Mr Syed Ahmad, “Funeral parlour in my estate? I’m dead set against it” (Oct 10),who voiced concerns over the proposed building of a funeral parlour in Sin Ming Avenue.

I am especially perplexed by this statement: “To make matters worse, the proposed development is just 200m from a school”. I fail to see the adverse effects a funeral
parlour may have on students and staff of a school.

Surely Mr Syed is not referring to any possibility of pollutants or foul odours being emitted from such a building?

Death is a natural, if terminal (unless one begs to differ based on religious beliefs) part of the life cycle. There is nothing sinister about it. If we can accept HDB void decks being used as “temporary funeral parlours”, what then is the concern?

If Mr Syed fears that the serenity of Sin Ming will be affected by the funeral parlour, he might want to consider that such parlours are typically designed to exude an aura of peace and tranquillity.

In his letter, Mr Syed said that, “Sin Ming Avenue may also become known as the ‘Avenue of the Dead’ ... surely the URA can consider other places to construct a funeral parlour?”

If I recall correctly, Transport Minister Raymond Lim had cautioned against residents taking a “not-in-my-backyard mindset” over this issue.

My sympathies lie with the Urban Redevelopment Authority as they continue to meet one dead end after another, running out of avenues in their search for a suitable site in land-scarce Singapore.

In-Laws Take Over Their Houses

Source : The New Paper, October 12, 2007

# Husband dies in US while awaiting trial for son's murder
# Two years later, wife returns to S'pore to find...

THERE was a shock waiting for Madam Chen Tsui Yu when she returned to Singapore after more than 10 years in the US.

SOLD: Margate Road property sold for $4.8m in 2006. House demolished, land under development --

Two properties, worth millions of dollars, belonging to her late husband and herself, had been transferred to her in-laws.

One of the properties was then sold.

Taiwan-born Madam Chen, 52, who migrated to US from Singapore in 1994 with her husband and adopted son, is no stranger to shocks.

Her husband, Singapore-born Loo Chay Loo, 50, stabbed adopted son Benson, then 17, in2004.

Benson died and his father was arrested.

In 2005, while in jail awaiting trial for murder, Loo, a US citizen, tried to kill himself.

He went into a coma and later died.


When Madam Chen returned to Singapore this year, she learned that her brother-in-law and mother-in-law had claimed that the properties were held in trust.

Madam Chen denied this and contends that she and her late husband are the rightful owners.

RENTED OUT: Seraya Lane property currently occupied bypre-school -- Pictures: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Both cases involving the two properties are expected to go to trial this year or early next year.

According to court documents, Loo's older brother, Mr Loo Chay Sit, in his late 50s, claimed he was the rightful owner of a bungalow at Margate Road, near Mountbatten Road.

Mr Loo claimed that he had bought the house for $195,000 in 1978 but, as he was undergoing a divorce, he made a verbal agreement with his younger brother to place the house under the latter's name.

His mother, Madam Tan Chan Tee, in her 70s, also claimed she bought a house in Seraya Lane, which is in Madam Chen's name.


Madam Tan claimed that Madam Chen was holding the house in trust and she was entitled to take control of the place, which has been rented out to a pre-school.

Court papers stated that in April 2005, while Loo Chay Loo was lying unconscious in hospital in the US after the suicide attempt, his brother applied to the High Court here to take possession of the Margate Road house.

Later that year, a writ of summons was sent to Madam Chen's address in San Francisco.

-- File picture: THE STRAITS TIMES

Mr Loo claimed that when there was no response, he advertised in the San Francisco Chronicle.

When Madam Chen still did not respond to the summons, the High Court delivered a default judgment in favour of Mr Loo in March2006.

Around September that year, Mr Loo sold the Margate Road house for $4.8 million.

It is understood that the house has been demolished.

In 2006, Madam Tan applied to the High Court to take control of the Seraya Lane property.

On 25 Jan this year, the High Court delivered a default judgment in her favour.

When Madam Chen returned to settle her late husband's estate, she learnt about the claims on the Margate Road and Seraya Lane properties.

Court documents did not state why she is settling her husband's estate only now.

In May, Madam Chen filed an affidavit stating that she had bought the Seraya Lane property from Madam Tan and her sister-in-law, Ms Teo Swee Lian, in 1987.

She added that the house was in her name and she had never held the house in trust.

She provided documents that listed her as the landord of the property and that cheques from the tenants were made out in her name.

That same month, she filed another affidavit stating that the Margate Road house - her matrimonial home in Singapore - was in her husband's name when she married him in 1980.

She said that there was never any discussion about a trust arrangement for the property.

Madam Chen added that she did not know about the writ of summons as it was sent to her old home address.

She said Mr Loo knew that she had moved because she was corresponding with her in-laws using a different address since moving to the US.

She had moved in to live with her sister.

Madam Chen said Mr Loo and his family had even visited her at her sister's home in San Mateo, California, when she was living there between September 2004 and February 2005.

She said that she could not read English and would not have read the Chronicle's advertisement, summoning her to court.


Madam Chen asked the Court to set aside both default judgments.

On 16 Jul, the High Court ordered that the default judgment on the Seraya Lane property be set aside.

Nine days later, it ordered that the default judgment on the Margate Road property be set aside too.

Mr Loo's appeal against the Margate Road judgment was dismissed on 13 Aug. No appeal was filed against the Seraya Lane judgment.

The High Court has ordered Mr Loo to disclose the sale proceeds of the Margate Road house, and for the money to be held by the court, pending the outcome of the ownership tussle.

The New Paper could not contact Mr Loo, Madam Tan or Madam Chen.

Authorities Intensify Enforcement Efforts On Use Of Outdoor Display Areas

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 11 October 2007

HDB shop retailers can now expect more checks on the outdoor display areas of their shop fronts.

The Town Councils, Singapore Civil Defence Force, Housing and Development Board and National Environment Agency are stepping up enforcement efforts on the use of such outdoor display areas to prevent retailers from misusing them.

They include subletting the spaces illegally or displaying their wares beyond the permitted limits.

Retailers are advised to confine the display of their products within the designated boxes drawn by the Town Councils and to store the products in the shops after operating hours.

This is to ensure that they do not block access routes in times of emergencies, as well as to facilitate the cleaning of drains in front of the shops.

Under the Outdoor Display Area guidelines, retailers are also not allowed to sublet the area to third parties.

Failure to comply with the guidelines may result in fines of up to S$5,000 under the Town Councils Act. - CNA/ms

HDB's Remaking Our Heartland Initiatives Get Good Response From S'poreans

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 12 October 2007

Plans to rejuvenate public housing in Singapore have been welcomed by many residents, after they learned more about the different initiatives at HDB's Remaking Our Heartland Exhibitions.

Artist impression of a park in revamped Dawson estate

The roving exhibitions, which ended last Wednesday and featured Punggol, Yishun and Dawson estates, attracted about 110,000 visitors, 10 percent of whom took part in a survey on HDB's plans to enhance the living environment.

HDB said over 80 percent of the respondents were excited about the future of public housing showcased in the exhibition.

There was strong support for the proposals to turn Punggol into a waterfront town with lush greenery, waterways and more entertainment options.

A majority (81 percent) also said they were prepared to pay higher monthly service and conservancy charges to enjoy the new features.

About half (46 percent) were willing to pay S$10 or more a month.

Many residents were also in favour of plans to regenerate old estates with sky gardens and parks.

Artist impression of Punggol 21+ town centre

And 90 percent said they were willing to help maintain the greens.

When it comes to HDB's estate upgrading programmes, over 60 percent of the respondents are happy that residents will have a greater say in what is to be built in their neighbourhood.

Three-quarters of those surveyed also said they would take part in discussions at Town Hall meetings and Block parties. - CNA/ms

Fire Hazards: Agencies Team Up To Check Shopfront Clutter

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

Inspections by HDB, NEA and SCDF to boost checks by town councils

MORE authorities are now weighing in to enforce rules to keep housing estate shopfronts clear of clutter.

Up till now, the job has primarily been the town councils', but the Housing Board, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) have announced that they will team up to mount joint inspections.

There are about 15,000 commercial premises islandwide.

The combined checks will complement those by town councils, said a joint statement from the three agencies.

The step-up in the fight to clear shopfront clutter comes on the heels of a Sept 13 blaze at a Hougang Avenue 8 minimart, which killed two siblings.

Arson has been suspected and the hunt for the perpetrators is still on.

While eliminating fire hazards and creating clear fire escape routes appear to be the priority of the new combined effort, NEA officers will also be checking to see that drains are not covered up by goods put on display by businesses.

This is so that they can be cleaned and mosquito-breeding prevented to keep dengue fever at bay.

Commenting on the development, coordinating chairman of the People's Action Party town councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin, said the extra manpower for enforcement would make it clear to all that 'we are very serious about wanting all shops to comply with fire-safety rules'.

Last Monday, Certis Cisco officers started patrolling the more than 800 shops under the Aljunied Town Council's jurisdiction, including where the fire broke out.

A spokesman said two inspections have been conducted at the Aljunied-Hougang Division so far, and in the four days from the start of the sweeps, 10 tenants and owners were served warning letters.

It has worked. Shop owners still grumble about the restrictions on their businesses, but hardly anything is left outside their shops now when the shutters go down. Failure to comply with the outdoor display area guidelines can result in fines of up to $5,000 under the Town Councils Act.

The proprietor of Chin's Optical and Watch at Hougang Avenue 8, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chin, said in Mandarin: 'Things have improved a lot. In the day, shop owners don't dare to push their goods out of the boxes by too much. At night, hardly anything is left outside, maybe just a plastic stool.'

Tampines Town Council, which issued circulars to all shop owners on its enforcement procedures between April and June, has also bared its teeth before those who refuse to comply despite repeated warnings.

As at the end of June, 19 shops in two Tampines neighbourhood centres were made to pay the price - the leases which allow them to display their goods within the yellow-box area outside their shops have been revoked.

Next month, the town council will engage third-party enforcement officers to check on the shops.

A spokesman for the Tampines Town Council, referring to the Hougang fire, said: 'The worst-case scenario that can happen, happened.

'We need to implement a permanent change in how business is done in the local environment,' she said.

新加坡建屋局双月组屋销售计划反应热烈 九成滞销组屋已售

《联合早报》Oct 12, 2007







这是建屋局取消直接选购计划(walk-in selection)后第四次以新制度出售组屋。前三轮销售活动在4月、6月和8月展开,销售2545个单位。






当局也计划在中部和东部推出三块地段,供私人发展商设计、兴建和销售(Design, Build and Sell Scheme,简称DBSS)组屋。预计这些地段可建1500个单位。





US Credit Crunch May Test Global Economic Growth

Source: The Business Times, October 12, 2007

Broader slowdown cannot be ruled out after sub-prime fallout: IMF

(WASHINGTON) The recent global credit squeeze caused by the meltdown of risky US mortgage loans may test the ability of the world’s economy to keep expanding as it has over the past several years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday.

The IMF also said government policymakers would be confronted with new problems from the continuing process of globalisation and warned against overconfidence that economic stability would continue indefinitely.

In the analytical chapters of its World Economic Outlook released in advance of the Oct 17 publication of the forecast, the IMF said the durability of the global economic expansion is likely to persist.

‘Nevertheless, with financial markets around the world now being affected by the fallout from the US sub-prime mortgage difficulties, a broader economic slowdown cannot be ruled out,’ the IMF said.

Commenting on the released chapters, Simon Johnson, the IMF’s chief economist, said at a news conference that financial globalisation ‘is beginning to enter territory we have not seen before’.

He said the rapidity with which the credit crunch in the US spread to other countries demonstrates that ‘the interconnections between different kinds of financial institutions and between countries are becoming more complex and when sparks fly, they fly quite a long way and they jump over firebreaks’.

The IMF report is issued in advance of meetings of the Group of Seven major industrialised nations and the annual meetings of the IMF and its sister organisation, the World Bank, on Oct 20-22. The IMF warned against overstating prospects for future stability.

‘The process of globalisation continues to present policymakers with new challenges as reflected in the difficulties in managing volatile capital flows, increasing exposure of investors to developments in overseas financial markets and the uncertainties associated with large current account imbalances.’ The IMF said interest rates had returned to more neutral levels in most major advanced economies.

But the 185-nation lending organisation said, ‘The correction of asset prices in some countries and the current rise in risk premiums and tightening credit market conditions may also test the strength of the current expansion.’

Henderson's Dividend Fund Wary Of Reits

Source: The Business Times, October 12, 2007

It Favours Banks As They’re The Cheapest Sector In Asia

HENDERSON Global Investors’ Asian equity dividend fund favours banks but is wary of real estate investment trusts (Reits), its manager said yesterday.

Mike Kerley, who manages the US$100 million Horizon Asian Dividend Income Fund, also said the fund was ‘underweight’ exporters due to their vulnerability to a slowdown in the US economy and the weak dollar. Banks are the cheapest sector in Asia due to concerns about their exposure to US sub-prime mortgages, Mr Kerley told reporters on the sidelines of presentation.

He said he also favoured Asian banks because they were a proxy for domestic demand, which will hold up better than exports in the event of a US recession.

‘We’ve talked to virtually all the banks we owned about their sub-prime exposure. It’s possible there may be something we don’t know about but I’m pretty confident the amount is low,’ he added.

Asian bank stocks, like their counterparts in the US and Europe, have fallen in recent months because of concerns about the US housing market. The shares have since recovered from their lows.

Mr Kerley said the Henderson Asian dividend fund’s holdings include South Korea’s Kookmin Bank, Singapore’s United Overseas Bank (UOB), Hong Kong-listed Hang Seng Bank and Bank of China, Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp and Malaysia’s Bumiputra Commerce and Malayan Banking.

UOB had a better franchise and more creative management than Singapore rival DBS Group, he added when asked why the fund did not hold DBS. Mr Kerley had earlier said in a presentation that DBS ‘looked pretty cheap’.

Turning to other sectors, Mr Kerley said he was wary of owning Reits because they had become relatively expensive. Several Reits had been structured to boost earnings in the initial years and it was not clear whether the dividends were sustainable, he added.

In terms of country allocation, Mr Kerley said he liked Taiwan because valuations were attractive. The Taipei stock market may also benefit from a ‘liquidity overflow from China’ as investors sought safer bets.

Mr Kerley said in addition to picking stocks that offer a mix of dividend and growth, the fund also writes put options on its portfolio to lock in gains and will use synthetic products in certain countries to reduce withholding tax.

MAS Seeks Amendments To Financial Market Laws

Source: The Business Times, October 12, 2007

Changes aim to enhance regulatory oversight, responsiveness to market innovation

LAWS relating to the financial market in Singapore will be amended, with regulators asking for comments on the proposed changes.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has released a policy consultation paper on proposed changes to the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act (FAA).

This is the third in a series of policy consultations that the MAS is conducting following a review of the two pieces of legislation that started last year.

The proposed changes aim to enhance MAS’ supervisory oversight of capital markets services and holders of financial advisers’ licences and the responsiveness of the regulatory framework to market innovation.

One of the changes proposes to let the holders of licences for capital markets services (CMS) and financial advisers (FA) have perpetual licences so that they do not need to renew their permits every three years.

MAS is proposing to amend the law to require foreign regulators to obtain its permission to inspect CMS and FA licence holders.

Noting the increasing globalisation of capital markets, MAS said that it has been receiving more requests from foreign regulators to inspect licence holders whose parent entities they supervise.

The authority said that such inspections should be subject to safeguards including the requirement to protect confidentiality of information and reciprocity by foreign regulators to its requests.

MAS is also proposing to extend the power to issue a prohibition order to banks, insurance and finance companies which are at present exempt from licensing.

Currently MAS is empowered only to issue such orders against CMS licence holders.

Other changes also propose to amend the definitions of ’securities’ and ‘futures contract’ to let MAS prescribe new products as securities as well as exclude other products which may not be considered as financial instruments.

The consultation paper can be found on the MAS website. Comments should be sent by Nov 9.

Rustic Havens In Sungei Tengah

Source : TODAY, Friday, October 12, 2007

Sungei Tengah — home to a vibrant mix of agricultural and recreational activities — will soon provide more of a kampung getaway for stressed-out urbanites, with the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) inviting tenders for four 20-year lease sites to optimise the use of land in the area.

The move by the SLA will allow existing lessees to expand their farm-cum-entertainment projects at Sungei Tengah, as well as to cater to new investors seeking to develop new agri-tainment businesses.

Besides vegetable farming, ornamental plant and fish production, as well as other agricultural activities, the sites — spanning a total land area of 96,031 sq m — can each be developed to include commercial use at a maximum quantum of 200 sq m of gross floor area for food and beverage, and/or retail businesses, and a maximum of 300 sq m of gross floor area for rustic accommodation and/or spa facilities.

The permitted uses for the four sites include fish farming, orchid or other plant production and vegetable cultivation. The SLA’s website,, has location maps and other site details.

The tender for the four sites will close on Nov 15. Interested developers can buy tender documents for $52.50 (inclusive of Goods and Services Tax) from the SLA at 8 Shenton Way, #26-01.

Farm Plots In Sungei Tengah Up For Tender

Source : The Straits Times, Friday, October 12, 2007

Part of land can be used for shops, restaurants or chalets.

DOWNTOWN Singapore may be buzzing with new developments, but interest is also hotting up in some agricultural land in the north-western corner, part which can house spas, restaurants or chalets.

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) released four plots totalling 96,031sqm in Sungei Tengah on 20-year leases for public tender yesterday, the second time in three years the Government has put agricultural land up for lease.

The land can be used for fish or vegetable farming, orchid or plant production, or even to rear toads or frogs.

Up to 500sqm of the farmland, about the size of five coffee shops, can be used for other purposes such as spas, cafes, shops or even chalets and hotel rooms.

SLA deputy director of land sales Teo Jing Kok said: ‘The injection of some commercial use would allow the farmers to diversify their operation and have an additional source of revenue.’

Among the interested bidders were not only existing farmers but also new entrants like electronics engineer Howey Wong.

The 33-year-old is keen to to lease a plot for the cultivation of Chinese herbs. He also intends to set up a research centre on the properties of Chinese medicine, and organise educational tours.

He said: ‘But looking at land prices now, I am not sure if I can even afford it.’

Last year, three farm plots in Kranji earned the state $1.76million. An SLA spokesman said the final price exceeded even the SLA’s own valuation of the land, a testimony to demand.

She added that response to these new sites is expected to be good because of Sungei Tengah’s better location, near Choa Chu Kang New Town and the Kranji Expressway.

Currently, Singapore produces about 10per cent of its total food needs. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) plans to increase local food production.

The new farms, with better technology employed in the existing 234 farms in Singapore, should be able to do this.

For example, the AVA expects to increase the level of foodfish production from the current 12.7per cent to 40per cent. For leafy vegetables, the target is to increase it from the current 5per cent to 10per cent.

The SLA spokesman added that more of such sites can be expected to be launched at a steady rate to cater to demand.

SLA Selling Four Agricultural Sites

Source : The Business Times, Friday, October 12, 2007

THE Singapore Land Authority (SLA) is selling four agricultural sites at Sungei Tengah near the Farmart Centre, Qian Hu Fish Farm and other farms.

The sites, ranging from 208,206 to 338,955 square feet, have 20-year leases and are for sale by tender. Offers close on Nov 15.

Permitted uses include orchid or ornamental plant production, fish/prawn farming, toad/frog culture, vegetable cultivation and fruit orchard.

Each site can also include a maximum 500 square metres (5,382 sq ft) of gross floor area of commercial use, comprising up to 200 sq m for food and beverage and retail and up to 300 sq m for rustic guest accommodation and/or spa facilities.

‘Feedback from farmers, and our research, shows the sale of agricultural sites with a small amount of commercial use is the best business model for farmers,’ said SLA’s deputy director of land sales Teo Jing Kok. ‘The injection of some commercial use allows farmers to diversify their operation and have an additional source of revenue.’

The sites will be awarded to the highest tenderers whose proposed use is approved.

In December last year, SLA sold three ‘agritainment’ sites - these have a higher commercial component of up to 1,000 sq m - at Lim Chu Kang. HLH Agri R&D was awarded the largest plot of about 548,624 sq ft for $880,000, or $1.60 per square foot (psf) of land area.

Yoli Technologies clin-ched the other two plots for $476,336 or $2.95 psf and $398,000 or $2.99 psf. The three sites were also sold with 20-year leases.

Agritainment sites can be used for a combination of agricultural and recre-ation/entertainment activities.

Banks’ Hopes Of Repricing Loan Rates Dissipate

Source : The Business Times, Friday, October 12, 2007

THE Monetary Authority of Singapore’s decision to raise the pace of the Singapore dollar appreciation is good news for home buyers, consumers and corporate borrowers as it should lead to higher money inflows and keep interest rates down.

For bankers though, it was practically the death knell to hopes for repricing loan interest rates upwards. For a while it had looked like borrowers were facing the prospect of interest rate hikes given the credit market squeeze in July and August. After hitting a year low of 2.25 per cent in early May, the key wholesale three-month interbank rate began climbing and hit 2.8125 per cent on Sept 5.

Bankers were anticipating repricing interest rates higher on loans as risks were said to have risen given the volatility of the financial markets and the increased chance of a recession in the United States.

But since then the rate has fallen steadily to around 2.4 per cent as offshore money has flowed here in anticipation of a strengthening Singapore dollar, with the stock market hitting all-time highs.

The local unit rose to a 10-year high against the US dollar on Wednesday after the MAS said it will increase slightly the pace of annual appreciation for the trade-weighted Singapore dollar in its semi-annual monetary policy statement in a strategy to curb inflation.

The stronger Sing dollar will attract inflows and the higher liquidity will determine the local interest rates, said Ho Woei Chen, an analyst with United Overseas Bank. ‘This will lead cost of borrowing lower,’ said Ms Ho.

A stronger Sing dollar will make people want to invest in local equity markets as they will get both capital and asset returns, she said.

One local banker said all hopes of repricing risks and therefore of interest rates going upwards are practically gone. But interest rates are still unlikely to move lower unless the wholesale rates drop to 1.5 per cent.

The key to watch will be interbank rates, which seemed to have softened recently but not collapsed, suggesting that MAS may be intervening and sterilising this, said Tay Chin Seng, Macquarie Securities analyst. Mr Tay said unless the interbank rate goes into a prolonged decline below 2 per cent, he is not expecting the banks to take lending rates down or suffer significantly from lower yields.

UOB’s house view is that the three-month interbank rate will average around 2.5 per cent until the end of 2008.

Double-digit growth

While the local banks will find it harder going forward to raise margins on loans, they will continue to enjoy double-digit lending growth with the economy going gangbusters. The local economy grew 9.4 per cent in the third quarter and practically everyone believes it will end the year higher than the government forecast of 7-8 per cent.

Latest data show that loans to non-bank clients grew 10.8 per cent in August - the third in a row above 10 per cent. But there is some uncertainty on how the local banks’ earnings will be impacted by their collateralised debt obligations or CDO exposure and the fall in treasury-related income. UBS has cut its 2007 earnings estimates for DBS by 11 per cent.

Morgan Stanley said DBS is most exposed to the negative effects of falling interbank rates, given its structurally low deposit costs and vast Sing dollar excess liquidity (S$ loan/deposit ratio is 50 per cent).

Morgan Stanley also said while the Singapore banks may confront realised/unrealised losses on security positions in 2H ‘07 from woes in August 2007, these appear manageable. The more worrying uncertainty is the future revenue flows from sustained subdued investment market activity.

What the three local banks - DBS, UOB and OCBC - need to do is to redouble their wealth management efforts to sell more investment products and earn fees. They have the largest branch networks and are in a good position to persuade especially affluent customers to switch out of their deposits to investment products.

But it is a very competitive segment which is dominated by the foreign banks which have much longer experience selling to such customers with their broader range of products.

Still local banks are trying. DBS has opened six Treasures centres, serving customers with at least $200,000 in investible assets. UOB too has ramped up its privilege banking centres to six from just two a year ago.

The local banks have never been very good in taking the opportunity to make money when deposits growth is strong. Still there’s no time like the present.

Give Minority Owners Exchange Option

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

IN ANY collective sale, minority owners who love their homes and neighbourhood or who have family members living in several units in the same condominium are particularly hard hit.

The en bloc law should therefore be amended to give minority owners the option of asking for a one-for-one exchange, instead of having to accept cash like the majority owners.

The details can be worked out so that it is mutually agreeable to the minority owners and the developer.

Arranging an en bloc deal will then no longer be as easy as getting 80 per cent of the owners on board. Real-estate agencies will now have to satisfy the wishes of the minority owners too.

Harry Yip Kuan

Sing Holdings Sells EastGate Units For $63m

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

A DECISION to focus on the booming residential property market has seen Sing Holdings sell off 48 commercial units in its EastGate building for $63 million.

NEW PRIORITIES: Sing Holdings has sold its remaining units in EastGate along East Coast Road so that it can focus on residential property development instead. -- PHOTO: SING HOLDINGS

The 10-storey EastGate, developed by Sing Holdings, received temporary occupation permit (TOP) status in 1998 and is located along East Coast Road and near Marine Parade Central.

Of its 52 units, four were sold before TOP. Sing Holdings said yesterday that it had decided to sell off its remaining units to focus on residential property.

Managing director Lee Sze Hao said in a statement: 'The divestment of EastGate is in tandem with the company's current business model of focusing on residential property development.

'With the appreciation in values of commercial space, we believe that it is now an opportune time to unlock the value of EastGate.'

The units are being sold to Develica Asia Pacific, a wholly owned unit of Develica Asia Pacific Management, which invests in regional commercial real estate.

Develica chief executive officer Chris Brown said: 'This is an excellent acquisition as it allows us to tap into the decentralisation of office operations out of the central business district due to the rise in rentals there.'

The sale price works out to about $1,059 per sq ft based on a net saleable area of 59,491 sq ft.

Sing Holdings will reap a net gain of some $15.9 million from the sale, which is expected to completed on Dec 13.

It intends to use the proceeds to pursue opportunities to expand its land bank for residential property development projects. The sale was brokered by Savills Singapore.

Renewed Call For Condo Lifeguards

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

A LIFEGUARD at the Ridgewood Condominium in Mount Sinai recently pulled a resident out of the pool after he suffered a fit, saving his life.

SWIM SAFE: The National Water Safety Council is giving out educational posters such as this one.

In another case, a lifeguard at the same estate was on hand to attend to a guest who had mistakenly dived into the shallow end of the pool and cut his brow.

Recounting both incidents, estate resident and MP for Bukit Panjang Teo Ho Pin again made the case for all condominiums to have lifeguards.

The chairman of the National Water Safety Council told The Straits Times: 'Two lifeguards on rotating shifts had rescued quite a number of people over the years.'

It was money well spent, he said, responding to some condominium managers and residents who felt that hiring lifeguards was too costly.

Their grouses: Pools are not used for the greater part of the day. The fewer the number of units in a condominium, the more residents have to pay for a lifeguard.

Dr Teo first suggested that condominiums and clubs hire lifeguards after a 10-year-old boy drowned in the pool of the Palm Gardens condominium in Choa Chu Kang last month.

Yesterday, Dr Teo again urged them to think of 'life and death, not dollars and cents'.

Lifeguards can perform many other tasks as well, including pool maintenance, testing water hygiene and educating residents and guests.

'They don't just sit there and do nothing,' he said.

Smaller condominiums could also consider cross-training their facility managers or security guards in water skills.

Since 1998, more than 350 people have drowned and the council, set up in April, is hoping that, in time, everyone will be able to swim and even save someone in difficulty in the water.

Its members recently returned from the World Water Safety 2007 conference in Portugal. Next week, they will fly to Perth in Australia to learn how various agencies there deal with water safety.

The council's latest initiative: distributing 5,000 water safety posters to pool operators both private and public, grassroots groups and agencies with water bodies under their charge.

'We hope they will be displayed prominently in places where people can take a look at them,' he said.

Requests for posters can be directed to

Horizon Towers - Now, The Real Tussle Begins ...

Source : TODAY, Friday, October 12, 2007

Judge orders Strata Titles Board to reconsider Horizon Towers sale

IT WAS — at least on paper — the judgment that many in the public gallery were looking for.

But yesterday, when Justice Choo Han Teck overruled the Strata Titles Board's decision to abort the Horizon Towers sale on technical irregularities, the response from the crowd, mostly the condo's majority owners, was muted.

It was a marked contrast to the scenes of jubilation when the board threw out the $500-million deal in a tribunal hearing in August.

The sale was thrown out as the sale order application was short of three pages, which were supposed to contain the signatures of three of the majority owners. The majority owners appealed against the board's decision.

Delivering his verdict, Justice Choo allowed the appeal and sent the case back to the board to "continue where it left off".

The High Court judge ruled that the missing pages — which were cited by the board as "an incurable defect" even though they were subsequently submitted — were immaterial to the sale order application and that the board had the power to amend it.

Justice Choo said: "If one takes the view that the board has no power to allow an amendment even for a typographical error, then an entire en bloc sale could be stopped by a comma in the wrong place.

"It was the kind of error or omission that could be corrected in a moment."

The board, he said, was "wrong in law" to reason that its "very existence was called into question" by a defective application.

"Once duly constituted, the board has a duty to hear the application and rule on its merits."

Justice Choo, however, declined to make an order to allow the prospective buyer Horizon Partners Pte Ltd (HPPL) — which had successfully applied to intervene in the appeal — to be heard in the board tribunal hearing, in spite of persistent requests by its lawyer, Senior Counsel K Shanmugam.

A "very satisfied" Mr Shanmugam told reporters later that the verdict was "exactly what we had asked for".

When asked what bearing the verdict would have on HPPL's $1-billion lawsuit against the majority owners for loss of profits, which the consortium had agreed to put on hold, he said: "If the appeal was dismissed, we would have to consider the option. HPPL hopes an order would be made for the sale eventually because then the action would be discontinued altogether."

The saga began in April after some majority owners, apparently unhappy that neighbouring properties were fetching higher prices, tried to pull out of the deal with HPPL.

While "satisfied" with the verdict, unit owner Lim Seng Hoo, who chairs the incumbent sale committee, said: "The buyer can threaten to sue on the basis that market value has gone up twice, so they would lose a lot of money if they don't get the sale. But the poor owners cannot rely on such an argument to say this is the reason they don't want to sell."

But Mr Lim promised that the majority owners would "fully honour" the board's eventual decision.

"Unfazed" by the judgment, lawyer Philip Fong — who, together with Senior Counsel K S Rajah, represents four minority owners — did not rule out appealing against it.

Mr Fong, however, said: "We have always fought the case on the basis that the sale was in bad faith. The fact that the board had found the technical objections to be valid does not detract from our original objections."

All the majority owners managed to achieve, said Mr Fong, was to "go back to square one".

Indeed, the tussle seemed far from over. Said Dr Phang Ser Kiat, another lawyer for the minority owners: "We haven't exhausted our grounds of objections yet. In fact, we were barely into the first ground."

Horizon Towers Saga -Judge Sends En Bloc Case Back To Strata Titles Board

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

Court overturns board's ruling, saying technical errors not sufficiently serious to halt sale

THE Horizon Towers sale is back on, after a landmark decision by the High Court yesterday overturned a Strata Titles Board (STB) ruling to abort the deal.

Justice Choo Han Teck ruled that the STB's move in August to halt the sale based on technical errors in documents was wrong.

He said the errors were not sufficiently serious to prejudice minority owners opposing the $500 million sale of the Leonie Hill condo.

Lawyers said the ruling, which came after an at times hostile hearing last week, will improve the en bloc process for cases pending STB approval by establishing clear guidelines over how 'paperwork errors' can be dealt with.

Yesterday's ruling was hailed by Senior Counsel K. Shanmugam from Allen & Gledhill, who was acting for the buyers: 'This is exactly the result we wanted.'

The majority owners will now have to take the fractious case back to the STB.

Disgruntled minority owners have two options. They can go to the STB hearing and file their objections, which include disquiet over the price. But others may want to appeal against the High Court judgment.

STB threw out the estate's sale application because three pages with consenting owners' signatures were missing.

But Justice Choo said these were insufficient grounds: 'If an error or omission had caused prejudice to the minority, the board may ... dismiss the application.

'If it does not, the board is ... empowered to allow an amendment or correction so that the record is clear.'

Even without the three pages, the 80 per cent requirement for a collective sale had been satisfied, he said.

'If one takes the view that the board has no power to allow an amendment even for a typographical error, then an entire en bloc sale could be stopped by a comma in the wrong place.'

The ruling has not ended the legal wrangling.

The buyers - Hotel Properties and two partners - are suing the majority owners for alleged breach of contract. They claim the owners did not do their utmost to seal the sale at the price agreed to in February and want up to $1 billion in damages.

The owners, keen to keep that suit at bay, extended the sale deadline to Dec 11. HPL has put the suit on hold.

Mr Lim Seng Hoo, the estate's sale committee chairman, said yesterday's decision showed the owners had not breached their sale contract. 'We will go back to the STB as soon as we can,' he said.

Justice Choo's judgment has wider implications as well in that it puts uncertainties over technical errors to rest.

New collective sale rules that kicked in on Oct 4 allow the STB to disregard technical irregularities that do not prejudice any owner's interest. But this rule does not apply to applications that pre-date the Oct 4 change. These applications waiting STB clearance now have clearer guidelines.

'It is the first time a collective sale rule has been interpreted so clearly and in a purposive way,' said a lawyer involved in collective sales.

'It will affect other cases where an attempt to defeat a sale is going to be made on a literal reading of the rules.'

End of Tang Dynasty City

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

# Failed theme park to be torn down in January
# Area has potential to be third IR minus casino

SHAOLIN'S famed warrior monks have decided to give the derelict Tang Dynasty City a miss, and the long-suffering landlord has decided to tear down what remains of the vacant Jurong theme park in January.

AWAITING THE WRECKING BALL: The flopped Tang Dynasty City, which cost $100 million, will be demolished and redeveloped. Industry watchers believe a mid-range integrated resort without casino might work instead. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

But from its ashes could rise Singapore's third integrated resort - minus the casino - if the entire Jurong Lake area is redeveloped, suggest industry experts.

The new attraction could encompass the failed 12-ha theme park, the surrounding Jurong Lake and the Chinese and Japanese Gardens with its idyllic lake-front setting.

The $100-million Tang Dynasty City, spanning 18 football fields shut its gates in 1999.

High admission charges and lacklustre exhibits had failed to draw the crowds, after eight years of operation.

In April, hopes of a revival were sparked by three Singapore companies, which signed an agreement with China's famed Shaolin temple to develop a new retreat.

But a representative of Siloso Beach Resort, a partner of the consortium, said the project had been shelved as the search for a new site went on. He declined to say more.

Landlord JTC said with no offers coming in, demolition will start in January and will be completed before March 2009.

JTC and the Singapore Tourism Board would only say they are 'evaluating the area for redevelopment' into an attraction for both tourists and locals.

Considering the site's X-factors like the Jurong Lake, its proximity to the Second Link to Malaysia, and the current shortage of hotels, especially in the west, the Association of Singapore Attractions' chairman Francis Phun said an integrated resort with a water theme park, hotel, restaurants and retail outlets would appeal to both children and adults.

Of course, there will be no casino for this IR, since the two exclusive 10-year licences have already been awarded.

Agreeing, the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore chief executive officer Robert Khoo said: 'It need not be as upmarket as the Sentosa IR. Maybe something similar to NTUC Club's Downtown East.'

Mid-tier hotel rooms will be especially welcomed in that part of the island considering the acute room shortage now.

Building another standalone theme park won't work, said Ms Ng Lee Li, section head for the Tourism Academy @ Sentosa, as there is not enough critical mass to support it.

For a theme park to work, the locals need to be engaged too, something that the Tang Dynasty City failed to do.

Rather, a mixed development that will cater to different markets, be it business, leisure, local and tourist, will have more staying power, she added. 'It must be able to draw repeat visitors.'

Natas' Mr Khoo said the Sentosa and Marina Bay IRs already target the more high-end segment of tourists. But, there are other tourists who may not want to spend so much, so something more mass market for them will be ideal.

However, Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak was not optimistic about the survival of an IR without a casino.

He said: 'Theme parks are expensive and are generally unprofitable without subsidies from the gaming profits.'

But NTUC Club is prepared to bet on it. Its corporate communications manager Stanley Wong is confident that a Downtown East-like resort in the west will be commercially viable.

With not that many recreational facilities in the west, he believed a resort would appeal to residents there, just as Downtown East has on the other side of the island.

Temporary Closure Of Section Of Tampines Avenue 1 between Tampines Avenue 4 And Tampines Avenue 8

Source : Housing Development Board (HDB) Press Release, 12 Oct 2007

The section of Tampines Avenue 1 between Tampines Avenue 4 and Tampines Avenue 8 will be temporarily closed to traffic on 16 October 2007 from 1.00am to 5.00am. This is to facilitate the launching of concrete beam for the pedestrian overhead bridge near Block 806.

2. Motorists heading towards Tampines Avenue 2 and Bedok Reservoir Road from Tampines Avenues 8 and 10 are advised to use the alternative routes along Tampines Avenue 8, Tampines Avenue 3 and Tampines Avenue 4.

3. Motorists heading towards Tampines Avenue 8 and Tampines Avenue 10 from Tampines Avenue 2 and Bedok Reservoir Road can use Tampines Avenue 4, Tampines Avenue 3 and Tampines Avenue 8.

4. Motorists are advised to drive carefully and to observe the information signs displayed. Blinking lights, barricades and diversion signs will be put up to guide the motorists.

The map showing the alternative routes is attached (120KB):

Remaking Our Heartland Exhibition Survey Findings

Source : Housing Development Board (HDB) Press Release, 12 Oct 2007

HDB invited Singaporeans to share their thoughts and feedback on the plans to remake HDB estates at its "Remaking Our Heartland” Exhibitions from 1 Sep - 3 Oct 2007. These plans to transform the heartland into more vibrant homes were announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2007 National Day Rally.

2 The exhibitions showcased Punggol, Yishun and Dawson as examples of how new, middle-aged and old estates could be transformed under three segments: Realising the Vision for New Estates, Rejuvenating Communities in Middle-Aged Estates, and Regenerating Old Estates. The main exhibition was held at Toa Payoh, before roving to Punggol, Tampines, Woodlands, VivoCity, Yishun and Jurong East. An online version is also available on the HDB website.

Response to Remaking Our Heartland Exhibition

3 The last roving exhibitions in Yishun and Jurong East concluded on 3 Oct 2007. In total, the exhibitions at various locations attracted about 110,000 visitors and HDB received over 11,000 completed survey forms. About 90% of the survey respondents were HDB residents from all over Singapore.

4 Feedback on the remaking plans were very positive, with more than 80% of the respondents expressing their excitement about the plans showcased in the Exhibition. Strong support was received for the proposals to transform Punggol into a waterfront town, the rejuvenation programmes for middle-aged estates and the regeneration plans for old estates.

Realising the Vision for New Estates

5 To meet the aspirations and changing needs of residents, HDB has been refining plans and designs for new public housing estates. For Punggol 21+, the strategy is to build up the critical mass of public housing and to spur the development of other commercial and recreational facilities, by offering not just a home but an appealing lifestyle.

6 97% of respondents agreed that the proposals for Punggol would contribute to realizing its vision of “A Waterfront Town of the 21st Century”. The facility that respondents looked forward to the most was the commercial cum residential development at the Punggol Town Centre (73%), followed by the Community Focal Point (50%) and the idea of alfresco dining next to the waterway (50%).

7 94% of respondents supported the proposal of having a waterway through the town, and the features that appealed to most respondents were the waterfront housing (65%) and the extended promenade along the waterway (55%). About half of the respondents said that they liked the idea of housing with terrace gardens (53%) and having flats with balcony overlooking the waterway / open spaces (46%). Many respondents (71%) also looked forward to having the coastal promenade with jogging and cycling tracks.

8 The majority of respondents, 81% said that they were prepared to pay higher monthly service and conservancy charges to enjoy the new housing design and features, with 46% of them willing to pay $10 or more per month.

Rejuvenating Communities in Middle-Aged Estates

9 Many HDB flats are located in middle-aged estates developed in the 1980s, such as Yishun and Tampines. For Yishun, besides the two new programmes, the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) and the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP), additional plans have been drawn up to rejuvenate the estate. These include revitalization of the Town Centre with new commercial and recreational facilities. Proposals have also been drawn up to allow residents to enjoy the nature and the great outdoors, by facilitating easier access to the Lower Seletar Reservoir and adding new facilities such as new jogging and cycling paths.

10 The vast majority of respondents, 98% supported the HIP. 70% indicated that they would like to have their refuse chute hopper replaced, 62% - 65% indicated their preference to have their toilets, entrance door and grille gate replaced and about 77% preferred to have the integrated wash basin-toilet pedestal system installed in their toilets.

11 Feedback on NRP was also positive, with 62% of respondents happy that the programme provides residents with greater choice of upgrading items and over 75% saying that they would participate in the Town Hall Meetings / Dialogue Session and Block Parties.

12 For the proposals to revitalise of Yishun Town Centre, 61% of respondents said they looked forward to having a modern shopping complex integrated with housing and bus interchange at the Town Centre. Over 74% of respondents supported the proposed outdoor facilities and the green link/park connectors, and about 40% felt that naming places after Yishun’s historic villages / pioneers or having heritage trails with maps and signages would help to build up the town’s identity/heritage.

Regenerating Old Estates

13 For old estates developed in the 1960s and 70s, such as Queenstown, as and when there are large pieces of land available, a new generation of public housing could be introduced to transform the estate. Dawson Estate in Queenstown will be an example of how an old estate can be regenerated. Some of the new ideas and concepts include housing-in-the park, sky gardens, community green and multi-generation living. Three award winning architectural firms, Surbana, WOHA and SCDA were invited to share their concepts and designs for three vacant sites at Dawson.

14 Under the concept of a New Generation of Public Housing, 63% and 56% of respondents indicated their preference for Sky Gardens and Housing In A Park, respectively. Under the concept of Building Communities, 60% and 53% of respondents said they preferred Community Green and Multi-generation Living respectively. 90% of respondents expressed willingness to help to maintain the Community Green.

15 Under the concept of Integrated Facilities and Seamless Connectivity, 55% and 50% of respondent supported having Sports Facilities within a Park Setting and Sheltered & Barrier-free Pedestrian Network respectively. In addition, about 86% of the respondents indicated that they were prepared to pay higher monthly service and conservancy charges to enjoy the proposed facilities and features, with 44% of them willing to pay $10 or more per month.

Going Forward

16 The large turnout at the Remaking Our Heartland Exhibitions and the forthcoming feedback received showed the strong interest and support among Singaporeans on the various plans to transform our HDB Heartland.

17 Together with the relevant agencies, HDB will study the feedback and suggestions received, and incorporate them into the plans for implementation where appropriate. Further implementation details will be announced when ready.

Investment Property Sales Jump 94% To $15.7b

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 12, 2007

INVESTMENT property sales nearly doubled, touching $15.69 billion, in the third quarter, reflecting buoyant investor sentiment.

This was 93.9 per cent higher than the $8.09 billion recorded in the same period last year, a new report by property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) showed yesterday.

Most investment sales - 64.3 per cent, or $10.1 billion - came from the private sector, while public sector land sales made up 35.7 per cent, or $5.6 billion.

For the first nine months, major property deals worth $40.95 billion already exceed last year's full-year value by 34 per cent, said CBRE.

In the third quarter, the office sector was the top performer, accounting for 43.5 per cent, or $6.83 billion, of major property deals - more than quadruple the $1.37 billion in the previous quarter.

Prime office rents also topped the 1990 historical peak of $11.50 per sq ft (psf) per month to hit $12.60 psf per month, up 82.6 per cent year-on-year.

CBRE expects occupancy levels to stay in the range of 91 per cent to 95 per cent for the next five years, even as more office space is built.

The third quarter also saw a rise in industrial property rents, except for warehouses.

The office space crunch has led to more demand for high-tech space, which has risen 8.5 per cent to $2.55 psf, and is set to reach $2.75 psf by year- end, said CBRE.

Its rental statistics are based on a selected basket of prime office buildings.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority said yesterday that its third-quarter statistics will be released by month-end, and will be more comprehensive as it is based on the tax records of all rental transactions in the quarter.

CBRE has also forecast that a record $50 billion in investment property sales would be completed by year-end.

F1 Grand Prix - Way Beyond The Race Track

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

CHRISTOPHER LIM pounds the ground at the Shanghai Grand Prix to learn how far F1 sponsorship extends and what the payoffs are for sponsors

FORMULA One racing cars sound like screaming banshees, and any city bathed in that thunder cannot help but be transformed. We're talking about viewership figures that eclipse those for any other sport, tourists galore and some serious sponsorship money.

Now that Singapore is set to host its first F1 grand prix, BT visited this year's penultimate race - in Shanghai - to get a feel of how corporate sponsorship dollars will extend here beyond the race track in terms of merchandising, parties and events such as driver appearances.

Watching an F1 race live is a heady experience and, as with any large-scale sporting event, the air sizzles with excitement as fans root for their heroes. With the introduction this year of hand-held TV units, live spectators get everything TV audiences do - and more. Singapore audiences should be able to look forward to these same devices to enhance the race experience next year.

Johnnie Walker's corporate sponsorship in China this year included a huge party in Guangzhou for a crowd of 1,500, comprising trade partners, consumers and media

But what is going to happen beyond the race track? Whisky brand Johnnie Walker's recent activities show just how far one can exploit one's sponsorship dollar with a bit of imagination. At first blush, whisky may seem anathema to high-speed racing, but Johnnie Walker has cleverly played the corporate social responsibility card, and built a brand campaign around responsible drinking, with race drivers as mascots.

Johnnie Walker's sponsorship deal with the Vodafone McClaren Mercedes F1 team has proved so successful that, last Sunday, both parties announced an extension of their relationship for another three years till 2012, from the original deal for 2005-09. Johnnie Walker invested £pounds;20 million (S$60 million) in sponsorship for 2006 alone.

'One of the reasons we went into Formula One is that it's the most global sport,' says Nick Rose, chief financial officer of Johnnie Walker's parent company, Diageo. 'We regard Johnnie Walker as the most global brand in our portfolio, so there was a natural fit.'

Direct leverage with consumers

He adds: 'Obviously, sponsoring the team allows us to use the cars and drivers in markets where we can really leverage the sponsorship with consumers directly. It's fantastic to see Johnnie Walker on the cars, but we get much more than just that, because of what we're able to do in the market.'

Events-wise, Johnnie Walker's China campaign gives an idea of what the brand's idea of maximising its sponsorship dollar is. Johnnie Walker threw two huge parties in August, in Guangzhou and Beijing, with a third and final one to be held next month in Shanghai.

The Guangzhou party attracted a crowd of 1,500, comprising trade partners, consumers and media. Hong Kong singer Hacken Lee fronted a performance involving 200 dancers, and Chinese entertainer Huang Xiaoming led 70 drummers in Beijing.

Celebrities definitely help drive brand growth, but some of the most famous names have been transformed into eager fans by F1, and celebrity interest is another return on sponsorship dollars. 'I think teams these days are not only positive about, but actively pursue, things around the event, because that's the way to generate interest in Formula One,' says Nick Fry, Honda Racing F1 Team chief executive.

Matrix star Keanu Reeves visited the Honda F1 team in Shanghai to get his first-ever taste of the sport up close. Although he maintained a calm demeanour in front of the press, BT witnessed a private meeting between Mr Reeves and Honda's Mr Fry, where the actor's genuine enthusiasm was unmistakable. 'Keanu has been really amazed at the level of technology that goes into the cars,' Mr Fry says. 'It's definitely good for the sport to have big names interested in it, and these people have really enjoyed the experience.'

Numbers are the most obvious measure of the success of corporate sponsorship, and Diageo CFO Mr Rose points to Johnnie Walker's 13-14 per cent annual growth. 'For a brand as big as Johnnie Walker, with 15 million cases sold yearly, that is quite an extraordinary level of growth,' he notes.

But numbers never tell the whole story. ING and Honda both have their own metrics for measuring non-monetary return on investment. 'We do market research in five countries around the world, at least twice a year, to evaluate the impact of our Formula One programme, and every time we've looked at this, we've found that return on investment with Formula One is very positive,' Mr Fry says.

Honda, being a vehicle manufacturer, is an obvious participant in F1. BMW is another name you'd expect to see in the sport. 'The biggest brand awareness generator is the race itself,' says Jorg Kottmeier, BMW's manager of sports communications. 'But besides that, BMW has a lot of things, particularly the Pit Lane Park, which we invented at the beginning of the 2006 season.'

The Pit Lane Park is like a miniature race track, which lets fans get up close to the cars and technology. The prospect of one being set up in Singapore is tantalising.

Modern vehicles are controlled by computers, and since F1 cars have as much in common with fighter jets as consumer vehicles, technology is a huge focus in the sport, which is why computer manufacturer Lenovo decided to sponsor the Williams F1 team.

'We call our approach 'From ignition to inventory', so the Williams car can't even start without Lenovo Thinkpad laptops plugged into it,' Geraldine Kan, programme director of Lenovo's Asia-Pacific communications, says.

While lifestyle brands like Johnnie Walker and motorsports brands like BMW, Honda, McClaren and Mercedes are obvious candidates for F1 sponsorship, global bank ING, which sponsors the ING-Renault F1 team, stands out as a bit of a maverick.

But Isabelle Conner, the ING-Renault F1 programme's managing director, doesn't think that consumers need to make a mental leap between F1 and banking services. The visibility is what counts. 'We use Formula One just as a platform to gain access to 850 million people that we don't normally have access to. When you become a player in F1, it just puts you on another level,' she points out.

Reaching a broad audience

For both ING and Honda, this kind of brand cachet means breadth of reach, but not snob appeal. 'It's a platform for us to begin dialogues with many kinds of different people, but it's a very mass retail approach to sponsorship. We're trying to go after a very broad audience, not an elitist audience,' Ms Conner explains.

'That's why golf didn't work for us, because golf is way too high-end, and we needed to bring it down to something much more mass. We didn't go for athletics because there just wasn't enough TV coverage; it wasn't global enough. So F1 really has all the global and mass appeal that we were looking for.'

Mr Fry says that as a mid-price vehicle manufacturer, Honda needs to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. 'What we need to be today is to be more accessible to our fans,' he says. 'We have a wide range of customers. Allowing those people to understand a little bit about Formula One is important.'

Diageo's Mr Rose promises that Johnnie Walker will be putting a lot of effort into its activities surrounding the Singapore race. 'You can look forward to the whole package that comes with our sponsorship,' he says. With the huge parties Johnnie Walker has thrown in China as a yardstick, I think it's safe to say we can expect 'the whole package' to be pretty impressive.

Mr Fry offers this interesting perspective on sponsorship dollars spent outside the F1 races themselves. 'I think, as a rule of thumb for most of the bigger sponsors, the amount they spend on supporting their team's race needs to be matched by pretty much the same amount spent outside the race to bring the sponsorship to life,' he says. By that logic, we should see F1 sponsors spending many millions in Singapore outside the main event.

For BMW, Mr Kottmeier emphasises that his team has no firm plans yet for Singapore at all. Lenovo's Ms Kan is also cautious about speculation, but says: ' I can tell you that in the other countries we've had the races, we've worked to do a mixture of external events for our customers and business partners, internal events for our employees, and also charity events.'

If Shanghai's grand prix last week was any indication of things to come next year in Singapore, we should be in for quite a ride.

The Real Legacy Of The 1987 Stock Market Crash

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

THE stockmarket crash of 1987 was horrifying even to Americans who weren't shareholders. On Oct 19, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 508 points, which was 22.6 per cent and nearly twice the largest one-day decline during the 1929 crash. A comparable free fall today would be almost 3,200 points.

Twenty years later, the crash of 1987 has changed the way we think. It's stripped us of the illusion that financial panics are a thing of the past. They remain a clear and present danger for the economy.

Let's be clear. A financial panic is not just a big price decline. Since World War II, there have been plenty of those. From early 1973 to late 1974, the stock market dropped roughly 50 per cent (almost identical to the fall from early 2000 to late 2002). Nor is a panic simply the 'popping' of a 'bubble', though it might start that way. In a panic, fear takes control. Herd behaviour swiftly triumphs. There's a stampede. People want cash - 'liquidity', in finance lingo.

Americans thought they had immunised themselves against financial hysteria. Bank runs - depositors wanting their money - were the major form of panic, and the US Congress had dealt with them. In 1913, it created the Federal Reserve to lend to solvent banks. When that didn't prevent bank runs in the 1930s, the Congress added deposit insurance so that a run on one bank would not cause a chain reaction.

As for the stock market, the Securities and Exchange Commission, created in 1934, policed for the financial fraud that had often triggered panics. Finally, full-time portfolio managers for 'institutional investors' (pensions, mutual funds, insurance companies) and investment houses dominated markets. Better informed, these professionals seemed less susceptible to herd behaviour.

On Oct 19, 1987, these comforting beliefs vaporised. General Electric fell from US$50 to US$41, Procter & Gamble from US$84 to US$61, IBM from US$134 to US$103 (all prices rounded to the nearest point). To be sure, stocks had seemed overvalued. Since recent lows in mid-1982, they had roughly tripled. The market's price-earnings ratio (PE) was 22, up from 13 four years ago.

Although stocks might go lower, few investors expected a collapse. What's fascinating is '20 years later, we don't know much more about the causes of the crash than we did when it happened', writes Matthew Rees in The American magazine. In his recent memoir, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan takes a similar view. Still, as Mr Rees' retrospective makes clear, three lessons stand out.

First, financial markets change constantly and, because what's unfamiliar is risky, they create new opportunities for miscalculation and mayhem. The unpleasant surprise in 1987 involved futures markets. Futures contracts on the Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks were fairly new. As stock prices dropped, some investors sold S&P futures contracts - and their declines depressed stock prices even more. The two fed on each other.

Second, financial markets depend on computerised systems to provide prices and complete trades, and their breakdown can compound turmoil. Without accurate prices, many investors freeze or panic. In October 1987, the New York Stock Exchange's order system was overwhelmed. Delays often exceeded an hour.

Third, professional money managers fall prey to greed, fear and crowd behaviour as much as amateurs. The SEC's post-crash study found that two-thirds of trading came from institutional investors and investment houses.

The crash of 1987 did have a happy ending. Early on Oct 20, the Fed issued a one-sentence statement reaffirming its 'readiness to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system'. Translation: it eased credit. Gerald Corrigan, head of the New York Fed, privately urged banks to maintain loans to brokers and securities dealers; that helped avert a fire sale of securities supported by credit. Around noon, many big companies - General Motors, Ford, Citicorp - announced buybacks of their stocks. That propped up prices. The panic subsided; the market stabilised. On Oct 20, the Dow rose 102 points.

Since the 1987 crash, there have been many financial upsets - the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis; the failure of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1998; the popping of the stock bubble in 2000; and now the 'sub-prime' mortgage debacle. None has turned into a full-fledged panic, and it's tempting to conclude that we've learned how to manage these problems.

Perhaps. But this may be wishful thinking. Global markets are more complex than ever. Financial innovations (again: 'sub-prime' mortgages) repeatedly surprise, unpleasantly. Dependence on technology has deepened. Herd behaviour endures. The real legacy of 1987: Expect the unexpected. -- The Washington Post Writers Group

Orchard Residences - $5,600 PSF For Penthouse New High In Property Price Here

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

53rd-storey Orchard Residences unit fetches over $28m

A NEW record property price for Singapore has been set, even though fewer sales are being made in high-end residential projects since the time of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Orchard Residences: About 73 per cent of the total 175 units in the condo are said to have been sold

CapitaLand and Sun Hung Kai Properties are said to have sold earlier this week a penthouse on the 53rd storey of The Orchard Residences for about $5,600 per square foot (psf), or over $28 million. This surpasses the previous benchmark of $5,500 psf set in August when a 54th storey penthouse fetched about $27.8 million.

This means that all four penthouses in the 99-year leasehold development are now sold.

The developers are said to have sold about 73 per cent of the total 175 units in the condo. The buyer of the final penthouse sold this week is believed to be a foreigner. The 5,048 sq ft unit has five bedrooms, a study and a family room.

A stone's throw away, Wheelock Properties (Singapore) is said to have sold more than 30 apartments at its freehold Scotts Square since the official launch of the project on Sept 28.

The developer is said to have largely maintained its average price at around the $4,000 psf mark from its preview in July, when it sold about half of the project's 338 apartments.

Over in Sentosa Cove, Ho Bee has sold 38 of the 50 units it has released so far in its 91-unit condo, Turquoise, since late September. The units have been sold at prices ranging from nearly $2,500 psf to $2,770 psf.

The average price is about $2,600 psf, Ho Bee Investment executive director Ong Chong Hua said when contacted by BT yesterday. Buyers of the 38 units - which include four penthouses - were an equal mix of foreigners and Singaporeans, he said.

Apartments at the 99-year leasehold Turquoise typically cost around $5.3 million for a three-bedroom unit, $6.4 million for a four-bedder and around $9.3 million for a penthouse.

DTZ Debenham Tie Leung executive director (residential) Margaret Thean acknowledges that buyers, both local and foreign, have been more cautious after the stock market setback at the time of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis.

'But we still see activity going on. For the high-end projects, we've not noticed any withdrawal of liquidity. The only difference is that prospective buyers are more cautious, doing more calculations and being more selective in their choice of investment before making a commitment,' she said.

Market watchers also say that the recovery in the stock market in recent weeks has led to a return of confidence in the property market, as seen in a pick-up in subsales activity lately.

Over in the Seletar Hills area, Tong Eng Brothers unit Fairview Developments is launching two landed developments. One is the freehold 8 @ Stratton, comprising eight cluster semi-detached houses priced at $1.98 million to $2.2 million.

The houses have built-up areas ranging from 3,595 sq ft to 3,649 sq ft and strata areas of 4,930 sq ft to 5,145 sq ft. The second project is Nim Green, a collection of just three terrace houses - a corner unit with an asking price of $2.5 million and two intermediate units with a price tag of about $2 million.

Q3 Investment Property Sales Rise To S$16b; Office Sector Performs Best

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 11 October 2007

The property market saw a near-doubling of investment transactions in the third quarter to nearly S$16 billion.

CB Richard Ellis said the private sector accounted for two-thirds, or over S$10 billion, of the sales. The remaining transactions came from government land sales.

Investment sales for the nine months to September amounted to S$41 billion, some 34 per cent higher than the same period last year.

On a sectoral basis, the office sector was the star performer, accounting for 44 per cent of sales, or S$6.8 billion.

The residential sector contributed S$6 billion or 37 per cent of sales, due to the active collective sales market.

The industrial sector, which was largely driven by REIT-related purchases, accounted for 3.7 per cent of sales.

Looking ahead, CBRE expects investment sales for the full year to come in between S$45 billion and S$50 billion, compared to S$35 billion last year. - CNA/ac

High Court Gives Horizon Sale Fresh Lease Of Life

Source : The Business Times, October 12, 2007

STB dismissal overturned, en bloc law clarified, but sale still faces uncertainties

The High Court yesterday overturned the Strata Titles Board's (STB) decision in August to dismiss Horizon Towers' collective-sale application - and sent the matter back to the board for its continued deliberation.

This means that, barring any objection, Horizon Towers' application will go back to the STB and will be heard from the point it was dismissed - giving the en bloc sale a chance to succeed.

What could block its path is an appeal filed by any of the minority owners against the High Court's decision yesterday. The three groups of minority owners, however, told BT yesterday that they have yet to decide if they will file an appeal.

'It's something that we'll need to sit down and discuss - we'll need to read through the judgment carefully and weigh all our considerations before deciding how to proceed,' said S K Phang, who represents one of the minorities.

The judgment was also significant for clarifying several aspects of the collective sales law, several players noted.

Justice Choo Han Teck, in his decision to overturn the board's dismissal in August, ruled that the three missing pages in Horizon's application to the STB did not constitute an 'incurable defect' as the board had alleged - as it wasn't a substantial omission that prejudiced the minority owners.

He noted that the STB was notified of the missing pages, and provided with them during the hearing.

'If (the error or omission) does not (cause prejudice to the minority), the board is, in my opinion, empowered to allow an amendment or correction so that the record is clear. If one takes the view that the board has no power to allow an amendment even for a typographical error, then an entire en bloc sale could be stalled by a comma in the wrong place. The law should not have such drastic consequences when there was otherwise no prejudice,' Justice Choo said.

He also emphasised the purposive nature of the law and the need to apply it consistently. 'Fairness requires that the law is applied consistently to everyone in similar circumstances. If the majority succeeds, it is because it is right, not because it is the majority. Likewise, if the minority succeeds, it is because it is right and not because it receives favours granted only to the underdog,' Justice Choo ruled.

His judgment found favour with all parties involved, even the minority owners - who welcomed the clarity to en bloc rules it afforded. 'It clarifies a lot of matters for us practitioners in the en bloc arena and is an authoritative ruling that has closed some gaps in interpretation right now,' Dr Phang said.

Senior Counsel K Shanmugam of Allen & Gledhill, who represents the buyers - Hotel Properties Ltd (HPL) and its partners - also welcomed its guidance: 'We now have a better idea of how the statutes should be interpreted and the guidance would be useful going forward.'

He added that the result was 'exactly the result we wanted, what we argued for' and it was a result which he knew a number of the majority sellers wanted - as they too want the sale to go through.

Lim Seng Hoo, current chairman of the Horizon Towers sales committee, said: 'We are very grateful for the result. It shows we have not breached in the first place the contract with HPL (and its partners) as they have alleged.'

HPL and its partners have sued the majority owners for failing to do everything in their power to submit a proper application to STB. That suit has been temporarily stayed, but HPL is likely to still consider suing the owners for up to $1 billion in damages if the en bloc sale still falls through.

There are still hurdles to overcome. Even if the minorities decide not to appeal, there's no guarantee the en bloc sale will go through. The STB's calendar is believed to be bursting with appointments from other collective-sale applications to be heard.

The board was unable to revert to BT's queries yesterday as to whether it would have a slot for Horizon Towers, but lawyers said it is likely that Horizon Towers' application would be given priority, given its Dec 11 deal completion deadline.

But that's not the only possible stumbling block: the STB will need to pick up from where it left off, that is continue hearing the minority owners' objections to the sale and consider the merits of the sale, before deciding whether to grant the order needed for the completion of the collective sale.

And, as Dr Phang told BT, the minorities still have many objections to the en bloc sale which have not yet been heard. 'We were only in the midst of questioning our first witness when the STB dismissed the entire application; when we go back to the board, it will have to hear our other objections. We have quite a few arrows in our quiver which we still haven't shot,' he said.

Philip Fong of Harry Elias partnership, who also represents several minority owners, added: 'Our contention has been that this collective sale was done in bad faith - and that will remain our contention as we appear before the STB.'

The STB would, however, now need to view the minorities' objections to the sale in the light of the judgment handed down by the High Court yesterday.