Thursday, March 13, 2008

S'pore: Costliest Industrial Spot In Asia Ex-Japan

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008

It rises 2 notches to take 12th place in the world

SINGAPORE has risen two notches to become the 12th most expensive industrial location in the world.

And excluding Japan, which is ranked third in the world, Singapore is the most expensive location in Asia, surpassing Hong Kong (23rd), Mumbai (26th) and Taipei (36th).

Average net rents are now at $1.70 per square foot a month after rising 26 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) last year. Total occupancy cost was US$14.64 psf a year at end-December 2007.

Singapore was also the eighth highest in terms of y-o-y rental increase as reflected in Cushman & Wakefield's (C&W) report, Industrial Space Across the World, which covers 138 global locations.

On industrial rents here, C&W (Singapore) managing director Donald Han said that demand rose across all segments including manufacturing, warehouses and business parks. The latter, in particular, gained from the spillover effects of the office space crunch in the CBD.

As a result, Singapore moved up two places to become the 12th most expensive industrial location in the world.

Mr Han believes the outlook for rental increases for industrial space here remains bullish.

He said: 'In the past 12 months, we saw the opening of the KPE and Terminal 3 besides other initiatives that are under construction such as the Circle Line MRT. All these will help to raise the attractiveness of industrial parks located in the peripheral areas and along with it, the rentals.'

London (near Heathrow) remained the most expensive industrial location with a total occupancy cost of US$28.91 psf a year followed by Dublin at US$21.81 psf. Oslo, with a total occupancy cost of US$18.32 psf took fourth place.

Despite European cities accounting for seven out of the top 10 locations in the global ranking, regional growth in Europe was slowest of all the global regions at just 2.5 per cent last year.

However, while Western Europe saw average rental growth of 1.3 per cent, Central and Eastern Europe increased by 7 per cent with the key locations being Poland, the Czech Republic and Romania.

In Asia, Mumbai moved up 11 places to 26th position. It also saw the highest rental increase of 94.44 per cent y-o-y followed by Istanbul (60 per cent) and Bogota (54.2 per cent).

Swiss Bank Takes Up Bulk Of New Block

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008

EFG Bank leases 52,000 sq ft for the next 6 years, with naming rights

SWISS private banking group EFG Bank has leased 52,000 square feet or two-thirds of a nine-storey office block coming up opposite Parliament House.

Prestigious address: EFG Bank Building will come up opposite Parliament House. EFG Bank is taking space that's three times the size of its existing premises

EFG has naming rights for the freehold building, which is expected to be ready in the first quarter next year. It is being developed on the former Satnam House and Amar-raj House sites by a unit of RB Capital, which is headed by 25-year-old Kishin Hiranandani, son of Raj Kumar of the Royal Brothers Group.

EFG Bank's lease is said to be for an initial term of six years, with an option to renew for a further three years.

Chris Archibold, head of markets at Jones Lang LaSalle, the property's marketing agent, said that EFG would pay a 'low double-digit' gross monthly rental.

RB Capital, which is a separate and distinct company from the Royal Brothers Group, is negotiating with several interested parties to lease out the remaining space in EFG Bank Building, which will have a total of 78,000 sq ft net lettable area, including retail space in the basement and ground level.

Mr Hiranandani, director of RB Capital, said that his company would be moving into the property to make it its Singapore headquarters. RB Capital owns and develops commercial and residential properties in Singapore and Malaysia. The new EFG Bank Building marks the company's first foray into property development in Singapore.

JLL's Mr Archibold said that the leasing deal with EFG Bank reflects that 'demand for office space among players in the financial industry is still going strong'.

EFG Bank Building, designed by RSP Architects, will have a North Bridge Road address and an entrance that will be opposite Parliament House.

The bank is leasing seven floors in the building.

EFG Bank Singapore managing director Kees Stoute said: 'The new premises will meet the expansion needs of the bank. We are also very happy with the location, panoramic views of the city skyline as well as the prestigious address, since it's just opposite Parliament House.

'The 52,000 sq ft we're taking in the new building developed by RB Capital is more than three times the size of our existing premises.'

The bank currently leases a total of about 15,000 sq ft at two locations - the entire 42nd level of OUB Centre at Raffles Place and the 10th floor of 55 Market Street. These leases expire in June 2009 and April 2010 respectively.

Mr Stoute said that the bank had not decided whether it would give up its existing premises when the leases run out. EFG Bank has a headcount of 105 in Singapore, of which 56 are client relationship officers (CROs). 'Across Asia, the business maintained the strong progress of recent years in 2007, with income growing by over 50 per cent and CROs increasing by more than a third.'

RB Capital bought Satnam House and Amar-raj House next door for a total sum of about $50 million last year.

The new development could be worth around $215 million, assuming a price of about $2,750 psf of net lettable area, according to JLL regional director and head of investments Lui Seng Fatt.

Fed Trying To Buy Time, Say Economists

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008

Debenture spreads narrow in positive market response

(NEW YORK) A central bank plan to infuse the financial system with new cash is a temporary fix for the debilitated US mortgage bond and housing markets, but not a cure.

The programme announced by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday frees up money for mortgage loans and dealer bond buying in the two markets paralysed by limited funding and fears of bank failures, economists and analysts say.

'This is a tourniquet, it will staunch the bleeding, but it may not turn us around and bring the patient to health,' said Susan Wachter, real estate and finance professor at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

'This is designed to stop in its tracks what might otherwise be an old fashioned credit crunch where the banks simply themselves seize up,' Ms Wachter said. 'It's not a sure fire end of the crisis by any means.'

The Fed will let dealers use US agency debentures and agency mortgage bonds, as well as top-rated private label mortgage securities as collateral in the new lending facility.

This will be the first time the Fed takes non-agency residential mortgage bonds as auction collateral in its latest effort to add market liquidity. It already accepts this kind of paper as collateral from banks that borrow directly from the US central bank at the discount window.

The initial US$200 billion funding for the plan might be raised, according to the Fed. The size of the plan pales in comparison with the mortgage bond markets totalling more than US$7 trillion.

Historically high defaults and foreclosures froze mortgage lending to all but the highest quality borrowers, and closed many companies who relied on higher risk home loans. Trouble that shut down the sub-prime mortgage sector has now started cascading to higher quality loans, leading to a growing number of private and federal plans to restore order in the mortgage bond and housing markets.

The Fed said that the private-label MBS (mortgage backed securities) it would accept must be AAA-rated and could not be on watch-list for rating cuts. Possibly US$1 trillion of those securities were eligible, according to senior Fed staff members.

The market for private label bonds, or those backed by mortgages too large for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy, was stung too as lenders and investors grew more risk averse. A recent government plan to sharply, but temporarily, raise the size of loans those top two US home funding companies purchase should also provide short-term relief.

The Fed is 'buying time' by unfreezing markets for some highly illiquid assets, said Robert Eisenbeis, chief monetary economist at Cumberland Advisors and former Atlanta Fed executive vice-president. 'But liquifying those assets does not mean the funds will flow back into mortgage markets.'

There was an immediate and positive initial response in the MBS and agency debenture markets on Tuesday. Debenture spreads narrowed as much as 12 basis points versus Treasuries from some of the widest spreads in the decade-long history of Fannie Mae's benchmark and Freddie Mac's reference note programmes.

Agency mortgage bonds also outperformed Treasuries by a far margin after hitting the widest spreads in over 20 years before the Fed plan. Prices of 30-year bonds rose slightly while 10-year Treasury notes sank 1 1/4 point. An index of AAA-rate non-agency MBS that lost 43 per cent since September also gained slightly.

'Liquidity constrained financial institutions have been unable as well as unwilling to lend, so if you can free up that capability it's going to help,' said Margaret Kerins at RBS Greenwich Capital in Chicago. -- Reuters

Move Will Help Ease Strains In Financial Markets: IMF

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008


But it won't cure what ails the economy, says the bank's first deputy MD

(WASHINGTON) The US Federal Reserve's decision to pump more cash into a stressed banking system will not solve US economic problems, a senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said on Tuesday. But the move will help ease strains in financial and credit markets.

John Lipsky, the IMF's first deputy managing director, told Reuters that coordinated moves by the Fed and four other central banks to prop up global credit markets showed they were aware of what's going on and willing to take innovative actions.

'Is this going to cure what ails the economy? I would guess everyone realises the answer to that is 'no'. Is this going to be helpful in addressing the strains in financial markets? For sure, the answer is 'yes',' Mr Lipsky said.

In the past few days the Fed has pumped a total of US$400 billion into the US banking system. Separately, the European Central Bank, Bank of Canada, Bank of England and Swiss National Bank announced measures to boost liquidity.

On Tuesday alone, the Fed expanded its lending plan offering up to US$200 billion of highly liquid US Treasuries to primary dealers. The move won applause on Wall Street, calming US markets as US stocks rallied more than 3 per cent giving the Dow and Nasdaq its biggest daily percentage gains since March 2003.

'Is this the definitive solution? Who knows? It's certainly not clear,' Mr Lipsky said, 'but the bigger message is that the Fed, like other central banks, has recognised the seriousness of the situation . . . and have been willing to react in a forthright way and have been willing to be innovative in that reaction'.

'If this action is insufficient you would expect that there will be a willingness to take new action when appropriate,' he added.

Mr Lipsky said central banks had worked closely for some time to deal with the credit turmoil, which began with an increase in defaults in the US sub-prime housing mortgage market and spilled into European markets.

He said their actions were 'clearly intended to be seen as coordinated'.

'It reflects their recognition that issues, especially financial issues today, are inevitably global issues . . . and can't be viewed effectively as a piecemeal issue facing one or another economy or market, and that is a clear message and not a coincidence,' he added.

Mr Lipsky said the Fed was 'appropriately' paying close attention to links between financial market strains and the broader US economy.

Asked whether there was a risk that central banks were not getting traction with efforts to bolster credit markets, Mr Lipsky replied: 'Of course, but remember they are responding to some fundamental signals in the economy and mostly acutely to the weakness in the housing sector.'

'It is not going to be solved until there is, on the one hand, greater certainty about the economic outlook and, secondly, that the economy seems healthier,' he said. -- Reuters

Faced With Crisis, The Fed Innovates

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008

Latest move different in scale and ambition from what it has attempted so far

THE US Federal Reserve's new Term Securities Lending Facility is arguably the boldest and most innovative step taken so far to clear the logjam in the credit markets since the US sub-prime crisis blew up last August.

Let's look closely at what the Fed has essentially done. It has agreed to lend US$200 billion in the form of Treasury securities to primary dealers (and through them, to other financial institutions) for 28 days against collateral that includes not only US federal government agency debt (including mortgage-backed securities, or MBS), but also private AAA-rated MBS.

There are three key points to note here about how the Fed's actions are different from what it has done before.

First, the amount the Fed is willing to lend has increased significantly. When it first announced its Term Auction Facility in December (aimed at easing liquidity in the credit markets), it capped its lending at only US$20 billion - although this was progressively increased to US$100 billion last week. That has now been doubled, and the Fed has indicated that it could be increased even further.

Second, the loans the Fed makes will now will be for 28 days rather than overnight, as before. This gives banks more time, and flexibility, to act.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, the Fed is now willing to accept as collateral not just US government-backed mortgage securities, but even private sub-prime-mortgage securities (some of which are rated AAA even if they don't deserve that rating). Or as some commentators bluntly put it, the Fed is willing to swap Treasuries for junk.

Whether this proves wise in the long run, we shall see. But in the short run, what the Fed has effectively done is to create a market for a vast pool of illiquid and unwanted securities. The banks which have been stuck with these securities, have been forced to mark them to market - meaning mark them lower and lower as US housing prices have kept falling.

As a result, banks' recapitalisation requirements have kept rising. This, in turn, has not only badly dented confidence in financial markets generally, but has also made banks afraid to lend - which has accelerated the housing downturn (thus jeopardising even non-sub-prime mortgages) and weakened the corporate sector (even healthy companies) and the economy as a whole.

The Fed's latest move will, of course, not solve all these problems at a stroke, and the Fed itself is modest about what it hopes to achieve, saying merely that the new facility 'is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally'.

But with the new facililty, banks will be able to get at least some dubious mortgage assets off their books. In return, they will get high-quality liquid assets in the form of Treasury securities, which can easily be converted into cash. This will help unfreeze credit markets and, to some extent, also insulate banks from falling housing prices.

No surprise, therefore, that at least the initial reaction from Wall Street to the Fed's new facility was positive: the Dow Jones index jumped 3.55 per cent on Tuesday and banking stocks recovered sharply.

However, whether this bounce will turn into a rally remains to be seen. There are reasons to be cautious; a lot of unanswered questions remain. First, just how big can the new facility become? While the Fed has indicated that it will consider increasing it from US$200 billion, mortgage assets on the books of US banks run into the trillions - not to mention other potentially bad loans, notably those provided to leveraged institutions such as hedge funds and private equity funds.

Second, will the Fed roll over the loans after 28 days? How long will it keep doing this? And how, and when, will it dispose of the dubious mortgage assets - the 'junk' - it collects as collateral?

Bargaining chip

Perhaps most importantly, will the Fed (which now has enormous leverage vis-a-vis the banks) require banks using this facility to change their practices? Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has recently been exhorting these institutions to forgive some of the principal (not just interest) on some of their outstanding loans. The harder the bargain the Fed is able to drive on this critical issue - and it would have a lot of popular support - the more likely that it would succeed in staving off the much-dreaded wave of housing foreclosures (which could send the US housing market into free-fall), as with lower principal payments, homeowners would be less 'underwater' on their mortgages.

How this latest Fed move goes down politically in the US in this election year cannot be ignored either. If the move is viewed as a bailout of bankers at taxpayers' expense - and there are already rumblings to that effect - the Fed would be pressured to think again. But for now, Bernanke & Co deserve credit - and the benefit of the doubt - for daring to innovate in the face of a crisis.

Order Book Swells For KSH And Lian Beng

Source : The Business Times, March 13, 2008

KSH bags $121m Sentosa condo job; Lian Beng nets two deals worth $90m

RIDING the continuing boom, two construction firms announced big contracts yesterday.

KSH Holdings said it has won a contract worth more than $121 million for the construction of a luxury condominium, Seascape at Sentosa Cove, which is jointly owned by Ho Bee Investment and IOI Land.

And Lian Beng Group said it has been awarded two contracts worth $90.2 million in total - one from Voda Land for the construction of a condominium, Amber Residences, and the other for an industrial building at Paya Lebar iPark, awarded by Scorpio East Properties.

KSH said the Sentosa contract brings its construction order book to more than $614 million. Work on the 151-unit Seascape is scheduled to start next month and is expected to be completed in 28 months.

'This is our fourth high-end residential project at Sentosa Cove since The Berth By The Cove and The Berthside, which were awarded in June 2004 and completed in October 2006, and the fifth for us here including One°15 Marina Club,' said KSH executive chairman and managing director Choo Chee Onn.

KSH's order book has grown more than 162 per cent in less than 16 months, Mr Choo said.

Lian Beng said its two contracts bring its order book to about $700 million.

The Amber Residences contract is worth $73.5 million while the design-and-build contract for the building at Paya Lebar iPark is worth $16.7 million. Work on Amber Residences is expected to start in May 2008 and will be completed over 30 months, while the other contract is expected to be completed by early 2009.

Both companies are gunning for more contracts. 'The demand for construction services is still very strong, and there are many more projects out there for tender,' said Lian Beng's managing director Ong Pang Aik.

Analysts agree, saying that even as the property market takes a breather, the construction sector continues to recover, driven by a new phase of nationwide projects.

'We are still sanguine about the sector's prospects, given the development plans in place for the island, and the visibility it offers against the backdrop of uncertainty tainting the global economy,' Phillip Securities analyst Stella Tan said in a recent note.

KSH shares gained 1.5 cents to close at 41.5 cents yesterday, while Lian Beng's stock rose half a cent to close at 40.5 cents.

No Major Property Launches Expected In The Next 3 Months

Source : The Straits Times, Mar 13, 2008

Kuwaiti pullout from $818m deal, low top bid for Jurong West site unnerve market

MAJOR residential property launches are unlikely for at least three months after the already nervous market was spooked by two sobering events this week, market analysts said.

The first was the pullout of a Kuwaiti investor, Kuwait Finance House, from an option to buy $818 million worth of 97 units at Goodwood Residence.

The second was when the top bid by a property developer for a Jurong West landed housing site came in at less than half what had been expected.

Market sentiment was already jumpy given general market uncertainty, in the wake of the United States sub-prime crisis.

Developers were already saying they are prepared to delay their launches. Property consultants now do not expect any major condominium launches in the next three months. Some developers could even postpone their launches indefinitely, they said.

Still, prices are generally holding steady for now and smaller players will still launch small projects in the months ahead.

Industry sources speculated that Kuwait Finance House had pulled out as it had bought the units at a very high price that could not be supported by the current market.

As for the Jurong West site, sources said the low bid of $78 per sq ft of land area reflected rising building costs and current sentiment. If the Government awards the tender, sale prices of below $1 million per unit will fit in well with upgraders' expectations and needs, they say.

An industry source said: 'The Kuwaiti pullout is bad news but it's not as if things have suddenly changed drastically.' The fundamentals in Singapore are intact but sentiment has deteriorated, he said.

'There are people who have money to buy but they just want to wait and see.' With buyers and sellers largely waiting on the sidelines, there is little action.

Developers prefer to err on the side of caution and even if they offer homes for sale, they are doing it quietly, sources said.

Indeed, so far this year, the 405-unit Waterfront Waves in Bedok Reservoir has been the only new major condo launch. A few blocks have been launched and 110 units have been sold.

Small, quiet releases include the 47-unit Cosmo in Guillemard Crescent and some projects in Telok Kurau. Despite the sluggish market, some of these small projects such as Cosmo and Suites@Owen in Owen Road have sold well.

A consultant said: 'There are foreign funds and investors still in the market that are on the lookout for bulk condo purchases.'

Among high-end properties, a fund recently agreed to buy - at a discount - the remaining units at Grange Infinite, sources said. The 68-unit freehold condo in Grange Road has more than 40 units left.

There is no lack of high-end condo projects - with quite a few ready or nearly set for launch.

These include Far East Organization's Silversea in Amber Road, UOL Group's Breeze by the East in Upper East Coast Road, and City Development's condo project in Thomson Road.

But financially strong developers are likely to delay launches to the second half, said a consultant.

While the bigger players may not act soon, Evan Lim & Co's EL Development is preparing to launch its 51-unit Parc Centennial in Kampong Java Road soon.

'Not everyone can hold back their launches for a long time,' said another consultant. 'But nobody is ready to lower their prices yet.'

He added: 'There's the possibility of prices falling but I haven't seen people panicking.'

In the short term, prices are likely to remain flat.

'It is good for the property market to have a sustainable and affordable price level for the mass market,' said a property developer. He added that demand as well as unprecedentedly high construction costs were problems


'The Kuwaiti pullout is bad news but it's not as if things have suddenly changed drastically.'

AN INDUSTRY SOURCE, who adds that the fundamentals are intact


'Not everyone can hold back their launches for a long time. But nobody is ready to lower their prices yet.'


Guocoland Dives On Options Lapse

Source : The Business Times, March 12, 2008

Shares hit as Kuwaiti-linked fund pulls out of $815m property purchase.

SHARES of Guocoland fell victim yesterday to news that a fund company managed by Kuwait Finance House (Malaysia) Berhad (KFHMB) did not exercise options to buy $814.8 million worth of apartments in Guocoland’s upmarket project here.

Following analysts’ downgrade, the stock dived as much as 19 cents or 5 per cent to an intra-day low of $3.64 before closing at $3.70, down 13 cents or 3.4 per cent. More than 420,000 shares changed hands.

But the reaction from property counters was mixed, with Ho Bee falling two cents to 95 cents and SC Global dipping four cents to $1.50. Keppel Land edged up five cents to $5.35 and CapitaLand gained 18 cents to $5.89.

The fund company managed by KFHMB had purchased options in December last year to buy 97 units at the premier freehold development Goodwood Residence. There are only 210 exclusive units on this 24,845-sq-m estate fronting the expansive Goodwood Hill. KFHMB is the Malaysian unit of Kuwait Finance House (KFH).

Guocoland said on Monday that although the options have lapsed, the parties are still in discussions, with a view to granting fresh options for units in the development.

It is not known why the fund did not exercise the options, but Guocoland said in its Monday announcement that ‘the current private residential property market appears to be cautious in Singapore’. This could have prompted its decision to market Goodwood Residence units selectively at a later date.

But in the stock market yesterday, speculation was rife over reasons for the lapse. Some cited the cautious market sentiment while others cited over-pricing of the units. There was even talk of an unsuccessful marketing campaign for these units by KFH in Dubai. The median price of $3,200 per square feet that the KFHMB fund agreed was earlier seen by some as a possible benchmark pricing for the area.

DBS Vickers yesterday cut its rating on Guocoland to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’ and lowered its target price to $4.14 from $5.60 after revising downwards its average selling price estimates for Guocoland’s high-end and mid-tier projects and ascribing a 15 per cent discount to Guocoland’s revalued net asset value.

‘We believe that the decision by KFHMB to allow these options to lapse is a sign of the weak sentiment in the physical property market currently, particularly in the high-end segment,’ the brokerage said.

But Westcomb Financial Group said it believes that this lapse of options ’should not be taken as a signal that the Singapore private residential property market has fallen drastically.

‘In fact, the buyer has overpaid their purchases in December 2007, maybe with the view that the market would continue its uptrend in 2008.’


《联合早报》Mar 12, 2008

新加坡政府今年推出的首幅供发展商投标,位于裕廊西的西林道(Westwood Avenue)有地私宅地皮,获得两方人马出手竞标,但最高标价只有每平方英尺78元。




由Lim Kim Hong和Lim Huixing掌管的Boon Keng发展,是以1180万元(相等于每平方英尺78元)的标价,成为这幅地皮的最高出价者。另一名出价者,是来自马来西亚的双威集团(Sunway Group)子公司,标价是1033万元(相等于每平方英尺68元)。

高纬物业(Cushman & Wakefield)新加坡董事经理韩永利认为,投标结果让人意外,标价大约只有市场预测的三分之一,接下来的地皮标价可能也会开始出现剧烈波动,因为发展商可能会以本地股市、环球股市和次贷问题的发展局势作为指标,来决定标价。


世邦魏理仕(CBRE)执行董事李晓和则认为,两个标价相对保守,反映出市场目前谨慎的情绪。但若每间排屋可卖到90万至100万元,就比附近西林园(Westwood Park)和西景山庄(Westville)有地住宅区,最近每间排屋介于82万至99万元的转售价高。


李晓和指出,这幅地皮靠近裕廊西住宅区,离开文礼地铁站大约是十分钟的车程,也靠近泛岛快速公路。附近的一些住宅地段还包括花景轩 (Floravale)执行共管公寓。同时,地段也相当靠近南洋理工大学。他因此认为,潜在买家可能包括在裕廊和大士工作的本地人,或是南大的学者。



市建局在法国推介 武吉士地铁站附近白色地段

《联合早报》Mar 12, 2008

为了配合梧槽路(Rochor Road)及奥菲亚路(Ophir Road)商业走廊的发展,市区重建局在目前于法国康城举行的一个国际房地产盛会中,向海外投资者展出与推介了一幅位于武吉士地铁站附近的白色地段。





滨海湾约85公顷的土地,将协助新加坡把现有的商业区,由莱佛士坊、珊顿大道和丹戎巴葛延伸出去。这些土地预计能在至少15年后,为新加坡增添大约282万平方公尺的办公楼面,这相等于目前香港中环商业区的总办公楼面。而扩大后的商业区将比伦敦的金丝雀码头(Canary Wharfs)大一倍。


即将在今年上半年发售的梧槽路和奥菲亚路交界处地段,就位于侨福广场(Parkview Square)后面。这幅占地2.74公顷的土地,是政府上半年“正选”名单(Confirmed List)中的其中一幅地段。






城市发展目前正与美国和中东伙伴合作,在梧槽和奥菲亚一带的美芝路发展大型综合项目“South Beach”。

En-Bloc Meeting Is Condo's Third In Five Months

Source : The Electric New Paper, 12 March 2008

THE action began last year, when the first extraordinary general meeting was called to push for an en-bloc sale.

It was held on 29 Sep.

A sales committee was nominated, but its validity was challenged.

The committee subsequently chose to dissolve.

A second meeting was called on 12 Jan this year.

But it could not carry on as a quorum in share value could not be reached.

Four days after the cancellation, a request for a third meeting was submitted to the management committee.

To call for a meeting, the organisers must get roughly 200 signatures. That is 20 per cent of the share value.

And they did.

A letter to The Straits Times Forum page on 21 Feb by Madam Mona Liew indicated that the first two meetings each cost the estate's sinking fund about $15,000.

She expressed her concern that so many meetings, at a cost to the sinking fund, could be called within a short span of five months.

She asked for some regulation to restrict the frequency of such meetings, saying: 'Please set a reasonable guideline for the frequency with which these meetings can be called.'

Resident's Questions To Prospective Sales Committee Lead To...Shouts & Jeers

Source : The Electric New Paper, March 12, 2008


WHILE the lush greenery, tinkling fountains and gurgling streams of Bayshore Park evoke a sense of serenity, it is anything but serene at the condominium right now.

Feelings have been running high over moves to put the estate up for an en-bloc sale.

Some are upset that they may be forced to sell their beloved homes.

Others are frustrated that they may be forced to keep their maturing properties and be thwarted from an investment opportunity.

One recent meeting saw residents arguing, jeering and heckling.

Under a white tent put up on the estate grounds, some 500 residents gathered on a Saturday afternoon for their third en-bloc sale meeting in five months.


As with most condo en-bloc sales, the 1,000-plus Bayshore Park residents are split into two strong camps - for and against.

The campaign has gone on the Internet too.

One website, called Bayshore Park Lifestyle, talks about all good things and benefits of the 22-year-old estate and urges residents to 'say no to en-bloc'.

Meanwhile, it seems someone has written to the authorities, alleging fraud over how the signatures were obtained to requisition the most recent extraordinary general meeting.

Bayshore Park condominium. FILE PICTURE

It was against this backdrop that the meeting, facilitated by a panel comprising Mr Chan Kok Hong, a managing agent, management committee chairman Richard Soh and lawyer Loo Choon Hiaw, was held, on 23 Feb.

As residents registered, they were each given a booklet of voting slips.

Printed on those slips were their unit numbers and share values, and boxes for them to vote for those they want on the sales committee.

From the outset, there were concerns over the meeting's agenda.

Mr Chan said the meeting was requested on the basis of electing a sales committee.

A resident stood up to ask if a vote should be carried out on whether or not everyone wants an en-bloc in the first place, but MrLoo said this apparently was not necessary.

One resident wanted an assurance that the votes would be kept confidential.

Mr Chan assured him that the slips would be kept 'in a safe place', not to be opened again.

Under the law, any resident, whether for or against the en-bloc sale, can be in the sales committee.


Someone then said it 'does not make sense' to vote an anti-en-bloc person to the sales committee as that person could put up road blocks.

Another said that if such a person wanted to be in the committee, he would have to be in it for a check-and-balance role. There was clapping and cheering at this.

The candidates started introducing themselves one by one.

Most of those who were for the sale said they just wanted to find the best price for the estate.

Another said that having sat on the management committee, he knows that maintenance of the estate would get increasingly more expensive.

The candidates included an architect, a retiree and two realestate agents.

An anti-en-bloc nominee said he wanted to be on the committee so that he would know what was happening.

An elderly Englishman, a long-time resident of Bayshore, then asked for permission to ask the candidates some questions.

He was allowed to so so, but was told the candidates were not obliged to respond.

His questions to them included: Have you been a resident for a long time? Have you previous experience in an en-bloc sale? What reserve price do you expect? Are you in arrears of maintenance fees?

The jeering and heckling began.

At one point, some residents surrounded him and kept asking him to stop.

A resident shouted: 'He has absolutely no respect. These questions are not relevant.'

Agitated residents were seen waving their arms in the air.

The man remained composed, and Mr Chan had to step in, saying: 'Please, please, please. We need to keep this meeting in order.'

Asked one resident: 'How can he question them like that?'

Another said: 'He can't go around asking them a hundred questions.'

To which the man responded: 'Dear young lady, I have not asked a hundred questions. They are not ridiculous questions, they are important questions.'

Mr Soh then said: 'We should allow reasonable questions. If we don't have order, I may be forced to stop this meeting.'

Some of the nominees answered the man, others did not.

In the end, only the 14 pro-en-bloc residents were voted into the sales committee.

But with an estate as large and diverse as Bayshore Park, it is likely that this committee will have an uphill task ahead.

Space Crunch In Orchard Pushes Docs To Novena

Source : The Straits Times, Mar 12, 2008

The area could turn into medical hub as more private doctors set upclinics there

PRIVATE doctors are flocking to the Novena area as the squeeze on clinic space in the Orchard Road belt tightens.

The migration could turn the area into Singapore's newest centre for private health services, some believe.

In the space of two years, developer Far East Organization has already sold or leased 92 per cent of the 145 medical suites at its new Novena Medical Centre (NMC).

Private doctors at the centre, which opened last October, are allowed to use some X-ray machines and labs in Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), which is just across the street.

Developers in the area are also setting space aside for private doctors, as well as accommodation for patients and their families.

The spill-over of demand has prompted Far East to house another 64 clinics in its 28-storey hotel in nearby Sinaran Drive. The group plans to either sell or lease the suites when ready, which is likely to be by 2010.

In Newton Road, SC Global Developments will also save space for medical suites in its upcoming office building, Newton 200.

Private specialists can also look to the Parkway Group's new hospital in Irrawaddy Road, which is scheduled to open in July 2011. The group is setting aside 30 per cent of its space for them.

Medical suites in Novena occupy about one-third of the space that clinics in Orchard do. At about 24,154 sq m in total, they cover about the same area as Clarke Quay.

This spate of activity is fuelled by the Government's plan to attract one million foreign patients a year by 2012.

Mr G.L. Yap, executive director for Far East Organization's property services, said: 'The infrastructure has to keep pace with expectations of growth.'

Foreign patients number more than 400,000 a year and come mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, with increasing numbers from China, the Middle East and developed countries. They come for a range of treatments, including day surgery and routine health checks.

Spending on so-called medical tourism averaged about $1.3 billion in 2006 and is expected to double by 2012, according to Dr Jason Yap, director of health-care services at the Singapore Tourism Board.

The space crunch is already being felt by medical centres at Mount Elizabeth, Gleneagles, Paragon and Camden.

Company officials say that, save for three units, the buildings have been totally sold or leased out. While Paragon declined to say how many units it has, the three other centres have more than 540 suites.

The demand for medical suites has been pushing rents up, said property analysts. In the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, a suite was last sold for $5,000 psf, up from $4,017 last March.

Colorectal surgeon Francis Seow-Choen bought a unit at Novena two years ago because of high rents. For the past four years, he has also been renting a unit at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, where rents have risen to about $18 psf, from about $8 psf four years ago.

'The rents here have risen astronomically,' said Dr Seow-Choen. 'Instead of being subjected to market forces, I've decided to buy a unit in Novena, which as an area has a lot of potential.'

The Singapore Medical Group moved its Sports Medicine Centre from Paragon to the NMC this year, because of the space crunch and the area's attraction as a sports and medical hub.

Dr Jimmy Lim, a cardiologist who crossed over from TTSH to set up his own clinic at the NMC, said the new clinic allows his previous patients to visit him.

'Having a restructured hospital and now a private hospital nearby is basically going to give my patients a wider choice when they use the in-patient facility,' he said.

Medical suites in Orchard

# Gleneagles Medical Centre: 164 medical suites
# Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre: 232
# Lucky Plaza: 56
# Paragon Medical Centre: Did not reveal exact number of suites but occupies 160,000 sq ft
# Camden Medical Centre: 150
# Ngee Ann City: 10
# Shaw House: 4
# Shaw Centre: 1


Foreign patients number more than 400,000 a year and come mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, with increasing numbers from China, the Middle East and developed countries

UBS Is Largest Private Bank In S'pore, HK: Study

Source : The Straits Times, Mar 12, 2008

DBS is No.6 with 5% of private banking assets in Asia ex-Japan

SWISS banking giant UBS has been crowned the biggest private banking player in Singapore and Hong Kong.

It manages one-sixth of the US$600 billion (S$833.7 billion) of private banking assets in Asia, excluding Japan, which are mostly parked in the two Asian wealth management hubs.

The finding comes from the first-ever private banking league table compiled by an independent party - consultancy Calamander Group - in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The rankings confirmed conventional wisdom that the big guns of Citigroup, HSBC, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch would be in the top five.

But it may surprise some that home-grown DBS Group Holdings has come in at No.6 with a 5 per cent market share, trumping major global players such as JPMorgan.

Local rivals United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank trail behind, each managing US$5 billion of assets compared with DBS' US$30 billion. DBS has 'done well', quadrupling its assets under management between 2001 and 2006, said Mr Roman Scott, the managing director of Singapore-based Calamander.

Its growth is driven partly by its high profile in the fast-growing Singapore market, which Mr Scott estimated comprises private banking assets of more than US$250 billion.

The ranking lists ballpark figures about private banking players in Asia, which have tripled the assets they manage from US$200 billion five years ago.

Mr Scott said the table is 'conservative', with an accuracy of plus or minus 10 per cent, and excludes some newer entrants, such as Switzerland-based EFG and Standard Chartered.

Unlike five years ago when the Singapore and Hong Kong markets were so fragmented that the top five players barely held 10 per cent of the pie, five mega banks now dominate 55 per cent.

UBS is still the 'standout team, tripling its size from five years ago', said Mr Scott.

DBS has climbed to the top of the mid-tier group with its strategy to be an Asia-focused private bank and attracting many newly rich Singaporeans, non-resident Indians and Indonesians, he added.

But mid-tier rivals such as Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley have been growing at an even faster pace, so DBS may not maintain its lead for long, he said.

While Hong Kong's pool of wealth is larger at about US$350 billion, Singapore has been attracting more new private banking accounts in recent years. The country has about 40 private banks. Their rapid expansion has ignited a battle for talent and caused office rental rates to skyrocket.

Singapore's efforts to transform itself into a wealth management hub for the region by offering lower corporate and personal taxes, and maintaining strict banking secrecy laws, have earned it the title of 'Switzerland of the East'.

But it can now also be called 'Monaco in the tropics', as its high-end residen-

ces, upcoming Formula One race and casinos will offer a lifestyle that suits the mega-rich, said Mr Scott.

Of the US$250 billion booked in Singapore, about 15 per cent is held by local wealthy clients, he added.

The number of millionaires in Singapore shot up by 11,000 people, or 21.2 per cent, last year - the fastest growth rate in the Asia-Pacific and one of the fastest in the world, said a 2007 Merrill Lynch-Capgemini report.

The remaining 85 per cent of private banking assets in Singapore are held by Asians, as well as people of other nationalities, said Mr Scott.

Indonesians hold more than US$105 billion in Singapore. Only about US$17 billion, or 7 per cent of the total pool, is held by Europeans and Russians, Mr Scott added.

A more controversial issue in Singapore's private banking sector is the inflow of European money. Last year, the European Commission put pressure on Singapore to ease its banking secrecy laws.

It also raised concerns that the country has become a shelter for funds exiting the European Union after its member nations slapped a withholding tax on offshore savings of EU citizens.


DBS' growth is driven partly by its high profile in the fast-growing Singapore market that comprises private banking assets of more than US$250 billion (S$347 billion), says Mr Scott.

Foreigners Snap Up Homes As Rents Start To Bite

Source : The Business Times, March 12, 2008

Their purchases could account for half of 2007 transactions on the secondary market

A record number of foreigners here have opted to purchase homes instead of renting them at ever-climbing rates.

According to an analysis of transactions of private residential properties by DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, foreigners bought 6,536 non-landed homes from the secondary market in 2007 - the largest number since 1995.

They could account for more than 50 per cent of the secondary market transactions last year.

That is because while more than 20,000 non-landed homes were sold on the secondary market last year, this number includes the units from more than 100 collective sales. DTZ's analysis does not include en bloc units - though earlier reports had put this figure at around 6,000 for the first half of 2007 alone.

Purchases by foreigners on the secondary market represent a 105 per cent increase in volume compared to 2006.

DTZ research senior director Chua Chor Hoon said that while some buyers were investors, there were also those who 'are not on company budget and find it more worthwhile to buy rather than face escalating rentals, especially if they are going to be in Singapore for more than a couple of years'.

DTZ's figures for 2007 reveal that rents of prime apartments and condominiums increased 45 per cent year-on-year in 2007 to average $4.80 per square foot (psf). This was attributed to the influx of expatriates and a tight supply of prime apartments, as numerous prime developments were demolished or slated for redevelopment after being collectively sold.

The percentage of foreigners buying non-landed property from the primary market (developer sales) was lower at 25.4 per cent, or 2,314 transactions out of a total of 9,089, reinforcing the assertion that foreigners are more inclined to buy a home for immediate occupation.

Indonesians and Malaysians remain the biggest foreign buyers here, accounting for 23 and 17 per cent of all foreigners in 2007 respectively, but Indians (12 per cent), Britishers (8 per cent), Chinese (7 per cent) and Koreans (7 per cent) are also well represented.

While foreigners bought non-landed homes in record numbers last year, boosting demand in the process, their absence in the landed homes sector (because of restrictions imposed by the government) did not stop a record number of landed homes being sold in the secondary market.

DTZ's analysis reveals that of the total 5,211 landed homes sold in 2007, 4,823 were from the secondary market.

Apart from the bullish sentiment which 'spilled over' from the non-landed sector last year, the landed sector also saw demand rise as it was still considered comparatively good value.

DTZ's figures show that average capital values for non-landed freehold homes in the prime districts increased by 55 per cent year-on-year to $1,480 psf.

For freehold landed homes in the prime districts, average capital values of detached homes increased 31 per cent year- on-year, while average capital values of semi-detached and terrace homes rose 29 and 27 per cent respectively.

The situation was also exacerbated by the tight supply of new launches of landed homes in the year, estimated at around 650 units.

DTZ's Ms Chua also believes that with speculation less rampant in the landed housing sector - 'most buyers are owner-occupiers' - prices are expected to be more stable and could even prove 'more resilient' if the downturn in the global economy is protracted.

However, DTZ expects future supply of landed homes to be relatively low at just 3,100 units over the next few years, so this could push up demand and prices for both primary and secondary market landed homes.

Speculation, defined by the number of subsales, was rampant among developer sales of non-landed homes last year, hitting an all-time high of 4,631 transactions - a 312 per cent year-on-year increase over 2006.

Interestingly, while subsale transaction volume in 2007 was just 27 per cent higher than during the previous peak of 1996, the value of subsales was almost twice as high, hitting $7.9 billion.

The fourth quarter, however, marked a shift in sentiment in the property market. Only 3,947 non-landed homes were transacted in the quarter, of which just 846 were sold by developers, reflecting a 64 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop. This was one of the worst performing quarters in the last three years.

S'pore Building Boom Continues, Office Demand Firm

Source : The Business Times, March 12, 2008

CANNES - The credit crunch has so far failed to dent demand for office space in Singapore or derail its bid to become Asia's leading financial centre, a senior member of the republic's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said.

Speaking to Reuters at the annual Mipim trade fair in Cannes on Tuesday, Choy Chan Pong, head of land administration at the URA, said that Singapore had not felt the threat of vast financial sector redundancies and its construction boom continued.

'We have not seen any evidence of a decline in demand for office space, and for now most financial institutions in Asia are still hiring,' he said.

The URA said earlier this week that it planned to double the size of Singapore's Marina Bay financial district to 2.82 million square metres - or double the size of London's Canary Wharf financial district - as international financial sector occupiers continued to seek presence in the city.

The authority had set aside 101 hectares of green parkland directly adjacent to the Marina Bay financial district that would serve as 'lungs' for the city, and which would never be sold for office schemes, at any price.

'We have had offers from several Middle Eastern developers and investors to buy the land we have allocated for the Marina Gardens but we will never sell it,' Mr Choy said. 'It stops Singapore from becoming a concrete jungle. It is priceless.'

Standard Chartered Bank and Development Bank of Singapore have agreed to take a total 1.2 million square feet of space at the Marina Bay Financial Centre, a 438,000 square metre office and residential project being developed by Keppel Land, Cheung Kong Holdings/Hutchison Whampoa and Hongkong Land.

According to data from global property broker Cushman & Wakefield last month, Singapore prime office rents climbed 78 per cent in local currency terms in 2007 but Mr Choy quelled fears this surge in rental costs had begun to price some occupiers out of the market, and towards rival markets of Tokyo and Hong Kong.

'You have to remember this rental increase was from a very low base,' he said. 'Singapore is still cheaper than Hong Kong ... and Tokyo is almost full,' he said.

Hong Kong is the second most expensive office market in the world, behind London, with annual office rents averaging US$239 per square foot. Tokyo is in third place with annual office rents at US$210 per square foot. Singapore is in seventh place.

Its annual office rents average US$130 per square foot.

'We do not expect financial institutions will have to choose one market over another, so we have no concerns about growth of China or Japan.

'Realistically, banks know they have to be in all three cities because we serve different markets, and if banks want access to India or South East Asia, they need to be in Singapore,' Mr Choy said. -- REUTERS

KSH Holdings Secures S$121m Luxury Condo Development Contract

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 12 March 2008

KSH Holdings has secured a S$121 million contract to construct luxury condominium development Seascape at Sentosa Cove.

This project puts its order book at more than S$614 million.

The contract was signed by the construction, property development and management group's subsidiary, Kim Seng Heng Engineering Construction. The deal was awarded by Seaview, a company co-owned by Ho Bee Investment and IOI Land Singapore.

The project will have two blocks of 8-storey residential flats. Comprising 151 units, the condominium development comes with attached attics, a basement car park, swimming pool and communal facilities.

Construction work is scheduled to commence in April 2008 and expected to be completed within 28 months. - CNA /ls

Construction Firm Lian Beng Wins S$90.2m Worth Of Contracts

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 12 March 2008

Singapore construction firm Lian Beng Group has won two contracts worth a total of S$90.2 million.

The first is a S$73.5 million contract to build a 21-storey freehold condominium Amber Residences along East Coast Road. The building contractor also sealed a deal worth S$16.7 million to build a 7-storey industrial building at Paya Lebar i-Park.

Work on the projects will begin in May and is expected to be completed by November 2010.

Lian Beng says its total orders now stand at some S$700 million.

In January, Lian Beng partnered LaSalle Investment Management to acquire Emerald Mansion for redevelopment for S$148 million. - CNA /ls

Ascendas Acquires Goodman's Stake in Acendas-MGM, A-REIT

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 12 March 2008

Office park developer Ascendas is taking full control of the manager of Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (A-REIT).

Under a deal announced on Wednesday, Ascendas is buying over the 40 percent stake in Ascendas-MGM Funds Management Limited that is now held by Goodman Group.

Upon completion of the sale, Ascendas-MGM Funds Management Limited will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ascendas, and will be renamed Ascendas Funds Management (S) Limited.

In addition, Ascendas will acquire the 6.28 percent stake in A-REIT, now held by Goodman Group, for about S$158.2 million. This will give Ascendas an interest of 26.77 percent stake in A-REIT.

Ascendas said the deal would enable the company to fully extend its capabilities to benefit A-REIT.

A-REIT has 80 properties and total assets worth over S$3.4 billion as at the end of December 2007. - CNA/so

Tall Orders For HDB Flats

Source : TODAY, Wednesday, 12 March, 2008

BTO project Punggol Spring four times oversubscribed

THE demand for public housing continues to be brisk. Case in point: The Housing Development Board's (HDB) first build-to-order project this year at Punggol Spring (artist's impression) is already four times oversubscribed.

New flats aside, property agents have also described the HDB resale market as the kingpin for the real estate sector this year.

The application for Punggol Spring, where 494 units of four-room flats will be built, will not close until March 17 but the project is already oversubscribed with 2,093 applications.

The Punggol Spring development makes up some of the 4,500 new flats that the HDB has committed to building for the first half of this year. Prices of the Punggol Spring flats range from $204,000 to $259,000.

Apart from this build-to-order development, the HDB's bi-monthly sale of four-room and larger flats last month also drew overwhelming response, with more than 10,000 flat buyers vying for just 278 units.

Mr Eugene Lim, associate director of ERA, said: "The buyers are usually first timers and they do not have so much cash. As the norm is to pay cash over value for the resale market, they are inevitably being pushed to the new flat market where they don't have to come up with as much cash or any cash at all."

Still, the transaction volume in the HDB resale market is expected to remain strong. Industry players expect 30,000 units to be sold this year, 1,000 more than last year.

They also expect prices to increase by about 10 per cent, compared to last year's rise of more than 17 per cent.

Property agents said the spike last year was partly due to a sharp rise in cash over valuation (COV), but this is likely to change, they added, as buyers have hit a threshold when it comes to forking out more cash.

Propnex CEO Mohamed Ismail said: "The central areas — Queenstown, Bukit Merah, Toa Payoh — were getting as high as $100,000 but such prices are not sustainable in the long term.

"Therefore, I foresee that for the very high-end side in the central location, the COV will dip quite drastically."

Despite the high demand for flats, agents are confident there will be enough to go around, whether it is for families or singles.

They also welcomed the HDB's new incentive to offer an extra $9,000 grant to singles who buy a resale flat and live with their parents, as announced by Mr Lim Boon Heng, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, in Parliament last week.

The scheme, however, is unlikely to have any impact on the market given the small segment it serves. — CHANNEL NEWSASIA

Lower Than Expected Bids For Jurong Site

Source : The Strait Times, Mar 12, 2008


A LANDED plot in Jurong West that was tipped by one consultant to fetch bids of over $30 million failed to even get to half of that.

Just two offers were placed for the 99-year leasehold Westwood Avenue plot, a stark reflection of thefast-deteriorating sentiment in the property market.

The top bid of just $11.8 million, or $78 per sq ft (psf), of land area came from Boon Keng Development, with Sunway Concrete Products offering $10.33 million, or just $68.1 psf.

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han, who had tipped that the site could fetch more than $30 million, or $200 to $250 psf, said the offers were 'defensive bids' that would allow the developer to withstand a fallout from the global creditcrunch.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said the 'relatively conservative bids' for the Jurong site, which is in an established residential area, reflects the market's cautious sentiment.

Assuming the tender is awarded, terrace houses on the 14,098.9 sq m site, within a 10-minute drive of the Boon Lay MRT station, could sell for $900,000 to $1.1 million each, property consultants said.

These levels are just slightly above current prices being transacted in Westwood Park and Westville, said Mr Li. Recent deals of intermediate terrace houses in Westwood Park and Westville ranged between $820,000 and $990,000, he said.

Landed Housing Plot Draws Top Bid Of Just $77.80 PSF

Source : The Business Times, March 12, 2008

Only one other offer made; poor show seen as sign of uncertain market

IN what is seen as a sign of an uncertain property market, a landed housing parcel in Jurong West drew only two bids, and a low top bid of $11.8 million - or just $77.80 per square foot (psf) - at the close of a government land tenderyesterday.

The higher bid, put in by Boon Keng Development, was significantly below what analysts had said the site could fetch. Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han, for example, reckoned that the plot would fetch $200-$250 psf of land area.

'The price is really below expectation,' said Mr Han yesterday. 'But with the market sentiment being so weak, you can expect wild swings in prices. Developers will be sitting on the sidelines or might not want to bid their best prices.'

The other bid was put in by Sunway Concrete Products, a unit of Malaysian- listed Sunway Holdings. It offered $10.3 million, or $68.1 psf of land area.

Li Hiaw Ho, executive director for research at CB Richard Ellis, said that both bids were 'relatively conservative' and reflected the current cautious sentiment in the market.

The 99-year leasehold site on Westwood Avenue has a land area of 151,759 sq ft. Property analysts estimate that some 50-60 landed homes can be built on the site.

'Nevertheless, based on the highest bid of $78 psf, terrace houses on this site could still be sold for $900,000 to $1 million each,' Mr Li said. This is slightly higher than recent transactions of intermediate terrace houses in nearby Westwood Park and Westville, which were between $820,000 and $990,000 each.

Potential buyers, Mr Li added, could comprise locals working in the manufacturing firms in Jurong and Tuas, as well as academics at nearby Nanyang Technological University.

Market watchers, however, said that it is possible that the government might not award the site because of the low price.

The price looks especially low when considering other recent government sales of landed housing plots, Mr Han pointed out.

In October, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) auctioned off 12 sub-divided landed housing plots near Sembawang Beach which can be developed into a total of 57 landed homes. The auction fetched a total of $37.09 million, which worked out to about $285 psf of land area on average.

And in January, the government decided not to sell a short-term office site in Aljunied because the sole bid offered too low a price. The decision followed a recent string of lower-than-expected offers for state land.