Saturday, December 1, 2007

Finland Gardens - En bloc Sale Dismissed

Souce : Weekend TODAY, December 1, 2007

Finland Gardens deal 'not done in good faith', say minority owners

ANOTHER en bloc sale has been thrown out by the Strata Titles Board (STB), after minority objectors claimed — among other things — that the sale had been rushed and was not conducted in "good faith".

The board on Thursday dismissed an en bloc application by the majority owners of Finland Gardens, without issuing any written grounds of judgment.

The dismissal puts a damper on Sing Holdings and Eastern Summer, which had formed a joint venture company a year ago to make the acquisition.

Eight out of 48 owners at the 98,309-sq-ft development at East Coast Terrace and opposed the sale and started legal proceedings.

In their final submissions, the objectors' solicitors argued that there was no 80-per-cent majority as three owners in the majority did not agree to sell at $49 million, which was the agreed sale price of the majority owners.

The three had only agreed to sell at $52.7 million. However, the solicitors pointed out, the three owners were later asked to sign documents that lacked reference to any reserve price, but instead "set the individual price that each of the three was to receive".

This, it was pointed out, had allowed the sale committee and sale agent Credo Real Estate to "sell at a price that did not concern the three owners, so long as they are paid their agreed price".

The objectors also alleged that the prices were not arrived at competitively and that the sale committee had rushed the sale of Finland Gardens when there was no reason to — since real estate prices were escalating.

They pointed out that when a competing bidder, RV Capital, upped its offer from $46 million to $49.5 million, Credo executive director Karamjit Singh had asked Sing Holdings — which had offered $49 million — to match this price, and then closed the deal "without giving any opportunity" to RV Capital to better its offer.

Indeed, another bidder had later tried to offer $50.5 million, the solicitors said, describing the sale committee as being "in dereliction of its duties to the owners who had given it the mandate to secure the best possible price in the market".

When contacted, the lawyers for the majority owners could not comment as they are awaiting the grounds of the STB's decision.

In a filing with the Singapore Exchange, listed company Sing Holdings said the application was dismissed on the grounds that statutory requirements had not been fully complied with.

It said it and its partner in the acquisition, Eastern Summer, were deliberating on the STB's decision and reserved the right to direct the Finland Gardens owners to appeal against the decision.

Despite the prospect of an appeal, minority property owner Valerie Chia is optimistic.

Describing her mood as "ecstatic", Mrs Chia said she had opposed the sale as she had bought her four-bedroom apartment during the peak of property prices in 1996 for $1.22 million. She would have received just $1.268 million in the sale, she said, and after forking out legal and stamp duties, would have lost out.

The case follows a string of en bloc tussles, including the Horizon Towers deal, initially thrown out because of irregularities and now awaiting a High Court decision.

UE Wins S$280m Contract To Build ICT Hub At Changi Business Park

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 November 2007

United Engineers has won a contract to build an ICT hub at the Changi Business Park awarded by the JTC Corp.

The built-to-suit project is worth S$280 million.

Built-to-suit properties are designed to satisfy the specific requirements of particular customers.

It will involve building a complex called the Global Centre for Information and Communication, or Centric Singapore.

This will include a business centre for 200 IT companies and an IT training hub comprising exhibition and convention halls, an auditorium and seminar rooms.

The centre will also house a business hotel with up to 300 rooms, and office and retail space.

It is sited on a land area of 29,000 square metres.

It has an expected built-up gross floor area of 72,500 square metres.

Construction is slated to start next year and completed in 2011. - CNA/ch

Singapore Economy Will Stay Robust Amid Inflationary Pressures: Analysts

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 November 2007

The Singapore economy looks set to remain robust despite some inflationary pressures.

This is the view of OCBC Investment Research, which is citing the strong growth in the construction, financial and services sectors.

It also believes the anticipated slowdown in the US economy will have limited impact on Singapore because of its well-diversified economy.

Singapore's economy could well be growing at a 6.5 percent pace next year, according to OCBC.

This is at the top end of the government's forecast range of 4.5 to 6.5 percent.

And for this year, OCBC says Singapore could grow about 8.2 percent - also topping the official forecast of 7.5 to 8 percent.

But market watchers are taking rising costs in their stride.

Selena Ling, Treasury Economist, OCBC Bank, says: "I think we are going to see high inflation at least for the next 6 to 9 months. So as long as wage growth does keep in pace with inflation, I don't think it's a real concern. The foreign capital inflows should continue to sustain domestic interest rates on a slightly softer bias especially given that the US Federal Reserve is anticipated to cut rates further in the coming months."

The Consumer Price Index rose 3.6 percent on-year in October - its highest in 16 years.

And the Trade and Industry Ministry has already warned that inflation could rise to 5 percent early next year before tailing off.

And industry watchers say it is not only prices of imported components that have been rising.

On the domestic front, property prices and business costs have also headed higher.

The government has been taking steps to mitigate the risk of inflation while the central bank has said it will continue with the policy of a modest and gradual appreciation of its Singapore dollar policy band, although it will increase slightly the slope of the band.

But experts say there may be a limit to this.

Emmanuel Ng, Vice President, Treasury Research and Strategy, OCBC Bank, says: "I think foreign exchange policy can only do so much in terms of containing domestic based inflationary pressures. I think going ahead it would be interesting to see the government coming up with more targeted or surgical measures, essentially not to stifle growth or economic activity but essentially to let economy accommodate greater demands for example in the labour market."

He adds that the clearest example is the recent relaxation on the labour quotas in terms of foreign workers.

"So I think that is a very good example of how administrative measures would be targeted at alleviating cost pressures in the economy itself. So I think that would go somewhere in containing domestic price pressures within Singapore."

Some analysts say the Singapore dollar is expected to strengthen to about 1.32 against the greenback by the end of next year. - CNA/ch

URA Announces Winning Design Ideas For Marina South Residential District Design

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 November 2007

Four winners have been announced for the Marina South Residential District Design Competition .

Jointly organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Singapore Institute of Architects, the competition drew 30 entries both locally and internationally.

They include submissions from Hong Kong, Indonesia and the United States.

A low-rise eco-village, a coastal shopping promenade or a terraced communal green roofs: these ideas could come true at Marina South if planners incorporate some of the winning ideas at the Design Ideas Competition.

Participants were invited to design for high-density community-living along the waterfront, with an emphasis on environmental sustainability.

The four winning entries won $10,000 each,

The winners (in alphabetical order) are: Compass Studio Ltd (Hong Kong), Khoo Tiek Rong (Singapore), SKPS (Singapore) and Surbana (Singapore).

Two commendatory 'Special Mention' winners won S$5,000 each: Chor (Australia) and ZONG Architects (Singapore).

All submissions can be viewed at City Hall until December 8. - CNA/ch

Local Investors Turning To Indian Property Market: Keppel Land

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 November 2007

The property market in India is fast gaining popularity with Singapore investors, according to developer Keppel Land.

Home prices in India have risen by as much as 40 per cent in recent years.

Industry players expect prices to head even higher, as more investors jump on to the India bandwagon.

According to Keppel Land, property values across India have surged some 25 to 40 per cent in the past three to five years, piquing investor interest.

This momentum is expected to continue because non-resident Indians (NRIs) have been looking back home for investment options, Keppel Land said.

"The economic boom in India has rekindled interest for NRIs to look into investing in India," said Ang Wee Gee, Keppel Land's Regional Investment Director.

"The returns that the NRIs can achieve from investing in properties in India is quite attractive too, relative to other countries.

"Another reason why NRIs are buying is because the quality of homes developed in India has improved over the last few years."

Demand for properties in India has traditionally come from the West, but based on the increasing number of inquiries Keppel has been receiving, the developer said regional interest is growing fast.

Some customers here have even tried to purchase units in projects which have yet to be launched.

Apart from home-buyers studying prospects in India, more foreign developers are also heading there, with Keppel Land being one of the first.

"India's real estate market is fundamentally strong," explained Ang. "Demand is strong. We see acute shortage in supply. There is still quite a lot of catching up to do for the Indian real estate market. So as a foreign developer, Keppel Land feels there is an opportunity for us to capitalise."

He also said that India might capitalise on the potential slowdown in the US economy next year.

That, according to Keppel Land, may push NRIs working in the US to return to India.

Returning NRIs will boost demand for homes and also potential earnings for developers.

Keppel Land currently has two projects in Bangalore and one project in Calcutta. - CNA/yb