Wednesday, November 7, 2007

ET Joins Sentosa IR Fun

Source : TODAY, Wednesday November 7, 2007

Developer ups budget by $550m to provide more theme park offerings and cover higher constructions costs

RESORTS World at Sentosa (RWS) has upped its budget from $5.2 billion to $5.75 billion — and not just in view of the rising construction costs.

The developer is bumping up its theme park offerings, with two new rides — one a rollercoaster, the other based on the hit movie ET (picture) — for its Universal Studios Theme Park. This brings the total number of rides to 24.

There will be four more free multimedia shows, on top of the three already announced such as a laser-and-water show designed by Emmy award winner Jeremy Railton.

These extras, as well as improvements to hotels and infrastructure, will take up half of the $550 million cost revision. The other half will go to cover the increased construction costs. On top of the $5.75-billion budget is another $250 million allotted for contingencies.

A ban by Indonesia on sand exports early this year, coupled with a buoyant property sector, has prompted the Government to release more sand from the national stockpile and diversify its sources.

About two months ago, Las Vegas Sands — which is developing the Marina Bay Sands integrated resort slated to open in 2009 — announced that it was "struggling" to stick to its budget and anticipated up to a 40-per-cent spike in its US$3.6-billion ($5.5 billion) projection.

Speaking via teleconference from Hong Kong yesterday, RWS chief executive Tan Hee Teck said: "With scarce resources, the cost escalation has been higher than anticipated."

Still, according to Mr Michael Chin, senior director of projects, RWS has managed to "lock in" the prices of concrete and structural steel at "very competitive prices". RWS and China's Jingye Construction Engineering Contract Company signed a $60-million contract in September for 23,000 tonnes of structural steel for work on the resort.

But while such costs have been manageable, Mr Chin noted, labour costs and margins of contractors have risen significantly. Still, Mr Justin Tan, managing director of Genting International, does not anticipate any further changes to the budget or the 2010 date for the soft launch.

"We are on track and in negotiation with contractors who have not indicated any delays to date," he said.

Mr Tan also said he was "very confident" about the growing Asian economy. With a growing middle-income market in China and India, RWS in Singapore will draw them over by being "a very unique and differentiated destination".

Three lots will be left vacant within the theme park to allow for later expansions and additions, he added.

Work on Universal Studios Singapore began last month and another $1 billion worth of building contracts will be awarded by early next year.

Meanwhile, Genting International has posted a third-quarter loss because of an "impairment" charge, Mr Tan said. The company lost $393.4 million, or 5.66 cents a share, in the quarter ended Sept 30, compared with a profit of $86.9 million, or 1.39 cents, a year earlier, the company said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange.

It expects a full-year loss including the charge, said Mr Tan.

S'pore's Morale High At The Hague

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, November 7, 2007

THEY had been looking forward to opening their case before the International Court of Justice ever since the dispute was placed on the world court's list four years ago.

And the Singapore camp was working hard on honing its arguments to the very last, when the ICJ began yesterday the hearing on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca and its two nearby outcrops, Middle Rocks and South Ledge.

According to Ambassador-At-Large Professor Tommy Koh, who is serving as the agent of Singapore for this case, morale is very high and the team was well-prepared for the session.

"After almost 28 years, we are very pleased that the dispute will finally be brought to an end," Prof Koh was quoted as saying in an AP report. He added that the disagreement "has been an irritant in the bilateral relations" between Singapore and Malaysia.

Lawyers for Singapore argued yesterday that it has a stronger claim to the strategic island located at the eastern entrance to the Straits of Singapore, about 24 nautical miles from the Republic.

Prof Koh argued that Britain claimed the island more than 150 years ago and it fell to Singapore after the end of colonial rule. He said that was never in question until 1979, when Malaysia published a map with the island included as its territory.

He said that the British took control of Pedra Branca between 1847 and 1851, when it built the Horsburgh Lighthouse there, and that the island passed into Singapore's ownership upon independence.

That Malaysia never disputed it until 1979, "is significant and must be taken to mean that Malaysia never regarded Pedra Branca as her territory", said Prof Koh, as reported by AP.

The Singapore team of over 30 members were armed with maps to show to the judges.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong also spoke, and said the evidence shows that Malaysia has portrayed an inaccurate account of the history of the ownership of Pedra Branca.

Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin gave a background of the dispute and played a recording of former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn in a news conference in May 1980 speaking with then Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The Malaysian PM had admitted that the question of sovereignty over Pedra Branca was not very clear to Malaysia.

Singapore's team of international counsel then rebutted Malaysia's claim of original title over the island.

Yesterday's hearing was the first of 12 days of oral arguments at the ICJ, which will stretch over three weeks.

A Floating Icon On The Singapore River

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Self-propelled platform for up to 250 revellers in the offing

After the spectacular success of the National Day celebrations on the platform at Marina Bay, revellers can look forward to a smaller — and movable — version on the Singapore River.

The self-propelled stage — to be positioned as a "future icon" along the river — will allow partygoers to soak up the atmosphere on the waters while watching ballet, listening to a jazz concert or just chilling out.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), spearheading the project, has in mind a floating venue for arts and cultural events, performances as well as corporate functions.

The proposed stage — slightly smaller than an Olympic-sized swimming pool — will have room for 250 people and is likely to berth at four locations, giving it the flexibility to capture different targeted groups of spectators along the river.

The locations of the stages: Clarke Quay's The Central; near the site of Raffles landing and in front of the Asian Civilisation Museum; in front of UOB Plaza and Esplanade Park.

The URA's urban planning and design director Fun Siew Leng said the floating stage is part of the Government's initiative to improve Singapore's night buzz.

She said: "The floating stage will enhance the Singapore River's attraction as a lively and vibrant area for Singaporeans and visitors to enjoy.

"It will also contribute in creating more night-time buzz that can make Singapore an attractive 24/7 city to live, work and play in."

The URA is inviting the private sector and interested parties (under a RFI — Request for Information) to submit information for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of the proposed floating stage.

The design must be "distinctive, sculptural, attractive and in keeping with the scale and character of the Singapore River".

Singapore can draw inspiration for the stage from The Aquashell at Sydney Harbour and the floating stage used for The Henley Festival in England.

The Henley Festival of Music and the Arts — featuring classical music concerts, art exhibits, roving performers and outdoor restaurants — has been held for the past 25 years on the River Thames.

Stakeholders Today spoke to embraced the idea of building a floating stage.

Singapore Dance Theatre general manager Alvan Loo said the stage would be great for outreach events for performing groups. "The different backdrops of the river could also inspire our choreographers to put up different performances for audiences," he said.

IndoChine's owner Michael Ma, who operates a bar and restaurant at the Asian Civilisation Museum, said the platform could allow him to stage concerts with the city skyline as a backdrop. But rents should be affordable, he stressed.

OCBC Gets Approval To Set Up Islamic Banking Subsidiary In Malaysia

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 07 November 2007

OCBC has received the go-ahead from Bank Negara Malaysia to set up an Islamic banking subsidiary in Malaysia.

The unit will be allowed to carry out the full range of Shariah-compliant universal banking business. This includes Islamic hire-purchase and Shariah-compliant corporate finance activities.

OCBC has been involved in Islamic banking in Malaysia for the past 12 years. The approval from the central bank will allow the lender to further develop its business in this sector. - CNA /ls

Proposed Compact Race Track Could Provide Exciting Racing: Expert

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 07 November 2007

Singapore is planning to build a permanent race track soon, but given the small land area, it would be very compact.

However, a racing driver Channel NewsAsia spoke to claims that is not a problem as the track could still provide exciting racing.

Formula One will roar into town, come September 2008. But Singapore is not stopping there.

It wants other races, like the A1, to also be part of the sporting calendar.

So a permanent track on a 20-hectare site in Changi is being proposed to cater to all motor sport fans.

It will be a 2.8km, Grade 2 track - just about half of other Grade 2 tracks around the world.

But according to British Touring Car champ Colin Turkington, this wouldn't be a road block to great racing.

"We have tracks like this in Britain and probably one of the best known is Brands Hatch that we race on quite regularly and this is only 1.2 miles long," said Turkington, who is on a short stopover in Singapore before heading to the Macau Grand Prix next week.

"Brands Hatch provides some of the best racing. It is small - it only has 4 or 5 corners - but it makes the racing very, very close and nobody gets away. There is always a very tight pack and this provides some of the most spectacular racing," he added.

The 25-year-old Irishman said he would like to come and race at the new Singapore track, which would be able to host Touring car races.

Turkington also said that based on his experience, a F1 night race could see cars running faster due to the cooler temperatures.

Race drivers aside, car show promoters too could benefit from the new facility.

Simon Foo, the organiser of car show Super Import Nights 2007, said that he has received requests from exhibitors to hold the show with a track so that visitors can have car test runs.

Eight American Asian models have been brought in from the US for the first time as part of the Super Imports Night show.

The girls will be sharing the limelight with more than 200 cars at the Singapore Expo from 8 November-11 November.

Among the cars on display will be the Porsche GT3 RS which is worth a cool $600,000.

The car is making a debut in Singapore. - CNA/ir

HDB Awards Tender For Leasing Of 120 SERS Flats

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 07 November 2007

HDB has awarded the tender of leasing out 120 flats vacated under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) in Tiong Bahru to Katong Hostel at $230,280 per month.

It is on a 3 + 3-year tenancy.

These flats comprise 60 units of 3-room flats and 60 units of 4-room flats at Blocks 1, 3, 5, 7 & 9 Tiong Bahru Road.

HDB says it will assess the response to this pilot project, before deciding whether to expand the scheme in future.

If needed, HDB has a potential supply of about 5,000 units that can be introduced to bolster rental supply in the HDB market over the next three years.

This is a pilot project to lease out SERS flats to the general public so as to put these flats to better use in the interim period, pending their redevelopment. - CNA/ch

S'pore Says Malaysia Has No Evidence To Show It Owns Pedra Branca

Source : The Channel NewsAsia, 07 November 2007

THE HAGUE: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun the hearing on the sovereignty of Pedra Branca island on Tuesday. And Singapore has argued that Malaysia has no evidence to show that it owns the island.

The Peace Palace in The Hague

In fact, Singapore set out to prove that Malaysia never regarded Pedra Branca as its territory.

Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh laid out the agenda as he opened the first day of hearing at the ICJ at The Hague.

The Singapore team of over 30 members was all prepared and armed with geographical maps, which were flashed periodically inside the courtroom for the judges to see as the team pleaded the case.

"In 1979, for the first time, Malaysia published a map purporting to place Pedra Branca within the Malaysian territorial sea, giving rise to the present dispute. The dispute has been an irritant in the bilateral relations between our two countries," said Prof Koh.

Singapore argued that Pedra Branca island and its two outcrops of Middle Rocks and South Ledge rightfully belong to the Lion City.

And Professor Koh stated that Singapore owns the island and has consistently maintained and exercised its sovereignty.

One example he brought up in court was a letter written by Johor in 1953 and was sent to Singapore then. The Johor government said Pedra Branca did not belong to them in the letter.

Professor Koh said Malaysia claims that the British sought permission from Johor to build the Horsborough Lighthouse, but it never provided any evidence to support that.

Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong also spoke on the first day of the hearing. He laid out facts and evidence to show that Malaysia has portrayed an inaccurate account of the history concerning the ownership of Pedra Branca.

He cited how Malaysia had argued that Pedra Branca was actually part of the Johor Sultanate from time immemorial. He said that such argument was "no more than clutching at straws without any evidence to proof".

Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin just spoke on the geographical setting and gave background of the dispute to the judges.

He also played an audio recording of Malaysia's former prime minister Tun Hussein Onn from a news conference with Singapore's then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in May 1980. In that audio clip, Tun Hussein Onn then admitted that the question of sovereignty over Pedra Branca was not very clear to Malaysia.

Singapore's international counsel Alain Pellet also made his arguments in French as the last speaker wrapping up Tuesday’s session. He rebutted Malaysia's claim of an original historical title for Pedra Branca.

Professor Pellet will continue his arguments on Wednesday followed by the other international counsel for Singapore. - CNA/ac/ir

HDB Awards Pilot Project Tender To Katong Hostel

Nov 7, 2007

In a pilot project to lease out vacated flats to the general public on a short term basis, the Housing and Development Board has awarded the tender of a state property at Tiong Bahru Road to Katong Hostel at a tender price of around $230,000 a month.

The pilot project involved leasing out flats vacated under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme on a short term basis to increase the supply of flats for rental housing.

HDB received 15 bids for a tender it called in August to lease out 120 vacated SERS flats in Tiong Bahru.

The lease would be to a master tenant on a 3 + 3-year tenancy.

HDB said it'll assess the response to this pilot project, before deciding whether to expand the scheme.

HDB Has Potential Rental Supply Of Up To 5,000 Flats

Nov 7, 2007

The Housing Board says it has a potential supply of about 4,000 to 5,000 flats than can be introduced to meet demand if required over the next three years.

This as it awards Katong Hostel the master tenant tender for 120 flats in Tiong Bahru, vacated under the Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme.

The flats comprise 3-room and 4-room units.

They'll be leased out to the general public on a short term basis.

HDB says it will put these flats to better use in the interim period, pending their redevelopment.

It says it will assess the response to this pilot project, before deciding whether to expand the scheme in future.


《联合早报》Nov 7, 2007

史各士路的第一幅短期办公楼地段由Scotts Spazio以3700万元的标价(即总建筑楼面约每平方英尺219元)标得。另一方面,靠近黄金地段乌节路的地皮——格兰芝园(Grange Heights)推出市场,集体求售。销售代理仲量联行(JLL)的区域董事及投资部主管吕醒发说,这相信是第九邮区剩下的最后一幅面积如此庞大的永久地契地段。



淡滨尼短期办公楼地段 仅吸引一份投标书

《联合早报》Nov 7, 2007

市区重建局推出的第二幅短期办公楼(transitional office)地段,反应并不如预期中良好,只吸引了一份投标书——城市发展的Glades房地产(Glades Properties)以1000万元(即容积率每平方英尺81元)出手。

地段位于淡滨尼总汇(Tampines Concourse)/淡滨尼5道,在淡滨尼的市镇中心(Regional Centre)内,非常靠近淡滨尼地铁站和巴士转换站。地段占地1.15公顷,可建筑楼面为1万1520平方公尺(12万4000平方英尺),因此容积率为1.0。地契租约为15年。


市场分析员指出,这其实是历史重演,政府在今年5月份曾把淡滨尼宏道(Tampines Grande)的一块办公楼地段以2亿2500万元的价码,即容积率每平方英尺622元,卖给城市发展。据了解,当初投标的也只有城市发展一家而已。

莱坊(Knight Frank)咨询与研究部主管麦俊荣指出,两幅地段距离只有5分钟的路程。他认为,由于这个地段向来被视为后端业务的集中地,因此吸引的会是某些特定的发展商。




浩然大厦少数业主律师获知新内情 没证据显示买方限定业主 得在一两星期决定选购权

《联合早报》Nov 7, 2007

浩然大厦(Horizon Tower)集体出售申请昨天续审,律师从出售发起人之一获知新内情。

代表少数业主的律师指出,没有证据显示,买方当初限定业主得在一两个星期内作出是否要给予选购权(Option to Purchase)的决定,因此销售委员根本没有必要仓促回复。

浩然大厦销售委员会秘书受代表少数业主的律师盘问时承认,在本地房地产市场节节攀升的背景下,销售委员会在同意出售给旅店置业(HPL)时,受委代理浩然大厦集体出售的房地产代理商First Tree Properties,之前在建议5亿元保留价(reserve price)时所提出相等于市价八成的溢价,已显著减少,偏离了委托。

分层地契局昨天传召浩然大厦第一任销售委员会秘书黄献收。50岁的黄献收是浩然大厦的业主,目前在一家科技公司担任营运总监。他早在2005年10月就与另一名业主Henry Lim私下讨论将浩然大厦集体出售,是该项目集体出售的发起人之一。

黄献收在供词时透露,去年四月决定委任房地产代理商First Tree Properties作为销售代理是由于它们所建议的5亿元保留价最高。之前,First Tree Properties在三月向业主提出集体出售献议时,指出5亿元保留价包括相等于市价八成的溢价。"

然而,在接下来的几个月里,销售委员会和First Tree Properties却无法成功找到买家,直到旅店置业于今年1月4日表示有意购买。不过,到了这个时候,溢价也随这房地产价格大涨而几乎不存在了。



代表几名少数业主的陈国洸律师事务所的拉美斯(Kannan Ramesh)律师指出,没有证据显示旅店置业要求销售委员会在一两个星期内作出决定,而房地产代理的公证也没有提到这一点。他也提出,First Tree Properties这时的委任契约也即将在14天里期满。对此,黄献收重申,虽然没有白纸黑字,但有印象买方有要求他们那么做,但他不是很肯定。

至于为何在给予旅店置业选购权之前没有征询其他房地产代理,黄献收坦言自己是行外人,一直都仰赖First Tree Properties代理商给予市场资讯以及交易程序的指点。



代表其他少数业主的律师昨天也轮流盘问黄献收,同样提出销售委员会在处理这个交易时诚信缺失(bad faith)的论据。其中包括销售委员会没有履行承诺定期向同意出售业主提供最新信息,有整整交易成交前的三个月音讯全无。





财团当时要求法庭颁布庭令,要求卖方尽其所能重新向分层地契局申请并获得集体出售令,否则屋主得归还买主之前所支付的5000万元定金,还可能得面对买主索赔10亿元。业主后来同意把交易完成期限延迟到12月11日。至于上个星期二突然通过律师表示希望加入审讯的一名大多数业主Susanna Rusli,分层地契局在阅读了律师所提呈的书面陈词后,决定拒绝她的申请。

浩然大厦集体出售申请今天下午将续审,少数业主律师将盘问另一名第一任销售委员会成员Henry Lim。


来源:新华网 Nov 7, 2007


法国房地产市场正在实现软着陆。 报告认为,法国房地产市场正在慢慢“刹车”,今后几个季度该市场将基本保持稳定。报告指出,2008年法国二手房价格将下降5%,新房价格将不会有大的波动,但这并不意味着房地产市场将步入长期、明显的下降轨道,只证明该市场基本稳定了下来。





Source : 新华网 Nov 7, 2007








Source : 多维网 2007-11-06

从2003年开始,提蒙斯(Kenny Timmons)花了三个长周末的时间前往纽约,与在爱尔兰认识的朋友见面、参观世贸遗址、在阿玛妮与耐吉店里采购,以及在曼哈顿中城的爱尔兰酒吧内,与调酒师聊房地产。






纽约研究公司Radar Logic的执行副总裁与研究主任米勒(Jonathan Miller)估计,外国买家在过去18个月来已在曼哈顿买了约一间栋正在兴建或改建的单元公寓屋;所占比率约是当时所有正在贩售的公寓屋的三分之一。


与外国买家买卖经验超过20年的Alexico Group发展主任桑斯艾(Louise Sunshine)表示,在1980年代,外国买家几乎都是日本人,但现在,到处都是有钱人。光是今年,从拉丁美洲来的买家就比以往要多了20%,近日,来自东欧,尤其是俄罗斯的买家也增加了。



来自哥伦比亚22岁的路易斯(Ana Maria Ruiz)在纽约哥伦比亚政府贸易局实习,因此需要一个住的地方,然而租一间工作室一年的租金不便宜,需要33,600美元,另还需支付仲介人8,400美元的费用。



在Bellmarc Realty公司仲介商布理特曼(Jamie Breitman)的协助下,路易斯在东48街145号找到一间499,000美元的工作室,在房中可见到克莱斯勒大楼。路易斯的母亲从美林证券借了10万美元的贷款,一旦她的女儿在一年后从公寓搬出后,路易斯的母亲希望能将它以一个月三千至3,500的金额租出去。


金(Youngchul Kim)与他的太太从2003年开始寻找曼哈顿的公寓。今年夏天,金帮他的小女儿在Avery买了间价值150万美元的两房公寓,他们的大女儿也准备从香港到纽约同住。

对另一些买家来说,纽约本身就极具吸引力,这些人希望能买间周围有书店、电影院的公寓。来自澳洲39岁的牙齿矫正师卡瑟米提斯(Nick Kotsomitis)在澳洲与希腊拥有16个投资资产。在卡瑟米提斯受邀前往曼哈顿工作后,他决定在当地买房。最后,他以188.5万美元买下了一间公寓。

Lum Chang In Venture To Develop Anson Site

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 7, 2007


A PROPERTY fund that won the tender for a leasehold office plot on Anson Road has roped in construction group Lum Chang Holdings to jointly develop the site.

Lum Chang will take a 5 per cent stake in Firstoffice, a vehicle set up to develop the land.

The remaining 95 per cent is held by Homerun 28, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LaSalle Asia Opportunity Fund III.

The total development cost, including the land, is estimated at $379.2 million.

Lum Chang has been appointed the main contractor for the $82.5 million contract to build a 20-storey office tower on the land next to International Plaza.

When completed by end-2009, the 99-year leasehold property is expected to yield 200,208 sq ft of net lettable office space and 1,668 sq ft of carpark space.

Given the rising demand and shortage of prime office space, the project is expected to draw keen interest from multinational tenants looking for Grade A offices near the Tanjong Pagar MRT station, said Lum Chang in a statement.

LaSalle won the tender with a top offer of $237.2 million in a government tender in August.

The Anson Road site is the maiden Singapore investment for LaSalle Asia Opportunity Fund III, which is planning to make about $12US billion ($17S.4 billion) worth of acquisitions over the next three to four years. The fund is part of the Jones Lang LaSalle group.

Ex-F&N Chief Joins Ng Teng Fong’s Property Business

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 7, 2007

Han Cheng Fong to head Sino Group’s China division, Far East International.

JUST a month after his exit as chief executive officer (CEO) of Fraser & Neave (F&N) caused a swirl of controversy, Dr Han Cheng Fong has landed himself a new job.

Dr Han, 65, has joined the operations of property tycoon Ng Teng Fong - Singapore’s richest man, according to Forbes magazine.

His job will focus on expansion plans in China. This is right up his alley as the property heavyweight is said to have focused on property in China when he was at F&N, a property, publishing and beverage conglomerate.

F&N has service residences in China and is developing residential properties and shopping centres there as well.

Since Dr Han’s departure from F&N, there has been much speculation as to where he would go.

Prior to F&N, he was CEO at DBS Land but left after it merged with unlisted Pidemco Land to form CapitaLand.

In a statement issued on the day he quit F&N, Dr Han had said: ‘Yes, I have been in discussion with several organisations in the last few months and it is likely I will make up my mind on what my future will be after a break in Europe’.

Mr Ng’s Far East Organization (FEO) is Singapore’s largest unlisted property developer. His son, Philip, is the company’s CEO.

Hong Kong-based Sino Land is the listed arm of FEO. It ranks as Hong Kong’s fifth- largest property developer and has a market value of about $115HK billion ($21S.5 billion). Mr Ng’s son, Robert, is the chairman of Sino Land.

When contacted yesterday, the Sino Group said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Dr Han as the chief executive officer of the Sino Group’s China division.’

Sino Group consists of listed Sino Land and the Ng family’s private group in Hong Kong.

Dr Han will also head a FEO unit, Far East International.

Sino Group said: ‘The job is to expand our real estate interests in China and other markets of interest.’ Dr Han will be doing likewise for the Fullerton Hotel brand.
Sino Land owns the Fullerton waterfront properties which comprise the Fullerton Waterboat House, The Fullerton Hotel, One Fullerton with its trendy restaurants, and the recently acquired Collyer Quay site.

Dr Han, who started his job last Thursday, is in Hong Kong and could not be contacted.

However, his appointment does not clear up the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over F&N’s business and future as a result of his departure.

There has been no elaboration on F&N’s statement that Dr Han’s departure resulted from ‘differences of opinion with the board’.

Just before he quit, F&N announced it had found a new chairman, former SingTel chief Lee Hsien Yang, to take over from Dr Michael Fam who has since retired. F&N took pains to emphasise that Dr Han’s departure had nothing to do with Mr Lee’s arrival.

Then there was talk that Mr Lee’s appointment as well as Temasek Holdings’ entrance early this year as a strategic investor were to fend off takeover plans by Heineken.
Heineken is F&N’s joint venture partner in its beverage business, which includes the famed Tiger Beer.

There was also talk that Dr Han, coming from a property background, was less keen on the traditional parts of the business such as the beer and dairy operations, than the rest of the board.

Property brought in about two-thirds of F&N’s profits last year.

Horizon Towers Owners Renew Objections To Sale At Hearing

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 7, 2007

THE home owners opposed to the $500 million collective sale of Horizon Towers have renewed their complaints that the sale was not handled properly, resulting in a price that was too low given a fast-rising market.

They were opening their case to stop the sale in front of the Strata Titles Board (STB) yesterday with a barrage of arguments.

They claimed that the sale committee and the property agent had mismanaged the sale process of the condominium.

It was the second day of the resumed STB hearing in which the majority owners are seeking approval to have the sale approved, after it was thrown out on a technicality in August.

They are battling it out with the minority owners who have filed objections to the sale. These objectors include three groups, each represented by different lawyers, along with two sets of owners representing themselves.

Hotel Properties (HPL) and its two partners have been trying to buy the 99-year leasehold Horizon Towers for $500 million, the estate’s reserve price that was set in April or May last year.

Opponents of the sale argued that by the time the deal was signed, that reserve price was too low, and out of date.

They said the $500 million price came with an 80 per cent premium - an inducement that had shrunk significantly by the time the estate was sold to the HPL consortium in January this year, due to a fast-rising market.

One witness, Mr Wee Hian Siew, who was the secretary of Horizon Towers’ first sale committee and one of the first to moot the idea of a sale, was called at the STB hearing yesterday.

He was asked numerous questions, including whether he knew about the rising market and why he did not ask for a fresh mandate for the $500 million offer from the owners, many of whom were said to have learnt of the sale via a newspaper report.

Mr Wee said he knew about the rising market and insisted that he was under the impression that the collective sale premium had slipped to about 40 per cent to 50 per cent, which he was happy with.

Earlier, one of the three minority owners’ lawyers, Mr Philip Fong of Harry Elias partnership, had asked if Mr Wee knew that Horizon Towers’ agent First Tree Properties was a tiny company with a paid-up capital of $50,000 for instance.

Also, he asked if he knew that the company had agreed to take a commission from the purchaser, instead of the owners as with usual practice. Mr Wee said he knew about it.

He later agreed that this would create a potential conflict but it was one that was not apparent to him when they were making the deal.

These were just some of the arguments brought up yesterday when the STB board also dismissed the case of a majority owner who wanted to participate in the hearing as an objector.

The hearing continues today.

Sale Of CityVista Residences Units

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

CHIP Eng Seng Corp and Lehman Brothers Real Estate Equity Partners have sold 38 units of CityVista Residences during a soft launch and private previews.

The average price is $2,500 per square foot, the 70-unit freehold project's marketing agent DTZ said yesterday. The project will be officially launched tomorrow

OCBC's Q3 Net Profit Rises 22% To $463m

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Growth achieved despite a $221m securities writedown

OCBC Bank's third-quarter net profit rose 22 per cent to $463 million from a year ago, despite taking a $221 million writedown in debt securities linked to US sub-prime mortgages.

Taking a hit: Compared with Q2, OCBC's net profit for the three months ended Sept 30 fell 13%

Compared with the second quarter, net profit for the three months ended Sept 30 fell 13 per cent, mainly due to the hefty charge made against its portfolio of ABS CDOs, or collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) comprising pools of asset-backed securities (ABS).

The value of the portfolio was slashed by 82 per cent from $270 million to just $48 million, after the bank said it decided to use a third-party valuation model to value them instead of relying on quotes in a market that had become 'illiquid and inactive'.

Chief executive David Conner told reporters that with the large writedown, the bank had 'prepared for the worst and there logically is not going to be any future earnings impact from this portfolio'.

The charge was partly offset by some $183 million worth of net writebacks in past allowances for loans and properties, resulting in an overall net allowance of $39 million for the quarter.

A tax refund of $38 million received in the third quarter also helped cushion the blow to the bank's bottomline.

The Q3 net profit beat the average forecast of $417 million by analysts polled by Reuters, but was lower than the $477 million median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Annualised basic earnings per share for the quarter was 53.4 cents, up 12 per cent from a year ago.

For the first nine months of the year, the group's net profit rose 10 per cent to $1.64 billion from the previous corresponding period, while net interest income grew 25 per cent to $1.63 billion. Non-interest income for the nine months inched up one per cent over the year to $1.57 billion.

Net customer loans grew 15.7 per cent from a year ago to $66.5 billion at end-September, and 4.5 per cent since the end of June.

Net interest income for the quarter rose 19 per cent over the year to $565 million. Compared to the second quarter, it was up just one per cent.

The year-on-year rise was driven mainly by growth in corporate and small business loans in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other overseas markets, said the bank.

Its net interest margin (annualised) was 2.07 per cent, up from 2.06 per cent a year ago but lower than the 2.13 per cent in the second quarter.

Non-interest income for the quarter rose 35 per cent from a year ago to $481 million. Compared to the second quarter, it was 2 per cent lower.

Its share price dipped slightly after the earnings release at mid-day, but bounced back to end the day five cents or 0.6 per cent higher at $8.90.

Asked about the broader impact of the recent financial market turmoil on the bank's business, Mr Conner said he was confident of its prospects.

'For banks in Asia-Pacific like OCBC that have plenty of liquidity and excess capital, opportunities abound. We're seeing credit spreads widen and so we would expect that there will be more opportunities to lend money because the demand is strong in the markets that we're operating in.'

The government's withdrawal of the deferred payment scheme for property purchases on Oct 26 to discourage speculative buying is 'probably healthy', he said.

'We see quite a big pick-up in mortgage loan demand over the next 18 to 24 months from that portion that was delayed due to people buying on the deferred payment scheme.'

Already in the third quarter, sales for mortgage loans were up 50 per cent from the second quarter and 'four times what it was in the third quarter last year', he noted.

Banks' Combined Q3 Earnings Up 13%

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Loans growth, strong fee income help local lenders achieve decent profit rise

ROBUST economic growth and a booming property market are propping up the earnings of Singapore's three banking groups - at a time when charges relating to their collateralised debt obligation (CDO) holdings have caused a dent on profitability.

'We might face margin pressures going into the fourth quarter.'- Jeanette Wong

Operationally, loans growth and strong fee income helped the banks achieve decent rise in net profits for the third quarter.

Their combined net profit for the quarter rose 13 per cent from a year ago to $1.57 billion. OCBC, smallest of the three, achieved the biggest percentage rise of 22 per cent in net profit to $463 million. DBS Group Holdings, South-east Asia's largest lender, recorded an 11 per cent increase to $610 million, while United Overseas Bank (UOB) came in with an 8.2 per cent rise to $501 million.

Net interest income - or profit from loans and also the bank's core business - also rose the highest at OCBC, registering a 19 per cent increase from the year before to $565 million. DBS saw a 15 per cent increase to $1.05 billion, while UOB came in with a 4.4 per cent rise to $714 billion.

Customer loans grew the most at DBS, with a 23 per cent rise to a record $104.7 billion marking the 11th consecutive quarter of growth. The charge was led by corporate and SME loans in Singapore and Hong Kong, while Singapore housing loans also continued to grow strongly.

Housing loans - the largest single component in the loan book of each bank, comprising about one-quarter of total loans, grew the strongest at UOB. The bank's housing loans portfolio grew 21 per cent to $21.8 billion. DBS, the largest mortgage lender here, saw its home loans grow more slowly at 9 per cent to $26.5 billion, while OCBC's rose only 3 per cent to $18.6 billion.

But OCBC chief David Conner stated: 'We're very active in the market and we see pick-up in the loan outstanding. We see a pretty robust pipeline on the mortgage front.'

Net interest margins, which measure the difference between what the banks earn on loans and pay on deposits, declined at all three banks quarter on quarter. Chief financial officer of DBS, Jeanette Wong, also said that the bank will face pressures on their net interest margins, since Singapore interest rates are trending down. 'We might face margin pressures going into the fourth quarter,' she noted.

The banks' profits were given a boost by non-interest income, with all three banks putting up a good showing on that front as they benefited from more fees and commission. OCBC saw the highest growth, reporting a 35 per cent increase to $481 million, with strong contributions from stock-broking, wealth management, and foreign exchange income.

Yesterday, the banks' share prices rose amid a rebound in the broader market after Monday's sharp falls. DBS shares rose 0.5 per cent or 10 cents to close at $21.50, while UOB's share price rose 1.5 per cent or 30 cents to end at $20.60. OCBC closed 0.6 per cent or 5 cents higher at $8.90.

It's An INTRUSION It's An INVESTMENT (Springwell Mansions)

Source : The ELectric New Paper, November 06, 2007

# Residents unite against en-bloc sale after 3 of 6 units sold to developer and friends last month

# New owner then rents out unit to fereign workers while waiting for en-bloc sale

THE banner on the gate - with the bold red words 'No To Enbloc' - is quite hard to miss at Springwell Mansions.

And the message is quite clear.

Put up by a group of residents who are fed up with what seems to them to be intense interest from a developer, the sign is to tell others that the rest are not interested.

The group - living in the six-unit private estate - put it up last month to make their intentions known.

The banner cost them $60, they said.

Right now, their development is split right down the middle when it comes to considering a collective sale.

Three of the units there, or half the project, were hurriedly snapped up last month.

Fearing a majority takeover - five out of the six unit owners need to approve a sale - the residents of the three remaining units quickly called for an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) to decide on the en-bloc possibility after that.

And all the three owners who attended the meeting last month voted against the sale.

One of the new residents, who sent a proxy, couldn't vote because he missed the deadline to register the proxy.

This 23-year-old freehold development is located near Upper East Coast Road near Bedok Camp.

Its land area is about 22,000 sq ft big - about the size of seven basketball courts.

Mr Siegfried Stettmayer, who is also the chairman of the management committee there, said he was surprised by the sudden interest in the estate.

He said: 'All three units were sold quite quickly and in such a short span of time.

'We don't want an en-bloc sale because this estate is quiet, safe and it's hard to find a unit of such size in this area. And we've great neighbours here too.'

Mr Stettmayer, a vice-president of sales at a business consulting firm, bought his 3,200 sq ft place for about $690,000 in 2004 and spent more than $200,000 renovating it.

The units there are three-bedroom types at 3,200 sq ft or 1,600 sq ft big.

The peace of the estate was broken by what the residents saw as an intrusion when a group of related buyers started snapping up the units there in October.

One large unit was sold for $1.4million and two smaller units were sold for $1.1m and $950,000 each, which is the current market rate, property agents said.

The $950,000 unit was sold to Springlife Holdings director Lee Boon Kwan, and the other two properties were bought by his friends.

Springlife is a small property developer.

One resident there, accountant Foo Siew Lan, said: 'What are these new buyers trying to do? They are obviously not buying to live here. Are they trying to buy us one by one or trying to force an en-bloc sale?'

She bought her 3,200 sq ft place for $738,000 five years ago.

To make matters worse, one of the smaller units was rented to foreign workers recently.

While they do not disturb the peace of the neighbourhood, some of the residents are clearly unhappy about strangers living among them.

Ms Foo said: 'I see different groups of workers here every night. They are generally peaceful but I just don't feel safe with strangers streaming in and out of the estate every night.

'And who would buy a $1m property here to rent out to foreign workers?'

By renting out to foreign workers, the landlord has also broken a by-law in that estate.

This by-law states that owners are to rent out to family units only (no boarders and foreign workers).

This by-law was passed in June this year to ensure a comfortable, safe and pleasant living environment, the residents said.

When contacted, Springlife's MrLee claimed he did not know about the by-law and had just found out about it.

His friend, a contractor, had bought a unit and is temporarily renting it out to foreign workers.

Mr Lee said there is no point in his friend renting a place elsewhere to house his workers when he has a vacant place of his own for rent.

He added: 'Anyway, that's a temporary thing. He'll probably sell it if there's no enbloc in the future.'

He and his friends had invested in the three units there because of what they thought was an en-bloc opportunity.

Mr Lee said in Mandarin: 'I thought that this place had the potential for an en-bloc sale, so I decided to buy a unit.

'I also persuaded two of my friends to buy too. But now that the residents have voted against the sale, we're stuck with the properties.

But he added that because he bought his unit 'at a fairly low price', he can 'still sell it at a profit' if there is no collective sale.

He said that his friends' units were bought at a slight premium, so they may not be able recoup their losses if they sell on the open market.

For now, the anti-enbloc banner makes matters worse.

Mr Lee said: 'With that sign outside, how can I sell my place now? Who will buy a unit here now if they think that there's no en-bloc opportunity?'

Grange Heights Tender Opens

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

THE tender for the collective sale of Grange Heights has been launched. And sources say the reserve price could be around $845 million, or $2,200 psf per plot ratio (ppr).

No development charge is payable for the 136,678 sq ft freehold plot, according to marketing agent Jones Lang LaSalle.

Owners controlling more than 80 per cent of share values in the estate have signed the collective sale agreement. In March this year an expression of interest exercise was launched before the minimum consent level had been secured.

The price expectation then was 'upwards of $1,700 psf ppr', according to a BT report at the time.

Grange Heights has been zoned for 'permanent residential' use with a 2.8 maximum plot ratio and a height of up to 36 storeys. The current development has access from three entrances - Grange Road, River Valley Grove and St Thomas Walk. The existing development comprises three blocks with a total of 120 apartments. The tender closes on Nov 28.

Cost Of Building Sentosa IR May Climb To $6b

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Resorts World factors in rising construction costs, new attractions, improved designs

The cost of the integrated resort (IR) on Sentosa could climb to as much as $6 billion - from an original $5.2 billion - as building costs escalate and more attractions are added.

Resorts World at Sentosa (RWS) yesterday said that it has revised its budget to $5.75 billion and made a further contingency provision of $250 million, taking the overall budget to some $6 billion.

$275 million of the confirmed $550 million budget increase can be attributed to new rides and attractions, improved hotel and resort designs and better transport and infrastructure. The other $275 million increase is due to rising construction costs, said Justin Tan, managing director of Genting International, which won the bid for the resort in December 2006.

The announcement by RWS comes after Marina Bay Sands said in August this year that its cost could escalate to $5.2 billion, from an original $5.05 billion.

Rising construction costs have affected developers island-wide. 'We have been able to lock in the prices of concrete and structural steel at very competitive prices,' said RWS senior director of projects Michael Chin. 'Labour costs and margins of contractors, however, have risen significantly.'

Developers have also reported that projects are being delayed because by a shortage of contractors. Despite this, RWS yesterday said that construction is on track for the resort's soft opening in early 2010.

More than 50 per cent of the overall excavation, piling and reclamation work has been completed and more than $600 million of construction contracts awarded, it said. Another $1 billion of contracts will be awarded by early 2008.

Mr Tan does not expect the new contracts to hold up the project's completion. 'At this point in time, we are in negotiations with some of these contractors,' he said. 'They have not indicated that (possible delay) to us.' He also said that with the new attractions, plans for the resort are now final.

RWS yesterday announced six new attractions - two new rides at Universal Studios Singapore and four new performances that will be open to visitors free of charge.

Separately, Genting International reported a third-quarter loss because of an 'impairment' charge as a result of its acquisition of a UK casino group. Genting International lost $393.4 million in the three months ended Sept 30, compared with a profit of $86.9 million a year earlier.

Horizon Towers Hearing 'I Don't Believe Anything In The Papers'

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Sales committee member grilled on why he didn't take heed of rising prices

Suggestions that the Horizon Towers sales committee failed to act in owners' best interests took centrestage when the Strata Titles Board (STB) hearing resumed yesterday.

The serious mien of the session was, however, periodically broken by moments of frivolity - some more tasteful than others.

Former sales committee secretary Wee Hian Siew spent a tough full day on the stand, as lawyers for the minority owners - those who didn't agree to the collective sale - grilled him on how he and the sales committee handled the sale.

It is the minorities' contention that the en bloc sale of Horizon Towers - to Hotel Properties and its partners for $500 million - was carried out in bad faith and should not be approved by the STB.

Philip Fong of Harry Elias Partnership questioned Mr Wee for almost three hours on the collective sale procedures carried out by the sales committee.

Mr Fong cited specific instances of when key procedures were not followed - such as when notices and circulars to owners on the collective sale were insufficient, untimely or inaccurate.

Mr Fong also asked why Mr Wee didn't try to get a better sale price when it became known that residential property prices were beginning to soar; he referred Mr Wee to a Jan 11 Business Times article, 'Developers revive interest in unsold collective sale sites', reporting just such a surge in home prices.

Mr Wee's response - 'I don't believe anything in the papers.' - drew sniggers from the crowd.

When Mr Fong pressed on, saying that BT was 'a respectable daily', Mr Wee clarified his comment to mean that he felt 'we should not take everything at face value'.

The protracted session, however, prompted several abrupt remarks from the tribunal's chairman Philip Chan, who interrupted Mr Fong on more than one occasion - once, for an early lunch break and a second time to tell the senior lawyer that his allotted time was up.

Kannan Ramesh of Tan Kok Quan Partnership also subjected Mr Wee to a lengthy cross-examination.

He focused on the promise made to owners that they would get an 80 per cent premium if they sold their unit in an en bloc sale than if they were to sell them individually.

Referring again to the Jan 11 BT article - and the fact that neighbouring development, The Grangeford, had upped its minimum asking price by a quarter - Mr Ramesh said these should have alerted the Horizon Towers' sales committee to the fact that property prices were rising, that the promised premium had been 'significantly eroded' and that they should have done more to get a higher price.

Mr Wee said the sales committee did try but relied on the expert advice of their sales agent, Alvin Er, that $500 million was the best price they could get. He said it never occurred to him that he could seek advice from other experts.

The tribunal's chairman, Mr Chan, then asked Mr Wee if he felt he had carried out the duties expected of a secretary of the sales committee.

That prompted Mr Wee to ask, 'What do you mean by a secretary?', to which Mr Chan retorted 'without a skirt' - a comment that drew an audible objection from some members of the viewing public.

The STB also rejected one majority owner's application to have separate representation in this hearing.

Susanna Rusli had applied last week to participate in the hearing, separately from the other majority owners - but the board yesterday dismissed her arguments.

The hearing continues today with a second former sales committee member, Henry Lim, on the stand.

Tampines Office Site Attracts Just One Bid

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Property consultants wonder if caution is creeping into this sector

In a possible reflection that caution among developers may be extending to the office sector, a tender for a transitional office site in Tampines yesterday drew just one bid - from City Developments Ltd's (CDL) unit Glades Properties.

The thin bidding may be due to concern that strong office demand currently outside the CBD is the result of an overflow of demand from the CBD.

And its bid of $10 million, which worked out to $80.65 psf per plot ratio (ppr), was lower than the $100 psf ppr region that most property consultants had expected the 15-year leasehold site to fetch.

The government has indicated recently that it will inject more office space into the market soon - a step that could cool prices. Some felt that yesterday's bidding reflected caution on part of the developers while others suggested Tampines may not be a popular location among office investors.

They pointed out that the next-door 99-year leasehold office site offered through a tender that closed in May this year had also drawn just one bid, again from CityDev, although at a more substantial price of $622 psf ppr.

The maiden 15-year leasehold transitional office plot next to Newton MRT station attracted a whopping 11 bids with a top price of $219 psf ppr in August.

Whether the weaker sentiment among office investors is confined to Tampines or is spreading to the Central Business District (CBD) as well will be seen in a tender closing on Nov 13 for Marina View Land Parcel B, a 99-year leasehold site with stipulated minimum office and hotel components.

Property consultants polled by BT unanimously expect URA to award the 124,000 sq ft transitional office site at Tampines Ave 5 to CDL, despite its bid being the sole offer and that too at a price lower than expected.

'Government should make the award since as a transitional office site, it is part of the interim solution to the acute office shortage here. Otherwise, the government objective would not be met,' Knight Frank managing director Tan Tiong Cheng reasoned.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority said yesterday in response to a query by BT that 'the government will continue to release more transitional office sites to meet business needs; details on these sites will be released shortly'.

Colliers International director (research and consultancy) Tay Huey Ying said: 'If the government releases more transitional office sites in or near the CBD, I believe demand will be healthy.'

She reckons the thin bidding for the Tampines plot yesterday may be due to concern among developers that strong office demand currently outside the CBD is the result of an overflow of demand from the CBD.

'There may be concern that post-2010, when there will be a large influx of new office space being completed within the CBD, the spillover demand for suburban offices may recede,' she added.

'Next week's tender for Marina View Land Parcel B will be interesting to watch, to see whether developers are also concerned about office supply in the CBD itself,' she added.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho said: 'That is a much better site (than today's Tampines plot), although I do not expect a lot of bidders because it is a huge site with a substantial outlay.'

Soros Warns Of 'Serious' US Economic Correction

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

He says things are worse than what Fed chief sees

(NEW YORK) Billionaire investor George Soros has forecast that the US economy is 'on the verge of a very serious economic correction' after decades of overspending.

Mr Soros: Predicts that it's payback time for the US economy after decades of overspending

'We have borrowed an awful lot of money and now the bill is coming to us,' he said during a lecture at the New York University, adding that the war on terror 'has thrown America out of the rails'.

Asked whether a recession was inevitable, Mr Soros said: 'I think we are definitely in for a slowdown that I think will be a bigger slowdown than (Fed Chairman Ben) Bernanke is seeing.'

On the same note, David Rosenberg, chief economist for North America at Merrill Lynch & Co in New York, forecast that the US economy will come close to stalling in the fourth quarter.

The economy will probably grow at an annual rate of between zero per cent and one per cent, Mr Rosenberg said in his weekly report to clients dated Nov 2. He currently forecasts a 0.7 per cent pace of expansion this quarter.

The third-quarter's 3.9 per cent growth rate was artificially boosted by 'non-recurring factors' that will disappear in the last three months of the year, Mr Rosenberg said.

Add to that the collapse in sub-prime-mortgage lending and a worsening housing slump and the expansion will slow, he said in an interview on Monday.

'This is by far the most leveraged economic expansion in modern history,' Mr Rosenberg said in the interview. Parts of the mortgage market 'just aren't coming back. This is going to have a deleterious impact on growth.'

A drop in gasoline prices even as oil prices jumped, a surge in auto inventories before threatened strikes and an increase in defence spending propelled third-quarter growth and won't be repeated, Mr Rosenberg's report said.

On the forex market, Mr Soros, famous for his speculative attack on the Bank of England that made him more than US$1 billion, declined to nominate which currencies were more vulnerable currently. He also declined to comment specifically on the dollar.

'I know exactly where the currencies are going to but I'm not going to tell that to you,' he told the audience.

Last week, investment guru Jim Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Fund with Mr Soros in the 1970s, recommended selling the dollar as well as US investment banks and US housing stocks.

In an interview with Bloomberg News Agency, Mr Rogers said that US credit markets are enduring their worst bubble ever and forecast that it may take six years for them to return to normal.

'Never in American history have people been able to buy a house with no money down,' Mr Rogers said. 'We have the worst credit bubble, and it's going to take a long time to work its way out. You don't cure a bubble in five or six months. It takes five or six years.'

Mr Rogers, the chairman of Beeland Interests Inc, also said he's pessimistic on the US dollar. He said he hoped the Fed raises interest rates to stem inflation, but if it does 'the dollar is going to collapse'. -- Reuters, Bloomberg

OCBC's $221m Writedown To Cut CDO Losses

Source : The Business Times, November 7, 2007

Bank hopes aggressive move will lift shadow from future earnings as market for ABS CDOs dries up

The market for some debt instruments linked to US sub-prime mortgages that were popular with banks worldwide 'has come to a virtual standstill', said OCBC Bank yesterday.

This led it to slash the value of its portfolio of ABS CDOs, or collateralised debt obligations comprising pools of asset-backed securities (ABS) from $270 million to just $48 million - less than a fifth of their original value.

Its $221 million writedown of its CDO holdings is the most aggressive so far among the three Singapore-listed banks.

'We can't predict the future, but what we've done this quarter is prepare for the worst and there logically is not going to be any future earnings impact from this portfolio,' said chief executive David Conner at a media briefing yesterday after the bank released its third-quarter results.

He said the bank decided in September and early October to value these ABS CDOs using a model from 'one of the global banks' after the market for the ABS CDOs became so illiquid that market quotations were no longer a reliable measure of their value. 'The ABS CDO market is effectively closed.'

Based on the model, OCBC wrote down the value of its ABS CDO portfolio by 82 per cent. Had the bank continued to rely on market quotes, the value of the ABS CDOs would have been $65 million, instead of the $48 million suggested by the model, said the bank. Inputs to the model are based on observable US housing market data, including delinquency rates and foreclosures, it said, although it did not name the bank that provided the model.

OCBC has another $372 million invested in corporate CDOs - those backed by corporate bonds - that are not exposed to the US sub-prime market. For these corporate CDOs, 'the market is still open and operating, it has not declined dramatically, so we're still marking those to market', said Mr Conner. The fair value of the corporate CDO portfolio at end-September was $357 million, said the bank.

He stressed that even with recent downgrades in the credit ratings of some of the CDO tranches, 'the portfolio that we have is still rated investment grade' and there had been no defaults on payments to the bank.

In its third-quarter earnings release on Oct 26, DBS Group said it made $70 million in allowances for its $275 million in CDOs that were exposed to US sub-prime assets.

On Oct 30, United Overseas Bank (UOB) said it had made an additional provision of $20 million for its CDO investments, bringing its total provision to $55 million so far. UOB has total CDO investments of $388 million, of which $90 million is in ABS CDOs.

Yesterday's writedown by OCBC came at a trying time for banks elsewhere. In the US and Europe, large financial groups such as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse recently said they had suffered much bigger losses from the credit market turmoil than earlier estimates had suggested. The chief executives of both Citigroup and Merrill Lynch have since been forced out.