Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CapitaRetail China Trust To Offer S$280m Worth Of New Units

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

CapitaRetail China Trust is planning to sell S$280 million worth of new units to fund the purchase of a shopping mall in Beijing.

It is seeking to sell 112 million new units at S$2.50 each. The offer will be open to both existing unit holders and new investors.

The proceeds will be used to help pay for the purchase of Xizhimen Mall in the Chinese capital.

In addition, the trust will take on S$88 million in borrowings for the purchase.

The acquisition is valued at S$344 million.

CapitaRetail Retail China Trust is calling for a unit holders' meeting on December 4 to vote on the new issue. - CNA /ls

City Developments Net Profit Up 32.1%

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

Real estate developer City Developments Ltd said Wednesday net profit in the third quarter rose 32.1 percent from a year earlier on continued health in the city-state's property sector.

Net profit was S$169.49 million compared with S$128.31 million in the third quarter to September 30 last year, the company said.

Revenue rose 19.7 percent to S$796.15 million, it said.

"With continued growth of the economy, job creation, attraction of foreign talent, and new businesses, Singapore is transforming into a vibrant and dynamic place in Asia-Pacific. As a growth hub, it augurs well for the property market," the company said.

Singapore is experiencing a property and construction boom after years in the doldrums.

City Developments says it plans to launch "a few projects" in coming months and expects to deliver a "stellar" full-year performance. - AFP/ir

Banyan Tree To Develop, Operate 2 Luxury Resorts In Philippines

Source :Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

Banyan Tree has set up a joint venture to develop and operate two luxury resorts in the Philippines.

The resorts are to be built on Dinaran Island and will cost around US$70 million.

They will be Banyan Tree's first project in the country.

The luxury resorts operator will provide architectural and interior design concepts for the resorts.

The project is targeted for completion by 2010. - CNA /ls

Annual Value Criterion Adjusted For Low-Wage Workers

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

With the revision of Annual Values (AVs) of properties from January 1, the AV criterion for low-wage workers to qualify for the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme (WIS) has been adjusted.

For work done in 2009, the AV of the recipient's property at the end of 2008 must not be more than S$11,000.

The Ministry of Manpower said the increase in this AV criterion will help older low-wage workers who may be affected by the rise in their property values.

But to qualify for WIS for work done in 2007 and 2008, there is no change to the AV criterion. The recipient must live in a property with AV of not more than S$10,000 at the end of 2006 and 2007 respectively.

For more information, log on to Queries can also be addressed to the CPF Board at 1800-2222-888. - CNA/ac

Farmway LRT Station To Open On Thursday

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

Farmway LRT station on the Sengkang LRT West Loop will open for passenger service on Thursday.

SBS Transit said the opening of the station, which comes more than two-and-a-half years after the official commencement of the Sengkang LRT West Loop, was delayed because of the lack of housing developments in the vicinity.

The station will offer residents access to sports facilities when the adjoining Sports Complex is completed next year. - CNA /ls

HDB Sets Aside S$6m To Revitalise Neighbourhood Shopping Areas

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is pumping more resources to make neighbourhood shopping areas more attractive.

HDB is implementing a S$6 million pilot scheme in 14 areas at various estates.

It is also spending S$12.5 million to assist shopkeepers by addressing the problem of oversupply of shops, as well as helping those who are losing money to retire or restructure their business.

There are many types of shops in the four blocks that make up Serangoon North Neighbourhood Centre.

To improve the area such as having new walkways, shop owners pay half the cost, which can go up to S$10,000. The remaining cost is borne by the HDB and the Town Council.

Those who rent the retail space from HDB either pay nothing or up to S$20,000. The co-sharing scheme comes under the Revitalisation of Shops Scheme.

The HDB is overseeing the infrastructure in its efforts to revitalise shops. However, it is not just the outside that is important.

The Minister of State for National Development, Grace Fu, pointed out that the interior of the shops is important too. So the plan is for SPRING Singapore to help shopkeepers in areas like marketing, packaging and displays.

SPRING Singapore's contribution is part of the Heartland Retail Programme. It will bear up to 70% of the costs, which can come up to S$10,000 for one shop.

SPRING is also funding up to 70% of the manpower, equipment and professional services costs like hiring consultants to work with Merchant Associations.

"We are working with the architects quite closely for the past few months. We (are) negotiating on what to be included in our four blocks," said Patrick Ong from Serangoon North Merchants Association.

The scheme was announced by the Minister of State for National Development in March. Touring the shops on Wednesday, Ms Fu was given an update on the progress of the scheme.

HDB said for some areas, construction can be finished between one and two years. But others need more time.

For example, Jurong West will get an amphitheatre and Bedok Town Council has applied for block awning.

"Many of the shop owners see the challenges ahead of them. They want to do something about it. But individually, they might not have the financial resources nor the ability to carry out the revitalisation of their neighbourhood centres," said Fu.

Another area HDB is addressing is the oversupply of shops and what to do if they experience poor business.

This is where the Restructuring Programme for Shops comes in. It offers shopkeepers the option to close shop or restructure their business. 293 shops will close in total.

The programme was started in 2005. - CNA /ls

专家担心 中国楼市已处高危状态

《联合早报》Nov 14, 2007









F&N Lets Its Strong Results Do The Talking

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2007

Net profit up 18.5% on robust growth in dairies, breweries, property businesses.

IT WAS meant to be Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s baptism of fire in his first results briefing as Fraser and Neave’s (F&N’s) chairman.

Analysts and the media eagerly awaited the appearance of the former SingTel chief - with many questions on their minds.

Would there be a change in F&N’s strategy following the departure of former chief executive officer (CEO) Han Cheng Fong over a month ago? His departure was linked to differences of opinion with the F&N board.

They also wanted to hear from Mr Lee, now the acting CEO, about the search for a replacement, but they were disappointed as Mr Lee did not show up. F&N group company secretary Anthony Cheong chaired the results briefing.

‘This is a management exercise. Mr Lee is a non-executive chairman and also he’s acting chief executive,’ Mr Cheong replied to the obvious question.

‘We didn’t ask him to come because this is a management exercise and he’s a non-executive chairman,’ he reiterated again later, when asked if Mr Lee is overseeing management.

Later, Mr Cheong said staff morale is fine.

‘Hsien Yang is very focused, and he works very hard. We’re learning to work with him,’ he said, adding that they do not have any ‘progress to report’ about the CEO search. Apart from external hires, Mr Cheong said F&N is also open to considering internal candidates.

He also restated that F&N has no plans to spin off any of its three core businesses: property, food and beverage, and publishing.

The rest of the panel, including F&N financial controller Patrick Goh, Frasers Centrepoint Group CEO Lim Ee Seng and Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) chief Koh Poh Tiong, did not weigh in on the hiring issues.

They preferred to let the results do the talking.

During the presentation, Mr Koh said APB’s net profit for the year ended Sept 30 rose 2.9 per cent to $133.7 million, as higher beer sales offset the cost of building new breweries.

APB is F&N’s joint venture with Heineken.

F&N also did well, posting an 18.5 per cent rise in net profit for the year to $378.6 million from $319.5 million in the corresponding period last year.

Revenue grew strongly to $4.74 billion for the year ended Sept 30, which was 25 per cent higher than last year’s.

This was underpinned by strong revenue growth from its dairies, breweries and development property segments.

In a statement, Mr Lee said that F&N has achieved record levels of growth and profits.

‘We are now harvesting the results of our relentless pursuit of regional expansion and investment in multi-core businesses, which have delivered sustainable long-term growth,’ he said.

Surprisingly Low Bids For Marina View Site

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2007

Top offer of $952m a sign that property investors could be turning cautious.

BARELY two months after a site at Marina View fetched a record $2.02 billion, a similar plot next door has managed only half that price.

The unexpectedly low bids for the plot, which was seen as highly attractive, came on top of lukewarm response to other recent land sales. This is further proof that sentiment in the property market has started to cool, consultants warned.

The second Marina View plot drew only two bids when its tender closed yesterday. The top offer came in at $952.9 million - a far cry from the first site’s price and well below the experts’ predictions of up to $1.6 billion.

Both Marina View sites, which are located behind the One Shenton condominium, had the same high bidder: Macquarie Global Property Advisers (MGPA), a private equity real estate firm partly owned by Australia’s Macquarie Bank Group.

Property group CapitaLand also put in offers for both plots.

MGPA’s offer in September for the first site, which is slightly bigger, worked out to $1,409 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), almost double the $779 psf ppr bid it submitted for the second site.

The stark difference shows how much the mood in the market has shifted in just two months, said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

‘Clearly, they had a change of heart,’ he said. ‘The two sites are right next to each other, but the second bid is only 55 per cent of the previous bid.’

Mr Mak agreed that the price is ’still decent’, and that there was ‘a fair bit of exuberance in land tenders previously’.

But, in general, property investors are now turning more cautious, he said. This is due to stock market volatility, uncertainty over the global credit crunch and recent government measures in the property market.

The Government last month removed the deferred payment scheme for homebuyers in a surprise move that is being seen as an act to discourage speculation.

Mr Mak suggested, however, that this may have helped overcool the market.

Following the Government’s move, a residential land parcel on Enggor Street at Tanjong Pagar attracted only two offers when it went on sale, while an office site in Tampines found just one bidder.

This is despite these plots being fairly attractive, said Mr Mak.

‘If the Government throws in a site in Jurong, they may not get any bids at all.’

But while other consultants agreed that developers and investors are now more circumspect, some said the low Marina View bids could be an aberration.

‘The mood has changed somewhat, but it’s not as drastic as this. This is a bit of a flash in the pan,’ said Mr Li Hiaw Ho, CB Richard Ellis’ executive director.

He had expected bids for the second Marina View site to come in at a lower level because 25 per cent of the plot’s gross floor area must be used for hotel rooms, which have slightly lower land values.

Mr Li said, however, that the huge difference in bids was unexpected. He attributed it partly to the fact that there were only two bids: ‘This cannot draw out the most competitive offers.’

The Marina View site has a land area of about 0.9ha and a maximum floor area of 1.2 million sq ft. On top of the hotel use requirement, at least 60 per cent of the plot’s area must be given to offices.

If MGPA is awarded the second site, it could lower its average price for the two plots to about $1,100 psf ppr and combine them to form a mega commercial development, said Mr Donald Han, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield.

Separate Deals, But Court Rules It’s En Bloc Deal

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

UOL unit says 53 separate contracts signed; at stake is $286,200 in stamp duty.

En bloc sale or 53 separate contracts entered into by individual owners of the apartments to sell? That was the $286,000 question that emerged in the High Court in what can be described as a test case for property developers to get savings on stamp duty.

United Overseas Land subsidiary UOL Development Novena (UOLD) claimed that its purchase of 53 properties at Minbu Road for $61 million was not an en bloc sale but 53 separate contracts which it entered into with the individual owners.

At stake was $286,200 in stamp duty savings if it was found to have bought the 53 properties separately.

This is because under the Stamp Duties Act, stamp duty is charged at one per cent on the first $180,000 of purchase price, two per cent on the next $180,000 and three per cent on the balance of the purchase price that exceeds $360,000.

The way this works out is that stamp duty can be calculated simply by taking three per cent of the purchase price minus $5,400 - that being the sum of one per cent on $180,000 and two per cent on the next $180,000.

So if there was only one contract arising from an en bloc sale, the $5,400 could only be subtracted once.

But if there were 53 contracts, then $5,400 can be subtracted 53 times, resulting in savings of $286,200 for the property developer.

However, the High Court ruled last month that UOLD bought the 53 properties in an en bloc sale.

The court said that the owners of the Minbu properties intended to sell their properties on the basis of an en bloc sale.

The invitation to tender issued by the owners said that they ‘collectively’ invite offers to buy their property on an ‘en bloc’ basis.

The court also found that there is no evidence that UOLD’s offer to buy the Minbu properties for $61 million was made on the basis that separate contracts were to be entered for each property.

And even though the owners sent 53 separate letters of acceptances to UOLD according to the developer’s request, the court found that the owners did not ‘give any thought’ to converting the en bloc sale to 53 separate contracts.

Justice Tan Lee Meng said that the case raises an interesting question as to how stamp duty is assessed on properties bought through en bloc sales.

However, he found that the plan for 53 separate contracts was mooted ‘for the sole purpose of lessening the stamp duty payable on the en bloc sale’.

BT understands from UOLD’s lawyers that the developer has not filed an appeal yet. It has until tomorrow to do so.

UOLD was represented by Tan Kay Kheng and Teo Lay Khoon from WongPartnership.

Annual Values Of HDB Flats To Go Up From Jan

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 12, 2007

The upward revision is to reflect market values, but 90 per cent of all flat owners will not pay more property tax in 2008 because of tax rebates.

THE Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) on Monday announced that it will revise the Annual Values (AVs) of Housing Board flats from Jan 1 to reflect the significant increase in their market rates.

An Iras statement on Monday said the average AV increase will be 20 per cent for 1-room and 2-room flats, 25 per cent for three-room units, 18 per cent for four-room flats, 20 per cent for five-roomers and 18 per cent for executive flats. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The AVs will be raised for all HDB flat types, with those in more centralised and popular areas like Bishan, Bukit Timah and Marine Parade to be set higher than other areas.

But it said the increase 'does not translate to proportionate increase in property tax actually payable, due to the property tax rebates that have been granted by government'.

Currently, the owners of all 1-room, 2-room and 13 per cent of three-room HDB flats do not pay any property tax because their property tax liability has been offset by the rebates which have been given since 1994 when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced.

'As part of the GST Offset Package announced in Budget 2007, all owner-occupied residential properties will be given an additional property tax rebate of up to $100 per year in 2008 and 2009, said the Iras statement.

'As a result, 90 per cent of all HDB flat owners will not pay more property tax in 2008 even after the AVs of their flats will be increased in 2008.'

It said one-room and two-room residents will not have to pay property tax, as well as 60 per cent of those in three-room units. The remaining 40 per cent of the three-room owners will be paying less tax than in 2007, but about 15 per cent of the four-room, five-room and executive flat owners will have to pay more in property tax, but this will be less than $40.

Iras said the AVs of all properties are reviewed annually to ensure that they reflect prevailing market rentable values for property tax computation. 'This year, most AVs will be revised upwards,' it said.

All HDB flat owners will receive their valuation notices and property tax bills by Jan 1.

Flat owners who need to pay property tax will also receive a Guide to Property Tax brochure explaining how the property tax payable is calculated and how payment can be made.

Property tax for 2008 must be paid by Jan 31.

Taxpayers with enquiries on AV revision or property tax can find more information at Iras' website at or e-mail Iras at or call Iras on 1800-356 8600.

SC Global Q3 Net Up More Than 4-Fold At $4.3m

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

PRIME residential developer SC Global Developments' net profit more than quadrupled to $4.3 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, from $931,000 for the previous corresponding period. Revenue rose 4 per cent to $30 million.

The group said that Q3 revenue comprised mainly the recognition of sales of the remaining units at The Tomlinson and sale of units at The Boulevard Residence and The Lincoln Modern.

Share of profits from the group's associated company in Australia, AVJennings Limited, came to $2.5 million, against a loss of $600,000 for Q3 2006.

For the first nine months, SC Global's net profit doubled to $20.6 million as revenue edged up 4 per cent to $117.9 million.

Q3 earnings per share (EPS) rose to 2.28 cents from 0.75. EPS for the first nine months rose to 12.46 cents from 8.48.

The group said that its recent projects, The Marq on Paterson Hill and Hilltops have received approval to offer the deferred payment scheme which will continue to be available.

With the recent acquisition of sites at Ardmore Park and Sentosa Cove in the third quarter, the group says that it will aim to deliver high quality residential developments in prime locations.

SC Global shares remained unchanged at $2.50 yesterday.

Ho Bee Posts 297% Jump In Q3 Earnings

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

Revenue up 137.9% due mainly to a 149% rise in development properties' sale

HO Bee Investment, the dominant residential developer at Sentosa Cove, yesterday posted net earnings of $39.27 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, up 297 per cent from $9.89 million a year earlier.

The jump was on a 137.9 per cent increase in revenue to $129.6 million, due mainly to a 149 per cent rise in the sale of development properties.

The main contributor to revenue was progressive recognition of sales of residential projects such as Coral Island, which obtained a Temporary Occupation Permit in August, Orange Grove Residences, The Coast and Paradise Island.

For the first nine months of this year, Ho Bee's net profit leaped 391.8 per cent year on year to a record $233.4 million, benefiting not only from a 133.8 per cent increase in revenue to $535.4 million but also a $71 million gain in fair-value changes on investment properties.

Chairman and CEO Chua Thian Poh said the group's revenue and earnings for the rest of the year and the next few years will be buttressed by the progressive recognition of income from successful residential projects that have been launched.

In its results statement, Ho Bee said that the recent withdrawal of the Deferred Payment Scheme by the authorities will have an initial impact on prices and demand.

'The group does not anticipate its upcoming residential projects in the Core Central Region, which includes Sentosa Cove, to be adversely affected as underlying demand from both local and foreign buyers is expected to remain relatively strong,' it said.

Mr Chua said that despite good sales, 'we continue to be prudent in the way we conduct our business, always bearing in mind that we have to ensure long-term sustainable growth for shareholders'.

Ho Bee's Q3 earnings per share jumped to 5.33 cents from 1.34 cents in the year-ago period.

Net asset value per share was 102.8 cents at Sept 30, up from 67.9 cents as at Dec 31, 2006. On the stock market yesterday, Ho Bee shares ended one cent higher at $1.78

F&N Full-Year Net Profit Up 18.5% To $378.6m

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

Subsidiary APB posts 3% increase in net earnings to $133.7m

IT was a news conference many journalists were looking forward to. They expected Lee Hsien Yang to face the media for the first time as Fraser & Neave's chairman at the group's full-year financial results announcement yesterday.

But Mr Lee was a no-show, and director and group company secretary Anthony Cheong fielded the questions.

Mr Lee was not required to attend the news conference, Mr Cheong said. 'Mr Lee is a non-executive chairman, so he need not be here.'

Operationally, the strong property market helped the food and beverage and property and publishing conglomerate lift net profit for the full year ended Sept 30 by 18.5 per cent to $378.6 million, from $319.5 million.

Before exceptional items, net profit attributable to shareholders increased 28 per cent to $377.9 million.

Full-year revenue rose 25 per cent to $4.74 billion. Earnings per share rose to 28.7 cents from 27.3 cents.

'Our properties division continues to benefit from better-than-expected development margins and higher rental rates achieved from new and renewed leases,' Mr Lee said in a statement. 'Likewise, for eight consecutive years, food and beverage has maintained strong growth momentum and delivered rising profits. Publishing and printing also showed good progress and is on track to return to historical levels of profitability.'

Development property, which accounts for the lion's share of the group's attributable profit, came in at $214 million for the full year. Revenue from development property grew 24 per cent to $1.4 billion for the year.

During the year, the company sold more than 1,680 units at 19 developments in Singapore and close to 200 units at five projects overseas. It launched One St Michael's, St Thomas Suites and Soleil @ Sinaran to strong interest.

Meanwhile, F&N subsidiary Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) reported a 3 per cent increase in net profit attributable to shareholders to $133.7 million for the full year. This was on a 17 per cent increase in revenue to $1.78 billion.

CEO Koh Poh Tiong said: 'APB achieved strong organic profit growth amidst a healthy regional economy. Our ongoing strategy to expand our business, enhance the equity of our brands, and continually enlarge the global footprint of Tiger beer have once again delivered robust top line growth.'

IndoChina - Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - remained APB's largest profit contributor, accounting for about 48 per cent of APB's total profit before interest and tax.

F&N and APB have recommended a final dividend of 8.5 cents and 18 cents a share respectively.

In response to a recent BT report, Mr Cheong said that there is a possibility that F&N's business may be split in the future, but not now. 'There are ways of increasing shareholder value,' he said, adding: 'All kinds of options will be explored and scenarios worked out, I'm sure some of these process will include examining the scenario of break up. But at this stage, at this time, there're no plans to split.'

He also acknowledged Temasek's role in growing the F&B business for F&N. 'Temasek was looking for a vehicle for F&B, and we were looking for somebody who has a good track record and good stream of deals, a very good deal-maker to help us grow our F&B business,' he said. F&N looked at several deals but unfortunately none of them came to fruition, so it is still looking.

Mr Cheong also acknowledged differences between former CEO Han Cheng Fong and the board. 'We don't want to get into details about the differences but I think at this stage, differences in opinion are par for the course,' he said. 'It is common when you put a group of people together. Dr Han left not because he had a difference in opinion with the board but because this resulted in a dysfunctional relationship.'

The separation was amicable and both sides had moved on, Mr Cheong said.

On the search for the new CEO, he said that it is in the hands of the chairman of the board and chairman of the nominating committee. 'I'm afraid we don't have any progress reports,' he said. But F&N is open to looking internally and externally.

When asked about who the likely candidates were, he said to much laughter: 'Why don't you ask Conrad Raj?' - referring to the BT correspondent who has broken many stories on F&N, including Mr Lee's appointment as chairman and the possible splitting up of F&N.

Most Singaporeans Will Continue To Get Same Amount Of GST Credits

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

Most Singaporeans will continue to receive the same amount of money from the GST Offset Package, despite an increase in the value of their homes.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has announced that the annual value will be raised for most properties, including all HDB flats from 1 January 2008.

But Singaporeans will continue to receive the same amount of GST Credits and Senior Citizens' Bonus (SCB) if they do not move homes.

The amount of GST Credits and Senior Citizens' Bonus they get is based on the annual value of their homes and their assessable incomes in the previous year.

Those who shift home will have their 2009 GST Credits and SCB determined based on the annual value of their NRIC address as of 31 December 2008.

The GST Credits and SCB are given out over four years from 2007 to 2010.

This is part of the GST Offset Package to help Singaporeans cope with the 2 percent increase in GST that took effect on 1 July 2007.

The annual value cut-offs for the two schemes have been adjusted to take into account the 2008 revision in annual value of HDB flats.

This is to maintain the distribution of benefits that was intended when the GST Offset Package was announced earlier this year.

The lower annual value cut-off will be raised from $5,000 to $6,000 and this would cover all 1- to 3-room HDB flats.

The higher annual value cut-off will be raised from $10,000 to $11,000 and this would cover all 4-room, 5-room and Executive HDB flats, and some private properties.

The new annual value cut-offs will also apply to Singaporeans who are receiving their GST Credits for the first time in 2009, such as new citizens and those turning 21. - CNA/de

Govt To Delay $2b Construction Projects

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 13 November 2007

The government is postponing S$2 billion worth of public sector projects to 2010 and beyond.

This is to ease the shortage of contractors and construction manpower as well as demand for building materials.

The projects to be postponed were originally scheduled for next year and 2009.

The move will reduce the demand for construction manpower required in the next two years by up to 40 per cent.

However, essential public sector projects that are strategic and required for Singapore's continued economic growth or needed to meet key social needs will not be affected.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is working with developers and the industry to expand the capacity of existing firms in Singapore.

It is also exploring the possibility of attracting new foreign contractors to Singapore.

The BCA said it will release data on construction demand and prices of building materials to enable the industry to better estimate costs and help reduce uncertainties in construction tenders.

The BCA added that once mega projects such as the Integrated Resorts, Marina Business Financial Centre, Downtown MRT Line and petrochemical plants have been completed, more construction resources and capacity will be available for other new projects beyond 2009. - CNA/yb

Malaysia Begins Oral Presentation On Disputed Island

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 14 November 2007

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The court hearing on a disputed island in the Straits of Singapore resumed on Tuesday with the Malaysian team presenting its evidence.

Pedra (Picture)Branca

At stake is the island that Singapore calls Pedra Branca and which Malaysia refers to as Pulau Batu Puteh.

Malaysia started Day One of its four-day presentation by accusing Singapore of "disrupting the long established arrangements" in the Straits.

Malaysia told the the International Court of Justice that Singapore's reclamation plans for the island back in the 1970s could also potentially lead to serious changes to the security arrangements in the eastern entrance to the Strait of Singapore.

Related Video Link -
Malaysia begins oral presentation on disputed island

This is the second week of the hearing over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca and its two outcrops of Middle Rocks and South Ledge between Singapore and Malaysia.

Starting the session on a friendly note, Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar exchanged a handshake with Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister S. Jayakumar before the hearing began.

Mr Syed Hamid arrived in time to lend support to Malaysia's opening statements, arguing that the disputed island belongs to Malaysia.

Its Ambassador-at-Large and Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, Abdul Kadir Mohamad, was the first to present.

He said Singapore, through its actions, wants to radically change the basis on how it acquired the Horsburgh Lighthouse on the island, as well as the character of Singapore's presence on the island.

Mr Abdul Kadir said: "Singapore is endeavouring to create for itself a maritime domain which is a far cry from the basis of its presence on Pulau Batu Puteh as lighthouse administrator.

"Singapore's presence on Pulau Batu Puteh, as lighthouse operator, never extended to issues concerning the territorial waters or the continental shaft around Pulau Batu Puteh."

He questioned Singapore's intention of what it wants to do on Pulau Batu Puteh.

Singapore had, in the 1970s, considered reclamation plans for Pedra Branca.

That point got Mr Abdul Kadir asking why Singapore needed a bigger island.

He said "In fact, the aggressive methods Singapore has used to assert its claims to Pulau Batu Puteh have already led to regrettable, although not irreversible, changes to the stable conditions in the area."

But Singapore argued that it is precisely because it acknowledges that Pedra Branca belongs to her, that it is rightfully carrying out activities and plans in a sovereign manner.

Another four of Malaysia's team members also spoke on the first day of its oral arguments.

Their main points - that Malaysia always had ownership of the disputed island and its outcrops, and that events after 1851 should be considered irrelevant to this case.

Singapore had argued that between 1847 and 1851, the British had executed a series of official actions on Pedra Branca, thereby exercising sovereignty over the island.

Ms Noor Farida Ariffin, Malaysia's Ambassador to the Netherlands, said: "Pulau Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge are among the many maritime features that have always formed part of Johor.

"You have also seen that Pulau Batu Puteh and its surrounding waters, far from being unknown and unused, have always been used by local Malay peoples as subjects of the Sultanate of Johor and residents of the state of Johor. None of political or territorial developments after 1824 altered this."

But Singapore said that the island was never on Malaysia's maps until 1979 when they published a new one and included Pedra Branca as one of its territories, for the very first time.

Singapore also argued that even as late as 1975, Malaysia had published a map attributing Pedra Branca to Singapore.

But Malaysia's Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail said Singapore, till today, has never been able to produce legal evidence in the form of documents to show ownership of the disputed island.

He added that Singapore only lodged a formal protest with Malaysia over the ownership of the island on February 14, 1980. So whatever Singapore did after that, Mr Abdul Gani said, was "not a normal continuation of its prior acts of administration of the lighthouse. In that regard, such conduct, after the critical date, must be disregarded."

Malaysia also cited an example of how the British fired a 21-gun salute on Singapore-owned islands like Pulau Ubin to formalise its claim.

But Malaysia questioned why Singapore did not do the same for Pulau Batu Puteh.

Singapore had previously argued that the British did not think it was necessary to do so because it had confirmed its title of Pedra Branca through a range of activities on the island.

Malaysia will continue with its presentation on Wednesday. - CNA/ir/de

Modest Bidding For CBD Office Site As Caution Sinks In

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

Top offer of $779.42 psf ppr half of next- door site's recent bid

The new-found caution surrounding the Singapore office market is now spilling over to the Central Business District.

Reflecting this, a site at Marina View diagonally behind One Shenton yesterday attracted a top bid from Macquarie Global Property Advisors (MGPA) of $779.42 psf per plot ratio - only about half of the group's winning bid in September for the site next door.

Knight Frank managing director Tan Tiong Cheng acknowledged that office investors have turned cautious. 'The outcome of the sub-prime episode may have an impact on demand for office space in Singapore, while the government has expressly stated recently it will boost supply of office land in the next few years to alleviate the current shortage,' he said.

Another reason for the lower bid for the latest site - Marina View Land Parcel B - is that it has a minimum hotel component of at least 25 per cent of the site's maximum gross floor area, property consultants said. 'Hotel land values are a lot lower than office values,' said Mr Tan.

'The latest tender outcome is also a knee jerk-reaction to what has been happening lately in the US - the sub-prime crisis being worse than initially thought and big banks being affected. Banks are prime users of office space.'

The only other bid at yesterday's tender came from units of CapitaLand, at $898 million or $734.52 psf ppr.

BT understands that CapitaLand was to team up with Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's privately held vehicle Pacific Coast Assets, had its bid been successful.

By most counts, the top bid at yesterday's tender by MGPA unit MGP Kimi of $952.89 million or $779 psf ppr was lower than had been predicted.

CB Richard Ellis executive director Li Hiaw Ho had expected Marina View Land Parcel B to fetch about $1,200 to $1,300 psf ppr, lower than the $1,409 psf ppr that an MGPA unit paid in September for the next door Marina View Land Parcel A, considering the minimum hotel component for the latest plot. 'There is a chance that the state's reserve price may not have been met and that the latest site may not be awarded,' Mr Li suggests.

However, other property consultants argued that the plot will be awarded.

Mr Tan said his firm, Knight Frank, predicted in late July projected that the site would attract bids of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion, or $900-1,060 psf ppr. 'Taking the mid point of $1.2 billion, the top bid was about 20 per cent lower than our projection. To me that is within range, and I would expect the site to be awarded,' Mr Tan said.

'The price is still substantially higher than other sites sold in the Marina Bay area in recent years.'

Jones Lang LaSalle's Asia Capital Markets head Stuart Crow said: 'The price seems fair going by recent land bids and taking into account the hotel component for this site.'

MGPA's top bid at yesterday's tender also 'reinforces the foreign investor interest in the Singapore property market fundamentals', he added. 'In my view, the site will be awarded.'

Mr Crow estimates that MGPA's bid price for Parcel B yesterday reflects a break-even cost of about $2,200 to $2,300 psf for the office component of a potential development on the site. As for the hotel component, market watchers estimate the break-even cost could be about $700,000 to $800,000 per room.

Marina View Land Parcel B has a site area of about 0.9 hectare and can be developed into a maximum gross floor area (GFA) of about 1.22 million sq ft, of which at least 60 per cent must be for offices and at least another 25 per cent for hotel use.

Overstretched S'pore Pushes Back Projects Worth $2b

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2007

Move to ease pressure on construction resources

The government said yesterday that it would postpone several public projects - at a time when the building boom is stretching Singapore's construction resources to the limit.

The government's cut-back could reduce the demand for additional construction manpower in the next two years by 20-40 per cent. The authorities will further relax policies on the employment of foreign manpower and help expand construction capacity.

The government's move to push back projects worth at least $2 billion comes as construction costs escalate and contractors are in short supply.

Developers told BT that most contractors are fully booked for the next 12 months.

Construction costs have also gone up by as much as 40 per cent over the last year on the back of rising raw material prices and wage increases brought on by tight labour supply.

'The investment and property boom is leading to a construction squeeze,' said Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin. 'The property boom is moreover not confined to just one segment, but is across the board - commercial, residential, infrastructure and the integrated resorts (IRs).'

Annual construction demand is expected to hit $19-$22 billion in 2007, and is likely to be sustained at this high level in 2008 and 2009, said industry regulator Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

The sharp increase in construction demand in Singapore also coincides with a global surge in construction activity - especially in China, India and the Middle East.

For developers here, this adds up to a shortage of contractors and rising costs. 'Contractors are booked 12, 15 months ahead,' said the chief executive of a Singaporean developer. 'And it's not just the main contractors; the main contractors are saying that sub-contractors are hard to find as well.'

'I think most contractors already have big orderbooks, so supply is tight,' said Cheang Kok Kheong, development and property general manager for Frasers Centrepoint (FCL). 'There are many big projects for them, such as the IRs and the Gardens by the Bay.'

FCL is not feeling the pinch as it has the support of contractors it has worked with for many years, Mr Cheang said. But others, he added, might not be as lucky. 'If you don't have that many projects and you are new in the market, then there will be difficulties getting contractors,' he said. FCL's construction costs have gone up by 20-30 per cent over the last year. Other developers report cost increases of up to 40 per cent.

Several big projects have already been hit. Genting International recently upped its budget for its Sentosa IR to $5.75 billion - from an original $5.2 billion. The company said that $275 million of the $550 million budget increase is due to rising construction costs.

And in August this year, Marina Bay Sands said that its cost could escalate to $5.2 billion, from $5.05 billion originally.

On the flip side, things are starting to look very bright for construction companies, as the sector is coming off a decade of sub-zero growth rates.

Kim Eng analyst Wilson Liew estimates that some contractors are now able to command a higher pre-tax margin of about 15 per cent, as compared to 5 per cent in the past. 'This margin is expected to improve even further as established contractors hold greater bargaining power amidst an increased number of contracts,' he said.

But this could soon change. Right now, BCA is working with developers and builders to expand the capacity of both local and foreign firms in Singapore. It is also exploring attracting new foreign contractors - especially those in the top-tier and specialist trades - to come to Singapore, it said.

The government will also monitor the manpower situation closely and will further adjust its manpower policies if necessary, BCA said.

For now, various government agencies have identified a list of public projects in the pipeline for 2008 and 2009 that could be rescheduled to 2010 and beyond.

The projects being deferred include the Health Ministry's National Addiction Management Centre, and Cluster C of the Changi Prison Complex.

Public sector projects that are 'essential' - such as those required for Singapore's economic growth or needed to meet key social needs such as public housing - would not be affected, BCA said.

'The bulk of the construction activities and resources in 2008 and 2009 are expected to be concentrated on mega projects such as the IRs, Marina Business Financial Centre, Downtown MRT Line and petrochemical plants,' said BCA. 'Once these have been completed, more construction resources and capacity will be available for other new projects beyond 2009.'

$2b Worth Of Public Projects To Be Pushed Back

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2007

Govt will also take measures to further relax use of foreign workers, expand contracting capacity.

SEVERAL public projects in the pipeline worth some $2 billion are to be pushed back by at least two years to 2010 and beyond, as part of a government move to ease pressure on construction resources in Singapore and the capacity crunch.

The Government will also further relax employment of foreign workers and take measures to expand the contracting capacity in the construction industry, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) in a statement on Tuesday night.

A list of public projects slated for 2008 and 2009 has been identified for postponement. They include the Ministry of Health's National Addiction Management Centre, and Cluster C of the Ministry of Home Affairs' Changi Prison Complex.

But BCA said that essential public sector projects that are "strategic and required for Singapore's continued economic growth, or needed to meet key social needs, such as public housing," would not be affected.

"The postponement of these projects that are worth at least $2 billion in total would help to ease pressure on construction resources in Singapore," said the BCA statement.

"In particular, this is expected to reduce the demand for additional construction manpower required in the next two years by 20 to 40 per cent."

The authority said Singapore's recent strong economic growth has produced a spike in local construction activities. Building demand is expected to reach between $19 billion and $22 billion this year, and is likely to sustain at this high level in 2008 and 2009.

The bulk of the construction activities and resources in the next two years is expected to be concentrated on mega projects such as the Integrated Resorts, Marina Business Financial Centre, Downtown MRT Line and petrochemical plants.

"The sharp increase in construction demand coincides with a global surge in construction activities, especially in China, India and the Middle East. Thus, there is great pressure on construction resources and our local building capacity," said BCA.

One the mega projects have been completed, more construction resources and capacity will be available for other new projects beyond 2009.

In the meantime, to ensure adequate construction manpower, BCA said some measures have already been introduced to expand supply of workers, such as increasing the testing capacity of BCA's Overseas Testing Centres at the source countries, and expanding the list of acceptable foreign qualifications for qualified site supervisors.

Several manpower policies have also been relaxed to facilitate the entry of foreign workers at various levels, such as the exemption of experienced foreign workers from man-year entitlement requirements, the increase in the Dependency Ratio and quota for S-passes, etc.

"BCA will monitor the manpower situation closely and the Government will further adjust its manpower policies if necessary," said the authority.

BCA is also working with developers and builders in the industry to expand the capacity of existing firms - both local and foreign - in Singapore.

It is exploring the possibility of attracting new foreign contractors, in particular, those in the top-tier and specialist trades, to come to Singapore.

Additionally, BCA will make more easily available and in a timely manner, all the essential information on the construction sector, such as construction demand and prices of building materials.

This will enable the industry to better estimate costs and help reduce uncertainties in construction tenders, it said.

United World College To Open 2nd Campus

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2007

Move to help meet shortage of places for expat kids, which could hit S'pore's competitiveness

THE United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA) is building a second campus to help meet a severe shortage of places for children of expatriates.

The situation has become so bad, with long waiting lists at several schools, that some foreigners are said to be reluctant to move here to work.

UWCSEA announced yesterday that its second campus, on a six-hectare Tampines site (Tampines Street 73), will have room for 2,500 students when ready by 2010.

It will start on temporary premises in Ang Mo Kio next September, taking in 440 pupils up to nine years old, from kindergarten to Grade 4.

Its Dover Road campus already has 2,900 students - the capacity it had expected to hit only in 2010.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and head of UWCSEA's governing board, said the second campus supports Singapore's growth plans.

The country's growth as a global economic and business centre requires the availability of places in quality international schools, he said.

UWCSEA is the latest among 40 international schools here to announce expansion plans.

The shortage of places is especially bad for pre-schoolers and lower primary children, with waiting lists of as long as six months to a year. One school has a four-month-old baby on its list.

The booming economy has brought more foreigners, with the expatriate population growing from 798,000 in 2005 to 875,500 last year.

UWCSEA head Julian Whiteley, who will oversee both campuses, said his school has a waiting list of 2,000 students, and most hope to start next August.

The school charges fees that average $20,000 a year and runs the British-based International General Certificate of Secondary Education programme and the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Its students come from 68 countries, with Britons and Indians making up the largest groups. It also has 200 Singaporean students.

Mr Whiteley said the school will run a 'one college, two campuses system', delivering the same quality education in both campuses.

American Chamber of Commerce executive director Dom LaVigne said the shortage of school places had been made worse by more foreigners staying on here.

'The turnover is not as high as before, so fewer places open up. But UWC's second campus should help,' he said.

He knew of a few Americans who did not move here because they could not find school places for their children.

And several large companies are expected to bring in 2,000 American employees over the next two years.

'Their first priority is schooling for their children. If not, they choose to go elsewhere,' said Mr LaVigne.

Singapore Plans No New Steps To Cool Property Boom

Source : The Business Times, November 12, 2007

Singapore is not planning to take further steps to cool down the republic's booming property market after it withdrew a scheme last month that allowed buyers to delay payments for property, the government said on Monday.

Residential property prices in Singapore have soared to their highest levels in a decade, fuelled by a supply crunch and a strong economy as well as liberal payment schemes that allow buyers to make a 10 to 20 per cent deposit and delay the bulk of payments until a project nears completion.

'There is no need and there's no intention for us to take any further action,' Mah Bow Tan, minister for national development, told parliament.

'The government will continue to closely monitor the property market to ensure that our prices are supported by economic fundamentals. The government will make sure that there is sufficient supply to meet the demand of private housing.'

The sharp rise in prices has left some government leaders worried this could threaten Singapore's competitiveness with rival Hong Kong, where property prices are higher.

Inflation in the city hit a 12-year high of 2.9 per cent year-on-year in August and the government said on Monday that consumer prices could potentially surge up to 5 per cent in the first quarter of next year.

Singapore's government said last month that it withdrew the deferred payment scheme for the sale of uncompleted private residential and commercial properties. The scheme was introduced in 1997 when the economy was in recession.

Up to 90 per cent of buyers in projects by Singapore property developers such as City Developments and Keppel Land opted for such payment schemes.

The government said the move would encourage greater financial prudence among investors by compelling them to seek sufficient funds or adequate bank loans before they commit to buying a property.

According to official data, Singapore private home prices rose 8.3 per cent between July and September, or more than 21 per cent since the start of the year. -- REUTERS

Banks’ Showing May Be As Good As It Gets Amid Credit Turmoil

Source: The Straits Times, Nov 9, 2007


IS THIS as bad as it gets? This was the question on many investors’ minds as they scrutinised the impact of the global credit market turmoil on the third-quarter results of the three Singapore banks.

They have reason to be jittery, given the financial haemorrhage suffered by Wall Street banks.

Merrill Lynch has made write-downs of $8.4 billion while Citigroup is owning up to US$11 billion (S$15.9 billion) of possible losses over risky debt instruments.

They are called collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) and are packaged from sub-prime, or risky, mortgages in the United States.

Analysts warn the worst may not be over for these investment banks. So it is hardly surprising attention in Singapore has been gripped more by local banks’ provisions for CDOs than by their robust core earnings growth.

They are reaping the benefits of a booming Singapore economy, which have helped them deliver a 13 per cent rise in combined net profits to $1.57 billion for the quarter. This came despite write-downs, volatile markets putting pressure on interest margins and a rising Singdollar, which affected the value of overseas earnings.

The quality of the banks’ overall assets remained pristine, with non-performing loans dwindling.

Meanwhile, each bank’s provisions for asset-backed CDOs proved quite different from expectations. OCBC’s provisions surpassed market estimates by up to eight times as it aggressively set aside $221 million, or 82 per cent of its total exposure to CDOs. Analysts praised the safety-first move as one of the most conservative by any bank worldwide.

DBS set aside $70 million, about a quarter of its $275 million of CDOs. This was much lower than the average forecast of $125 million in a Reuters poll.

UOB made provisions of $55 million, or almost 60 per cent of its total asset-backed CDOs.

Analyst opinions differ widely over whether the bad news on CDOs is almost over.

Daiwa Securities’ Mr David Lum is among those who say the three banks tend to be conservative in making loan-loss provisions, so the worst may have passed.

But others, such as JPMorgan analysts, warn: ‘It ain’t over yet.’ They note that the prices of asset-backed CDOs continue to fall, slumping 50 per cent since Sept 30.

They also predicted that DBS has further mark-to-market losses of $116 million in the fourth quarter, while UOB has just another $10 million to go.

But one thing is clear to all: The three banks’ core businesses have proved robust so far. Not surprisingly, lending has been a star performer for all three amid a buoyant property market.

OCBC posted loans growth of 15 per cent - lower than DBS’ 23 per cent but close to UOB’s 15.6 per cent.

Fee income was also going strong. DBS, in particular, benefited from what CIMB-GK analyst Kenneth Ng described as ‘unexpectedly powerful’ capital market related-fees. Its net fee income rose 38 per cent to a record $403 million, riding on activities like stockbroking and wealth management.

However, wider credit spreads for trading instruments, triggered by the sub-prime crisis, took their toll on trading income.

DBS recorded a net trading loss of $47 million compared with a net trading income of $100 million in the previous quarter. UOB’s foreign exchange, securities and derivatives income fell from $97 million to $26 million.

Despite the solid performance of their underlying businesses, the banks are warning of risks and challenges on the horizon. In the near term, there will be pressures on net interest margins, amid a downward trend in Singapore interest rates and widening credit spreads.

The spreads are the difference in yield between a riskier corporate bond and a relatively risk-free government bond. Wider spreads may force the banks to take larger mark-to-market losses, which in turn will whittle down trading and investment income.

In the third quarter, UOB’s net interest margin had already declined 0.04 of a percentage point to 1.93 per cent compared with the same period last year. This was because it had more investment in shorter-term assets - less risky but with lower yields.

The banks’ earnings growth momentum may also be stifled if there is a sharp slowdown in the US - Asia’s biggest export market.

Other risks include ‘peaking loans growth’, while the axing of the deferred payment scheme for housing loans in Singapore may cause the high-end residential property market to cool, noted Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Wilson.

So perhaps investors should start asking instead if the third-quarter showing is as good as it gets - at least until the credit market turmoil simmers down.


《联合早报》Nov 13, 2007

浩然大厦集体出售案 年初集体出售献议赔偿 比单独售卖高出近30%。

浩然大厦(Horizon Towers)今年一月底答应以5亿元集体出售给Horizon Partners(HPPL)时,每名业主所获得的赔偿比单独卖出所得高出将近30%。



林亨利接着重申,销售委员会当时担心如PPL会找不到买家。他说,在公开招标失败后,他花了好几个月的时间私下通过莱坊(Knight Frank)和戴德梁行(DTZ )找买家,但都没有成功。


轮到黄锡义高级律师盘问时,他提出名为Vineyard Holdings的香港发展商,其实早在去年12月28日通过马来西亚吉隆坡的律师Shan & Shu联络上销售委员会提出购买献议,并在今年1月3日开价。


谈到First Tree Properties在合约里列明将向买方取得代理费,邓慧玲指出这么做其实对该代理很不利。她说:“First Tree应该代表业主,不过该代理虽然为业主工作,却选择向买方收取代理费。以这样的情况看来,其实对代理很不利。如果业主取得所要的售价,买方可能以代理并没有代表他们的立场而不同意支付代理费。”

基于这个理由,邓慧玲表示,当销售委员会向她提出与First Tree联合代理时,她断然拒绝。


Lippo-Mapletree Indonesia Retail Trust

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, November 13, 2007

China Tightens Foreign Investment Rules

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 9, 2007

It welcomes funding to help clean up the environment but puts limits on some sectors

SHANGHAI - CHINA has announced new rules to limit foreign investment in key industries, as it seeks to cool its overheated economy and clean up its damaged environment, state press reported yesterday.

In a wide-ranging directive published late on Wednesday, China’s key economic developmental agency identified sectors from real estate and financials to oil and rare metals as restricted or off-limits to foreign capital.

Overseas investments that can help China to protect the environment, cut pollution and develop renewable energy will be encouraged, according to the National Development and Reform Commission statement.

‘It should give a shot in the arm to efforts to save energy and protect the environment by encouraging greener use of foreign investment,’ the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial.

Investment in high technology and advanced materials and equipment manufacturing will also be welcome, but those in production industries in which China has mature technologies and capacity will not be encouraged, it said.

The directive highlights Beijing’s latest policy initiative to restructure its export-driven economy, whose booming but lopsided growth has for decades relied on government and foreign investment to expand.

Under the guidelines, foreigners will be barred from investing in non-renewable mineral resources, such as tungsten, tin, antimony and molybdenum, as well as in small and mid-sized oil refineries.

Refining of copper, zinc, aluminium and rare earths will be restricted, and so will exploration for gold, silver and platinum.

Limits will also be placed on high-end real estate such as hotels and malls, property agencies and brokerages, as part of efforts to cool soaring real estate prices nationwide.

In the financial industry, the commission confirmed restrictions already in place in life insurance and asset management.

China’s spectacular economic growth of the last three decades has come at a heavy price to its environment, while surging exports have created a huge trade surplus that is at the forefront of trade spats with major economic partners.

BNP Paribas economist Chen Xingdong said the rules reflected a fundamental change in China’s strategies for foreign funds.

‘In the past, there was no control - China just opened the door, the window and let whatever foreign investment come in,’ he said. ‘Now, China doesn’t want just rapid growth; it also wants to pay attention to quality.’

Some analysts expressed concern for what they said looked like a turn towards protectionism.

‘The overall direction should be towards ‘more open’ industries rather than the opposite, ’said Citigroup economist Shen Minggao.

‘The government is worried about resources and the rise in commodity prices, and wants to make sure that scarce resources are under the control of domestic firms, but that’s the direction that we’re worried about.’

Recent policy measures have added to the impression that China is becoming more discerning about investment.

The government has rolled out rules that require state-level approval for mergers and acquisitions. China’s State Council, or Cabinet, has also released a list of strategic sectors of which the state intends to retain control.

Among them are military-related manufacturing, power production and grids, petroleum, gas and petrochemicals, telecoms, coal, civil aviation and shipping.


China will encourage overseas investments that can help to protect the environment, cut pollution and develop clean energy.

Investment in high technology and advanced materials and equipment manufacturing will also be welcome.


Foreigners are barred from investing in non-renewable mineral resources, such as tungsten and tin, as well as in small and mid-sized oil refineries.

Refining of copper, zinc, aluminium and rare earths will be restricted, and so will exploration for gold, silver and platinum.

Restrictions already in place in life insurance and asset management will remain.


The state intends to keep control of industries such as military-linked manufacturing, power production, petroleum, telecoms and shipping.


Taxman Raises HDB Property Value, Most Unaffected For Now

Source : TODAY, Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The annual values of most properties — including HDB flats — are going up, but while owners of most private homes will be paying more taxes on their properties next year, HDB flat owners will largely be insulated from the taxman’s move.

The annual value is the estimated annual rent of a property if it were to be let. In determining the annual value of a property, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) is guided by prevailing market rents.

The property tax rate is currently set at 10 per cent of the annual value of the property. For owner-occupied homes, a concessionary rate of 4 per cent applies.

The Iras said the average increase in the annual value of private residential properties is about 20 per cent. This is broadly in line with the rise in real estate prices reflected in data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

According to the URA, private home prices were up an average 8.3 per cent in the third quarter from the previous three months. Compared to the end of last year, private home prices averaged 22.9 per cent higher.

“Every year the Iras will assess the situation … They are increasing it because rentals have gone up,” said Mr Eugene Lim, assistant vice-president at real estate agency ERA.

“We are already seeing a trend of HDB owners renting their flats out and the rental market has picked up. In that sense, the Government will look at ways to ensure those who benefit pay their dues,” said Mr Donald Han, managing director of property consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield.

The Housing Development Board (HDB) Resale Price Index rose 6.6 per cent in the third quarter and was up 11 per cent from the end of last year.

However, most HDB flat owners will enjoy a two-year reprieve from higher property taxes, even though the Iras will be raising the annual values of all HDB flats from Jan 1.

“The amount does impact the dwellers, but because there is a system of rebates and preferential rates applied to home owners, the tax increase will be mitigated,” Mr Han said. “The increase will only be felt by those who lease out their premises.”

As part of the offset package for the Goods and Services Tax announced in Budget 2007, all owner-occupied residential properties will be given an additional tax rebate of up to $100 per year in 2008 and 2009. As a result, 90 per cent of all HDB flat owners will not be paying more property tax next year, the Iras said.

According to the Iras, one and two-room HDB flat owners will not have to pay property tax next year, as well as 60 per cent of three-room flat owners. The other 40 per cent of three-room flat owners will pay less tax than they did this year.
For the four- and five-room HDB flat owners, 15 per cent will have to pay higher taxes but the increase will be less than $40, the Iras said.

Meanwhile, in Parliament yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Government would not be taking further action to cool the property market.

Last month, the Government announced that it would scrap the deferred payment scheme for private property purchases in a move to reduce speculative buying and stabilise the red-hot real estate market. Mr Mah said removing the scheme would not affect genuine home buyers.

Mr Mah also assured Singaporeans that there would be enough new housing to meet the demands of a growing economy and population.

“At the end of the third quarter of 2007, there was a supply stock in the pipeline of 65,000 units. This, in fact, is higher than the supply at the end of the second quarter of 56,000 units. If Singaporeans are aware of these figures — and these are numbers that we put out regularly — there is no reason for Singaporeans to panic and feel that there is a real shortage in the medium term.”

Mr Mah added that while the Government would seek to balance the supply and demand in the long term, its “bias is not to over-regulate or interfere” with the market.

“We monitor the growth rate of the market in relation to the growth of the economy and growth is supported by economic fundamentals,” he said.

The National Development Minister added that more sites would be put up in the Government Land Sales Programme in the first half of next year if necessary. But this will be done carefully so as not to create an oversupply situation in the longer term.

Lippo May Launch New Reits Worth $5.8b

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2007

INDONESIAN conglomerate Lippo Group plans to list two or three real estate investment trusts (Reits) worth about $4US billion ($5S.8 billion) in Singapore within the next two to three years, its president Stephen Riady said yesterday.

He spoke after the launch of Lippo’s Lippo-Mapletree Indonesia Retail Trust (LMIR Trust), the second the group has sponsored after First Reit, which has a portfolio of hospital assets.

Mr Riady was upbeat, saying: ‘I believe Asia is in a long-term bull market, and this will be for at least the next 10 years’.

He said that the new Reits would most likely centre on hotels, offices and shopping malls. It was unlikely Lippo would list a residential Reit as earnings from such assets would be more volatile.

Mr Riady said Lippo had not been affected by the scrapping of the property deferred payment scheme. None of its three residential projects to date - including Newton One - had offered the scheme, yet all had sold well.

Next month, Lippo’s Sentosa Cove development, Marina Collection, will be launched. Buyers will be given free membership in the One Degree 15 club.

The newly launched LMIR Trust, priced at the lower end of the indicative range at 80 cents, will raise around $516 million.

Recent market turbulence has seen Japan’s Asia Pacific Land Trust’s issue being postponed and Saizen Reit’s price falling 14 per cent on its debut last Friday.

Still, LMIR Trust is upbeat, saying it has secured global and local institutional investors. The projected yield is about 7.3 per cent for next year - higher than the average of 5.1 per cent for other Reits in Singapore - and the distribution per unit is 5.84 cents.

The trust’s seven malls are in Greater Jakarta and in nearby Bandung. The tenants include Indonesian department store Matahari and Giant supermarket.

Ms Viven Sitiabudi, the chief executive of the trust manager, said investors are keen on Indonesia’s retail sector ‘given the country’s robust economic fundamentals, underpinned by a growing and affluent urban middle-class population’.

LMIR Trust’s offer will close on Thursday and trading will start next Monday.

F&N Says Search For New CEO Still On

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 13, 2007

FRASER & Neave (F&N) yesterday denied speculation in a report in The Business Times (BT) that it has halted its search for a new chief executive (CEO).

‘We have just started the search,’ F&N told The Straits Times.

A spokesman added that the company wants to find the right person and is in no hurry.
Since the departure of Dr Han Cheng Fong over a month ago due to differences of opinion with the F&N board, newly-

appointed chairman Lee Hsien Yang has been overseeing management of the company.
Mr Lee took over from Dr Michael Fam, who recently retired.

The BT report yesterday said the differences that had caused Dr Han to leave F&N included a proposal to hive off and possibly separately list the property, food and beverage, and publishing arms of the company.

The value of these separate units can exceed the total value of F&N now.

F&N told The Straits Times that it currently has no plans to spin off any of its three core businesses, namely, property, food and beverage, and publishing.

‘We are in multiple businesses, so we review them to see if they are relevant,’ the spokesman said, but he added that there are no plans to list these businesses separately.

F&N’s full-year results and that of its subsidiary, Asia Pacific Breweries, will be announced today.