Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sim Lian Group Upcoming Projects

Surrey Road (Newton Area)

Keng Lee Road (Newton Area)

Lorong K Telok Kurau (Marina Parade)

Bishan (Bishan Street 22/Street 25)

Toa Payoh Commercial Site Attracts 9 Bids, Top Bid Exceeds S$38.2m

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 October 2007

Property developer Sim Lian Development has put in the top bid of S$38.2 million for a hotly-contested commercial site at Lorong 6 Toa Payoh.

This works out to S$9,100 per square metre of gross floor area.

The 1,400-square metre leasehold site has a maximum gross floor area of 4,200 square metres.

All in, the HDB tender exercise for the site attracted nine bids.

HDB expects to announce the award in the next two weeks. - CNA /ls

Banyan Tree Expanding Footprint In UAE

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 October 2007

Banyan Tree is making further inroads into the United Arab Emirates.

Aerial view of Meydan development

It has signed a contract to manage a resort and a hotel complex in Dubai.

Banyan Tree Meydan will be the first golf and equestrian resort in the Middle East, comprising 60 pool villas.

The development, which is part of an integrated project being developed by its partner, includes a golf course and a racecourse.

Apart from Banyan Tree Meydan, Banyan Tree will also be managing The Meydan hotel complex.

Aerial view of Meydan Racecourse and Grand Stand

However, these are not Banyan Tree's first projects in Dubai.

Its inaugural property in the UAE - Angsana Hotel & Suites Dubai - is slated to open at the end of this year. - CNA /ls

Italy-Based Lighting Contractor Picked For Inaugural F1 Singapore GP

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 October 2007

Organisers for the inaugural Formula One race in Singapore have picked a company based in Italy as the lighting contractor.

The decision came after two lighting tests were conducted in July and September at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in Le Castellet, France.

Organisers have also got the go-ahead after submitting a proposed system to the Federation Internationale de I'Automobile (FIA) in Paris.

Singapore plans to hold the world's first night race next year and has teamed up with Italy-based Valerio Maioli S.p.a, which specialises in the engineering of lighting and telecommunication system.

Lighting plays an important part in the race and the company said it will use lights to guide the drivers.

"The entire track will be fitted with close to 1,500 projectors, placed 4 metres apart.

This makes it almost four times brighter than an average sports stadium.

But the brightness will not be too glaring for the drivers.

This is because the projectors will be erected 10 metres above the course.

The power surge will not result in any power outage or blackout, thanks to the 12 twin-powered generators.

The lights will be brought to Singapore in early January to be tested in a controlled environment.

Contractors will then take approximately two to three months to set up the system, so the lighting system will likely be up in the second quarter of 2008.

Related Video Link (Channel NewsAsia)- http://tinyurl.com/2rqfpn
Italy-based lighting contractor picked for inaugural F1 Singapore GP

Related Video Link (Straits Times Video News)- http://tinyurl.com/2b4lya

Lights on for Singapore GP circuit

Formula One's first ever night race will see the light of day very soon, say Singapore GP organisers.

They revealed that Singapore is in the final lap of having the race under the stars as they unveiled plans to light up the tracks.

Meantime, all eyes will be on the announcement whether Singapore gets the go-ahead to hold the world's first night race.

It's never happened before so it's very exciting for the world, and everybody's waiting for this night race. For instance, there are 400 reporters going for each grand prix. For Singapore, probably 600 are coming, almost double the number, because of the interest," said Colin Syn, President of Singapore Grand Prix.

The decision on holding the night race will be known early next year. - AFP /ls

Strong Rental Hikes, Tight Office Supply To Underpin Growth For REITs

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 October 2007

Singapore REITs will continue to do well for the rest of the year on the back of strong rental reversions and tight supply in office space, according to analysts.

Several research houses have put out a buy call for most real estate investment trusts ahead of their third quarter earning reports.

When the US housing credit crisis spooked financial markets in mid-August, REITs were among those that came under selling pressure.

These counters gave up some 10% over July and August.

Although the overall market has recovered, REITs still have some way to go before they regain their peaks.

MapleTree Logistics Trust, for example, is still about 17 percent below its all-time high.

Analysts said fundamentally, Singapore REITs remain strong.

"The underlying physical market is very strong, we're seeing very strong rental reversions on the office and retail properties. We are also seeing very strong acquisition activity which will drive their dividends and distributions," said David Lum, Senior Analyst, Daiwa Institute of Research.

REITs that are diversified out of Singapore, such as MapleTree Logistics Trust and Ascott Residence Trust, are seen as attractive.

Others like Suntec REIT and CapitaCommercial Trust are also viewed as reasonable with strong growth earnings expected.

Analysts are expecting rental increases to continue into the 4th quarter, resulting in stronger dividend growth for office REITs.

Said Lum: "The near term risk is that acquisitions might be more difficult going forward, because right now it's very difficult for an office REIT to acquire office property without income support from the sponsor. We're in a situation where the yields are being driven by very aggressive, property funds and other REITs competing for the same assets.

"It doesn't look like a concern right now but at some point, it might get a little risky." - CNA /ls

Ascott To Sell Apt Block For $43.9m

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

THE Ascott Group has agreed to sell an apartment block at 6 Sarkies Road, now operated for its corporate leasing business, to an unrelated party for $43.9 million cash.

Allgreen bags Sichuan site ALLGREEN Properties has won a tender for a 5.7-hectare site in China's Sichuan Province suitable for mixed residential and commercial use.

Allgreen bid 1.04 billion yuan (S$203 million) in a joint venture with two interested parties.

Its share of the maximum total investment of 2.1 billion yuan is about 525 million yuan.

Most CPF Members Won't Welcome Risks Taken By Temasek

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

IN the letter headlined 'A free hand for CPF to create wealth for members' (BT, Oct 10), Tan Keng Tat asked that CPF be allowed to invest directly in Temasek Holdings or in the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) in order to deliver better returns to CPF members.

GIC and Temasek Holdings have earned returns that have exceeded CPF interest rates by taking on more investment risks. These returns are however volatile - they can and will be low or even negative in some years. For example, in the three years from the bursting of the IT bubble in 2000, the value of global equities fell by 48 per cent.

Temasek's portfolio fell by 38 per cent in value. Most CPF members have small balances and will not welcome such risks. Neither will older members who may have to withdraw their retirement funds at a time when the markets are down.

Further, there is no assurance that global markets will do as well in future as they have in the past. The past two decades have been exceptional, for both equities and bonds. Returns in the 1970s were much weaker.

Taken over the last 30 years, the average return on a balanced portfolio of global bonds and equities (5.9 per cent in Singapore dollars) was lower than what the new SMRA (Special, Medisave and Retirement Account) formula would have yielded (6.5 per cent).

Singaporeans benefit when GIC and Temasek investments do well. Every year, the government draws part of these investment returns to fund the annual Budget.

Over the past five years, the government spent an average of $2.8 billion a year from the Net Investment Income on these funds. This has paid for worthwhile investments and social needs, including subsidies for housing, education and healthcare. And from time to time, the government distributes accumulated budget surpluses back to citizens through CPF top-ups and other schemes.

Mr Tan also commented that the new higher interest rates will not make a significant difference because inflation will mean lower real returns. From January 2008, the SMRA interest rates will be pegged to long term (i.e. 10 year) Singapore government bonds. While it is not assured, long-term bond yields do tend to rise and fall in tandem with inflation. Furthermore, the government is committed to maintaining a low inflation environment in Singapore through its monetary and fiscal policies.

CPF members with larger balances and the capacity to take higher investment risks can already take out their funds to invest through the CPF Investment Scheme.

The government has also said that it will study other investment options on an aggregated basis for CPF members with larger balances.

Jacqueline Poh
Director (Special Duties)
Ministry of Finance


《联合早报》Oct 16, 2007

位于荷兰路的埃斯多里园(The Estoril)集体求售,预示价格为2亿0800万元(即容积率每平方英尺1536元)。


上个星期,位于埃斯多里园不远处的西班牙山庄(Spanish Village)也登场求售,预示价为8亿7800万元(即容积率每平方英尺约1700元)。





世邦魏理仕投资性质房地产执行董事杰理米(Jeremy Lake)说,两个新的地铁站在可行走抵达的范围内,地段又靠近荷兰村、东陵村和乌节路,相信这幅匀称的地段上可建面向荷兰路的豪华公寓。

受美国次贷危机与农历七月影响 9月出售新私宅大减

《联合早报》Oct 16, 2007

在美国次贷危机对股市造成大幅波动以及农历七月的拖累下,9月份出售和推出的新私人住宅单位大幅度减少。不过,分析师认为,最坏的情况已过去,大众化私宅价格预料将在接下来半年里取得全岛性增长,涨幅将介于25%至30% 。


此外,新私宅的中数(median)价格也从8月份的每平方英尺1328元,减少约28%,至每平方英尺960元。上个月取得最高售价的史各士广场(Scotts Square),最高尺价也仅为每平方英尺4359元,比卓锦豪庭(Orchard Residences)在8月份所创下的每平方英尺5500元的最高售价低了21%。





高力国际(Colliers)研究与咨询部主管郑惠匀表示,8月份的数据之所以没有受到上述市场因素影响,主要有两个大型大众化私宅项目——西海岸的永久地契项目The Parc和诺维娜一带的Soleil@Sinaran撑腰。这两个项目所售出的1053个单位占了8月份总售出单位的61% 。

相比之下,9月份推出的新项目都较为小型,比较显著的为163个单位的Hillcrest Villa、15个单位的Grange Infinite以及91个单位的Turquoise@升涛弯推出市场。  





然而,世邦魏理士(CBRE)执行董事李晓和与莱坊(Knight Frank)咨询与研究部主管麦俊荣认为,有鉴于接下来的年终学校假期以及佳节时期,整体价格涨幅将比8月份来得缓慢一些。  

至于过去两年来领涨,但在8月和9月份比大众化私宅表现逊色的高档豪华公寓,分析师也指出在本月初开始见起色,又开始见新项目陆续登场,包括上个星期推出市场的Marina Bay Suites。


A Slice Of S’pore In Middle East

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Showcase in Dubai gives investors a glimpse of life here

MIDDLE Eastern investors will get a first glimpse of what it’s like to live, work and play in the Republic at the Singapore Pavilion in Cityscape Dubai 2007, a three-day international real estate investment and development event starting today.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) director of land administration Choy Chan Pong will be at the conference to talk about Singapore’s real estate growth and its success in attracting global investors.

“Participating in such international property events has reaped tremendous benefits for Singapore as a whole. Our participation in Cityscape Dubai allows us to meet with potential investors and developers face to face, enabling them to better understand what Singapore has to offer,” said Mr Choy.

Over 250 Middle Eastern companies operate out of Singapore, including the Dubaibased Istithmar Group, which has successfully tendered a $1.69-billion bid for a 3.5-hectare commercial site at Beach Road. Their estimated $2.7-billion project, South Beach, will feature a mix of office space, two luxury hotels, retail and residences.

The Singapore Pavilion will feature public and private sector organisations, which include the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Marina Bay Financial Centre, Lend Lease Retail, Ong and Ong Architects and the Singapore Institute of Architects.

The URA will showcase Marina Bay, which has attracted around $15 billion worth of
investments from international developers for the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, One Raffles Quay, the Marina Bay Financial Centre as well as other residential developments.

STB will be on hand to highlight the ever-changing Orchard Road and Southern Waterfront tourism zones.

BCA International, the consultancy arm of BCA, will provide multi-disciplinary construction-related consultancy to both public and private Middle Eastern agencies.

Local firm Ong and Ong Architects will be using the Singapore Pavilion as a platform
to showcase its three architectural projects — the Singapore Tower in Dubai, Boulevard Vue in Singapore and One Darmo in Indonesia.

A 20-storey commercial office project, Singapore Tower will cater to the rising number of Singaporean companies setting up in the Middle East. It aims to bring Singapore to the region, featuring a garden façade and a Singapore-style foodcourt.

Award Of Tender For Hotel Site At Upper Pickering Street

Source : Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) News Release, 15 October 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has awarded the tender for the hotel site at Upper Pickering Street to Hotel Plaza Limited. The company submitted the highest bid in the tender for the site.

The tender was launched on 18 July 2007 (http://www.ura.gov.sg/pr/text/2007/pr07-72.html) and closed on 10 October 2007 (http://www.ura.gov.sg/pr/text/2007/pr07-110.html). The Land Parcel was offered for sale on a 99-year lease.

The particulars of the awarded Land Parcel and the successful tenderer are:

For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Serene Tng
Manager, Public Relations
DID: 6329 3224

URA Reserve Site At Sturdee Road For Hotel Development Is Now Open For Application

Source : Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) News Release, 16 October, 2d007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) today released the detailed sale conditions for a reserve site at Sturdee Road for hotel development. Developers interested in purchasing the site can now apply to URA for it to be put up for tender.

The site at Sturdee Road is one of the four new hotel sites which are scheduled for release for application on the reserve list in the Government Land Sales programme for the second half of 2007.

Choice site with convenient access

Bounded by Sturdee Road and Beatty Road, the Land Parcel is located at the fringe of the city centre. It is next to the Jalan Besar Conservation Area, a charming area with a unique blend of local history, architectural gems, and well-known eating places. The site is also close to major tourist attractions of Little India and Kampong Glam.

Land Parcel at Sturdee Road

The Land Parcel has a site area of about 0.61 ha and a maximum permissible gross floor area of 18,334 sqm. Details of the Land Parcel and location plan are given in Annex A-1 and A-2.

Reserve List System

Under the government’s reserve list system, a site on the reserve list would only be put up for tender if a developer’s indicated minimum bid price in his application is acceptable to the government.

Details of this Land Parcel and other sites which are currently available for application on the reserve list can be found on URA’s website: http://www.ura.gov.sg/sales/SturdeeOct07/Sturdee-intro(MA).html.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Ms Serene Tng
Manager, Public Relations
DID: 6329 3224
Email: serene_tng@ura.gov.sg

Plan To Transform KL's Pudu Prison Into Commercial Hub

Source : The Business Times, 16 October 2007

(KUALA LUMPUR) Property developer UDA Holdings Bhd will begin transforming the Pudu Prison area in Kuala Lumpur into a commercial hub next year,says a report in Malaysia's Business Times.

'We have plans to turn the area into a commercial development, which will include retail centres, offices, residences and parks,' UDA general manager of urban development division, Nooraini Mohamad Rashidi, told MBT in an interview.

The development is currently referred to as the Bukit Bintang Commercial Centre, but there will be a name change once it has been completed.

The project, expected to stretch over eight to 10 years, will have a gross development value of RM2 billion (S$868.8 million), she said.

UDA agreed to buy the 8.1-hectare land housing the prison from the government in May 1999.

It was offered the development rights and first right of purchase of the land in exchange for having built the Sungai Buloh Prison.

The group is still in the midst of finalising ownership details.

UDA expects to kick off the project with a residential development comprising affordable apartments.

This will be followed by retail centres and later, offices.

It plans to include some iconic structures as part of the development.

Pudu Prison, Malaysia's oldest remand centre and built by the British in 1895, closed down in 1996 and was briefly turned into a tourist attraction.

Today, it serves as a detention centre for drug addicts in the city. This is, however, temporary as the Kuala Lumpur City Hall is expected to build new facilities to re-house the addicts next year, Ms Nooraini said.

'We will look at commencing work on the commercial project in 2008,' she said, adding that this would begin with demolition works.

Despite the area's prime location, UDA may have an uphill task persuading superstitious Malaysians to buy property on a former prison site where some of the country's most notorious criminals were executed.

UDA, however, is counting on people to have short memories once they see how attractive the area can look and feel when work on it is completed.

'It could be a marketing nightmare. But as in all places, after a while, people will forget,' Ms Nooraini said.

UDA has had previous experience in developing prison sites. It has, for example, built the Jerejak Resort & Spa on Penang's Jerejak Island, which used to be a prison.

Ms Nooraini said that the plan to develop the Pudu Prison area is part and parcel of UDA's mandate to increase bumiputera property ownership in urban areas.

Six Prudential Tower Floors Sold For $141m

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

Owner Prudential to be paid in units of property fund

PRUDENTIAL Assurance Company Singapore is said to have sold six of the seven office floors it owned at Prudential Tower to a property fund for $141 million in exchange for units in the fund. The transacted price works out to just under $2,100 per square foot based on a net lettable area of about 67,000 square feet.

High pitch: Prudential Assurance bought 7 floors in the development in 1996 for $183 million, or $2,200 psf

However, based on a total floor area of about 72,200 sq ft, the $141 million price works out to a lower $1,952 psf.

Prudential Assurance bought seven floors in the development in early 1996 for $183 million, or $2,200 psf, but according to media reports at the time, the psf price was based on a total floor space of 83,000 sq ft. The net lettable area was not reported.

Nevertheless, the price at which Prudential has sold the six floors (the 20th to 25th levels of Prudential Tower) appears to be lower than its 1996 acquisition price, which set a benchmark for office space which held until this June, when 1 Finlayson Green was sold for around $2,650 psf of net lettable area.

Prudential Assurance Co Singapore is said to have sold the six floors to the fund in exchange for units in the fund.

After the latest transaction of the six floors at Prudential Tower, Prudential Assurance is said to be left with the 30th floor of the building.

The buyer of the six floors in the transaction, concluded this August, was the open-ended Asia Property Fund, sponsored by LaSalle Investment Management and PruPIM. Prudential Assurance Co Singapore and PruPIM are part of the Prudential UK group.

'In terms of a conflict of interest arising from a related-party transaction, LaSalle Investment Management conducted the acquisition process and PruPIM abstained from any voting on the acquisition,' LaSalle regional director Marc Montanus said when contacted by BT. 'The pricing was also supported by third-party valuation.'

Discussion on the acquisition is said to have begun 11/2-years ago.

LaSalle and PruPIM yesterday announced the completion of three acquisitions totalling a gross investment of over US$1.4 billion by the Asia Property Fund, including the six floors at Prudential Tower, although the quantum of the Singapore deal was not specified. 'There is significant potential for the fund to realise immediate value by increasing the existing rents to much higher market levels,' LaSalle and PruPIM said in their news release.

The other two assets bought were a 50 per cent interest in Westfield Doncaster mall being redeveloped in Melbourne by Westfield Group, and Tennoz First Tower, an A-Grade office block in Tokyo's Shinagawa ward.

M-E Property Boom Still Going Strong

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

FAZLUR RAHMAN KAMSANI and COLIN TAN say markets in GCC nations are gradually primed for another growth phase

CONTRARY to perceptions in some quarters, the real estate boom in the Middle Eastern markets of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries has yet to run its full course. While it is true that these markets are presently in a consolidation phase compared to the frothy days of explosive growth between 2004 and 2006, there are indications that the markets are gradually primed for another - more sophisticated but less volatile - growth phase in the not-too-distant future.

The much anticipated sharp correction - widely expected to occur this year - has not materialised. In general, prices and rentals have been very sticky downwards. The impact, if any, has been reflected in the market more in terms of slower sales and fewer transactions rather than on actual prices.

Instead, the strong upward pressure on housing rents in some of the GCC countries such as the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar has led them to resort to legislation to put a cap on the increases. However, given the strong demand, many in the real estate industry are not optimistic that these new rules will produce the desired result.

A major reason for the absence of any major correction in the real estate markets has been the booming economies of the GCC countries. While spiralling oil prices may have led to astronomical growth in nominal terms, what is often overlooked is the fact that there has also been real economic expansion. It has not been all hype and no growth.

After a robust performance by the GCC economies in 2005 and 2006, real GDP growth for the region is expected to grow by a more moderate 5 per cent this year. The GCC economies grew by 6.8 per cent in 2005 and by about 6 per cent last year. In nominal terms, the GCC economies have more than doubled to an estimated US$723 billion between 2001 and 2006. More importantly, for the next growth phase of the real estate sector, the GCC countries have recognised the need to diversify their economies and reduce their dependence on the energy sector. This has led to more development activity in other sectors of the economy and more demand for other types of real estate other than housing.

Given the small local population base, especially in the UAE and Qatar, the strong job growth accompanying the economic expansion has led to a strong continuous inflow of more and more people, inevitable if economic growth is to be sustained. Therefore it comes as no surprise that these two GCC countries have been leading the way in terms of real estate demand.

Overall population growth in the GCC countries has averaged 3.4 per cent per annum in the last four years, among the highest rates in the world. While this growth was led by the inflow of migrant workers to meet strong demand for labour, it was also supported by high fertility rates.

Rapid population growth combined with a rise in the participation rate, especially among women, has doubled the economically active population over the past decade. The population aged 15 to 60 years hit 23 million at the end of 2006 (constituting 64 per cent of the total). Of these, 12.6 million were employed.

Given the strong migrant inflow in Qatar and the UAE, they are also the ones to have experienced the highest inflation rates in the Gulf, particularly in the housing sector. According to industry estimates, the average housing rentals rose by over 80 per cent in Doha over the past two years and by about 60 per cent in Dubai, compared to just over 20 per cent in Riyadh.

Moreover, rent as a proportion of household income has reached 33 per cent in Qatar and 30 per cent in the UAE, compared to 19 per cent for Saudi Arabia. Inflation in the region now ranges between 2 and 12 per cent.

New Dynamism

Inflation in the GCC countries is also driven by higher government expenditure - and in the current boom by the private sector as well - besides the usual demand/supply imbalances. Unlike the previous oil boom in the 1970s, private businesses have boosted their investment across a number of industries, providing the GCC economies with a new dynamism unseen in the past.

Higher oil prices combined with increased production levels have resulted in a massive fiscal windfall for the GCC economies. Oil revenues tripled between 2002 and 2005, rising from 25 per cent of GDP to 38 per cent. In contrast, growth had averaged 18 per cent in the 1990s. Growth in oil revenues in 2006 remained firm despite some slowdown as a result of a drawback in oil prices later in the year and output reductions due to cuts in Opec quotas.

Post 9/11, GCC countries are putting the current windfall from higher oil revenues to good use by investing a large part of it in the domestic economy. Domestic spending by governments has accelerated, averaging 14 per cent over the past four years.

While increased capital spending benefited mainly the energy sector, governments have also increased their spending on infrastructure and projects. In particular, spending on infrastructure has greatly improved accessibility all around. As a result, real estate values have been boosted throughout the region. Such planned government expenditure on infrastructure is expected to continue to be a strong driver of the real estate sector in the years to come.

Aided by the private sector this time around, project activity in the GCC region has also boomed, with governments sponsoring more than half of the projects launched since 2003. Around 600 government-sponsored projects worth in excess of US$200 billion have been launched since 2003 throughout the GCC.

While much of such spending has come from government bodies and government-owned entities such as national oil companies, there has also been a surge of projects resulting from private-public joint ventures. Although a large part of the investment focused on strategic sectors linked to oil and gas, there has also been increasing investment in infrastructure and real estate projects.

It is estimated that less than 20 per cent of the initiated projects have actually been completed as a result of slow project implementation caused in part by the shortage of construction materials. The bulk of planned investment remains in the pipeline and is expected to be a strong driver for growth in the coming years. Indeed, project activity accelerated in 2006, with work starting on some 252 mega-projects. More projects have started or are scheduled for implementation in 2007 with 250 projects worth US$250 billion currently in advanced execution stages. Another 261 projects worth US$281 billion are at the early planning or feasibility stage.

Amid continued huge investments by both the governments and private sector, the GCC countries have also recognised the importance of proper planning and for more orderly investments. For example, Dubai is now counting the costs of the haphazard development of the early years. The city is now experiencing a growing traffic congestion problem. This recognition for proper planning will provide the basis for the next and more sophisticated phase of the real estate growth cycle.

Fazlur Rahman Kamsani is executive director of Middle East and Islamic finance at property consultancy Chesterton International. Colin Tan is Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy.

Finance Sector: Future Demand Trends

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

The office space needs of financial institutions are changing globally. CHRIS ARCHIBOLD discusses how Singapore is rising to the challenge

THE financial services sector has seen unprecedented growth in Singapore over the last two or three years, both as a result of domestic growth and the influx of regional and global jobs into the market.

The accelerated growth, supply pressure and innovation in terms of workplace strategies are having a fundamental impact on the type, location and nature of property required by these financial institutions.

Jones Lang LaSalle's Banking and Finance Industry Group has done much work studying the drivers behind the occupational strategies of this sector, some of which will be covered here. Additionally, we have looked at the pivotal role that the city's office stock will play in maintaining the inflow of investment in this sector.

In the last 20 years, the defining trends in financial markets have been globalisation in the wake of deregulation and liberalisation; growth of markets resulting from demand due to greater securitisation, privatisation policies and developments in emerging markets; and the impact of technology. These trends, in turn, have led to innovation in products and services and to intense competition between financial centres - and firms within those centres - to capture cross-border trade.

Deregulation: The sector has experienced unprecedented levels of change in the last decade. Historically, it could be characterised as a series of highly regulated government monopolies. While this is changing, deregulation is happening faster in the West than the East. In addition to deregulation, which has resulted in increased competition (foreign and domestic), changing consumer demands and improvements in technology have been the key drivers of change.

Globalisation: The sector is going through a spate of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as banks build global platforms critical to the success of organisations wanting to compete in the global marketplace.

Technology: The technology revolution has enabled the e-banking age, resulting in significant changes in retail banking. This impacts the need for physical branch space (auto lobbies, etc) and associated staff. Technology has also changed bank processing, enabling many tasks to be executed electronically and, often, remotely in a different part of the world where costs are lower.

Within office accommodation and portfolios, economies are being sought through:

# The consolidation of functions to decentralised locations

# Selection of cost-efficient locations

# Appropriate adjacencies

# Improved technical reliability/performance.

Corporate banking has high margins and is a client- driven business. It therefore prefers proximity to its client base and is likely to retain its core CBD presence. Exceptions to this may occur where high-specification buildings are available at a rental discount to the traditional city core.

Front office presence

As cost becomes a stronger driver, particularly in the current economic environment, banks are challenging how much corporate and investment banking needs a front office presence.

In recent years, there has been an increasing trend globally to decrease the percentage of 'front office' accommodation situated in expensive downtown locations. Many traditional non-client-facing functions have been relocated to the city fringe or decentralised locations for a number of reasons:

# Lower cost

# Control of dedicated facilities and consolidation into one 'campus'-style location (hence promoting synergies between business units)

# Convenience and amenities for staff.

The relative split between front and back office accommodation varies significantly depending on the bank involved although current 'best practice' is considered to be 60 per cent back and 40 per cent front office. This split often varies more towards the front office in the case of a global or regional headquarters.

Our benchmarking analysis undertaken on some 40 banks and financial services companies globally indicated the following trends in respect of front and back office splits:

# North American and European-based companies traditionally have a higher decentralised component.

# The impetus to move was primarily due to availability of better-quality buildings with cost savings being ranked second.

# Staff amenities and facilities were a major issue.

Providing a higher percentage of decentralised facilities is becoming a major priority for Asian-based banks as infrastructure and technology improve.

Recent technology and globalisation trends have impacted the real estate requirements of large banks (and other corporations). In general terms, the requirements are grouped into a range of location, design, occupancy and tenure considerations. A number of core objectives of large banks include:

# Flexibility and ability to accommodate rapid growth

# Building design that promotes workplace flexibility, efficiency and interaction between employees

# Cost-effectiveness and cost certainty

# Security.

Flexibility has become a key issue for large financial institutions, particularly in the last five years, as market cycles, economic conditions and M&A activity demand industry participants to be quick in reacting to change.


One of the greatest challenges is the rate of change, the unpredictability of space requirements and the ongoing need to manage costs. As a result, the emphasis in planning administrative office portfolios has shifted to a need to plan for flexibility. This is manifested in a number of ways:

# Standardising modules of space, providing structured IT and services infrastructure that allow the relocation of 'people, not desks'.

# Providing exit strategies for buildings, whether owned or leased as well as considering both local market leasing practices and financial considerations, and also depending on the nature and criticality of the functions housed therein.

# Providing strategy for rapid growth, especially in supporting unpredictable but rapid growth of new delivery channels.

The style and design of accommodation has over the last 5-10 years has become increasingly important, as occupants realise the impact it has on staff retention, a cooperative working environment and flexibility. Workplace planning and strategy is a huge topic and issue in its own right. Recent trends and design consideration will likely be investigated during an exploration of occupier objectives.

Singapore has some of the most reliable infrastructure within Asia and is fully able to support centralised facilities. This benefit of putting this infrastructure in place has been demonstrated by the massive influx of investment by financial institutions over the last two years.

The latest Grade A office development, One Raffles Quay, serves as a excellent barometer of this expansion activity. Analysis of the occupancy of this development shows that over 80 per cent of the space is leased to financial institutions and over 60 per cent of this take-up is expansion space.

To date, much of the activity has been centred in the core CBD area and while we expect to see more of this over the next 12-18 months we are also predicting that many of the major financial institutions will turn their attention to splitting their operations and growing their back office operations. The reasoning behind this prediction is as follows:

# We now have significant real estate cost differentials between the CBD and decentralised locations. In some locations, rents are only 25 per cent of Grade A CBD core rents.

# Rental fluctuations in many back office locations are very low (in dollar terms) compared to CBD locations and therefore afford the occupiers more cost certainty, which aids business planning.

# Many of the banks have reached critical mass (in terms of area occupied) making a front office/back office split a viable option.

# Some locations afford the occupier the opportunity to enter into a build-to-suit, giving total control over the type of environment created.

# Current island-wide supply is limited. Build-to-suit back office premises can be constructed within tight timelines, some as short as 18 months.

There are a number of companies currently looking at their back office portfolio and while they are considering a number of potential locations, many are focusing their attention on Changi Business Park and the HarbourFront/Alexandra area.

Banks appear to be moving to more 'campus'-style buildings for their back offices with larger floor plates that encourage business unit interaction. The real drivers in location selection are expected to be the quality of specification, design of available floor plates/buildings, and the ability to attract and retain quality staff at competitive salaries.

The writer is regional director - head of markets at Jones Lang LaSalle

The Estoril Put Up For Collective Sale At $208m

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

No DC payable; price works out to about $1,536 psf per plot ratio

THE Estoril on Holland Road has been put up for collective sale, and the indicative price is $208 million.

The Estoril: CBRE estimates that a developer can build about 75 units assuming an average size of 1,800 sq ft each

This works out to about $1,536 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the 84,600 square feet site.

Marketed by CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), its executive director of investment, Jeremy Lake, said that no development charge (DC) is payable due to the high development baseline.

He also said that developers would not incur DC to build the additional 10 per cent gross floor area allowable for the provision of balconies.

Currently, there are 40 three-bedroom units and four penthouses on the site. Based on the indicative price, the three-bedroom units will receive $4.32 million each and the penthouses, $8.69 million or $8.78 million.

CBRE estimates that the developer can build about 75 units assuming an average size of 1,800 sq ft each. The estimated breakeven is around $2,000-$2,050 psf.

In July, Tulip Garden, also in the Holland Road area, was sold for $516 million or about $1,018 psf ppr.

A recent CBRE report did note that a 'cautious mood' is being felt in the private land sales market due to the global credit tightening, the higher price tags as well as the two rounds of revision to DC rates. Only 24 sites worth a total of $1.96 billion were sold in the third quarter of 2007 compared with 51 sites (worth $6.92 billion) in the previous quarter.

Separately, Colliers International noted that for the first time in at least the last two years, the residential sector did not take the top spot in investment sales in the third quarter.

In its report, Colliers noted that total sales of residential investment properties dived to $2.9 billion or 21.4 per cent of total sales.

'This reflects a significant 68.3 per cent drop from last quarter's record $9 billion which accounted for 82.7 per cent of total investment sales in Q2 '07,' it reported. 'The trend, where developers continued to land bank at record high prices in the previous quarters, was evidently not repeated in this quarter.'

Attention was shifted to bulk purchases of strata residential units, including those at Costa Del Sol, Reflections at Keppel Bay and M21.

DBS Weighing Up Mega Lease Deal At Posh New Address

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

Bank eyeing phase 2 of Marina Bay Financial Centre

It could be Singapore's biggest office leasing deal ever - if it gets sealed. DBS is said to be in advanced stages of negotiating to lease up to one million sq ft at Marina Bay Financial Centre's (MBFC's) phase 2. If concluded, this could put into the shade the deal for 508,298 sq ft that Standard Chartered Bank signed in April for MBFC's phase one, which will be ready in the first quarter of 2010.

Hot spot: DBS said to be in talks to lease up to 1m sq ft at Marina Bay Financial Centre's phase 2

The second phase of the project, slated for completion in late 2011, includes a high-rise tower that will have around 1.4 million sq ft of office space. DBS is expected to pay a gross monthly rental of around $10 per square foot, according to industry players.

Stanchart's lease inked earlier this year reflects an effective rent of about $8 psf, they added.

BT understands that the exact quantum of space that DBS will take at MBFC's second phase has not been finalised and it may well be less than one million sq ft if the bank decides that it makes more economic sense to find some cheaper space elsewhere. One million sq ft is roughly three quarters of the office space at One Raffles Quay, which was completed last year.

Sources say that in addition to MBFC's phase 2, DBS is scouting for around 300,000 sq ft of space for backroom operations. Sources tipped Changi Business Park as being the most likely candidate, although Alexandra Distripark, which is being transformed into a business park, may also be a contender.

Currently, some of the bank's backroom operations are housed at a building within the Alexandra Distripark complex, called The Comtech, where DBS occupies about 100,000 sq ft. The bank also leases more than 100,000 sq ft for backoffice functions at Technopark @ Chai Chee.

In the Central Business District, DBS's operations are housed primarily in leased premises at DBS Building Towers One and Two on Shenton Way, and at PWC Building at Cross Street. The bank owns a stake in the latter property and is said to occupy about 100,000 sq ft there for its asset management and stockbroking businesses. It is believed to occupy about 600,000 to 700,000 sq ft at DBS Building Towers One and Two. The bank used to own the towers until it sold them to a Goldman Sachs real estate fund in late 2005 and leased back the space it occupied for an initial eight-year term with options for renewal.

The initial lease term will expire around late 2013 which suggests a period of overlap with the lease the bank is negotiating for MBFC phase 2. 'It makes sense for DBS to move to MBFC in the more prestigious Marina Bay location as this will be Singapore's new financial district and where many major foreign banks will have a presence,' an industry observer noted.

MBFC's Phase 2 will comprise the Marina Bay Suites residential project, slated for launch early next year, and the high-rise office tower where DBS is negotiating to be anchor tenant and which is expected to have about 1.4 million sq ft of offices.

The project's first phase comprises the Marina Bay Residences and two office towers, 33 storeys and 50 storeys high with about 1.6 million sq ft of net lettable area.

Record Prices For Some Properties Despite Sliding Sales

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 16, 2007

Sentiment steady last month despite fears over impact of US credit crisis

HIGH PRICING: One of last month's few new launches - Hillcrest Villa - a leasehold cluster terrace project, sold out all except one unit with a fairly high median price for landed homes in the Dunearn area at $865 psf. Over on Sentosa, one Turquoise unit set a record for Sentosa Cove at $2,772 psf. -- HO BEE INVESTMENTS, MCL LAND

PROPERTY sales slumped last month, as buyers stayed on the sidelines but there was a silver lining with prices at some projects hitting record levels.

The cause of the sales dip was clear - concerns in the United States over its subprime mortgage industry triggered meltdowns in share markets across the globe.

Many spooked buyers put purchases on hold but the fact that prices of the deals that were done stayed buoyant reflects the firm undertone for private residential properties.

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data showed that the number of new homes sold last month fell nearly 70 per cent to just 529 units, from 1,731 in August. July sales amounted to 1,378.

Developers typically sell about 7,500 new homes a year, though the recent boom has lifted figures. The URA data is based on sale options given by developers to buyers.

With more sales in the lower price ranges, median transacted prices, or the mid-point in prices, fell 27.7 per cent, from $1,328 per sq ft (psf) in August to $960 psf last month.

And with the lunar seventh month barely over, there were only a few new launches. One of them was Hillcrest Villa, a cluster of 99-year leasehold terrace homes near Dunearn Road.

Yet MCL Land still sold 162 out of the 163 units with a median price at $865 psf - said to be fairly high for a landed project in the area.

'The high sales volume in August has caused a bit of indigestion in the market,' said Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak.

'September's figures can thus be viewed as a healthy breather before the market resumes its momentum.'

Mr Mak said monthly sales would gradually improve to 800 to 1,000 units.

Sub-sales of residential property accounted for 6.8 per cent of all transactions last month, compared with 9.4 per cent in August, according to Colliers International.

Prices in some projects managed to hit records.

In the high-end segment, Ho Bee sold 36 units of its latest Sentosa Cove project Turquoise. The 91-unit project's median price hit $2,587 psf while the highest was $2,772 psf, a record for the Cove.

In Scotts Road, Wheelock Properties sold 27 units of Scotts Square, of which 12 were above $4,000 psf.

A high for the month of $4,359 psf was recorded, with the median price at $3,985. It was the only project to sell above $4,000 psf last month.

There were also a few record highs for suburban projects. Two units at the 318-unit Gardenvista in Dunearn Road were sold at $1,223 psf and a record high of $1,449.

Sales at The Lakeshore in Boon Lay Way ranged from $695 psf to a record $1,080.

'These buyers could be buying for their own use because the properties have just obtained their temporary occupation permit,' said Savills Singapore director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong.

New projects such as The Beacon Edge in Tembeling Road also did relatively well. Six of the 32 units sold at a median price of $1,306 psf, with a high of $1,327.

Achieving record highs in a slow month could mean there are serious buyers out there, said Mr Ku. 'Right now, there is strong demand in the mid-tier and mass markets.'

These are homes costing $800 psf to $1,600 psf, he said.

Mr Ku said the market was doing better this month but sub-prime hangovers may keep activity slightly muted.

A Sprinkling Of New Benchmark Home Prices

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

These include deals at Sentosa Cove, science hub one-north, Boon Lay

Several new units sold by developers set record prices in various parts of Singapore last month, despite the overall lacklustre market, latest figures show.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday show that just 529 homes were sold in September, down from 1,731 in August and 1,381 in July.

However, despite the low volume, several of the units sold set new benchmarks in various parts of Singapore - including Sentosa Cove, science hub one-north and Boon Lay - analysts said.

They indicated that the high prices fetched, although only in some cases, show there is a strong, 'genuine' demand for new homes, despite September's low take-up of new homes.

'Even though the market is quiet, you still see these kinds of prices, which means that there are many serious buyers out there,' said Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development, Ku Swee Yong.

A unit in Ho Bee's Turquoise at Sentosa Cove was sold for $2,772 per square foot (psf), which analysts said is likely to be a new benchmark for Sentosa.

And over in the Newton area, a unit in Three Buckley went for $2,888 psf, a record for the area. In fact, all 11 units were sold at a median price of $2,853 psf, which is itself a new benchmark for the location, said Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of CBRE Research.

New benchmarks were also set in the suburbs.

In the west, a unit at United Engineers' The Rochester went for $1,577 psf, a new record for the one-north vicinity. And near Upper Bukit Timah, a unit in Far East Organization's Gardenvista on Dunearn Road sold for $1,449 psf. Mr Ku said that both prices were new highs in their respective areas.

Elsewhere, a unit in The Beacon Edge at Tembeling Road was sold at $1,327 psf while a unit of Vetro at Mar Thoma Road was sold for $1,044 psf. Both were new levels achieved at their respective locations, CBRE said.

But perhaps most unexpectedly, a unit in Far East Organization's The Lakeshore in Boon Lay Way went for $1,080 psf - taking most property analysts by surprise, as the project in the far western part of Singapore has been on the market for more than two years.

Home Sales Hit A Wall As Stock Jitters Spook Buyers

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

Fewer launches add to September slowdown but analysts expect pick-up amid new benchmark prices

Developer sales of new homes slowed to a crawl in September, hit by stock market jitters caused by sub-prime woes in the US.

Just some 529 new units were sold by developers last month, a sharp drop from the 1,731 units sold in August.

Property analysts said that September's take-up rate for new homes could be the lowest monthly figure seen over the past four years.

The low sales were also caused, in part, by fewer launches.

Developers launched just 570 units in September, down from 1,885 units in August as many held back projects while waiting for the market to recover.

However, despite the low volume, new benchmark prices for private homes were set in several areas across Singapore - including Sentosa Cove, Boon Lay and science hub one-north - market observers pointed out. This means that genuine demand for homes still exists, they said.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released its monthly update on private residential properties yesterday, showing that developer sales of new projects fell sharply last month.

'The primary sales market was relatively quiet in the month of September,' said Tay Huey Ying, Colliers International's director for research and consultancy.

Like other analysts, Ms Tay attributed the low volumes to the global financial market turmoil as well as the traditionally quiet lunar seventh month.

Developers were also holding back projects, both due to market sentiment and because preparations for their launches could not be finished in time, others said.

'A few developers' projects have been held back because of contractors being delayed when it comes to getting the showflats ready,' said Savills Singapore director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong.

The largest project launched during the month was the 163-unit Hillcrest Villa, a cluster housing project.

The poor market sentiment also affected sales at Frasers Centrepoint's Soleil @ Sinaran as more than 10 per cent of buyers did not exercise their options to purchase their chosen units.

URA's figures for August showed that 394 out of a total of 417 units launched in the development had been sold, but the number sold fell to 352 in September's data. Frasers Centrepoint confirmed that 42 options were not exercised before their deadlines, but added that 12 of the units involved have since been resold. The total number of units sold in the project climbed to 395 as the market picked up in October, the developer said.

Analysts also noted that two other trends seen in July and August - the decline of speculative activity and the increased demand for mass market homes - continued into September.

'Subsales of residential properties accounted for only a small 6.8 per cent of all transactions in the month of September compared to 9.4 per cent in August and 15.1 per cent in July,' said Ms Tay. Subsale transactions are generally thought to be an indication of the level of speculative activity in the property market.

And in line with a recovering mass market, new units priced in the range of $751-$1,000 per square foot (psf) remained the most sought-after in the third quarter, accounting for 36 per cent of all units sold, Colliers analysis shows.

This was followed by units in the next price range of $1,001-$1,500 psf, which made up 26 per cent of all units sold. By contrast, luxury homes priced above $3,000 psf accounted for only 8 per cent of all new units sold in the quarter.

Analysts expect the property market to recover in the last quarter due to genuine buyer demand.

'Going forward, we expect the sales momentum in the residential market to continue at a healthy pace against a backdrop of a strong economy,' said Li Hiaw Ho, executive director at CBRE Research.

S'pore Seeking Property Investments From Mid-East

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 16, 2007

SINGAPORE is wooing investments from the Middle East, as companies and individuals from the oil-rich region expand their presence in the Republic.

Government bodies such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore Tourism Board and the Building and Construction Authority have joined a host of other groups to showcase what Singapore has to offer at Cityscape Dubai, a major international real estate event starting today.

It will be the first time a Singapore pavilion has been set up at a top international property event in the Middle East.

The URA will speak about Singapore's strong economic growth in various sectors, including real estate, real estate investment trusts and other investment opportunities.

There are more than 250 Middle East companies operating in Singapore, as well as an increasing number of individuals and equity funds from the region investing in mega development projects in the Republic.

Foreign direct investment from the Middle East grew from $5.8 billion in 2004 to $6.6 billion in 2005, the most recent year for data, according to the Statistics Department.

Based on caveats lodged, individual Middle East investors bought 34 homes worth $76 million in Singapore from 2004 to Sept 28. About 47 per cent of these deals were closed this year.

Meanwhile, Al-Nibras Islamic Real Estate Fund bought 56 homes in the Reflections at Keppel Bay project earlier this year.

The URA attended the Dubai event last year and pitched investment opportunities to investors, including the Istithmar Group. This is owned by Dubai World consortium, whose assets include the famed Palm in Dubai.

Istithmar has now teamed up with Singapore developer City Developments and the North American-based El-Ad Group to develop an office, hotel, retail and residential project worth an estimated $2.7 billion in Beach Road.

The URA said several Middle East investors had also indicated interest in sale sites that the agency has launched.

At the Dubai event, the URA will showcase Marina Bay, Singapore's future downtown, which has attracted about $15 billion worth of international investment so far.

Other Singapore groups involved in the Singapore pavilion include the Ong & Ong architecture firm and the Singapore Institute of Architects, while upcoming developments Somerset Central and the Marina Bay Financial Centre will also be showcased.

URA To Woo Mid-East Investors At Int'l Event

Source : The Business Times, October 16, 2007

It will sell S'pore as destination for real estate investments at Cityscape Dubai

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will sell Singapore as a destination for real estate investments to Middle East investors at Cityscape Dubai, an international property event.

Exciting times ahead: URA sold a $1.7b Beach Road site to Istithmar Group, El-Ad Group and City Developments

URA director of land administration Choy Chan Pong said that it was important for Singapore to participate in such events. As an example, Mr Choy highlighted the recent sale of a development site at Beach Road to a consortium which included Middle East-based Istithmar Group.

'URA had met with Istithmar at last year's Cityscape Dubai and presented them with the exciting investment opportunities we have in Singapore including the prominent Beach Road site,' Mr Choy said.

The site in question was sold to Istithmar Group, El-Ad Group and City Developments Ltd for $1.7 billion last month.

Mr Choy said: 'Singapore's participation in Cityscape Dubai, hence, allows us to meet with potential investors and developers face-to-face, enabling them to better understand what Singapore has to offer.'

A Singapore Pavilion has been set up at the event for the first time.

The public and private sector organisations exhibiting in the Singapore Pavilion include the URA, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Building and Construction Authority (BCA), Marina Bay Financial Centre, Lend Lease Retail, Ong & Ong Architects and the Singapore Institute of Architects (SIA).

The URA will showcase Marina Bay, an area which has already attracted around $15 billion worth of investments from international developers including the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort, prime commercial developments such as One Raffles Quay, Marina Bay Financial Centre as well as high-quality residential developments.

The STB will be showcasing some of the changes and transformation to the tourism landscape, highlighting tourism zones including Orchard Road and the Southern Waterfront.

BCA will exhibit its mission to develop a quality built environment in Singapore. BCA International, a consultancy company by BCA, will also be present to provide multi-disciplinary construction related consultancy to both public and private agencies in the Middle East.

Cityscape Dubai is being held from today to Thursday.