Thursday, July 3, 2008

F&N Business Review Has Keppel Echoes

Source : The Business Times, July 3, 2008

FRASER & Neave's (F&N) strategic review has a precedence. At the start of the decade, Keppel Corp, another blue chip conglomerate, also set out to define what its core business should be. Keppel got it right, and at the right time too. The jury on F&N, though, is still out.

F&N's announcement of a new management structure this week has, in the minds of market watchers, set the stage for a major restructuring of the group. F&N announced on Monday that it will not appoint a group CEO, despite an eight-month search. Instead, the three CEOs of its food and beverage (F&B), property, and printing and publishing businesses will report to the board through the chairman's office. The group also engaged Morgan Stanley to assist in reviewing strategic options for its publishing and printing business, while making note of the two core contributors to its profits, properties and F&B.

That, along with the decentralised management structure, is being read by many that a break-up of F&N's businesses may be in the works.

In this context, recalling the Keppel experience may be instructive. In January 2000, Lim Chee Onn, then a Keppel veteran of 16 years, took the helm of the group from Sim Kee Boon as executive chairman. Soon after he took over, he told investors that Keppel would review its operations and find a new core business. That set the market buzzing with anticipation. With Keppel Capital and M1 already sold, market players speculated on the potential divestment of Keppel's other holdings like Keppel Land and Singapore Petroleum Corp (SPC).

In the end, after two years of review, Keppel announced that it would essentially stay the way it was: its core businesses would be ship-repair and oil-rig construction, property, engineering and utilities. It also decided to hold on to a substantive stake in SPC.

Keppel received some stick for deciding to stay un-reformed, not helped by the fact that the market had talked itself into believing a big divestment play was in the offing. But it proved to be the correct decision. Keppel went on to benefit from the energy and oil rig boom, as well as the sharp rebound in the property market. Even its less headline-grabbing engineering business is poised now to benefit from the growing emphasis on environmental engineering and water solutions.

Now, it has come to F&N to decide on how it should move forward. The smart money thinks that the business should be broken up. The publishing and printing business, and to a lesser extent, the F&B operations, are seen as a drag on the property business, which is the biggest contributor to group profits. On paper, that may be true. But that may not take into account certain realities.

For one, just how attractive are F&N's assets if they are to be hived off? The publishing and printing business is not a high growth operation. If it is to be sold, valuations may have to be kept down to draw buyers. The F&B business is attractive in parts. While F&N's stake in Asia Pacific Breweries will likely draw bids, not least from Heineken which already has a 32.5 per cent stake, its other F&B operations may not command such a premium. So valuations, especially amid an uncertain and volatile market environment, will be a big sway factor.

Keppel, in fact, held more attractive assets. One reason why it decided to keep it all together is often overlooked. Rig-building is a cyclical business, and so is property, while the engineering and utilities business has its own beat. But the cycles are not the same. Before the property rebound, it was the rig business which drove Keppel forward. The property cycle may be peaking now, but the engineering and utilities business is set to take off. It is this overlay of cycles that remains a key draw of the conglomerate structure.

At a time when the property market is facing a period of uncertainty and correction, should F&N be so ready to divest its other businesses? Publishing and printing and F&B are defensive in nature - a good foil in fact to the highly cyclical nature of property. Instead of divesting them, arguments can be made for F&N to invest more and to beef up these non-property operations.

However it looks on paper, market conditions and realities will ultimately drive F&N's decision. Keppel decided after a long debate to stay a conglomerate, a decision which set the stage for several years of record profits. It's F&N time now to make the right decision.

Property Transactions With Contract Dates Between June 16th - 21st, 2008

Hi-Tech Rents, Occupancy Rates Up

Source : The Business Times, July 3, 2008

Insufficient and expensive offices drive tenants to business parks, leading to 6.8% rise q-o-q

RENTS and occupancy rates for hi-tech and business park space were lifted in the second quarter of this year by spillover demand for office space, property consultants say. And rents for factories and warehouses have edged up too.

JTC's Biopolis: More business park space will be coming on stream. According to CBRE, Biopolis Phase III will be completed in Q4 2009

According to CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), the average island-wide hi-tech monthly rent rose 6.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $3.15 per sq ft (psf) in Q2. Year-on-year, the increase was 34 per cent.

Insufficient and increasingly expensive office space is driving tenants to hi-tech space or business parks, CBRE said in a statement yesterday.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) also says that companies are relocating backroom operations to hi-tech space. Its latest figures show that the average island-wide hi-tech rent rose 2.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $4.25 psf per month in Q2. Compared with a year earlier, the increase was 63.5 per cent.

While figures from both property consultants indicate rising rents for hi-tech space, the degree of increase differs.

'The disparity is a result of differences in the basket of properties that research houses use to track the market,' said JLL's head of research (South-east Asia) Chua Yang Liang. 'This difference is more pronounced in periods when segments of the market respond differently to external stimulus.'

CBRE says that for business parks, the average occupancy rate was 88 per cent at end-March and could have exceeded 90 per cent by the end of Q2. This would be a new peak.

The firm's director of industrial and logistics services, Bernard Goh, says that rents at business parks also rose in Q2.

More business park space will be coming on stream. According to CBRE, Biopolis Phase III will be completed in Q4 2009. And JTC Corporation launched a tender for Plot 61 in Changi Business Park last month.

For factory space, the average monthly rent for a ground-floor unit rose 3.3 per cent to $1.55 psf in Q2, says CBRE.

The average capital value of ground-floor units in 60-year leasehold strata-titled factories edged up about 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $302 psf.

Ground-floor units in warehouses registered a 3.3 per cent increase in average monthly rent to $1.55 psf in Q2.

Rising raw material costs, a stronger Singapore dollar and weakening demand for exports have made manufacturers cautious about their outlook, dampening demand for factories and warehouses, says CBRE.

'However, the government has reiterated that the manufacturing sector will remain important to Singapore's economy,' it says. 'As such, manufacturers are still encouraged to set up their facilities on the island, and demand for industrial space is expected to remain healthy.'

CBRE points out that recently there have been few purchases by industrial REITs, as funding availability has dropped. According to Mr Goh: 'The limited credit supply is likely to continue to curtail the ability of the REIT players to expand their respective portfolios, but on the whole, industrial properties continue to remain an attractive asset class for institutional investors.'

Business Park Occupancy Rates May Hit New High

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 02 July 2008

Business parks are set to see occupancy rates go beyond 90 per cent by the end of June this year to hit a new peak, according to property consultants CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

At the end of March, the average occupancy rate for business parks stood at about 88 per cent.

CBRE said office space shortage and persistent rent increases are driving office tenants towards hi-tech space or business parks.

This has pushed up business park rents by an average of 30 per cent since the start of the year.

During the second quarter, two business park sites at one-north were awarded, which will add over 90,000 square metres of space by the end of 2009. - CNA/ms

Residents Raise Concerns As HDB Seals Off Air Vents In Old Blocks

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 02 July 2008

A fire safety measure by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has raised a ruckus among some residents of a block of flats in Toa Payoh Lorong 5.

They claim that the sealing off of the ventilation shafts facing the common corridors has become a potential health hazard instead.

In Madam Maimon’s one-room flat, the electric fan is perpetually switched on since the HDB sealed off the air vents last month.

She said: "Before the vents were sealed, it was not hot. There's still a breeze blowing in. And it was bright, so we did not have to switch on the lights in the flat."

Related Video :-

Such air vents are a familiar feature of some old housing blocks in Singapore.

The move has raised concern among volunteers at the nearby Thye Hua Kwan Seniors' Activity Centre, which sent an appeal letter to the HDB, without success.

Social workers said these vents were a useful means of checking in on residents, especially those who keep their doors closed all the time. Foul smells could also be detected through these openings and there had been occasions in the past where dead bodies were discovered this way.

However, not all residents mind. Some make do by taking more showers.

Meanwhile, HDB said the move was prompted by a blast in a Bukit Merah flat on 3 August 2007, which killed an elderly man and injured four others.

Investigations showed that the fire and smoke had spread to other units through the corridor vents. Thus, HDB is keen to prevent a similar tragedy.

Lawrence Pak, Deputy Director, Building Technology Department, HDB, said: "We understand that some residents are used to an open vent and have to make certain adjustments to their daily routine.

"However, the safety of our residents is of paramount importance. HDB takes a non-compromising view towards the public and towards its residents.

"So in this case, because of the past incident, we sealed up the vents to ensure that smoke would not go into the neighbour's unit if there is a fire within the particular unit itself."

HDB also assured that the ventilation will not be affected, as the windows are large enough. It added that it has completed works on eight blocks since late 2007 and will start work on another 15 soon. - CNA/vm

Paulson Says US Economy Enduring 'Rough Period'

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 03 July 2008

WASHINGTON: US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said on Wednesday that the US economy was enduring "a rough period" and warned that home foreclosures would likely remain high in the near future.

The US Treasury chief said soaring crude oil prices, a widespread credit crunch and a two-year long housing market slump had taken some of the wind out of the sails of the US economy.

"The US economy is going through a rough period. US foreclosures will remain elevated and we should not be surprised at continued reports of falling home prices," Paulson warned during a speech in London.

Paulson's remarks were also released by the Treasury in Washington. The Treasury chief and former banker stopped off in London on Wednesday amid a whistle-stop tour of European capitals.

He said the giant economic stimulus, stuffed with tax rebates, backed by the administration of US President George W. Bush had helped shore up US growth, but that the housing downturn poses a "significant" downside risk to economic momentum.

Foreclosures have soared in recent months as home sales and property prices have continued to tumble across many parts of the United States.

The world's biggest economy posted sub-par growth of 1.0 percent during the first quarter of the year, and some analysts believe the economy is on the brink of a recession.

Paulson said the sooner house prices stabilise, the sooner the economy will bounce back to stronger growth, but he also blamed rocketing oil prices for extending economic angst.

"High oil prices will in all likelihood prolong our economic slowdown," he said, as oil prices continued to roil near record highs at 141 dollars a barrel.

Economic growth has been weighed down by the credit squeeze as major banks, including Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, have announced multibillion dollar losses tied to ailing mortgage investments.

Many other banks have also suffered similar losses and reined in lending as they seek to restore stressed balance sheets.

Paulson said US regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are collaborating closely on developing new measures to help offset the credit squeeze.

But the authorities have to walk a fine line, he said, as officials do not want to promote irresponsible market risk-taking by suggesting they would always ride to rescue of an imperiled bank or finance house.

"For market discipline to be effective it is imperative that market participants not have the expectation that lending from the Fed, or any other government support, is readily available," Paulson said during the speech at Chatham House in London which houses the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

The Fed and Treasury have been criticised for assisting in the rescue of the US investment bank Bear Stearns in March, and for helping to broker a takeover of Bear by JPMorgan Chase.

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has said the central bank stumped up billions of dollars to support deal because a Bear Stearns collapse could have destabilised Wall Street.

US lawmakers are considering possible changes to the regulatory environment that could help avoid a repeat of the credit crunch and the downfall of a major financial institution like Bear Stearns.

"To that end, we should create a system that gives us the best chance of foreseeing a crisis, including a market stability regulator with the authorities to avert systemic issues it foresees," Paulson said.

"We need to create a resolution process that ensures the financial system can withstand the failure of a large complex financial firm," the Treasury chief added. - AFP/de

Key Player In Jade Saga Reaps Huge Profit From Home Sale

Source : The Straits Times, July 3, 2008

Anthony Soh plans to use proceeds to pay off his mortgage and step up legal fight to clear his name

THE businessman at the centre of the bungled Jade Technologies buyout is cashed up for his legal battles in Singapore and Australia after pocketing a huge profit from the sale of his lavish home.

Bought for $7.95m last year
Sold for $11.8m this year -- ST FILE PHOTO

Dr Anthony Soh had to take a big cut from his asking price of $13.88 million for the Windsor Park Road bungalow, but the dramatic rise in property prices over the past year still meant he could walk away well ahead.

He bought the 21,800 sq ft house in January last year for $7.95 million and spent $400,000 on renovations but sold it for $11.8 million - a profit of $3.85 million.

Dr Soh told The Straits Times in May that he wanted to sell the house to pay off his mortgage with OCBC Bank, and raise cash for legal fees he expected to incur in his fight to clear his name following the Jade buyout.

He has instigated legal actions in Australia against failed Melbourne broker Opes Prime and investment bank Merrill Lynch over the seizure of millions of Jade shares.

The profitable sale of his house will allow him to step up his legal fight.

'I now have extra funds to hire two Queen's Counsel to fight Merrill and others who took my shares,' said Dr Soh last night.

He pledged the Jade shares to Opes to secure a loan. When the broker went belly up in March, however, Merrill, an Opes creditor, seized the stock.

This left Dr Soh with insufficient funds, forcing him to abort the Jade buyout. He contends that Merrill had no right to sell what he considers to be still his shares. This contention is at the heart of the legal action he has started in Australia against the investment bank and Opes.

The debacle had also resulted in a number of inquiries being launched into Dr Soh's role in the events that left many investors in the red after their Jade shares plunged in value.

Funds from the house sale will also likely be used to fund legal costs on this front.

The buyer was businessman Jonathan Lim Keng Hock, who moved fast after reading about the property in The Straits Times on May 28.

Sources close to Mr Lim, 47, said he promptly made an appointment that day to view the lavish bungalow, which boasts a swimming pool and a badminton court.

Mr Lim, who had been looking for a place for months, signed the option agreement the following day.

Property agents said the $11.8 million price was a fair one, given the subdued state of the market and considering that the house, while a good class bungalow, is not in the prime Bukit Timah district.

Dr Soh told The Straits Times last night: 'I am pleased that the buyer of the house is happy with the deal. He likes the house and got it at his price.'

Mr Lim is the main investor and chairman of electronics firm SNF Corporation. His stake of 26.99 per cent is worth about $3.68 million

He is also the founder and managing director of Romar Positioning Equipment International, a private firm that makes automation equipment for handling and welding in the energy and transportation industries.

The firm has more than 180 staff, a turnover exceeding $90 million and estimated profits of about $11 million. It was acquired by a European multinational corporation earlier this year.

Retail Property Market Remains Stable In Q2: DTZ

Source : The Business Times, July 3, 2008

Turnover rents rise; limited growth for fixed gross rents

BUOYED by positive consumer sentiment and the Great Singapore Sale period, the retail property market remained stable in the second quarter of this year, according to a market report by real estate consultancy DTZ.

Turnover rents in Q2 rose, but there was limited growth for fixed gross rents. DTZ noted that tenants were 'resisting committing at higher rents for both new retail space and lease renewals'.

First-storey monthly fixed gross rents remained largely unchanged quarter on quarter, hovering at an average of $42.40 per square foot (psf) for prime areas such as Orchard/Scotts Road, $33.70 psf in suburban areas and $27.10 psf in other city areas.

The retail market is expected to remain stable, despite competition from additional supply that will come on stream over the next few years. Malls such as ION Orchard, Orchard Central and 313 @ Somerset are slated for completion by 2009.

As much as 5.4 million square feet of retail space will be added to the mix between the second half of this year and 2012. Marina Bay Shoppes by developer Marina Bay Sands will account for the biggest chunk of that space, with 15 per cent or 800,000 sq ft, closely followed by CapitaLand and Sun Hung Kai Properties' ION Orchard at 663,000 sq ft.

The suburban retail scene will also be bolstered by upcoming developments, mainly in the west and north-west regions, such as the Big Box project at Jurong Regional Centre and the Civic Cultural and Retail Complex at Vista Xchange. Fifty per cent of the potential supply in suburban areas is in the west.

DTZ's retail associate director Anna Lee says: 'The increase in future supply will put a cap on price and rental increases, while offering opportunities for the retail market to reinvent itself with new concepts and offerings.'

Singapore's retail sales for April - excluding vehicles - rose 7.7 per cent year on year. But total retail sales value dipped about 4 per cent to $2.77 billion, from March's $2.89 billion, with almost all sectors reporting less activity in April.

Sentosa Rents Soar

Source : TODAY, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Construction not putting tenants off

SENTOSA Cove is slowly, but surely, attracting high-end tenants with the completion of an estimated 300 homes, including the 200-unit The Berth by the Cove condominium.

Despite ugly construction sites dotting many parts of Sentosa, the first luxury condo units and landed properties have drawn rents comparable to, if not higher than those in prime districts on the mainland, including Nassim Park and Grange Residences.

Colliers International has just completed its first rental survey of Sentosa Cove and says two-bedroom condos are fetching an average $5,350 a month, or $4.61 per square foot (psf).

Larger, four-bedroom units have rented for an average $10,625, which also equates to $4.61psf. However, one rented for $12,250.

As for landed homes, terrace houses ranging in size from 2,600 to 3,600 square feet have let for an average $15,333, or $5.19psf, while the first luxury bungalows ranging in size from 2,530 to 4,983 sq ft have been let for an average $24,000. The highest rental to date is $30,000.

“This is encouraging, given that so much construction is going on,” said Tay Huey Ying, Colliers director of research and advisory. “When fully-developed, it should be even more appealing to potential tenants.”

The idea of developing the 117-hectare cove into a waterfront enclave was first mooted in the ’80s. However, the first land parcel was only sold to the private sector in end-2003. Five years on, temporary occupation permits have been granted to just the first five small developments completed, with Ho Bee Group’ 200-unit The Berth being by far the largest.

More is to come, with land already sold capable of accommodating over 2,000 condo units and 400 bungalows or terrace homes.

Colliers said investors who bought units in The Berth at the end of 2004 or early 2005 and have held onto them are today enjoying attractive net rental yields of 5.5 per cent. Purchase prices have since surged. As such, Colliers said those who entered the market later in 2007 now have to contend with lower yields averaging at 3.5 per cent.

Prices of non-landed homes have shot up from an initial launch price of $785 per sq ft in November 2004 for The Berth to current $2,800psf for Lippo Group’s The Marina Collection.

Leasing Market In Sentosa Cove Starting To Pick Up

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 02 July 2008

The leasing market in Sentosa Cove is starting to pick up, as more units are ready for occupation, according to property consultants Colliers International.

With some 300 units at Sentosa Cove having temporary occupation permits, Colliers said the leasing market could be starting to take shape.

Numbers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed that some 51 leasing contracts were recorded for homes there between January last year and April 2008. Forty-six of those went to The Berth by the Cove.

Some 99.6 per cent of land parcels for sale in Sentosa Cove has been taken up by private developers and individuals - in all yielding more than 2,000 condominium units, and 400 bungalows and terrace houses.

Contracted monthly gross rents are believed to range from S$4,700 for a two-bedroom unit to as high as S$12,250 for a four-bedroom unit in a condominium development.

Landed homes are believed to command between S$12,000 and S$30,000 per unit. - CNA/ms

Rentals Making Gentle Waves At Sentosa Cove

Source : The Business Times, July 3, 2008

They could hold firm despite gloom elsewhere and offer decent yields

Close to 300 homes at Sentosa Cove, including 200 condominium units, have received Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) and the exclusive enclave is starting to bustle.

DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, which is the property manager of the 200-unit The Berth by the Cove says that the development is now about 70 per cent tenanted.

It added that the remaining units of the fully-sold development are owner-occupied, some of which are weekend homes or holiday homes for foreigners.

Other developments that have received TOP include The Berthside, Ocean 8, The Villas @ Sentosa Cove, Coral Island and North Cove.

Expected to come onto the leasing market next is the 116-unit The Azure, which is also fully sold.

And the popularity of The Berth by the Cove with the leasing market bodes well for the remaining 2,200 homes that are still being constructed.

DTZ senior director (research) Chua Chor Hoon said that the supply of new homes in Sentosa Cove is still 'limited' compared to the rest of Singapore and the units have 'the unique feature of close proximity to the sea'.

Saying that the limited supply of units in Sentosa Cove will limit any downward pressure on rentals, Ms Chua added: 'Rental prospects are likely to be better.'

This upbeat outlook for Sentosa Cove is particularly pertinent at a time when new housing supply is expected to flood the rental market by next year.

In a recent report, DTZ noted that in general, rentals would come under pressure between 2009 and 2011, not just from new supply but from the sub-sale market as well as it is unlikely that speculators will want to hold units for low rental income.

DTZ said that based on its basket of non-landed properties in the prime district (excluding luxury properties) average monthly rents are currently still holding steady at $4.90 psf per month.

While DTZ did not reveal rentals at The Berth by the Cove, a check with SISV-Realink shows that the rental for a unit there contracted for $19,500 per month in May.

Colliers International also said it believes median rentals could be around $6 psf per month.

Colliers director (research and advisory) Tay Huey Ying added that based on the average launch price of The Berth by the Cove of about $860 psf in 2004/2005, investors who bought units at this price could now be enjoying a net rental yield of about 5.5 per cent.

Those that bought units from the secondary market later when the price rose to about $1,500 psf will be looking at a net rental yield of 3.5 per cent.

'Nevertheless, these investors would still be enjoying a higher net rental return compared to those who invested in a freehold luxury apartment on the main island of Singapore in recent times since the latter are generating average net rental returns estimated to be in the region of 2.3 per cent,' added Ms Tay.

In time over 1,700 condominiums will be completed. Savills Singapore director (marketing and business development) Ku Swee Yong believes that buyers for most of these units will be investors, suggesting that a majority will be put up for lease.

Still, he said that there is a niche market for this type of waterfront home. 'We had an expat client who was looking to rent and after showing him a few options, he chose The Berth because he already has a yacht,' reveals Mr Ku.

Interestingly, Mr Ku says the advent of the integrated resort on Sentosa may not necessarily guarantee a pool of tenants. 'Not everyone will want to live so close to work,' he added.

What he does believe is crucial to the success of Sentosa Cove as an exclusive enclave is the provision of high end amenities. He added: 'Once these are completed, we believe Sentosa Cove rents could demand a premium over Orchard Road.'


Source : 《联合早报》July 02, 2008



世邦魏理仕(CB Richard Ellis)执行董事李晓和说:“涨幅较小可能是因为发展商以较低的价格来推出新项目,一些二手单位也以较低的价格成交。”

例如:城市发展最近就以每平方英尺1600元来预售清风雅筑(Shelford Suites)的单位。这比它在今年3月以每平方英尺约1900元卖出的两个单位成交价来得低。

和美投资也在两个星期前,以每平方英尺970元来推出达高轩(Dakota Residences)单位。这也比它原本“瞄准”的每平方英尺1000元至1100元来得低。




高纬物业(Cushman & Wakefield)新加坡董事经理韩永利说:“市场早就预见第二季的楼价将持平,第三季相信也不会有太大的起落。”




例如平均尺价为750元的Clover by the Park至今已卖出195个单位、平均尺价为976元的达高轩则卖出140个单位、平均尺价为1000元的The Verve已卖出超过80个单位、平均尺价为750元的Stadia已卖出全部的56个单位。




今年第一季,这三个领域的价格分别上升3.8%、3.8%和3.3%。 郑惠匀看好今年全年的私宅价格将上涨4%至8%。




Source : 《联合早报》July 02, 2008

标新局(Spring Singapore)打算脱售位于红山中心2号的标新局总部,并邀请有兴趣的买家出价(EOI)。





有意回租的其他租户,则将以市场价格,向新业主租下楼面。目前最大的租户是詹姆斯库克大学(James Cook University),占了其中的三到四层楼。标新局总部的租用率将近100%。








去年底,土地管理局(SLA)则委任世邦魏理仕(CBRE)为代理,销售乌节路一带的Atrium@ Orchard办公楼。最后,狮城大厦的业主——嘉茂商产信托(CapitaMall Trust)以大约8亿4000万元,向土管局买下The Atrium。