Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grange Infinite @ Grange Road

Grange Infinite is located at one of Singapore’s best residential addresses – Grange Road. Within walking distance to Singapore’s Premier Shopping Belt, Orchard Road, and Orchard MRT Station.Nearby landmarks Meritus Mandarin Hotel, Takashimaya ShoppingCentre, Orchard Cineplex

Location : 27 & 29 Grange Road
Tenure : Freehold
Expected TOP : 31st December 2011
Site Area : Approximately 5,455.6 sq m (approximately 58,724 sq ft)
Plot Ratio : 2.8
Architect : Hassell (Australian)

Development : One 36 Storeys Residential Development
Number of units : 68

Unit Types: -
· 3 Bedrooms Approx 2,088 - 2,368 sq ft
· 4 Bedrooms Approx 2,530 - 2,702 sq ft
· 4 Bedrooms (Triplex) Approx 6,039 sq ft (incl Roof Terrace)
· 5 Bedrooms PH Approx 5,339 / 5,436 sq ft
· 5 Bedroom PH (Duplex) Approx 9,462 sq ft

- Swimming Pool
- Gymnasium
- Jacuzzi
- Reading Corner
- BBQ Pits
- Multi-Purpose Room
- Spa Corner
- Landscaped Gardens
- Sky Garden on 14th Floor
- Basement Carparks
- 24 Hours Security

CityVista Residences @ Peck Hay Road

CityVista Residences, the realization of a new ideal in refined urban living. Located in prestigious District 9, CityVista Residences cuts a majestic figure in the city skyline with an unobstructed 20-storey boutique-style tower featuring 70 beautifully designed apartments.

Whether a short walk to Newton MRT or minutes to reputable schools, a kaleidoscope of privileged amenities awaits. With immediate access to a network of roads linking Orchard, Scotts and Cairnhill, CityVista Residences opens the door to an enclave of premium shopping, dining and entertainment delights. Some will be rendered speechless. Others won’t be able to say enough. But, one thing is for sure – it will take your breath away.

Location : 21, Peck Hay Road
Expected TOP : Dec 2011
Total Units : One 20 Storeys High Tower Block of 70 units
Deferred Payment Scheme Available

Unit Types: -
Type A1 - 3 bedroom - 2142 sq ft - 12 units
Type A2 - 3 bedroom - 2121 sq ft - 12 units
Type B - 4 bedroom - 2626 sq ft - 22 units
Type C1 - 4 bedroom - 2788 sq ft - 11 units
Type C2 - 4 bedroom - 2809 sq ft - 11 units
Penthouse A - 5 bedroom - 9182 sq ft - 1 unit
Penthouse B - 5 bedroom - 9160 sq ft - 1 unit

Facilities @ Sky Terrace on the 14th floor : -
- Gymnasium,
- Function Rooms,
- Water Features,
- Viewing Deck ,
- Changing Rooms with Sauna,
- Skylounges,
- Wellness Platform,
- Private Lounges,
- Multi Purpose Room,
- Basement Carparks,
- 24 Hours Security.

Get Ready For A Bumpy Ride

Source : The Business Times, January 9, 2008

But financial advisors say the uncertainty should clear by the second half and markets should recover, writes GENEVIEVE CUA

STRAP on your seat belts and brace yourselves for a bumpy ride in the first half of 2008, say financial advisers. Client portfolios at a number of firms are being repositioned to preserve value, a marked shift after four to five years of robust equity gains.

Still, the uncertainty should clear by the second half and markets should recover, they say. The key now is to keep your cool, scout for value and deploy your money in stages.

Uncertainty over the pace of US and global growth, credit issues and the full impact of sub-prime write-downs continue to roil markets, and Asia has not been spared.

Since the start of January, global equity MSCI indices have been awash in red, a stark contrast to the strong returns of the past year.

Among the more optimistic is Albert Lam, IPP Financial Advisers investment director. The signposts of a prolonged recession, he says, are absent. These are: serious policy errors by central banks, real rates shifting far above economic growth rates, ridiculous stock valuations, and a collapse in economic growth.

'Even if the US went into a recession, it will be mild,' he says. 'For that reason, our long-term view is that the bull market is intact. But in the short term, due to news flow, markets will be volatile.'

The news relates mainly to questions over the extent of losses arising from sub-prime exposures; as well as US economic news.

For moderate risk clients, IPP has scaled up the exposure to growth funds from 25 to 33 per cent, and moved some of the fixed-income allocation into cash. IPP counts among the largest homegrown advisory firms with $870 million in assets under advisory.

Joseph Chong of New Independent says investors will need to take on a 'value mindset'.

'If there is a recession in the US, I think it will be shallow. Markets may see some upside in the first quarter.

'Our favoured region is Europe from a valuation standpoint. We like Asian growth but not Asian valuations. China and India are looking quite expensive.'

In 2007, the emerging markets and Asia were the top performers, trouncing mature markets resoundingly. Based on Lipper data, China equity funds delivered average returns of 47 per cent, for example, and India equity 55 per cent. The broader-based Asia ex-Japan region returned 27 per cent, compared with just 5.3 per cent for the average global equity fund.

Says Mr Chong: 'For investors who have a high risk appetite, this is the time to take risk.'

He points to the UBS/Gallup Index of Investor Optimism Poll as a contrarian indicator. It fell sharply in November to 44, less than half the January 2007 level of 103. It has declined steadily since May and has now reached its lowest point since September 2005.

'When the index is negative it coincides with a low point of markets. When the index is very positive, it's not a good sign as markets are about to turn down.'

At Providend, its model balanced portfolio has turned defensive. Chief investment officer Daryl Liew says a tactical shift is being made away from higher-risk markets towards sectors like healthcare and uncorrelated assets. 'The outlook in the first six months isn't too good. We see there is more potential for markets to correct than to go up . . . But we're quite positive about the second half. This slowdown will be temporary.'

Providend's moderate risk portfolio generated a return of over 8 per cent in 2007, and an annualised return of 10.4 per cent since 2003. The equity allocation was recently scaled down to 25 per cent, from about 40 per cent at mid-2007.

Also sounding a cautious note is Javelin Wealth Management chief executive Stephen Davies. 'We have been reducing our exposure to equities generally, and adding to gold and commodities . . . Investors have to be prepared for the possibility that 2008 may see negative equity returns.'

The firm's moderate risk portfolio is currently about 47 per cent invested in equities, 6-7 per cent in gold and about 5 per cent in commodities. The portfolio generated a return of 11.5 per cent last year, amid volatility of about 7 per cent.

'We're more positive about Asia and emerging markets, but recognising that the mythical decoupling (from the US) isn't going to happen. And it's probably not going to happen for the foreseeable future.

'We like these markets; we're inclined to pick them up at lower levels, but they're going to struggle just as much, if not more so, than developed markets.'

In a December report, Merrill Lynch chief investment strategist Richard Bernstein said the upward trend in volatility will continue in 2008, spreading to a broader range of asset classes. Volatility, he suggests, may not slacken until 2009.

He says 2008 should perhaps be dubbed the year of a 'global slowdown' instead of global growth. 'Disappointments seem likely in some emerging markets in which valuations appear increasingly extreme in the light of credit conditions.'

His suggested strategies for 2008 include high-quality bonds; large-cap stocks in the US or smaller-cap stocks outside the US; defensive sectors in the US or domestic demand sectors outside the US. He also suggests a more conservative mix of developed and emerging markets, as well as cash and high quality dividend strategies.

He tells investors to avoid 'value traps' - stocks whose valuations appear inexpensive but lack earnings momentum.

So what should investors do? Mr Lam of IPP advises drip-feed investing to take advantage of lower asset prices. 'If you have money, you could enter the market in tranches. Take advantage of the volatility but not putting all your eggs in one basket.

'By the end of the year, things will clear up and money will flow back into markets.'

District 9 Development Partnership

Source : TODAY, Thursday, January 10, 2008

Construction firm Lian Beng Group is making a joint purchase of a residential site at Emerald Hill Road in District 9 worth $148 million.

Lian Beng, through its subsidiary, LB Land, has entered a strategic partnership with LaSalle Investment Management to purchase and redevelop the 29,811-sq-ft luxury residential site.

Based on a gross floor area of 78, 689 ft, the purchase prices is about $1,880 per square foot per plot ratio.

“Our strengths in building construction will complement LaSalle’s strengths in property development and marketing," said Lian Beng managing director Ong Pang Aik.

Lian Beng will be the main contractor for the redevelopment project, worth about $34 million, with work expected to begin in April and completed by September 2010. With this contract, the firm’s orderbook to date is approximately $608 million.

LaSalle has an 85-per-cent stake in the project, while Lian Beng will hold the remaining 15 per cent through LB Land.


《联合早报》Jan 10, 2008





博纳集团总裁伊斯迈受访时说,自从文庆路私人组屋City View@

Boon Keng叫价近73万元以来,不少女皇镇的屋主都认为女皇镇也具备高转售价的条件,因为女皇镇靠近市中心和乌节路,屋龄也不是很大。











Slow But Strong In 2008

Source : TODAY, Thursday, January 10, 2008

The World Bank forecasts a slight slowdown for the Singapore economy this year.

Speaking to Today during the launch of the World Bank’s 2008 Global Economic Prospects Report yesterday, Mr Hans Timmer (picture), lead economist and manager of the Global Trends team in the World Bank’s Development Prospects group, said: “The outlook for Singapore is still very strong performance. Not as strong as 2007 where you had 7.5-per-cent growth. We expect growth to come down just below 7 per cent - that’s still very strong. Singapore benefits from its location, and from the extraordinary dynamics in Asia which show continued double-digit export growth.”

However he warned that the domestic property sector is “close to overheating”.

“What you’re seeing is that the export growth was very strong for a couple of years. It’s generating more and more income growth within the country as a result of which there is a tightness in the housing sector - it shows in the prices and in the building activity,” Mr Timmer added.

The World Bank also expects high commodity prices, especially the current spikes in oil prices, to gradually decline as the prevailing rate of high prices starts to slow down growth.

“We see the current situation as a volatile environment at high levels and that the fundamentals in the medium run will somewhat moderate in the long run,” said Mr Timmer, who co-authored the World Bank report.

The World Bank has faced some criticism in its latest report, on its forecast that developing countries will be largely resilient to a looming US slowdown.

Mr Timmer said: “The strong performance in developing countries is because they’re integrating into the global markets, they are creating stronger links with the high-income countries, so we are not talking about a decoupling… They are generating their own dynamics and they are determining what is happening in international markets.”

Trusting In Its Growth Strategy

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

More than just a mall owner, CMT leads what is now a $29b market

IF SINGAPORE is known for its trendy, modernised malls, then some of the credit must certainly go to CapitaMall Trust (CMT).

As the owner of 13 downtown and suburban shopping centres, CMT is behind the recent facelifts of malls such as Raffles City and Bugis Junction.

It has spent more than $62 million on the first phase of renovations at Raffles City, including the new ‘island podium’ of shops in the centre of the mall where the atrium used to be.

At Bugis Junction, it has shuffled some shops and added new brands in a $31 million makeover.

But CMT, which collects rental income from its mall tenants and distributes that to unitholders, is more than just a mall owner.

It was also the first - and remains the biggest - real estate investment trust (Reit) in Singapore, having pioneered the development of what is now a $29 billion market with 18 listed Reits.

Created by property giant CapitaLand in 2002 with just three malls in its portfolio, CMT has since grown to have a market capitalisation of almost $6 billion as at October last year.

Its initial public offering was five times subscribed despite being priced at the top end of an expected range, at 96 cents.

Over the last few months, CMT units have been hovering between $3.10 and $3.50, after hitting an all-time high of $4.32 in May last year. They ended down one cent at $3.90 yesterday.

‘If you look at CMT’s performance for the whole of last year, it went up by more than 23 per cent in terms of total return, which is the rise in share price, plus distribution,’ said chief executive Pua Seck Guan.

He said CMT’s unit price rose by about 19 per cent in the last year, while distribution went up 4 per cent. Market capitalisation grew 27 per cent.

‘Some Reits have been in the market for a long time, but they are actually giving a negative total return,’ Mr Pua added.

CMT’s strategy is simple: It is ‘not only providing sustainability of the distributable income, but also creating growth’.

This comes from three areas: raising rental income, enhancing existing malls and buying more properties , explained Mr Pua.

Within the portfolio, ‘we have a good four to five years’ growth organically in terms of asset enhancement’, he said.

This year, CMT will focus on Sembawang Shopping Centre, Jurong Entertainment Centre and the next phases of enhancement works at Bugis Junction and Raffles City.

Already, the initial renovations are paying off. The number of shoppers at Bugis Junction rose by 13 per cent last month from a year ago, while that at Raffles City rose by 8 per cent.

As for acquisitions, CMT plans to have $8 billion of assets by 2010, which is ‘very achievable’, given that Clarke Quay, one-north and Ion Orchard are already in the pipeline.

‘Also, we have a pretty strong balance sheet. Our gearing is only 34 per cent, and we have long-term debt locked in, so we are in a good position to make acquisitions,’ Mr Pua said.

He added: ‘In this volatile market, I think there will be more opportunities’.

JPMorgan is overweight on the trust, setting its target price at $4.

The investment bank said CMT is enhancing several malls, and its incremental returns should step up growth in the distribution per unit.

The bank added that the Reit is able to pass through inflationary pressures due to its largely fixed cost of debt and its power to ‘raise rents through asset enhancement and active leasing initiatives’.

Inflation Rate Could Push Past 6% In Q1

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

Upward revision of value of public housing cited

SINGAPORE'S inflation rate could soar past 6 per cent in the current quarter, beating previous estimates, as an upward revision of the value of public housing kicks in this month and food and oil prices continue to climb.

'We were previously looking at 3.9 per cent for this year, but I think it will be much higher,' United Overseas Bank economist Ho Woei Chen said yesterday.

'The revision (of annual values) will be quite significant, and we underestimated the extent of the taxi fare increase, the food price increase, oil price increase.'

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore has raised its assessment of values across all flat types by 18-25 per cent from Jan 1. Housing value has a significant weight in the consumer price index (CPI).

'(Inflation for the year) can potentially exceed the Monetary Authority of Singapore's forecast of 3.5 to 4.5 per cent for 2008,' Ms Ho said.

According to her, a lot will depend on the inflation figures for January. Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, could also come in above the MAS forecast made in October of 1.5 to 2.5 per cent for the year, she reckons.

But 'given some expectation of lower global growth this year I think there could be some self-correcting mechanism later this year', she said.

'We could see oil prices coming in lower this year' which could bring down inflation closer to the end of the year, especially given the high base in November 2007.

The CPI that month surged 4.2 per cent year on year - a 25-year high.

UOB's head of economics and treasury research Jimmy Koh said that rising asset prices, despite a falling Sibor (Singapore Interbank Offered Rate), could fuel further asset price inflation.

The three-month rate has fallen from 3.44 per cent a year ago to 2.13 per cent at the end of last week. This is less than the inflation rate, implying a negative real interest rate.

'This is very unusual,' Mr Koh said. 'It's because of foreigners coming in and participating in Singapore's system.'

This is a new challenge because targeting the exchange rate encourages the inflow of liquidity, he said.

MAS data shows deposits by non-residents totalled $29.8 billion in October 2007 - almost three times the $10.6 billion in 2002.

Mr Koh added, however, that this is an 'affirmation of the successful restructuring of the Singapore economy', which is now showing up in local asset prices.

He said that going forward, the local economy needs to withstand the possibility of a recession in the US. 'We just have to clear off this challenge, then we will be left with a cleaner system,' he said.

He believes the Singapore dollar will embark on 'a second leg of correction against the US dollar', which will be 'slow and steady, dependent on what China will do' on revaluing the yuan.

He expects a gradual appreciation of the Sing dollar against the US unit from 1.43 at the end of this quarter to 1.39 in Q1 2009.

The yuan should move from 7.23 to the US dollar at the end of the first quarter of 2008 to 6.75 by the end of Q1 2009, according to UOB estimates.

Eng Wah Properties Put Up For Sale

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

Portfolio worth around $190m; bulk of proceeds may go to shareholders

Eng Wah Organisation, the subject of a reverse takeover, has put a portfolio of five cinema, retail and office properties up for sale, which sources suggest could be worth about $190 million.

The five are Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre and Jubilee Theatre at Ang Mo Kio - both of which are shopping/entertainment complexes anchored by Eng Wah cineplexes - as well as the former Mandarin Theatre in Kallang Bahru and Empress Theatre in Clementi (which have been shut down) and the 16th floor of Orchard Towers.

The space in Orchard Towers comprises offices spread across three units - one occupied by Eng Wah and the other two leased out. There are plans for a collective sale of Orchard Towers, which stands on a freehold site in the prime Claymore area.

The other four properties are on sites with remaining leases ranging from 61 to 70 years.

Of the four cinema/retail assets, the ones in Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh (both close to MRT stations) can be refurbished and repositioned for a higher yield, while the other two properties at Clementi and Kallang Bahru, which are currently vacant, are candidates for redevelopment, said Jones Lang LaSalle's regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt. JLL is marketing the portfolio through an expressions of interest exercise that closes on Feb 14.

'Eng Wah is open to selling the entire portfolio of five properties or any one or more of these properties individually,' he added.

Eng Wah is prepared to lease back the cinema space in Toa Payoh and at Jubilee Theatre in Ang Mo Kio if the buyer offers it at a mutually agreeable rental rate. However, leaseback is not a condition for the sale, Mr Lui added.

The cinema-cum-entertainment group is in the midst of a reverse takeover by Japanese pharmaceutical firm Transcutaneous Technologies (TTI).

Eng Wah has said that upon completion of the deal, the group's operations would be discontinued and substantially all its assets would be disposed of.

An earlier BT commentary pointed out that except for $10 million which will go to TTI, Eng Wah will distribute all proceeds from the sale of assets, together with cash in hand, to its shareholders.

At the time that the RTO was announced in May last year, Eng Wah managing director Goh Min Yen said the group was studying various options, including selling the entertainment businesses to the Goh family.

On the stock market yesterday, Eng Wah closed unchanged at 68.5 cents. It stood at 40.5 cents just before it made its RTO plans public.

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between Dec 10th - 22nd, 2007

Big Names For Ion

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

Six luxury brand names will take the coveted storefront shop spaces in Ion Orchard when it opens at the end of the year

WITH 11m-tall storefronts, you could say these retailers have their I-on making the upcoming Orchard Turn mall a traffic-stopper.

LUXE LIFE: The Dolce & Gabbana shop in Ion Orchard will be modelled after the one in Osaka, Japan (above) with its glossy black theme. -- PHOTO: CLUB 21

After months of speculation, international luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Prada, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani have been unveiled as the stores that will occupy the six coveted double-storey flagships in Ion Orchard.

Orchard Turn Developments, a joint venture between Singapore-listed CapitaLand and Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai Properties, announced the mall's first six tenants yesterday.

Describing the six labels as 'superbrands', Ms Soon Su Lin, its chief executive, said: 'Having them as our first confirmed tenants will provide an even more compelling factor for other fashion and lifestyle brands to establish their concept and flagship stores at Ion Orchard.'

The mall at the junction of Orchard and Paterson roads is set to be completed by year's end. It will boast eight retail levels - four of them above ground and four below.

The six duplexes will be situated side by side on the first and second floors with a combined retail space of almost 50,000 sq ft. Each will have its own distinct interior and facade design as window displays and in-store features, such as VIP rooms and staircases, can be customised.

'Our unique building facade... will be well-integrated with the proposed enhanced pedestrian mall with interesting urban green rooms, to create a lively streetscape,' said Ms Soon.

For Italian label Giorgio Armani, the Ion Orchard's duplex store will be its latest megastore in Asia. Last November, it opened a 12-storey tower in the heart of Tokyo's Ginza district.

The label, along with Italian marque Dolce & Gabbana, is distributed here by home-grown luxury retailer Club 21.

A Club 21 spokesman said the group decided to relocate these two brands from the Hilton Shopping Gallery to Ion Orchard because of their 'commercial potential'.

The stores' design will also 'follow very much the international template', he added.

The Dolce & Gabbana boutique, for instance, will resemble its store in Osaka, Japan, which features basalt stone, black glass and Murano glass chandeliers.

For Prada, Louis Vuitton and Cartier, the duplexes will be new stores rather than replacements for their existing standalone stores. Prada has a boutique in Paragon shopping centre while Louis Vuitton and Cartier have flagships in Ngee Ann City.

Richemont-owned French jeweller Cartier is not concerned about the proximity of its two stores.

Its managing director, Mr Christopher Kilaniotis, said: 'If you look at Hong Kong and the Ginza district in Tokyo, the leading luxury brands there have more than one flagship store that are very close to each other.

'We would like to have two large stores in Orchard Road but each with its own character and style.'

The new store will carry all the product lines from watches and jewellery to men's accessories.

He added: 'Singapore has suffered from a lack of prime luxury retail space which made it difficult for brands to expand. Ion Orchard comes at the right time to satisfy that demand.'

Ion Orchard is not the only mall that is set to transform the look of Singapore's main shopping belt.

Paragon, which is owned by Singapore Press Holdings, will begin a $45 million makeover this month to update its building facade and increase the mall's retail space.

Its current glass and granite facade cladding will make way for pop-out glass boxes. The facelift is expected to be completed in October.

Mr Tang Wee Sung, chairman of CK Tang, said: 'A duplex seems mandatory if you're a superbrand. I think these six brands will enhance Singapore's standing as a premier shopping destination both in the region and around the world.'

Sunway Keen On More Projects In Singapore

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

Malaysian firm eyes more HDB design-and-build developments

THE recently launched condominium-like public housing project in Boon Keng was a first in many respects, wowing home seekers with city views from extended balconies at new benchmark prices.

What is less well-known, however, is the fact that it also marks the first time a foreign company is developing public housing in Singapore.

Sunway Concrete Products, a unit of Malaysian-listed Sunway Holdings, owns a 30 per cent stake in City View @ Boon Keng, the second development to be launched under HDB's Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

The rest is owned by home-grown developer Hoi Hup Realty - which is owned by Straits Construction - and a Straits Construction-linked investment firm, Oriental Worldwide Investments.

Sunway Holdings is one of three listed companies under Malaysia's giant Sunway Group, whose activities range from construction to property development to quarrying and entertainment.

Often, it is confused with Sunway City - its more illustrious, and also Malaysian- listed, sister company - which boasts among its projects the popular Sunway Lagoon Resort and landed homes in the exclusive Kuala Lumpur enclave Kiara Hills.

Sunway Holdings has completed the development of a 49ha township in Shah Alam in Selangor state, and is now working on 113ha in Rawang, also in Selangor.

The group managing director of Sunway Group, Datuk Tan Kia Loke, told The Straits Times recently that the group aims to make inroads into the Singapore property market through Sunway Concrete Products, which has supplied pre-cast concrete and other building materials to Singapore's market for a decade.

Being new in Singapore, it decided to play safe and team up with Hoi Hup for the DBSS project, which gives private developers a free rein over the design, building and pricing of the homes they build - but within public housing guidelines.

Datuk Tan said: 'Being a new player in properties in Singapore, we do believe in planning our growth in a calculated way...Obviously, the best thing to do is to learn from our big brother.'

The caution has paid off - at 3pm yesterday, the project received almost 2,500 applications for its 714 units.

Although Sunway Holdings' expertise lies in landed houses, developing such homes may not be on its immediate horizon because land is relatively more expensive to acquire in Singapore.

Still, said Datuk Tan, the firm would not hesitate to look for joint venture partners if it chances on 'very very prime land' where it can showcase its strength.

Sunway, he said, was eyeing several government land sale sites for further development.

It wants more of the DBSS action. A total of 2,500 other such homes are being planned for Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Simei and Bedok in the coming months. The tender for a 1.5ha Bishan plot will close on Feb 19.

Asked why Sunway was keen on the Singapore market, Datuk Tan said: 'Singapore being a small island, the value of property assets over time can only go up.'

He acknowledged, however, that Sunway still had some way to go in establishing its reputation in the Republic.

'Most Singaporeans, when you talk about Sunway, relate it to Sunway Lagoon. And I think we are conscious of that, and are making a continuous effort to really promote ourselves,' he said.

Expansion plans

SUNWAY Group's managing director, Datuk Tan Kia Loke, says the group aims to make inroads into Singapore through Sunway Concrete Products, which has been supplying pre-cast concrete and other building materials to Singapore's market for a decade.

Sunway Holdings, he says, is eyeing several government land sale sites for further development. Having clinched the Boon Keng Design, Build and Sell Scheme project, the company now wants more of such contracts.

A total of 2,500 other such homes are being planned for Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Simei and Bedok in the coming months.

9 Tenants, Developer In Legal Dispute Over Square2 Mall

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

Retailers sue over empty pledges; Novena Point counter-sues for unpaid rent

SLUGGISH business in the shopping mall sitting above the Novena MRT station has led to a legal tussle between a group of disgruntled tenants and the developer.

WHERE ARE THE SHOPPERS?: The nine tenants claim Novena Point promised to spend $6 million on advertising and promotion, but this was not done. -- ST FILE PHOTO

The nine tenants of Square2 have sued the developer for misrepresentation, claiming that they were made several promises, such as the scale of advertising and promotion campaigns, which have remained unfulfilled.

Novena Point, which is under the Far East Organization umbrella, has denied making misrepresentations and is counter-suing the tenants for rent and other charges.

The mall, conceptualised as a Korean-themed one, has 150,000 sq ft of retail space on five levels. It has more than 200 retail tenants.

The nine tenants, including a gift shop, a hair salon, a fashion retailer and an eatery, opened for business in the first two months of last year.

Depending on shop size, they pay rents ranging from about $1,900 to over $12,000 a month.

Last month, the nine, represented by lawyer Leonard Loo, filed a lawsuit in the Subordinate Courts against Novena Point.

The claim did not specify the quantum of damages, as the plaintiffs are asking the court to assess the amount they deserve if they win the case.

Alternatively, the plaintiffs are asking that their tenancy agreements be rescinded and for the rents they have paid to be refunded. In their statement of claim, they say they took up their shop spaces based on oral representations made to them by the developer's representatives and its brochures.

The promises, the tenants claim, include:

# That there would be specific shopping zones such as a 'digital world' selling electronic gadgets in the basement and Korean-themed shops on Level 3, where shop staff would wear traditional Korean costumes;

# That Korean artistes like K-pop star Rain would be brought in monthly to promote the mall;

# That $6 million would be spent on advertising and promotion.

But the defendant failed to deliver on these, the tenants said.

The shops have not been zoned, but are scattered, and no 'digital world' has been created. They added that Korean artistes did not grace the mall every month, and that the defendant had not spent $6 million on promotions.

Some tenants claimed they have been locked out of their shops and that their rent cheques have been rejected without reason.

The defendant, represented by Allen & Gledhill, is denying these claims. In its defence filed last week, it said that while it had approached electronics retailers to take up shop units, it never set out to pitch Square2 as an IT mall like Sim Lim Square or Funan.

It added that while Level 3 has a Korean theme, it never said operators would wear Korean costumes. Korean artistes have come to the mall, but it was never promised that such appearances would happen every month.

As for Rain, it said that all that was said was that it would try to bring him in.

The developer also claimed to have put in considerable effort into promoting the mall, but never committed to spending $6 million on this. It has so far spent $2.9 million.

It asserted that six of the tenants were in rental arrears despite reminders, so their leases were terminated. Their cheques were returned because partial payments were not accepted.

It is contending that the tenants each owe between $1,800 and $51,000 in rent.

Mountbatten Road Office Site Draws Top Bid Of $15m

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

THREE bids were lodged yesterday for a transitional office site in Mountbatten Road released to ease the current tight supply situation in the office market.

The modest result was still a better showing than the single bid placed for a transitional office site put up for tender in Tampines recently.

Mezzo Properties, a small real estate development and construction firm controlled by directors Lim Kim Hong and Lim Huixing, topped the Mountbatten Road tender with a bid of $14.89 million or $69.2 per sq ft (psf) of gross floor area. Superbowl Land came just behind with $14.8 million or $68.7 psf, with Soilbuild Group Holdings well back at $10.93 million or $50.77 psf.

Mezzo's bid is below the Tampines bid of $80.65 psf.

Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the price was lower mainly because the site does not boast facilities nearby while Tampines is a regional business centre.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han said the lower price reflects the short window of six to 12 months in which to get the building rented before a large office supply comes onstream in 2010.

The site has a 15-year lease and a maximum permissible gross floor area of 20,000 sq m or 215,278 sq ft.

The Mezzo directors also participate in the property market via other firms. Last October, they topped a public tender for an industrial site in Sin Ming Lane with a bid of $68.9 million.

Last Sentosa Cove Condo Plot Sold For $1.1b

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 10, 2008

THE last condominium plot in Sentosa Cove has been awarded to Ho Bee Investment and Malaysia-listed IOI Properties for a whopping $1.097 billion.

TOP DOLLAR: The Pinnacle Collection can accommodate a 357-unit condo of up to 20 storeys, making it the tallest and largest in the enclave. -- PHOTO: SENTOSA COVE

They put in a land price of $1,822 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) - slightly above the previous benchmark of $1,799.78 psf.

The bid, at just 14 per cent above the reserve, came in below earlier market expectations as the site, with a gross floor area of 602,360 sq ft, is said to be iconic.

Called The Pinnacle Collection, it can accommodate a 357-unit condo of up to 20 storeys, which would make it the tallest and largest condo in the enclave.

In September - when the 99-year leasehold site was launched for sale - property analysts projected bids of about $2,000 psf. But market sentiment had weakened by the time the tender closed on December 12.

Price was not the only factor at play though as the award was also based on the design concept.

Said CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho: 'The breakeven cost is estimated at $2,500 psf, which suggests a future selling price of around $3,000 psf.' The latest launch in Sentosa Cove, The Marina Collection, was priced at $2,700 psf to $3,000 psf.

Ho Bee and IOI have set up a special-purpose company for the project, with Ho Bee holding 35 per cent and IOI the remainder. The project is IOI's third foray into Singapore's property market and Ho Bee's eighth in the cove.

'If the sub-prime problem blows over, as it should, they would have landed a good deal,' said Mr Ku Swee Yong from Savills Singapore.

With this sale, there are just three unsold bungalow plots left at Sentosa Cove.

Ascott Holders Should Take The Money And Exit

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

EARLIER this week, property giant CapitaLand announced that it would make a g eneral offer for its listed subsidiary Ascott Group, offering to buy all Ascott shares it does not own.

For Ascott's minority shareholders weighing up th e offer, there are several factors to consider. Their stock is now seeing poor liquidity and low trading volumes. The company is 66.5 per cent owned by CapitaLand and is tightly held by various institutions. Ascott's low trading volume - estimated a t less than US$2 million a day on average - has been an issue with some institutions that ar e interested in the company's growth story, analysts have pointed out.

Th e offer price of $1.73 a share is decent. The price is 43 per cent higher than A scott's last traded price of $1.21 at the time of the offer and also represents a premium of about 145 per cent to Ascott's unaudited net asset value per share as at Sept 30 , 2007.

While the offer is nowhere near Ascott's one-year high of $2.06 seen in May last year as well as below the target prices assigned to the stock by analysts, Ascott's share price is unlikely to appreciate much in 2008 in view of the uncer tain market.

Said CIMB analyst Khoo Chen Hsung: 'While we expect Ascott' s share price to rise towards our target price of $2.25, rising equity market risk aversion is likely to limit its ascent to our sum-of-parts valuation of $2.25 over the next 12 months.'

Better offer is unlikely

And if this bid fails , a better offer from CapitaLand is unlikely to be forthcoming. Similarly, it is also unlik ely that a competing bidder will emerge in view of the credit market turmoil.

With all this in mind, Ascott's minority shareholders should take the money and exit a company that has little going for them. After all, those keen on an exposure to Ascott's business model can instead buy into CapitaLand or Ascott's listed Asco tt Residence Trust (ART).

The market view seems to be that the offer will go through. UBS Investment Research, for example, said that shareholders will accept the off er.

'Given the fragmented shareholding and volatile market outlook, we t hink the probability of investors rejecting the bid and a higher offer is low,' said the research unit in a recent note.

On CapitaLand's side, shareholders might be a bit concerned about the premium the developer will be forking out for Ascot t's shares. CapitaLand's investment could hit $990 million - not a small amount by any reckoning.

Dilutive for pro forma earnings

The purchase wi ll also be slightly dilutive for pro forma earnings and net tangible assets, and only mildly positive for revalued net asset value.

But a lot will depend on how well CapitaLand extracts value from a delisted Ascott.

The group has indicate d that it will manage a wholly-owned Ascott in a more integrated fashion than it is currently doing, which might allow the service residence unit to grow at a f aster pace.

The timing of the privatisation bid also shows that CapitaLand is s tarting to give more attention to extracting value from its listed vehicles give n the weak equity market conditions. The move is timely, as property stocks - in cluding CapitaLand - have taken a knock over the past few weeks.

However, the dev eloper is unlikely to follow the same path with its other listed units, especial ly its real estate investment trusts (Reits).

CapitaLand is committed to its Reit strategy, and chief executive Liew Mun Leong has said that the group could well have 10 Reits in its portfolio in the long term.

In line with this, ART should remain the main listed Asian service apartment vehicle for CapitaLand. An d following the same argument, one should not expect offers by CapitaLand for its other list ed Reit associates like CapitaMall Trust and CapitaCommercial Trust.

JLL Sees More Intensive Land Use Near Buona Vista Station

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

Area undergoing development to turn it into commercial and R&D hub

LAND use around Buona Vista Station is likely to be intensified to maintain the buzz from the development of one north and optimise the area's improved accessibility when the new Circle Line intersects with the existing East-West Line.

Lush greenery: 'The whole place will be very vibrant, like university towns in the US and UK,' says DTZ executive director Ong Choon Fah

Making the point in a study on likely changes in Master Plan 2008, Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang says: 'Buona Vista is fast becoming the next sub-regional centre for the western region'.

The area is undergoing intensive development to turn it into 'a commercial and R&D hub' with social and recreational amenities, as envisaged by official planners.

Property consultants expect more intense land use to be confined largely to the areas close to the existing and adjacent new (Circle Line) MRT stations and to sensitively integrated with lush greenery and colonial-type buildings in places like Rochester Park and Wessex Estate to create a blend of the old and new.

'In other words, this is not going to be a sterile environment,' says DTZ executive director Ong Choon Fah. 'The whole place will be very vibrant, like university towns in the US and UK. MNCs tend to be attracted to where the talent is, where universities are.'

JLL identified several sites in the immediate vicinity of the existing and new Buona Vista MRT stations for its study on anticipated plot ratio changes in Master Plan 2008.

Two vacant state sites flanking the MRT stations, which are currently zoned for commercial use but without plot ratios specified in Master Plan 2003, could see plot ratios of 4.8-5.6 in Master Plan 2008, Dr Chua suggests, comparing them to the URA and MND buildings near Tanjong Pagar MRT Station and Revenue House near Novena MRT Station.

A reserve site - part of which is now used as a bus interchange - could be rezoned for commercial use integrated with a new bus interchange, JLL suggests in its study.

This would be akin to similar commercial buildings with bus interchanges near Ang Mo Kio and Toa Payoh MRT stations.

Two sites now zoned for Business 1 use (clean and light industrial/warehouse use) could have plot ratios raised from 2.5 to 2.8 to maximise their potential, JLL reckons.

New developments at one-north include Biopolis (the first two phases of which are already up) and Fusionopolis (phase 1 will be ready by the end of this quarter); a mixed use development by United Engineers that will include The Rochester condo, retail podium and business hotel; One North Residences by UOL, Low Keng Huat and Kheng Leong; and right next to the new Circle Line MRT Station, a civic, cultural and retail complex with a 5,000-seat theatre and a mall with mostly food and beverage and entertainment outlets, developed jointly by CapitaLand and Rock Productions. All of these are part of one north, which is positioned as an icon of a knowledge-based economy.

As well, Buona Vista is close to trendy areas like Holland Village and Rochester Park and several academic institutions including National University of Singapore, Insead, Anglo Chinese Junior College and Anglo Chinese School (Independent), and United World College, plus the emerging high-tech area of Tanglin Halt Industrial Estate.

Pearlbank Apartments Up For Collective Sale At $750m

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

THE 38-year-old Pearlbank Apartments development at Pearl's Hill has been put up for collective sale at an indicative price of $750 million.

Marketing agent Knight Frank says that with a lease upgrading premium estimated at $143.3 million, the unit rate works out to be $1,456 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), assuming the buyer can fully develop the site to baseline gross floor area of 56,998.8 square metres.

Knight Frank executive director Nicholas Wong said the site was put on the market last August. There were four expressions of interest but negotiations fizzled out in the wake of the US sub-prime crisis.

Pearlbank Apartments, which comprises 280 apartments and eight commercial units, was the first all-housing project constructed on a URA site. Some architects reckon the building has merit worth preserving, but it is not gazetted for conservation.

Mr Wong said more than 80 per cent of the owners have already agreed to go down the en bloc route. Based on the indicative asking price, he estimates most of them stand to collect 60-70 per cent more through a collective sale than they would individually.

Under the 2003 Master Plan, the site is designated for residential development at a plot ratio of 7.2. However, according to URA, the baseline gross floor area is 56,998.8 sq m. This is equivalent to a plot ratio of 7.447 on the land area of 7,653 sq m.

Based on an average unit size of 1,200 sq ft, 500 new apartments can be built on the site. There is also opportunity for the developer to integrate Pearl's Hill City Park into the redevelopment, Mr Wong said.

Bids For Transitional Office Site Fall Short Of Expectations

Source : The Business Times,January 10, 2008

THE Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has named the bidders for a 15-year leasehold transitional office site at Mountbatten Road. The top bid came in at $14.9 million or $69.17 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) - 14 per cent less than the last site awarded, in Tampines.

Of the three bids received, the top price was offered by Mezzo Properties Pte Ltd. The bidder is understood to be associated with MV Land, which was awarded an industrial site at Sin Ming Lane in a public tender with a bid of $68.9 million or about $50 psf ppr in October 2007.

Superbowl Land put in the second highest bid of $14.8 million (or $68.70 psf ppr) while Soilbuild Group bid $10.93 million (or $50.77 psf ppr).

The URA said that the decision on the award of the tender will be made after the bids have been evaluated.

While the top bid falls short of market expectations, Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han believed that the URA is likely to award the site as transitional offices have a mandate as a 'quick fix' to address the critical office supply crunch.

Based on recent tenders, prices for transitional office sites appear to be falling.

In November 2007, a tender for a transitional office site in Tampines drew just one bid of $10 million, which works out to $80.65 psf ppr, lower than the $100 psf ppr region that most property consultants had estimated.

The Mountbatten site being closer to the city and opposite the future sports hub, Mr Han had expected bids to be around $140 psf ppr. He said that based on the top bid, the potential developer of the Mountbatten site could stand to reap double digit yields if the space can be leased at $4-5 psf per month.

Job Data Suggests US Recession Is Here: Merrill

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

Never in past 60 years has jobless rate risen 60 points without a recession

A US recession is a reality, says Merrill Lynch in a Jan 7 report, calling for a defensive strategy and investments in high-quality bonds.

The firm's North American economist David Rosenberg said last Friday's employment data 'strongly suggests' an official recession. For one, the unemployment rate hit 5 per cent in December against the March 2007 trough of 4.4 per cent. At no time in the past 60 years, he wrote, has the jobless rate risen 60 basis points without the economy slipping into recession.

Back-to-back declines in total hours worked - this indicator saw a 0.4 per cent fall in the fourth quarter, against a 0.6 per cent fall in the third - is also associated with a recession.

Another point is that the level of unemployment is up 13 per cent year-on- year, which is consistent with a recession. The year-on-year rate of change in the level of the unemployed who have been idle for at least 15 weeks is 'particularly ominous', he said, at 20 per cent. This was the pace in the early stages of previous downturns in 2001 and 1990.

The typical recession, he said, lasts 10 months, and sees the S&P 500 decline 60 per cent of the way through. '... so if you're in the market for bottom picking, the historical record would be telling you to wait for May or June. Based on how the markets end up behaving peak-to-trough when the economy moves into a recessionary phase, we can see that right now the S&P 500 is priced 32 per cent of the way for a recession; and no sector is fully discounting this condition.'

Mr Rosenberg favours Treasuries and high-quality bonds. 'We maintain our call not to be afraid of low yields but to focus on adding income and quality to the portfolio'. Treasury bonds, he said, outperform stocks on a total return basis by 2,700 basis points during a cyclical bear market, 'so bonds are the place to be'.

In a recession, the Federal Reserve cuts the funds rate by an average of 400 basis points. Both the Fed funds and long-term yields also continue to decline after the official downturn is over. In recessions, the S&P500 typically corrects by about 25 per cent.

The worst sectors are consumer discretionary and financials; the best performing are defensives like telecom, healthcare and utilities. The latter sectors may outperform the market by 400 basis points. 'But keep in mind that all 10 S&P sectors are down in a recession, so there is nowhere really to hide.'

Mr Rosenberg warns that the unwinding of the real estate bubble could prolong the current downturn. But assuming a typical scenario, the recession could end around the fourth quarter of 2008. This suggests a market bottom in mid-year, 'But by that time, an average recession would imply another 15-20 per cent downside to the equity market and is not a train you want to stand in front of... This then means a focus on defensive strategies.'

Separately, Reuters reported Goldman Sachs as saying yesterday it expects the US economy to drop into recession this year, prompting the Federal Reserve to slash benchmark lending rates to 2.5 per cent by the third quarter.

Growth In Developing Countries Likely To Soften US Slowdown

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 January 2008

Resilience in developing economy is helping to cushion the current slowdown in the United States, according to the World Bank in its latest Global Economic Prospects Report.

Real GDP growth for developing countries is forecast at 7.1 percent this year, compared to the 2.2 percent for high-income countries.

Global economic growth is expected to be moderate this year – the World Bank is looking at a 3.3 percent expansion overall, down from 3.6 percent in 2007.

However, it said developing countries would outperform their more developed counterparts due to booming numbers from China and India.

And the Singapore's economy will not lag far behind.

Hans Timmer, Manager, The World Bank, said: "The outlook for Singapore is still very strong – not as strong as 2007 where you had 7.5 percent growth. We expect growth to come down just below 7 percent, but that's still very strong.

"Singapore benefits from its location; it benefits very much from the extraordinary dynamics in Asia itself and it also benefits from its policy to improve production potential within the country itself."

According to the World Bank, Singapore has a role to play in helping developing economies adopt and absorb new technologies, which will be key for better global stability in 2008.

Andrew Burns, Senior Economist, The World Bank, said: "Well, I think that Singapore has a very important role. One of the things that we emphasis in the report is that much of technology diffusion and the technological progress that we observe in the developing countries is due to increased globalisation, increased trade and exposure to the technology of high-income countries like Singapore.

"As a result, as Singapore continues to expand and interact with developing countries, they're going to have a very important role in helping them along."

A weaker US dollar, the prospect of a recession in the US, and rising financial market volatility are seen as downside risks this year. But the World Bank said East Asian economies have so far held their own.

Mr Timmer said: "At least till now, half a year after the turmoil in the financial markets broke out, East Asian countries have still been very resilient. The continued strong performance signals that the impact is relatively limited.

"East Asia is mitigating a slowdown in the US by providing export opportunities. Exports are growing at a rate of more than 20 percent in the US and that impact is very positive.

"What we are worried about is not so much that growth is slow in East Asia but that growth is going too fast, which could create bubbles."

The World Bank is expecting to see a 9.7 percent expansion in GDP this year for East Asia and the Pacific as a whole. - CNA/so

UOB Revises Inflation Forecast To Between 4.5% And 5%

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 January 2008

The inflation picture will get worse before it gets better - that is the message from UOB in a forecast given on Wednesday.

It said flooding in many agricultural areas has reduced food supplies, driving up prices of necessities like wheat and coffee products.

There are also other domestic factors at play.

The hike in taxi fares was one reason why UOB increased its inflation forecast for 2008 - to between 4.5 percent and 5 percent.

That is up from the previous call of 3.9 percent.

UOB said it did not expect the fares to go up by as much as they did.

Jimmy Koh, Head of Economics-Treasury Branch, UOB, added that inflation is also being driven by price increases in necessities such as coffee and wheat products.

This is because heavy rain and flooding in many agricultural areas is reducing food supplies.

The annual values of all HDB flats is also driving inflation.

They were raised at the start of the year by an average of 20 percent to better reflect prevailing market rentable values of properties.

Despite the upgrade, UOB said inflationary pressures will taper off towards the end of the year.

Mr Koh said, "As a whole, if you look at the broader inflation trajectory, I think it's still fairly contained. Like if we talk about equipment, televisions...prices of all these have come off. Why? Because of integration in the global system...So while inflation is higher, we are not seeing inflation running away within the region and Singapore."

UOB is expecting the government to introduce measures to help lower-income families deal with the rising prices.

It said Singapore's fiscal policy is now more targeted at lower-income groups, to buffer against the widening income gap. - CNA/ms

Ho Bee, IOI Properties Win Sentosa's Last Prime Condo Site

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 January 2008

A tie-up between Ho Bee and Malaysia's IOI Properties has clinched the last prime condominium site on Sentosa for S$1.1 billion.

The price for the Pinnacle Collection works out to S$1,822 per square foot per plot ratio.

Ho Bee will have a 35 percent stake while the remaining interest will be held by IOI.

The 99-year leasehold site covers 232,000 square feet and has a plot ratio of 2.6.

The condominium development is expected to yield about 360 units and have a maximum height of 20 storeys. - CNA/ms

Economic Boom Leads To 30% Jump In Home Renovation Projects

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 09 January 2008

The boom in the economy for 2007 has contributed to a 30 percent hike in demand for household renovations. And industry players said consumers are looking for more luxurious, branded designs.

To cope with growing demand, contractors and interior designers are increasing their prices by as much as 30 to 50 percent.

Farok Majeed, chairman of Renovation and Decoration Advisory Centre, said: "Generally when the economy picks up, it goes into a boom cycle - people have surplus cash so they would either buy cars or renovate their homes... to reflect the environment they are in today."

But industry players also noted that consumer demand is changing, and renovations are increasingly brand focused. Customers would ask for imported furniture from European brands such as Minotti and Giorgetti.

Even though contractors are upping their prices by as much as 50 percent, this does not appear to deter customers.

Some households are said to be paying up to S$1 million per project.

Wong Mey Shan, consultant, Suying Design, said: "I think over the last year, construction cost has gone up by about 30 to 50 percent. For the same scope of work, it is definitely going to cost more than it did two years ago. Budget-wise, we are looking at S$200,000 to even as much as S$1 million."

Interior designers said luxury renovations account for roughly 20 percent of their yearly business. - CNA/so

New Website Dedicated To Legal News

Source : Channel NewsAsia, : 09 January 2008

There is now a free website that gathers up-to-date news and information on all legal matters.

It is called "Singapore Law Watch" ( and has been developed by the Singapore Academy of Law.

The website is updated every weekday and provides content like headline news relating to the legal practice here. It uses sources like the TODAY newspaper.

It also has updates on new legislation passed. Foreign lawyers can also use the service to stay clued in on changes to Singapore's legal landscape.

Users can also retrieve the latest content via mobile phone. Singapore Academy of Law members can receive email alerts on breaking news or significant developments that affect the legal profession.

The new website was first announced by Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong when he opened the legal year a few days ago.

Clifford Wong, Assistant Director, Singapore Academy of Law, said: "We feel that there's a big benefit to small- and medium-sized law firms because it allows them to match their time (faster) by having a look at all these updates in one single place." - CNA/ms

Ho Bee-IOI Tie-Up Wins Sentosa's Pinnacle Site

Source : The Business Times, January 10, 2008

Bid of $1.1b seen as relatively low as US sub-prime crisis dampens market

IT was the last chance for a bite of the sweet Sentosa Cove pie, but only three developers tendered for The Pinnacle Collection site with Ho Bee Investment and Malaysia's IOI Properties partnering to put in the winning bid of $1.1 billion.

The Pinnacle Collection: Ho Bee expects the breakeven cost to be about $2,600 psf

In a joint statement released yesterday, the joint venture partners said its bid for the largest and last condominium development site works out to $1,822 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio (ppr).

In July 2007, SC Global won the tender for The Beachfront Collection condominium site with a bid that works out to $1,800 psf ppr. Not only were five bids received, but SC Global's winning bid also set a new benchmark price for Sentosa Cove, topping the highest bid of $1,361 psf ppr for The Seaview Collection tender held in March 2007 - also won by Ho Bee/IOI - by over 30 per cent.

The Pinnacle Collection was, however, awarded based on price and design concept.

Ho Bee has a 35 per cent stake in the project and news of the win, with what appears to be a relatively low bid, was greeted by investors positively yesterday. Its share price rose 3 per cent to end the trading day four cents higher at $1.39.

Ho Bee Investment executive director Ong Chong Hua said: 'The US sub-prime crisis has in our view helped us to secure what we believe to be the best site, not only in Sentosa but also in Singapore, at a price level which would otherwise be much higher for such an iconic site under normal circumstances'.

Factoring in higher construction cost for a luxury development, Ho Bee expects the breakeven cost to be about $2,600 psf.

The 231,676 sq ft site has a 2.6 plot ratio and a total permissible gross floor area of about 602,360 sq ft. Mr Ong said it will build 280 units comprising a mix of three- and four-bedroom units as well as penthouses.

The development is targeted for launch in the first quarter of 2009.

Upbeat about the high-end market, Mr Ong said that while the sub-prime crisis has created some market uncertainty, the Singapore real estate market is fundamentally 'very healthy', backed by solid demand and robust economic growth.

'We think the sub-prime crisis provided a very healthy consolidation to the market. It is a good reality check on the 'irrational exuberance' which we had experienced especially in mid-2007,' he added.

He also believes the high-end market will consolidate in the next three to six months after which he expects a steady growth of 5-10 per cent.

This will be Ho Bee's eighth project at Sentosa Cove and IOI Properties' third foray into the Singapore property market.

On the tender price, CB Richard Ellis (Research) executive director Li Hiaw Ho noted that the winning bid was only 14 per cent above the reserve price of $1,600 psf ppr. 'When the site was opened for tender in September 2007, market sentiment was more upbeat and it was widely expected that the winning bid would be in the region of $2,000 psf ppr,' he added.

He noted that the latest launches in Sentosa Cove, the Turquoise and Marina Collections, were priced at an average of $2,600 psf and $2,700-$3,000 psf, respectively. He also expects The Pinnacle Collection to sell at around $3,000 psf.

Ho Bee Surges On Property Tender Win

Source : The Business Times, January 9, 2008

Shares of Ho Bee Investment rose as much as 5.2 per cent to $1.42 with 1.3 million shares traded, after the property firm won a tender for a condominiun site on Singapore's Sentosa Island for $1.1 billion (US$768.7 million).

The 99-year leasehold site has a total area of 231,676 square feet and is designated for 357-unit condominium with a maximum height limit of 20 storeys.

Ho Bee's partner in the bid was Malaysia's IOI Properties. -- REUTERS