Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Industrial Site At Sin Ming Lane Attracts Top Bid Of S$68.9m

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 24 October 2007

An industrial site at Sin Ming Lane has attracted a top bid of S$68.9 million from MV Land.

This is just S$3.5 million more than the second highest bid and works out to S$537 per square metre per gross plot ratio.

The 51,000 square metre site has a plot ratio of 2.5.

The 60-year leasehold site drew a total of five bids.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority will award the tender after evaluating the bids. - CNA/ch

Major Banks To See Healthy Earnings Despite CDO Concerns: Analysts

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 24 October 2007

DBS will kick off the earnings reporting season for Singapore banks on Friday.

The set of numbers from the three major local banks will be closely-watched given concerns over the impact of the US sub-prime mortgage woes.

Overall, analysts say they are expecting to see healthy earnings from the Big Three.

Singapore banks have come under the spotlight amid the US housing credit crisis.

They have been closely scrutinised for their exposure to collaterised debt obligations, or CDOs.

CDOs are securities backed by assets, from housing mortgages to corporate loans.

Credit Suisse has warned that profit could decline by as much as 40 percent on-quarter if the banks decide to include provisions on these in their third-quarter earnings.

But other analysts say it may actually be a positive move to include those numbers.

Thilan Wickramasinghe, Analyst - Banks and Financials, CLSA, said: "That certainly is a wild card. Nobody knows how much provisioning that the banks will bring to their profit and loss accounts.

"I don't expect it to be as significant as what the market is discounting at the moment... You see this in the US banks as well - as soon as the banks came out with their sub-prime exposure, their provisioning numbers, the bank stocks actually reacted positively.

"So I think it's the same sort of effect... that the market is looking for the Singapore banks."

Of the three local banks, DBS has the highest absolute exposure at US$1.5 billion.

Analysts say even if there was a 50 percent markdown on its asset backed securities, it would result only in a 5 percent impact to its full-year earnings.

Most analysts say while there is some uncertainty due to the provisions that the banks may make for their CDOs, the business fundamentals in the third quarter remained sound and therefore core earnings will stay strong.

A poll of analysts showed they expect a 3 per cent net profit increase year on-year for DBS. This would work out to earnings of about S$573 million.

For UOB, the forecast is for a 12 percent increase on-year (S$519m), and for OCBC a 15 percent climb to S$438 million.

David Lum, Senior Analyst, Daiwa Institute of Research, said: "Net interest income will be very strong because I think the margins are stable, loan growths is accelerating, the fee income which could be volatile, could be hit by the uncertainty in the third quarter.

"But on the other hand, most businesses are still doing very well in Singapore. So that could actually surprise on the upside.

"The major risk on the expense side is that we have a very tight labour market, we have intense competition for talent. So certainly there will be pressure on expenses, but banks have learnt to manage that situation fairly well."

UOB's results will be out on October 30 and OCBC's on November 6. - CNA/ch

Sept Inflation Unexpectedly Eases To 2.7%

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

AMID expectations of rising price pressures, the inflation rate eased to 2.7 per cent last month - below market estimates of 3.1 per cent.

The slower pace of increase in September's consumer price index (CPI) came after an August high of 2.9 per cent and July's 2.6 per cent - which reflected partly the two-point hike in the Goods and Services Tax in July. In the first six months of the year, the CPI rose just 0.8 per cent.

Related Link -
Department of Statistics' press release

While inflationary pressures are widely expected to persist amid the recent global rise in oil and food prices, as well as buoyant economic conditions at home, the CPI actually dipped from August to September.

The index fell 0.3 per cent from August, as housing and transport costs fell with lower car prices, road tax, housing maintenance charges and cheaper household goods. In August, the CPI had risen 0.3 per cent from July.

The Department of Statistics said: 'This shows that there is no evidence so far of uptick in inflation for August and September after the one-off increase in the GST rate in July.'

However, the CPI is conventionally tracked in year-on-year terms, and the consensus market view is that Singapore's inflation risks are tilted on the upside. Even the official CPI forecasts were recently revised upwards. The Monetary Authority of Singapore now expects the CPI rise to average between 1.5 and 2 per cent for 2007 and to pick up to 2 to 3 per cent in 2008. For the year to September, the inflation rate reached 1.4 per cent.

'We continue to expect CPI inflation to rise going forward, breaching 3 per cent before year-end,' said Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin. 'Rising fuel prices, rents and wages are increasing inflationary pressures. Electricity and bus fares will be raised further in October on higher fuel prices.'

MAS also expects inflation to average 3.5 per cent in the first half of 2008 before falling off in the second half, he noted.

Said HSBC's Prakriti Sofat: 'We think that the slight slowing in the headline CPI rate (in September) is a blip in the otherwise upward trend. Our view is that CPI readings will continue to grind higher till the middle of 2008, after which the GST boost will drop out of the calculation, allowing CPI readings to temper.'

Several factors will keep inflationary pressures up, she noted. The economy is booming, with growth running a good 3 percentage points above potential. A tight labour market and rapid wage growth will also fuel price pressures. As well there is imported inflation from robust oil and food prices. In September, all categories of the CPI basket recorded price gains.

Genting Seeking $3.2b Loan For Sentosa Resort

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

GENTING International plc, a unit of Asia's biggest casino operator by market value, is seeking to borrow a record S$3.2 billion to fund a casino resort in Singapore, three people with knowledge of the transaction said.

The overseas unit of Kuala Lumpur-based Genting Bhd is adding to S$2.17 billion raised in a rights offer in August, and S$450 million of convertible bonds it sold in April to partly fund the resort.

Genting International's loan will push lending to Asia's casino industry to about US$9.1 billion, more than double the total for last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lending to the region's industry is set to grow as countries including Japan consider joining Singapore in lifting bans on casinos.

'There are quite a few countries in Asia where gambling is banned,' said Harsh Agarwal, a credit analyst with Lehman Brothers. 'If more countries legalise gambling, we should see an increase in bank lending for casinos.'

Las Vegas Sands, the world's largest casino operator by market value, hired eight banks last month to arrange a loan of about S$5 billion for its Singapore gaming resort.

Genting International's loan will be a record for the Singapore-listed company. The gaming operator has yet to pick arrangers, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information is private.

Tan Hee Teck, chief executive officer of Resorts World at Sentosa Pte, Genting International's S$5.2 billion casino project in Singapore, didn't return calls made to his office yesterday.

The regulated gambling market in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to expand 15.7 per cent a year to US$30.3 billion in 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The region will replace Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the second-biggest gaming market after the US by 2011, PwC says.

Genting International will be building the casino on Sentosa island, known for its golf courses and beaches. The resort will include South-east Asia's first Universal Studios theme park.

Singapore's government lifted a four-decade ban on casinos two years ago and issued licences to Genting International and Las Vegas Sands.

'Bankers will take a lot of comfort in that Genting does have a history in casinos,' Mr Agarwal said. - Bloomberg

United Engineers Inks Deal With WB Unit

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Property group will build 21 medical waste treatment plants in China

PROPERTY and engineering group United Engineers (UE) has inked a deal with a World Bank unit to construct and operate 21 new medical waste treatment plants in China as it seeks to boost its presence in the country, the company said yesterday.

'This is the start of our China strategy. It is one small step in a big journey. In 3 years' time, we will see the fruits of our labour.' - United Engineers CEO Jackson Yap

Under its agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) - a member of the World Bank group - UE will invest some US$46.5 million to build the plants over the next four years. IFC will invest the balance of US$3.5 million required for the US$50 million project.

UE already has six up-and-running medical waste treatment plants in China, and another five are on the way.

Together, the 11 plants can service a region of over 44 million people. But the figure will increase to over 110 million once all 32 plants are also operational.

The company is looking to grow in China by building and operating medical waste and water treatment plants to offer some balance to its Singapore-heavy asset base, chief executive Jackson Yap told BT.

'This is the start of our China strategy,' Mr Yap said. 'It is one small step in a big journey. In three years' time, we will see the fruits of our labour.' The company is looking at second and third-tier cities in China for growth, he said.

UE also inked a deal with China's National Development and Reform Commission yesterday. The agreement will see it being appointed as a member of a network of foreign companies which will collaborate with the Chinese government.

UE is also looking to grow its medical waste and water treatment business outside China to balance its property-heavy portfolio - in anticipation of any future downturn in the property market here. In Singapore, UE is looking 'very closely' at the public tender for Singapore's fifth NEWater plant, which will be built in Changi by 2010, Mr Yap said. The tender for the plant will close on Nov 22.

In addition, UE is on the lookout for waste and water treatment project opportunities in the Middle East, Vietnam and Indonesia in addition to those in Singapore and China, Mr Yap added.

UE's shares closed four cents up at $3.92 yesterday. The company's shares have climbed some 58.7 per cent since the start of the year.

Analyst Gets Cold Shoulder From OCBC

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Morgan Stanley's Matthew Wilson will no longer have access to top staff

OCBC Bank will not be inviting bank analyst Matthew Wilson of Morgan Stanley for future briefings. The bank is believed to be unhappy with his views and treatment of Singapore's third-largest lender.

Mr Wilson, who has been covering the three local banks for three-and-a-half years, has generally regarded OCBC as an expensive stock. He has never had a 'buy' call on it and has stuck to 'equal weight' or 'sell'.

The bank, it is believed, feels aggrieved about his attitude. BT understands that OCBC has advised Morgan Stanley that the analyst will no longer have access to their senior management or investor relations people.

In addition, OCBC will decline meetings with fund managers introduced by Morgan Stanley Research, a source told BT.

Mr Wilson declined to comment but in a research note on the banking sector dated Sept 19 on OCBC, he wrote that 'recent events also lead us to question the bank's attitude to corporate governance'.

Koh Ching Ching, OCBC spokeswoman, said the bank does not ban anyone but invitations to its events are at its discretion.

'To ensure we are fair to all who are interested, our quarterly-results presentation slides are released to the SGX and also posted on our website. Our half-yearly results briefings are also webcast live and can be viewed on our website,' said Ms Koh.

'We do not wish to make any comment with regard to Mr Matthew Wilson,' she added.

Mr Wilson currently has a 'sell' rating on OCBC and 'equal weight' for DBS and United Overseas Bank. 'In particular, we highlight zero mortgage growth for the last two years and a very high concentration of lending to Singapore constructors and developers,' he wrote about OCBC in September.

Listed companies banning analysts, while not unheard of, is pretty rare in corporate Singapore. The Singapore Exchange recommends that issuers observe an 'open door' policy in dealing with analysts, journalists, stockholders and others.

Ms Koh said the bank is aware of the listing rules on corporate disclosure and releases all material information through the stock exchange so that all investors, analysts, fund managers and journalists have the opportunity to access it at the same time. She added that the bank did not disclose any 'material, price-sensitive and non-public information' in its meetings with analysts or investors.

Still, some appeared surprised by the bank's tough stance on the analyst.

Said David Gerald, president of Securities Investors Association of Singapore: 'Unless listed companies have very good reasons and they should state the reasons for doing so, they should not exclude analysts because investors do rely on research from analysts.'

Frasers Centrepoint Trust Eyes Expansion In China, Australia

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

FRASERS Centrepoint Trust, which owns three shopping malls in Singapore, may expand in China and Australia, seeking to tap rising consumer spending in the region.

'We typically would like to go to a market where we've got some competitive advantage,' Christopher Tang, chief executive officer of Frasers Centrepoint Asset Management Ltd, which manages the trust, said in an interview yesterday. 'China is one of those, Australia is the other.'

Buying shopping malls in China would give Frasers access to a market where retail sales surged 16 per cent in the first nine months of this year, while Australia's economy is benefiting from the lowest jobless rate in 33 years, which has stoked wage growth and fuelled consumer spending.

Mr Tang declined to specify acquisition targets, saying they were 'opportunistic'. India is also on the trust's 'watch list' for its expansion plans.

Frasers on June 5 bought a 27 per cent stake in Hektar Real Estate Investment Trust, which owns shopping malls in Malaysia, for RM104.5 million (S$45.4 million).

In Singapore, Frasers will add the Centrepoint shopping mall on Orchard Road to the trust, Mr Tang said, declining to specify a time frame. The Centrepoint mall is owned by Frasers' parent, Fraser & Neave Ltd.

Frasers on Monday said it will distribute $10.3 million to its shareholders for the three months ended Sept 30, beating its forecast of $9.1 million as it raised rents at its properties.

Frasers fell 2 cents to close at 148 cents yesterday. -- Bloomberg

MAS Official Casts Light On Two Market Risks

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Deputy MD also calls on banks to update their stress test scenarios

THE recent credit crisis has put the spotlight on off-balance-sheet exposures and regulatory liquidity requirements, said Ong Chong Tee, the Monetary Authority of Singapore's (MAS) deputy managing director.

Both financial institutions and regulators have to give more attention to off- balance-sheet exposures. - Ong Chong Tee

Two financial innovations most often cited as the culprits which caused the credit markets to seize up - risky assets packaged into collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) and structured investment vehicles (SIVs) - are held as off-balance-sheet items by financial institutions.

This has led to no transparency on their holdings.

Mr Ong said SIVs allow banks to gain exposure to risky assets such as US sub-prime mortgages which were the initial trigger for the crisis through contingent arrangements that minimise capital charges. As off-balance-sheet items, banks did not have to set aside capital for these assets.

'CDOs and SIVs therefore helped to spread the exposures and losses from sub-prime. But they also did something else - they made the financial system a lot more opaque and a lot harder to determine who owns what risks,' he said.

Mr Ong was speaking at a derivatives conference yesterday.

Related Link -
Mr Ong's speech

'In mid-August, when the Libor (London interbank offer rate) market was malfunctioning, I had asked a senior banker why banks are not lending to each other. His reply was simple - uncertainty. As we know, the flip side to that uncertainty is the fall in confidence.'

'Banks are uncertain about their own balance sheets and they are uncertain about other banks' balance sheets. At the crux of this uncertainty is their inability to value their own derivatives positions and to estimate the probability that their contingent liabilities may be called,' said Mr Ong.

The recent crisis has surfaced many issues that regulators and financial institutions will need to give attention to so that financial innovation can continue on solid foundations of robust risk assessment and management, he said.

Mr Ong highlighted two issues.

'First, it is clear that both financial institutions and regulators have to give more attention to off-balance-sheet exposures, whether they arise from contingent liquidity lines, implicit or explicit credit enhancement and support, or exposures that could come back on balance sheet for reputation considerations,' he said.

Second, the recent events highlighted the importance of liquidity risk management and regulation, said Mr Ong.

'In the past months, we have seen a stark demonstration and perhaps timely reminder, that market liquidity risk and funding liquidity risk can be interlinked. Liquidity evaporated across a range of credit markets and wholesale money markets, and where it was still available, spreads had shot up considerably,' said Mr Ong.

'These events reinforced the fundamental importance of regulatory liquidity requirements, alongside regulatory capital or solvency requirements.'

Mr Ong called on banks to update their stress test scenarios with elements of the recent events and simulate the impact not just on capital but also on their liquidity positions.

IRAS Says Serviced Apartments Escape Hotel Tax Hike

Source : The Busness Times, October 24, 2007

Singapore's hike in property tax on hotels next year will not apply to serviced residences, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) said on Wednesday.

Serviced residences, many of which provide food and cleaning services, have emerged as an alternative to hotels in recent years for business travellers on longer stays.

Singapore-listed Ascott Group, the largest serviced residence operator in Europe and Asia, has about 600 units for rent in Singapore.

The annual value of a hotel next year will be calculated based on 20 per cent of gross room receipts in the preceding year, and at 25 per cent in 2009, up from the current 15 per cent, according to the IRAS.

Hotel owners have to pay 10 per cent of the annual value to IRAS as property tax. -- REUTERS

HDB Offers Elias Rd Site For Condominium Housing

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 24, 2007

THE Housing and Development Board is inviting tenders for a 14,000 sq m condominium housing site at Elias Road in Pasir Ris.

The HDB is selling the land under the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales Programme.

The maximum gross floor area for the 99-year parcel is 42,378.9 sq m.

Tender closes on Dec 18.

In late July, the HDB offered a 6,000 sq m condo site in Ang Mo Kio Ave 8 under the Reserve List System.

The land which is near Ang Mo Kio Hub was bidded for a record $202.9 million or $601 psf by Far East Organisation.

Far East's break-even cost is estimated to be around $900 to $1,000 psf, which means apartments will likely be priced at a record $1,000 to $1,200 psf.

Asia Should Act To Counter US Downturn

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

VOLATILITY has returned to the financial markets, and chances are it will be with us for a while yet. The 50 basis point easing in the Fed Funds rate by the US Federal Reserve late last month did trigger the expected bounce, and for a while it seemed that calm might be restored. However, since then, equity markets everywhere have again been buffeted; here in Singapore, for instance, we have seen a swing of over 150 points in the Straits Times Index (STI) in just the last two days.

Amid the turmoil, there are now more voices warning of a US recession, among them, that of Stephen Roach, Morgan Stanley's influential chairman for Asia. It is now widely accepted that the US housing market has not bottomed out. The inventory of unsold homes is growing, and as higher interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages start to kick in, there is the prospect of rising foreclosures and forced sales. Worryingly, there is evidence that the rot has spread outside the US mortgage markets, to auto sales and other consumer durables. Employment numbers are also looking weak. If these trends persist - and there is little reason to believe otherwise - US consumption will be badly hit. And given that consumption accounts for more than 70 per cent of America's GDP, it must be said that there is at least an even chance of a US recession in 2008. While the prospect of a global recession is unlikely, the so-called 'de-coupling thesis' - the idea that Asian economies will be relatively insulated from a US downturn - is fanciful.

Already, we have seen shocks transmitted in the financial markets. Real-economy effects will also be transmitted. So far, this transmission has been limited because the slowdown has not spread far beyond the US property sector. But in the likely event that it will, this will change. And while some economies may be better insulated than others, few will be spared. As the IMF's managing director put it during a speech at the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank two days ago: 'Those at risk are not just loan originators in the US, but banks in Germany and the UK, borrowers in eastern Europe, and, ultimately, exporters in Asia and Africa.' Asian exporters would, in fact, be among the most vulnerable to a consumer-led US recession. More than 20 per cent of China's exports, for instance, go to the US and most of them are consumer goods. And, while the US share of Asean's exports (13.6 per cent) is lower than China's, a lot of the intermediates that Asean exports to China (and other Asian countries) are ultimately destined for the US market.

While Asian economies are generally well insulated from a crisis, thanks to strong foreign exchange reserves and robust economic fundamentals, their growth is still very much driven by external demand. They will need to act soon to change this dynamic, by taking active steps to boost domestic demand, which would also help reduce global current account imbalances.

Fortunately, most Asian economies have the leeway for fiscal expansion. They should start using it now rather than waiting to be hurt by an almost-certain, and perhaps sharp, US downturn.

He Takes Two-Faced Friend To Court

Source : The New Paper, October 24, 2007

# Borrows $136,000 from friend
# Even writes IOUs for loans
# Refuses to pay loan
# Accuses friend of being loanshark

HE lent his friend $136,000.

When he asked for the money back, his friend refused to pay.

Worse, when he took his friend to court, he found himself being labelled an illegal moneylender.

And Mr Eddy Sim received another slap when the other party, Mr Sng Tian Wan, denied they were friends.

But a district court did not believe Mr Sng's allegations against Mr Sim, and ordered him to return the money, with interest of about 5.3 per cent, from the date of filing of his writ.

The court was affirming an earlier decision by a deputy registrar. Mr Sim had said that he and Mr Sng, a 'long-time friend' of at least 15 years, were joint investors in a property deal.

Between April 2004 and January 2005, he lent Mr Sng a total of $136,000, interest-free, over various occasions.

At that time, in return for the cash cheques he received, Mr Sng wrote IOUs to Mr Sim, stating his own name, IC number and the amount.

After several failed attempts to get his money back, Mr Sim took Mr Sng to court in February this year.

In court, Mr Sng denied that Mr Sim was a friend.

He argued that the money was part of Mr Sim's illegal money-lending transactions, and accused him to be an agent for money-lending syndicates.

He claimed that Mr Sim could not have lent him the money as the latter had been discharged from bankruptcy only in 1999. He also claimed that he had repaid the loans fully.


District Judge Ng Peng Hong, however, did not believe him.

He said: 'The defendant (Mr Sng) did not produce cheque butts or bank statements as evidence of such payments. The list of payments was also lacking in detail.'

He also said that Mr Sng did not provide evidence to support his allegation that Mr Sim was part of illegal money-lending syndicates.

Judge Ng noted that the two parties were also not total strangers.

'They knew each other for at least 15 years and were joint investors in the purchase of a property. I think if they were not friends, they would not have jointly invested in the purchase of the property.'

Judge Ng also noted that at the onset of the lawsuit, Mr Sng just denied everything and made no allegation that the loans were part of an illegal money-lending transaction.

It was only later on that the allegations came about, he said.

He pointed out that Mr Sim, though a former bankrupt, had the funds to lend Mr Sng as he had sold his property in April 2004.

Judge Ng added: 'It's also incredible to believe (Mr Sng's) allegation that he was a multi-millionaire when it is not disputed that he had borrowed money periodically from (MrSim).'

In dismissing Mr Sng's appeal, he ordered that Mr Sng pay back $136,000 with 5.3 per cent interest calculated from the date the writ was filed, to the date of the judgment, as well as costs.

Mr Sim, said to be suffering from serious liver problems, could not be reached for an interview through his lawyer, Mr Ramayah Vangatharaman.

Sale Of A Condominum Housing Site At Elias Road Under The Confirmed List System

Source : Housing Development Board (HDB) Press Releases, Oct 24, 2007

On behalf of the Government, the Housing & Development Board (HDB) is inviting tender for the sale of a condominium housing site at Elias Road, under the Confirmed List of the Government Land Sales Programme on 25 Oct 07 (Thu). The tender will close on 18 Dec 07 (Tues).

The particulars of the land parcel are as follows:

# Land Parcel : Pasir Ris S11
# Location : Elias Road
# Land Area : 14,126.3 sq m
# Proposed Development : Condominium Housing
# Allowable Gross Floor Area : Maximum - 42,378.9 sq m
# Lease Term : 99 years
# Project Completion Period : 72 months from the date of acceptance of tender

The location plan is attached.

For enquiries, tenderers can email to, call 64903037 or 64903033, fax to 64903005 or via the enquiry form in the Land Sales website at

Foreigners Make Up 30% Of Singapore's Population

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Foreigners living in Singapore make up 30 per cent of the city-state's population, up from 14 per cent in 1990, following a decade-long policy of attracting people to boost economic growth, according to government figures released on Monday.

Minister for Home Affairs Wong Kan Seng said Singaporeans accounted for 3.2 million, or 70 per cent, of the city-state's 4.5 million population as of mid-2006, in a response to queries from opposition Member of Parliament Sylvia Lim.

Foreigners with permanent residency status accounted for 10.3 per cent of the population, while people from overseas on work passes or study visas and their dependents made up 19.5 per cent.

Singaporeans accounted for 86 per cent and 74 per cent of the total population in 1990 and 2000 respectively, Mr Wong added.

Singapore - one of the most densely populated countries with a land area of about 704sq-km - said earlier this year it wanted to boost its population to 6.5 million in coming decades to further broaden its economy. -- REUTERS

新加坡浩然大厦买方不获准 参与申请集体出售审讯

《联合早报》Oct 23, 2007

原本要买下浩然大厦(Horizon Towers)的财团,不被批准参与分层地契局的申请集体出售审讯。
高庭两个星期前批准浩然大厦多数业主的上诉,裁定当初驳回集体出售申请的分层地契局,必须继续审理该项申请。上个星期,在接获大多数业主的申请后,分层地契局暂定在10月30日续审浩然大厦的案子。代表财团的艾伦格禧律师事务所(Allen & Gledhill)当天向该局要求介入,以在审讯中有发言权。  


由旅店置业(HPL)和两家外国投资基金(Morgan Stanley及Qatar Investments)组成的财团Horizon Partners私人有限公司(HPPL),是第二次要求介入浩然大厦的官司。财团上个月底也申请介入浩然大厦多数屋主和少数屋主对分层地契局裁决的上诉。

代表律师尚穆根高级律师当时指出,财团的介入符合法庭条例(Rules of Court)的要求,而上诉案裁决可能对财团有严重影响,财团不应被拒于门外,结果受到屋主反对。审理上诉的朱汉德法官认为,财团的介入不会造成不公平或不便,答应了它们的要求。




由于分层地契局之前于8月初驳回业主的初次申请,以致业主迟迟不延长完成集体出售交易的期限,致使原本要买下公寓的财团8月底入禀高庭,宣布卖主违反选购权(Option to Purchase)。




浩然大厦集体出售风波可追溯到今年初。财团今年2月以5亿元集体收购浩然大厦。后来,由于房地产市场旺热,地价节节攀升,浩然大厦隔邻的景福苑(Grangeford Apartments)在三个月后开出的售价高达每平方英尺2000多元,使得浩然大厦的一些屋主感到心痛而反悔。



Govt Puts Residential Site In Woodlands Up For Sale

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 24, 2007

THE Government has launched for sale a residential site in Woodlands, which has been enjoying a buoyant property market of late despite its far-flung location.

The Singapore Land Authority offered the 172,223 sq ft site in-between Woodlands Avenue 2 and Rosewood Drive in a tender that closes on Nov 20.

The site can accommodate a condo of up to five storeys with a gross floor area of 241,112 sq ft.

Mr Ho Eng Joo of marketing agent Colliers International said an apartment there could sell for more than $600 per sq ft (psf).

Already, some 20 units at Far East Organization’s executive condo, La Casa, were sold at a median price of $564 psf last month. La Casa was launched in 2005 at $380 psf on average.

While Woodlands may be far from town, properties there have registered rising rents, as the Singapore American School is in the vicinity, consultants say.

The Woodlands site comes under the Government’s confirmed list, where sites are put up for tender on a specific date.

The Government also sells sites on its reserve list, which are put up for tender only if a developer commits to submitting a minimum acceptable bid.

Yesterday, a developer did just that with a 99-year leasehold commercial site in Jalan Sultan involving the restoration of 17 two-storey conservation units.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority has an offer from a developer willing to bid at least $7.8 million for the 0.14ha site to be tendered out in two weeks.

In Amber Road, where property values continue to rise, a freehold site housing the 63-unit Amber Glades has been launched for sale at a guide price of $145 million. The tender for the 40,917 sq ft site closes on Dec 5.

KepLand Reports 113% Increase In Third-Quarter Profit

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 24, 2007

Developer chalks up $82m gain on strong sales; another player, CCT, reports steady growth.

SINGAPORE’S booming residential home market sent Keppel Land’s (KepLand’s) net profit in the third quarter rocketing by 112.5 per cent to $81.8 million.

PROFIT DRIVER: Sales at Reflections at Keppel Bay and Park Infinia at Wee Nam contributed to KepLand's bottom line. -- PHOTO: KEPPEL GROUP

Turnover was at $382 million, up nearly 50 per cent from $255.6 million a year earlier.

Singapore proved especially lucrative.

KepLand earned $56.4 million in Singapore on strong contributions from sales at its Reflections at Keppel Bay and Park Infinia at Wee Nam condo projects. The company has sold 600 of the 1,129 units at Reflections.

KepLand sold 750 residential units in Singapore in the first nine months of the year and more than 2,200 homes overseas, mainly in China and India.

Earnings per share for the nine months ended Sept 30 reached 28.8 cents, up from 16.6 cents a year earlier.

Net asset value per share stood at $2.34 as at Sept 30, up from $2.12 at the end of last year.

KepLand will launch the posh Marina Bay Suites early next year and release other residential projects in line with market demand. There is also a slew of launches coming up in China, Vietnam and India later this year.

KepLand said demand for quality housing across Asia remains robust, supported by economic growth, home-owner aspirations, urbanisation and a rising middle class.

KepLand has interests in the Marina Bay Financial Centre, K-REIT Asia and Ocean Financial Centre.

Another property player, CapitaCommercial Trust (CCT), reported yesterday that it is achieving steady growth and expects to benefit from a strong office market.

It reported a distributable income of $29.6 million in the third quarter, up 52 per cent from a year earlier and 13.5 per cent above forecast.

Distribution per unit was 2.14 cents in the third quarter and 8.49 cents on an annualised basis, up 18.9 per cent from a year ago.

Third-quarter net property income was at $59.7 million.

CCT’s yield-accretive acquisition of Raffles City last year also helped lift its results.

Rentals committed at CCT’s prime assets have crossed $11.50 per sq ft a month, the highest rate reached during the office market’s peak in 1990, it said.

CCT said its acquisition of Wilkie Edge, if approved, will bring its asset size to $4.8 billion. It expects to grow this further to between $5 billion and $6 billion by 2009.


KepLand believes demand for quality housing across Asia remains robust, supported by economic growth, home-owner aspirations, urbanisation and a rising middle class.

CCT’s Q3 Distributable Income Rises To $29.6m

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Better result due to Raffles City, higher office rental income.

CAPITACOMMERCIAL Trust, one of Singapore’s biggest office landlords, has posted distributable income of $29.6 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2007, which is 13.5 per cent higher than the trust manager’s forecast based on a circular dated August last year, and a 52.4 per cent improvement from the same period last year.

‘The better financial performance year-on-year is a result of the accretive acquisition of Raffles City last year and the higher rental income from our quality office portfolio,’ CapitaCommercial Trust Management Ltd’s CEO Lynette Leong said in a news release.

CCT owns Raffles City complex jointly with CapitaMall Trust (CMT). The two real estate investment trusts yesterday gave an update on the asset enhancement works and leasing programme of retail space in the property. New tenants committed include the first Singapore stores of Spanish brands Cortefiel and Pedro del Hierro being introduced here by Ossia.

The stores will be on level one of Raffles City Mall, which will also feature flagship stores for Springfield and Kate Spade.

Ms Leong also highlighted that more than 50 per cent of CCT’s office leases (by gross rental income as at Sept 30 this year) expire in 2008 and 2009, positioning the trust for strong positive rental reversion to be realised from its office portfolio.

CCT’s Singapore properties include 6 Battery Road, Capital Tower, Robinson Point, HSBC Building, StarHub Centre and the Golden Shoe and Market Street car parks in addition to the 60 per cent stake in the Raffles City complex.

CCT’s Q3 gross revenue was $59.7 million, up 9.1 per cent from the forecast figure for the period and 60.1 per cent higher than that reported for the same year-ago period. Net property income was $42.5 million, which was 6.7 per cent higher than forecast and a 55.1 per cent year-on-year improvement.

CCT is not making any payout to unitholders for Q3 but its result for the quarter reflects a DPU of 2.14 cents. DPU for the first nine months of this year is 6.37 cents or an annualised figure of 8.52 cents, reflecting a distribution yield of 3.3 per cent based on CCT’s closing price yesterday of $2.57. The counter ended 10 cents higher yesterday.

CCT will be asking unitholders to approve its proposed acquisition of Wilkie Edge along Selegie Road at a coming extraordinary general meeting. The approval, if given, will boost the trust’s asset size to nearly $4.8 billion. The trust is targeting to grow this further to $5-6 billion by 2009.

CCTML says it expects the trust’s full-year 2007 performance to surpass the forecast DPU of 7.60 cents.

Related Link -
CCT's news release
Financial statement
Presentation slides

KepLand Q3 Net Profit Climbs 113%

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Turnover surges 49.4% to $382m mainly due to robust residential sales.

KEPPEL Land, Singapore’s third-largest developer by market value, yesterday said that net profit for its third quarter more than doubled on strong home sales and higher office rents.

Net profit for the three months ended Sept 30, 2007, hit $81.8 million, up 112.7 per cent from the $38.5 million recorded a year ago.

Earnings per share rose 111.1 per cent to 11.4 cents, from 5.4 cents a year ago.

Profit was boosted by a 49.4 per cent increase in turnover to $382 million - from $255.6 million a year ago - which KepLand attributed mainly to robust residential sales in Singapore and abroad.

The developer saw higher revenues from Park Infinia at Wee Nam, The Suites at Central and Freesia Woods in Singapore. It also reported higher revenues from 8 Park Avenue and The Seasons in China and Elita Promenade in India. KepLand also saw maiden revenue contribution from its newly launched Villa Riviera in China.

Freesia Woods: Private home prices have climbed 22.6% this year. KepLand says it will release other prime residential projects in tandem with market demand

Rental income from the group’s office buildings was also higher compared to the third quarter of 2006, KepLand said.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2007, KepLand’s net profit rose 74.1 per cent to $207.3 million, while turnover climbed 71 per cent to $1.04 billion.

Earnings per share rose 73.5 per cent to 28.8 cents.

KepLand sold a total of 750 homes in Singapore in the first nine months of 2007, it said.

Strong sales were achieved at Reflections at Keppel Bay, with all 600 launched units sold.

As a result, profit from Singapore grew a significant 184.6 per cent to $134.6 million for the first nine months of the year.

With the increase, the proportion of group profit from Singapore expanded to about 65 per cent, as compared to 40 per cent for the same period in 2006.

Going forward, KepLand, together with joint venture partners Cheung Kong Holdings and Hongkong Land will launch the 223-unit Marina Bay Suites early next year on the back of hot demand for private homes.

Official data shows that private home prices have climbed 22.6 per cent since the start of the year. Said KepLand: ‘The group will release other prime residential projects in tandem with market demand.’

The developer also added that it will benefit from rising office rents in Singapore, both through its own properties and through its listed trust K-Reit Asia.

Grade A office rentals hit $14.90 per square foot (psf) per month in the third quarter, up 70.7 per cent from $8.73 psf at end- 2006, according to data from CB Richard Ellis. KepLand owns about 40 per cent of K-Reit.

KepLand also said it sold more than 2,200 homes overseas in the first nine months of the year - mainly in China and India.

And riding on the strength of the overseas markets, the developer hopes to launch several new projects in China, Vietnam and India in the fourth quarter of 2007.

KepLand’s shares rose five cents to close at $8.25 yesterday. The stock has climbed some 19.6 per cent since the start of the year.

Related Link -
Keppel Land's press release
Financial statement
Presentation slides

Reserve Site Up For Sale, Sparked By $7.8m Bid

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Committed sum for 17conservation shophouses comes to just $460K each.

With property prices hitting new peaks in recent times, it is rare to see a committed bid of just $7.8 million for a 15,200 sq ft site near the city centre.

Based on the committed bid received by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), each of the 17 two-storey shophouses on this Jalan Sultan site could, theoretically, go for as little as $460,000 a unit.

The committed bid is not the transacted price for the reserve list site as it will now be put up for public tender. Still, it gives an indication of the range of bids that could eventually come in.

The 17 shophouses have been gazetted for conservation and the successful tenderer is required to restore and reconstruct these conservation shophouses in accordance with the tender conditions and the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Conservation Guidelines for Historic District.

Zoned for commercial use, the shophouses could be used for office or even as hotels.

Colliers International executive director (investment sales) Ho Eng Joo believes the winning bid could be around $14 million or roughly $800,000 a unit. Add to this renovation and restoration costs of about $300,000 per unit and the potential winning bidder could be looking at spending about $1.1 million per unit.

But as Mr Ho notes: ‘The area is changing.’ Highlighting that KeyPoint, formerly known as Jalan Sultan Centre, was sold recently for $1,186 psf of net lettable area, Mr Ho believes the 17 shophouses could give an investor a yield of over 5 per cent if each unit is rented out for at least $5,000 a month.

‘Only the lack of carparking could be an issue,’ he added.

Over in Woodlands, the Singapore Land Authority has released a 172,223 sq ft residential development site at Woodlands Avenue 2/Rosewood Drive and developers could also be looking at a bargain.

Mr Ho reckons the site, which is on the confirmed list of the Government Land Sales programme, could go for between $250 - $280 psf ppr. With a plot ratio of 1.4, the gross floor area could be up to 241,112 sq ft, giving the site a price tag of between $60.2 million and $67.5 million.

The site may not be directly next to an MRT station but Mr Ho believes a future development would have good rental potential as it is close to the Singapore American School.

Mapletree All Set To Take On The Big Boys

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

With mouthwatering results and growing sophistication, it’s come a long way since 2000

LISTED developers in Singapore now have a relatively new kid on the block to watch out for - Temasek-owned Mapletree Investments.

Under the stewardship of Hiew Yoon Khong, who took over the helm in August 2003, Mapletree has expanded its overseas presence and grown its capital management business.

And this year, the company has started going head-to-head with established developers to compete for land sites.

Mapletree’s strategy has translated into solid financial numbers.

During its 2006 financial year, Mapletree’s earnings crossed the billion-dollar mark for the first time - a milestone achieved by only one other property company in Singapore, CapitaLand. Mapletree’s net profit came to $1.07 billion, a seven-fold increase over the previous year.

While the bulk of the earnings spike was due to valuation gains from its newly-opened mega-mall VivoCity, operating revenue itself grew by 35 per cent to $216.6 million.

During the year, Mapletree’s asset portfolio also grew from $2.97 billion to $4.53 billion.

But more significant than the improved numbers is the fact that over the last few years, Mapletree has become a much more sophisticated entity.

Mr Hiew told BT that going forward, Mapletree will continue to grow its capital management business and overseas footprint - in line with what other developers in Singapore are doing.

Big but nimble

Growing the capital management business will also allow Mapletree to go asset-light, which will allow it to move more quickly and take on bigger projects.

For example, setting up the commercial trust, which will have a portfolio of $3 billion to $3.5 billion, means that Mapletree will be able to recycle assets worth that amount, said Mr Hiew. It is quite clear that he intends to put the money to good use. Mapletree has signalled this year that it is more than just a holding company for state-owned properties by bidding for and winning a government land sales site at Anson Road/Enggor Street in July.

Mapletree’s offer was a bullish 23 per cent higher than the next highest offer - a clear sign that the company is serious about building up its commercial landbank.

Last month, Mapletree also formed a joint venture with CapitaLand to offer $1.8 billion - or $1,281 per square foot per plot ratio - for a white site at Marina Bay, but lost out to Macquarie Global Property Advisors.

With the bulk of its commercial properties divested into the upcoming trust, a flush-with-cash Mapletree will no doubt be a serious contender for sites.

Mr Hiew said that he wants to grow Mapletree’s exposure to the office sector in Singapore in particular.

The company has certainly come a long way since it was incorporated in December 2000 to hold the property assets transferred by PSA to Temasek Holdings.

Going forward, it will be interesting to watch Mapletree make its mark on the property landscape as it comes into its own over the next few years.

Amber Glades Up For En Bloc Sale At $145m

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

JUDGING by the asking prices of new collective-sale sites, it would seem there is no shortage of confidence in the property market.

Amber Glades: The site can be redeveloped into 88 residential units of 1,300 sq ft each. Based on the asking price, the breakeven price is $1,700-$1,800 psf.

Amber Glades, off Amber Road on the East Coast, has just been put up for collective sale at an indicative price in the region of $145 million. And the buyer can also expect to pay a development charge of about $9 million on top of that.

Amber Glades is on a 40,917 sq ft site with a 2.8 plot ratio. At the indicative price, the cost works out to $1,345 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr).

In August, a smaller site off Meyer Road sold for $58 million or an estimated unit land price of $882 psf per plot ratio including a development charge.

Marketed by Colliers International, the Amber Glades site can be redeveloped into 88 residential units of 1,300 sq ft each. Colliers executive director of investment sales Ho Eng Joo estimates that based on the indicative price, the breakeven price is about $1,700-$1,800 psf. This would put the launch price at over $2,000 psf.

But a selling price of $2,000 psf would not be a new benchmark for the East Coast area. Mr Ho believes some new developments have already been transacting at this price.

Market watchers claim that the Aalto on Meyer Road is one development achieving such prices - though a check of the latest data for on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s website reveals that only one unit was sold in September and the transacted price was $1,570 psf. Whether subsequent sales have been done at a higher price will be known next month.

For now, according to caveats lodged, The Seafront on Meyer has had units transacted at over $2,000 psf but these have been penthouse units.

Closer to the Amber Glades site are the residential developments One Amber and The Esta. Recent transactions in these developments are in the range of $1,000 psf and $700 psf respectively.

Mapletree Plans To List Reits, Snap Up New Assets

Source : The Business Times, October 24, 2007

Commercial trust may include VivoCity; company eyes big growth overseas.

Mapletree Investments intends to list a commercial trust with a $3-$3.5 billion portfolio in the next six months as it moves to grow its fee income and expand its footprint overseas, says chief executive Hiew Yoon Khong.

Mr Hiew: The greatest opportunities are in China, where Mapletree is looking at second-tier cities

‘Over the next four years we want to scale up our capital management business by being very active in key markets,’ he told The Business Times in a recent interview. Besides Singapore, the company is looking at China, India and Vietnam for acquisitions. And in the slightly longer term it is also interested in Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand - particularly their logistics and industrial sectors.

The plan is to bump up revenue from fee income to 50 per cent of overall revenue in the next three to five years - from just 9 per cent in Mapletree’s last financial year.

To grow the capital management business, the company has opted to look abroad. Right now only about 20 per cent of its portfolio is outside Singapore. But Mr Hiew said the proportion could be as high as 80 per cent in five years.

‘As a group, we hope to be able to break into one or two new markets a year,’ he said. The greatest opportunities, he believes, are in China, where Mapletree is now looking at second-tier cities. First-tier cities are ‘too crowded and the values are too high,’ he said.

In particular, Mapletree is trying to expand its commercial presence in Singapore and the region.

‘People know us as a logistics player, but as a company we are a lot more than that,’ Mr Hiew said. ‘Looking forward, we will be bidding for land to do development work. In Singapore, we are keen to have a bit more exposure to the office sector in particular.’

One way to do this is through the upcoming commercial trust - which the market has been waiting for.

The trust will likely contain VivoCity - Mapletree’s largest asset, with a book value of about $1.6 billion - as well as other commercial properties including office buildings Harbourfront Centre and PSA Building and nightspot St James Power Station, Mr Hiew said.

Mapletree is already lining up a pipeline of assets for the trust. In a break from tradition, the company this year started bidding for commercial land sites in Singapore.

In July it won a government land sales site at Anson Road/Enggor Street in a public tender that drew other big names such as CapitaLand and Keppel Land. Mapletree’s offer was 23 per cent higher than the next highest bid.

In addition, Mapletree is likely to launch a Reit based on assets in India, with its Indian property development partner Embassy Group, by the first half of 2008.

Market talk of Embassy’s Reit, which will be managed through a joint-venture partnership between Embassy and Mapletree, has been around since early this year. Mr Hiew confirmed plans for the Reit.

‘We will probably hold some sort of equity stake in the trust but that is not finalised yet,’ he said.

Mapletree has also secured a deal to co-manage the Lippo Group’s Indonesia-focused retail Reit. The prospectus for this Reit was lodged with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) last Friday.

Mr Hiew is also committed to growing Mapletree’s private equity franchises. For example, the company - together with its partner CIMB - will be launching its second Malaysia fund in the next six months.

Mapletree’s growing portfolio in Singapore and overseas will serve as an asset pipeline for both the existing Mapletree Logistics Trust and the new commercial trust, as well as any funds the company might set up in future.

‘We are very keen to support the growth of our Reits and fund business,’ Mr Hiew said.

With its asset-light strategy in place, the company will now be able to take on bigger projects and move faster on them.

Right now, assets under management stand at $2.2 billion, while Mapletree owns a further $4.8 billion of assets. Mr Hiew’s aim is to grow by $1 billion or so each year.

‘Four years ago we mapped out strategic initiatives for the company to enhance our value,’ he said. ‘When we review the programme now, we are happy with the progress to date but will look to scale up these businesses much more.’

Keppel Land’s Third-Quarter Profits Soar

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

KEPPEL Land said its third-quarter net profit more than doubled on year, thanks to strong residential sales.

Net profit for the three-month period ended Sept 30 rose to $81.8 million from $38.5 million a year earlier, the unit of Keppel Corporation said in a statement yesterday.

Revenue rose 49.4 per cent to $382 million from $255.6 million a year earlier, thanks to improved returns from property trading in Singapore, China and India.

Revenue was also helped by the launch of a new project in Shanghai, the company said.

Rental income from office buildings and revenue from hotels and resorts were also higher in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, Keppel Land said.

The company pulled in $335.4 million in revenue from property trading, up from $221.5 million. Property investment turnover was $15.3 million, up from $14.6 million, while revenue from hotels and resorts, fund management and property services increased to $31.3 million from $19.5 million.

Overseas earnings represented about 31 per cent of the company’s profit, compared with 50 per cent last year. This was “due to stronger operating performance in Singapore”, the company said.

Keppel Land estimated it will book a net profit of $221.6 million from the sale of a 33.3-per-cent stake in Singapore’s new downtown skyscraper One Raffles Quay to K-Reit Asia. — DOW JONES

CapitaCommercial Trust To Pay Out $29.6 million In Dividends

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CAPITACOMMERCIAL Trust, one of Singapore’s biggest office landlords, will pay investors $29.6 million in dividends for the third quarter, up from $19.4 million a year earlier.

The trust will distribute 2.14 cents a share for the three months ended September, from 1.8 cents a year earlier, it said yesterday.

CapitaCommercial, which owns office buildings including Capital Tower and HSBC Building in the central business district, is boosting returns for investors on higher office rental rates in the country.

The trust’s manager has said that it wants to expand the asset size of the trust to between $5 billion and $6 billion by 2009 from the current $4.8 billion.

“The better financial performance year-on-year is a result of the accretive acquisition of Raffles City last year and the higher rental income from our quality office portfolio,” CEO Lynette Leong said in a statement.

“Strong leasing demand, underpinned by the robust economic performance in the Asian region, continues to propel growth in the Singapore office property market,” she added. —BLOOMBERG

Sept Inflation Slows

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

But prices are still expected to rise in the coming months

SINGAPORE’S inflation rate slowed unexpectedly last month, easing concerns that the economy was showing signs of overheating.

According to the Department of Statistics, the consumer price index (CPI) increased 2.7 per cent from a year earlier, slower than the 2.9-per-cent gain in August and below the 3.1-per-cent gain expected by economists polled earlier.

“This gives some reassurance that inflation is not taking off,” economist David Cohen from Action Economics told Bloomberg.

In fact, September prices were down 0.3 per cent compared to August on the back of month-on-month falls reported in housing, transport and clothing costs.

With the index back to July levels, “this shows that there is no evidence so far of an uptick in inflation for August and September after the one-off increase in the GST rate (from 5 to 7 per cent) in July”, the department said. However, the impact was felt in the year-on-year figure.

The CPI tracks the prices of a basket of goods and services, such as food, healthcare, housing and transport. Food prices, which make up 23 per cent of this basket, rose 0.4 per cent from August.

Economists were pleasantly surprised by the numbers, but warned that inflation is likely to accelerate in coming months as transport costs and electricity tariffs rise on the back of record oil prices.

Citi economist Dr Chua Hak Bin expects full-year inflation of around 2 per cent, while UOB Research forecasts a 1.8-percent rise in prices. This is in line with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) own forecast of 1.5 to 2 per cent inflation this year, and 2 to 3 per cent next year.

“Inflationary pressures have picked up amid the buoyant domestic economic conditions and the recent rise in global oil and food prices,” the MAS said. “Domestic price pressures are expected to persist due to heightened supply constraints, while externally, oil, food and other commodity prices will remain firm into the next year.”

Commercial Site Tender, Sale Of Land For Residential Development

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)will launch for public tender in two weeks a
0.14ha commercial site at Jalan Sultan consisting of 17 two-storey conservation shophouses after a developer committed a bid of not less than $7.8 million for the site.

The sale will add “vibrancy” to the Kampong Glam Historic District, as any successful tenderer will be required to restore and reconstruct the shophouses, said the URA.

The units are being sold as a single land parcel and “is very suitable” for hotel or office use.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Land Authority yesterday launched for sale a 16,000-sq-m parcel of land for residential development at Woodlands Avenue 2 and Rosewood Drive, which can potentially accommodate a five-storey condominium with a gross floor area of 22,400 sq m.

The completed development is expected to attract HDB ugraders in the Woodlands and Sembawang areas and cater to the expatriate community.

Property Tax Rise For Hotels

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Increase due to change in formula used to calculate annual value

AS HOTEL room rates in Singapore continue to set new highs, the taxman's upcoming formula tweaks — which will see hotels' property tax bills jump by at least 33 per cent — will skim some of the cream off the cake for hoteliers.

The increase arises from a change to the formula used to calculate the annual value (AV) of hotels, which will kick in next year.

And analysts say that while the taxman's move to keep up with the buoyant tourism and property sectors will certainly reduce hotel profit margins, the market itself won't be thrown off beat.

Cushman and Wakefield's managing director Donald Han pointed out that average room rates have gone up by some 20 to 30 per cent in the first 10 months, as demand continues to outstrip supply and major hotels see more than 90 per cent occupancy. Consequently, he said, "the taxman has to look into ways of making tax collection more transparent and equitable".

Pan Pacific Singapore

Indeed, the tourism industry here is experiencing a helium boost, with the Government's aggressive marketing, the inaugural Singapore Formula One race next year and the eventual opening of two Integrated Resorts.

Figures from the Singapore Tourism Board released yesterday showed a record 766,000 visitors last month — a 7.1-per-cent increase over the same period last year. Hotels generated $152.2 million in revenue, a record 7.4-per-cent increase, while the average room rate was put at $201 — a rise of about 5 per cent.

With another 10- to 15-per-cent increase in room rates expected over the next six months, the hike in hotel property tax is not unexpected — especially since the last change to the computation formula was in 1986.

Hotel Carlton

Hotels will continue to be taxed at 10 per cent of AV. Currently, the AV is based on 15 per cent of gross room receipts in the preceding year.

This will go up to 20 per cent next year and to 25 per cent in 2009. In addition, the AV of hotels' food and beverage (F&B) areas will be based on estimated current market rent instead of 5 per cent of gross F&B receipts.

"Where Government is concerned, there is no free lunch," said Mr Han. "It has been promoting tourism and one of the immediate spillover benefits would be in the hotel sector, so the tax criteria has to reflect current market sentiments."

Raffles Hotel

But there are grouses. Said an industry insider: "The IRAS has not been able to clarify the market rent in relation to F&B outlets. Many hotels manage the restaurants themselves and there are also function and meeting rooms which may not be used frequently."

Mr Han, too, noted that market rent "differs from one property to another and factors such as location (even within the hotel) can affect the rates." The issue is compounded if a hotel decides to have its function room at an adjacent shopping centre, for instance.

Condition For Assigning Mortgage Policy To Bank

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 24, 2007

PEOPLE who are looking for a housing loan should be aware of DBS Bank's unwritten condition regarding assignment of mortgage policies.

Most financial planners advise that a mortgage-insurance policy be assigned to the financial institution providing the loan, to save on estate duty.

DBS does not accept the assignment of third-party insurance policies. However, it has no problems accepting an assignment when the mortgage insurance is purchased from its business partner.

DBS should make this clause known to potential clients, as such a condition is not stated anywhere in the offer letter, nor in its Standard Terms/Conditions of Housing Loans.

I hope the Consumers Association of Singapore and the Life Insurance Association will look into this anti-competitive measure by DBS. The bank is indirectly forcing clients to either purchase a policy from it, or live without assigning their existing policies.

With such a measure, DBS could charge a higher premium for the policies, and indeed this was what I found: premiums quoted were higher than what my current insurer charges.

Chong Chin Chuan

September Inflation Rate Eases To 2.7%

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 24, 2007

THOSE who think prices in Singapore just keep going up had a pleasant surprise yesterday when the latest inflation figures were released.

Consumer prices rose at a slower rate of 2.7 per cent last month from a year earlier and eased from August's 2.9 per cent.

Not only did last month's consumer price index (CPI) inflation come in lower than all market forecasts, overall prices also retreated by 0.3 per cent from the previous month.

Department of Statistics (DOS) figures announced yesterday showed that cheaper housing and lower transport and communication costs led the month-on-month decline in consumer prices.

'Housing costs went down by 1.2 per cent due mainly to lower housing maintenance charges and cheaper household durables', while car prices and road taxes also declined, said the DOS.

After the goods and services tax (GST) increase contributed to a 2.1 per cent price hike from June to July, the change in the CPI in the two subsequent months was similar to those in the months before.

'This shows that there is no evidence so far of an uptick in inflation for August and September after the one-off increase in the GST rate in July,' said a DOS statement.

Year-on-year inflation cooled last month partly because the percentage increases in housing and transport costs were lower than those recorded in August.

While the cost of food last month climbed 3.7 per cent from a year earlier, housing expenses were up by a mild 0.4 per cent, while transport and communication prices increased by 2.2 per cent.

Food accounts for the biggest chunk of household spending, followed by transport and communication, then housing.

The moderation in inflation caught 13 economists polled by Bloomberg by surprise. They expected inflation to pick up to between 3 per cent and 3.2 per cent last month. The median consensus forecast was 3.1 per cent.

HSBC economist Prakriti Sofat noted: 'It surprisingly came in below consensus in September.'

Standard Chartered economist Alvin Liew said: 'It is surprising that housing costs rose less than clothing and footwear, given the run-up in residential rents lately.'

However, with energy and food prices rising, economists expect year-on-year inflation to trend upwards in the months ahead.

'We think that the slight slowing in the headline CPI rate is a blip in the otherwise upward trend. Our view is that CPI readings will continue to grind higher till the middle of 2008,' said Ms Sofat.

United Overseas Bank economist Ho Woei Chen said higher oil and asset prices and wage costs mean inflation risks remain on the upside.

DBS economist Irvin Seah said the bulk of the jump in monthly inflation since July was due to the one-off GST effect, which will last until June next year.

Mr Liew argued: 'Although GST plays a big part, there are other components in play.

'Given what we are seeing in oil, commodity and food prices, as well as transport fares, even if the rise in housing costs remains low, we still think inflation will likely be trending upwards for the next few months.'

In the first nine months of the year, inflation has averaged 1.4 per cent.

Singapore's central bank predicted that inflation for the whole of this year will be between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent.

It projects that inflation will rise to about 3.5 per cent year-on-year in the first half of next year, partly due to July's GST hike, and come in at 2 per cent to 3 per cent for the whole of next year.

Horizon Towers - STB Rejects Application Of Lawyers Representing Buyers Of Horizon Towers

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 October 2007

STB rejects application of lawyers representing buyers of Horizon Towers
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lawyers representing the buyers in the Horizon Towers case have had their application to be made parties in an upcoming hearing at the Strata Titles Board (STB) turned down.

Law firm Allen & Gledhill said STB is not allowing the purchaser, Horizon Towers Private Limited, to intervene.

The firm said STB gave its decision because there is “no material change of circumstances from the initial hearing”.

The upcoming hearing is a re-run of a previous hearing on August 3.

The STB then threw out Horizon Towers’ application on the basis it was defective because of missing pages.

But the High Court ruled that the STB was wrong to dismiss the application.

The High Court’s decision means that the STB has to continue hearing the application from where it left off.

Lawyers said the date of the hearing has not been confirmed but is likely to be October 30.

Developer Commits To Bidding At Least S$7.8m For Jln Sultan Site

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 October 2007

A developer has committed to bidding at least S$7.8 million for a commercial site at Jalan Sultan.

The site, which sits on an area of 0.14 hectare, could be re-developed for hotel or office use.

The parcel currently houses 17 units of two-storey conservation buildings, which have to be restored and reconstructed by the successful tenderer.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the sale of the site will facilitate the early restoration of the conserved shophouses in the area and add vibrancy to the Kampong Glam Historic District.

The parcel was made available under the reserve list system, where it is released if a developer agrees to a minimum bid that is acceptable to the government.

URA will launch the public tender for the site in about two weeks. - CNA/ms

Freehold Residential Site Off Amber Rd Offered For Sale By Tender

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 October 2007

A freehold residential site off Amber Road has been offered for collective sale by tender.

The site at 30 and 32 Amber Gardens currently houses a development called Amber Glades, which comprises two 10-storey tower blocks with 63 units.

Consultant Colliers International, which is marketing the site, said the development has an indicative asking price of S$145 million.

A development charge of S$9 million is payable to enhance the plot ratio.

If the asking price is met, each owner can expect to receive about S$2.3 million for their units.

The site has an area of some 41,000 square feet and is regular in shape.

Under the 2003 Master Plan, the site is zoned for residential use with a gross plot ratio of 2.8.

Colliers said the site can be re-developed into a luxurious residential development accommodating 88 units of 1,300 square feet each.

The collective sale of Amber Glades will not be affected by the new en bloc legislation, as the required 80 percent consent was achieved before the amended rules kicked in on October 4. - CNA/ms

Keppel Land Reports Q3 Net Profit Of S$82m

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 October 2007

Keppel Land on Tuesday said its third-quarter net profit has more than doubled on-year as a result of strong residential sales.

Net profit came in at almost S$82 million.

This compares with S$38.5 million in the year ago period.

Meanwhile, revenue jumped by almost 50 percent to S$382 million.

This is due to improved returns from property trading in Singapore, China and India.

Keppel Land's sales were also supported by a new project in the Chinese city of Shanghai.

The property firm said it expects to book a profit of more than S$221 million from selling a one-third stake in its One Raffles Quay building to K-Reit. - CNA/ms

SLA Releases Residential Site At Woodlands For Development

Source : Channel NewsAsaia, 23 October 2007

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has released a residential site for development by tender at Woodlands Avenue 2 and Rosewood Drive.

The site, called Rosewood at Woodlands, occupies an area of some 16,000 square metres, with a gross plot ratio of 1.4.

It could potentially support a condominium of up to five storeys, with a gross floor area of 22,400 square metres.

SLA said the completed development is expected to attract HDB up-graders in the Woodlands and Sembawang areas and cater to the expatriate community.

Rosewood at Woodlands is located near educational institutions such as the Singapore Sports School, Singapore American School, Innova Junior College, Si Ling Primary School and Republic Polytechnic.

It is also near major transport links such as the Seletar Expressway and the Woodlands MRT station and bus interchange.

SLA said the site is being released under its confirmed list system, which means the parcel will be sold by tender at a pre-determined date, without the need for the sale to be triggered by any developer's application.

Consultant Colliers International has been appointed to market the site.

Rents in the Woodlands and Mandai area have surged between 25 percent and 30 percent in the third quarter of 2007, recording one of the highest growth rates.

This was due largely to the Singapore American School being located within the area.

The tender for the Woodlands site will close on November 20th. - CNA/ch

CapitaRetail China Trust Reports Q3 Distributable Income

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 23 October 2007

CapitaRetail China Trust has reported a third-quarter distributable income of S$8.2 million, exceeding its own forecasts by 9 percent.

This puts distribution per unit at 1.71 cents.

Going forward, the trust expects the overall net property income of its portfolio to increase from around S$805 million to S$1.2 billion with the proposed acquisition of Xizhimen Mall in Beijing.

The mall is expected to raise the trust's future distribution per unit higher.

This transaction will mark CapitaRetail China Trust's first acquisition since its listing on 8 December 2006. - CNA/ms

CapitaRetail China Trust, a shopping mall trust managed by Singapore developer CapitaLand