Friday, November 14, 2008

Banyan Tree Posts $4.9m Q3 Loss, Hit By Thai Turmoil

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

RESORT operator Banyan Tree Holdings posted a net loss of $4.88 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, hit by the political turmoil in Bangkok which deterred travellers and forced the closure of Phuket Airport for a weekend in August.

Bright spot: Q3 hotel residences revenue rose to $17.2m from $3.6m, with revenue recognition from villas and suites in Phuket, Lijiang, Dusit Laguna and Bangkok

In comparison, the company earned a net profit of $49.1 million in Q3 2007, which was bolstered largely by a one-off exceptional gain of $44.5 million then arising from the recognition of negative goodwill. Revenue for Q308 was flat at $82.75 million.

Earnings per share for Q308 was negative 0.64 cents, down from 6.45 cents in Q307. For the nine months ended Sept 30, net profit plummeted 78 per cent to $13.98 million while revenue grew 19 per cent to $321.72 million.

During the quarter, hotel residences revenue surged from $3.6 million to $17.2 million, as a result of revenue recognition from villas and suites at Banyan Tree Phuket, Banyan Tree Lijiang, Dusit Laguna and Banyan Tree Bangkok.

Revenue from hotel investment dropped 13 per cent to $37.4 million on the back of lower revenue from Thailand as the political crisis in Thailand affected visitor arrivals.

At $8.7 million, property sales were also lower than Q307's $16.3 million while hotel management revenue decreased by $0.4 million to $4.3 million.

Banyan Tree said that it is embarking on a series of cost cutting and spend curbing measures in order to preserve cash.

'We are approaching the outlook of the group more cautiously given the increased deterioration of the global financial situation and a period of great uncertainties,' warned the group, adding that the political turmoil in Thailand, if protracted, could have significant impact.

'We expect fourth quarter 2008 results to be lower than last year.' However, the group expects Banyan Tree to remain profitable for FY2008.

The group has seven new hotels slated to start operations next year - two in Mexico, three in the Middle East, and one each in Bali and China.

Banyan Tree closed at 51 cents yesterday, down 3.5 cents.

Wheelock's Q3 Net Profit Falls 39%

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

Wheelock Properties on Friday said net profit for the third quarter of this year fell 39 per cent to S$132.67 million compared to a year ago.

Revenue was up 21 per cent at S$229.53 million. The increase in revenue was mainly due to the commencement of revenue recognition in respect of units sold in Scotts Square.

The Group's investment property, Wheelock Place, was revalued from $700 million to $790 million by a firm of independent professional valuers based on increased rental reversion.

Decrease in investments of S$188 million was mainly due to the decrease in market value of its investments in Hotel Properties Limited and SC Global Developments Ltd. The decrease for HPL was charged to the fair value and revaluation reserve whilst the decrease for SC Global was charged to the income statement as the investment was considered to be impaired.

Decrease in development properties of S$294 million was mainly due to progress billings from the development properties projects and recognition of the remaining 15% of sales consideration to be billed on The Sea View and The Cosmopolitan upon completion. This was partially offset by recognition of profit on development properties projects and construction costs incurred.

It said if the effects of the revaluation surplus (net of tax) of S$74 million (2007: S$164 million) on Wheelock Place and impairment loss of S$85 million on SC Global were excluded, the group's profit after tax for the 3rd quarter would have been $133 million, an increase of 148 per cent.

New Home Sales On Hold: CDL

Source : TODAY, Friday, November 14, 2008

AMID the weakening property market, City Developments said it will delay selling homes at new projects for now.

About 130 units remained unsold among the homes it had already released for sale. At the same time, CDL and its partners in the South Beach development, located downtown, have agreed to delay construction on expectations that building costs will retreat, said the company.

Singapore’s second-largest developer by assets revealed this yesterday, as it posted a drop in earnings for the three months ended Sept 30. Its net profit fell 11 per cent to $150.8 million due to weak demand at its property and hotel businesses. Revenue declined 14 per cent to $688.2 million.

Despite an “uncertain” global economic outlook, CDL expects to show a profit in its property development, hotel operations and investment properties business over the next 12 months. - AGENCIES

CityDev's Net Profit For Q3 Drops 11% To S$150.8m

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 13 November 2008

Property firm City Developments (CityDev) has posted net profits of S$150.8 million for the third quarter of this year, down 11 per cent from last year. Revenue for the period fell 13.6 per cent to S$688 million.

The firm said it would hold back the launch of new residential projects for the time being, in light of the subdued property market and global economic uncertainty.

It has also agreed with its joint venture partners to defer construction of its South Beach development until construction costs come down from their present high levels.

Lower revenue figures were attributed to the fact that many of its projects, such as the Savannah CondoPark, The Equatorial, The Pier at Robertson and The Imperial, had been fully sold by the end of last year.

The company also saw lower earnings from its City Square Residences and a decline in land bank sale in New Zealand.

In addition, the slowing global economy caused CityDev's hotel business to decline by about 5.1 per cent in the third quarter as compared to last year.

CityDev also said that the weakening of the US dollar and the pound against the Singapore dollar contributed to lower earnings.

For the first nine months of the year to September, net profits stood at S$481 million, 1.8 per cent lower compared to the same period last year. - CNA/so

Condo Launch Goes Ahead Despite Gloom

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2008

Developer to roll out Woodlands project on back of solid soft launch

A DEVELOPER is rolling out a rare condominium launch in Woodlands this weekend - optimistic that lower-than-planned prices will draw buyers, despite the gloomy market conditions.

Prices at the 200-unit, 99-year leasehold development start from $435,000 for a two-bedroom unit and go up to $1.1 million for a four-bedroom ground floor unit. -- PHOTO: EL DEVELOPMENT

EL Development is launching the 99-year leasehold, 200-unit Rosewood Suites at $580 per sq ft (psf) on average.

The developer held a sneak preview to test the market a fortnight ago and then a soft launch last weekend, when it sold half of the 60 units launched.

Launches have been few and far between in recent months as most developers continue to hold off, given the volatile markets and poor sentiment.

'We tested the market...and we were pleasantly surprised that the response was good, so we are going ahead with the launch,' said Mr Lim Yew Soon, managing director of EL Development, a unit of local builder Evan Lim & Co.

'If we had waited till next year, there would be a lot of competition. It's better to have a first-mover advantage.'

Rosewood Suites is a five-storey development with one- to four-bedroom apartments. It is in Rosewood Drive, next to the 99-year, 478-unit Casablanca condominium and opposite Innova Junior College. The popular suburban mall, Causeway Point, and Woodlands MRT station are both within walking distance.

Prices start from $435,000 for a two-bedroom unit and go up to $1.1 million for a four-bedroom ground-floor unit. This works out to $500psf to $660psf.

'Our earlier price expectations were higher. We benchmarked current prices against the prices of older condos in the area,' said Mr Lim. Those who bought at the soft launch received a 2 per cent discount from these price levels, he said.

'It is a fair value in today's market,' said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. 'There has not been a major development launch in the area for a long time so there will be some latent HDB upgrader demand.'

Mr Lim said the buyers were mostly dwellers of nearby flats and condominiums. There are two other condominiums in Rosewood Drive - Casablanca and Rosewood.

At Casablanca, two caveats lodged in September and October showed that two 1,184sqft units were sold at $541psf and $549psf, or $640,000 and $650,000.

Caveats lodged in the same months at the 437-unit Rosewood showed that two 1,173sqft units were sold for $537psf to $550psf, or at $630,000 and $645,000.

Rosewood Suites' penthouses, priced from $700,000 to $1.4 million, will be released only when 'times are better'.

EL Development bought the Rosewood Suites site from the Singapore Land Authority in November last year when prices were strong. It topped a tender that drew eight bidders with a price of $56 million or $232psf per plot ratio.

Mr Lim had then said that they had planned to launch the project in the third quarter of this year, and sell it for about $600 psf to $650 psf.

Higher-End HDB Market May Be Cooling

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2008

No rush for condo-style Bishan flats as market sentiment turns sober

THE higher end of the public housing market is showing its first signs of cooling, with the Housing Board's latest condo-style flats receiving a lacklustre response.

With only one day left to the closing of applications, Natura Loft at Bishan has drawn about 600 applications for 480 flats, its developer told The Straits Times yesterday.

This is in stark contrast to the overwhelming demand for the previous three projects sold under the HDB's design, build and sell scheme (DBSS).

The first project, Premiere @ Tampines, was a big hit, with 6,000 applications for 616 homes; City View @ Boon Keng had 3,500 buyers vying for 714 flats; while the third project, Park Central at Ang Mo Kio, drew 2,300 bids for 578 units.

Industry watchers say Natura Loft is a victim of the latest turn in market sentiment, which has seen companies retrenching staff and economies worldwide entering recession.

'Announcements such as DBS Bank laying off 900 jobs have caught everyone off-guard, and local sentiment has turned very bad,' said Mr Colin Tan, head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International.

Other analysts such as ERA Asia-Pacific's assistant vice-president Eugene Lim said Natura Loft's pricing was 'on the high side'.

'The pricey units are launched at a time when the market is jittery, making a double whammy for the project,' he said.

Four-room 95-sq m units at Natura Loft are priced from $465,000 to $586,000 while the five-room 120-sq m flats cost $600,000 to $739,000.

That works out to about $450 to $570 per sq ft (psf).

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said the relatively poor response reflects buyers' reluctance to take big loans for homes in a period of uncertainty. Also, he pointed out that developers such as EL Development have started becoming more 'price-sensitive' and are selling condo units with full facilities - such as Rosewood Suites in Woodlands - at attractive prices of $590 to $600 psf.

'Alternatives to a pricey DBSS flat are more available now,' he said.

Mr Zuo Hai Bin, managing director of Natura Loft's developer, QingJian Realty, said it was inevitable that sales of the project would be affected by economic conditions.

'But we are still confident that there are genuine buyers,' he told The Straits Times, adding that the showflat had attracted thousands of visitors.

Separately, the HDB launched 750 new premium flats for sale in Punggol yesterday. This brings the total number of new flats launched this year to 5,800.

The new project, Punggol Arcadia, offers 120 three-roomers, 465 four-room flats and 165 five-room units.

It is located at the junction of Punggol Place and Punggol Field - right next to the future Punggol town centre. Prices start from $181,000 for a three-roomer and go up to $416,000 for a five-roomer.

Analysts say the prices are a tad high as they are comparable to prices of resale flats in the area.

Four-room resale flats were sold for about $300,000 to $330,000 recently and five-roomers for $360,000 to $420,000, said ERA's Mr Lim.

New flats under HDB's build-to-order scheme are usually cheaper and take three years to build when demand reaches a certain level.

The slightly higher prices could be a reflection of the prime location next to Punggol MRT station, Mr Lim added.

Meanwhile, analysts say it remains to be seen if red-hot demand for new HDB flats will be sustained for this latest sale.

The HDB's new projects this year have consistently attracted high demand.

At the end of the first day of the application period, Punggol Arcadia had received 262 applications. The closing date for the project is Nov 26.

Marina Bay Sands May Open In Phases

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

SINGAPORE said on Wednesday it may let Las Vegas Sands open its casino in the city-state in phases from the end of 2009 instead of all at once due to the difficult economic conditions.

US casino operator Las Vegas Sands this week raised about US$1 billion to shore up its finances and said it would halt or delay projects in Macau and the United States to conserve cash. The firm said, however, that it would continue work on the planned Marina Bay Sands casino resort in downtown Singapore, which is expected to cost nearly US$5 billion.

Marina Bay Sands 'had earlier committed to completing the integrated resort in a single phase by end-2009; however, it recently submitted a proposal for a progressive opening from end-2009 onwards', the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said. 'STB is considering the proposal.' The board also said Las Vegas Sands will invest about US$500 million in additional equity to ensure the Singapore project is completed.

The Marina Bay Sands will comprise a casino, hotels, convention and retail space as well as various entertainment facilities. -- Reuters

Ho Bee Reports 52% Drop In Q3 Earnings

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

Revenue down 59% but investment properties do well

HO BEE Investment yesterday said that third-quarter net profit fell 52.3 per cent to $18.7 million, from $39.3 million a year ago, as the developer saw lower revenue contributions from its property development projects.

Looking good: The completion of five projects including The Coast is expected to make a significant contribution to revenue and earnings in the 2009 financial year

Revenue fell 59.4 per cent to $52.5 million, from $129.6 million in Q3 2007. The decline in turnover was mainly due to the deferment of revenue recognition from units sold under the deferred payment scheme, which are now in various stages of completion. The bulk of revenue will only be recognised once the temporary occupation permits are obtained, Ho Bee said.

A higher percentage of revenue was also recognised last year for three residential projects - Orange Grove Residences, The Coast and Paradise Island - as compared to this year.

Earnings per share fell to 2.54 cents, from 5.33 cents in Q3 2007. Ho Bee had cash and cash equivalents of $94.5 million at end-September 2008. Long-term liabilities were $813.4 million, while the debt that is repayable in one year or less, or on demand, came to $354.3 million.

For the first nine months of the year, Ho Bee saw net profit decline 65.0 per cent to $81.8 million, from $233.4 million for the same period in 2007. Revenue fell 50.8 per cent to $263.5 million, from $535.4 million last year.

Revenue from property development for the first nine months of 2008 fell by 53 per cent to $244.7 million amid a cooling property market. But the group's investment properties continue to perform well, achieving high occupancy and strong rental rates. With higher rental income from the office space at Samsung Hub and industrial buildings at HB Centre II and One Tannery Road, revenue from property investment for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2008, rose 44 per cent to $12.4 million.

Looking ahead, Ho Bee said the local property market is expected to remain difficult until there are signs of normalcy in both the stock and financial markets. However, the expected completion of five residential projects by the first half of 2009 - The Coast, Paradise Island, Orange Grove Residences, Vertis and Quinterra - will make a significant contribution to the company's revenue and earnings in the 2009 financial year, the developer added.

Ho Bee shares gained 0.5 cents to close at 38.5 cents yesterday. The stock has lost 73.6 per cent so far this year.

River Valley Condo Luma Relaunches With Prices Halved

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

Units going for $1,450 psf, down from $2,800 psf at launch last year

The big property sale has begun - although, in this case, it could reflect the situation of the developer rather than the state of the market.

Cheaper: Luma's relaunch is believed to be the first among luxury condos as other developers hold back

Prices have been slashed by half at Luma, a 75-unit freehold luxury condominium at River Valley Grove.

Relaunching this weekend, units at Luma are being offered at $1,450 per square foot, down almost 50 per cent from $2,800 psf when it was first launched last year.

About 10 units had been sold, mainly in Dubai and Hong Kong.

SISV-Realink data shows two units on the 25th floor changed hands at $2,837 psf and $2,586 psf in April this year.

These prices were already much lower than those for two units on the 20th and 26th floors, which went for $3,349 psf and $3,291 psf in August last year.

At the time, some speculated that prices could soon reach $4,000 psf.

Luma (which will be completed in 2011) has three units on each floor, ranging from 743 sq feet to 1,173 sq feet. The developer behind the project is the mid-sized Novelty Group, which is also in the department store business. Luma sits on an en-bloc site at St Thomas Walk which Novelty bought in 2006 for $76.5 million, or about $810 psf of potential gross floor area.

The relaunch of Luma is believed to be the first among luxury condominiums as other developers are holding back, given the weak market.

Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, said more of the smaller developers could be relaunching at lower prices.

'The bigger ones are discreetly offering soft discounts, such as lifestyle vouchers,' he said.

'I think the chief aim is to move units, to increase sales. They've probably done their sums - they expect to do a level of sales to achieve breakeven point, which will lower their borrowings and feel more comfortable,' Mr Mak added.

Banks are probably repricing loans, and some developers that have revolving facilities or variable- rate loans may feel the pinch.

'More smaller developers will be doing this if the economic situation worsens,' said Mr Mak.

The Novelty Group also bought White House Park Apartments in Stevens Road for $22 million from Asia General Holdings. It also has developments in Pasir Panjang, Geylang, Yio Chu Kang and Pasir Ris.

CDL To Shelve South Beach

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2008

Economic turmoil and high construction costs cited as reasons

PROPERTY giant City Developments (CDL) and its two joint-venture partners have shelved the $2.5 billion high-profile South Beach project earmarked for a hotly contested site in Beach Road.

The consortium cited 'the economic turmoil and the high construction cost environment that Singapore is currently experiencing' as reasons for the move. It will delay the project until building costs fall to 'reasonable levels'.

The project was launched with much fanfare when CDL and its partners Istithmar - it is part of the Dubai World Group - and El-Ad Group clinched the 3.5-ha site with a $1.69 billion bid.

CDL said then that South Beach would elevate Singapore's unique branding as a global city. Designed by renowned British architects Foster & Partners, the project features two towers of up to 45 storeys, plus the restored conserved military buildings of the old Beach Road Camp. It will have premium office space, two hotels, shops and city residences.

In August, CDL executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng said the company already had people knocking on its doors, keen to buy one block or one hotel.

CDL said earlier that it expected to complete the 99-year leasehold project by 2012, though it had until 2016 to finish it.

The news came on a bleak day for CDL, which reported an 11 per cent fall in third-quarter net profit to $150.8 million and a 13.6 per cent decline in revenue to $688.2 million.

Prices and demand have fallen, although in the three months to Sept 30 it sold 'more than 330 units' of The Livia in Pasir Ris, which has 724 units.

Demand and rental expectations in the office market were also hit by the financial crisis, the group said.

While its 53 per cent subsidiary Millennium & Copthorne Hotels delivered credible results, its contribution to CDL's revenue and pre-tax profit fell due to the sterling's weakening against the Singdollar.

The property development business remains the biggest earnings contributor but its third-quarter profit before tax fell from $147 million to $91.1 million.

Hotel operations accounted for $70.47 million of third quarter profit before tax, down from $79.5 million. Rental properties contributed $74.3 million, up from $17.8 million.

CDL is holding back the launch of new residential projects due to the economic uncertainty, but it is proceeding with construction of The Arte at Thomson and The Quayside Collection at Sentosa Cove.

Both sites were secured at relatively low land and construction costs, it said.

CDL said its exposure to potential defaults was under control as it did not sell too many units under the deferred payment scheme and did not extend this scheme to sub-sales.

It said its investment properties would still benefit even if renewed rentals were moderated as they would still be far higher than the previous low rates. The firm added that its hotel business had never operated at a loss since it went public in 1996.

Earnings per share dipped 10.8 per cent in the third quarter to 16.6 cents. Net asset value per share reached $5.93, up from $5.72 at the end of last year.

Its gearing is at 46 per cent, with interest cover at 11.7 times.

CDL said it expected all core business segments to remain profitable over the next 12 months.

The shares closed 12 cents down at $6.09 yesterday.

CDL Defers South Beach Construction, Bets On Costs Easing

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

Q3 net profit slips 11% but group expects to ride the storm

City Developments Ltd (CDL), which yesterday posted an 11 per cent year-on-year drop in third quarter net earnings to $150.8 million, has deferred construction of its South Beach project until construction costs, which have already started to ease, fall to more attractive levels.

South Beach: In December last year, CDL had said the retail, office, hotel and residential project would cost some $2.5b, including land cost of $1.69b

CDL is developing the project jointly with a Dubai World unit and Elad Group.

'The consortium believes that construction cost will come down over time and therefore, it will delay the development of South Beach till construction cost reverts to more reasonable levels,' CDL said in its results statement.

In December last year, CDL had said the retail, office, hotel and residential project would cost some $2.5 billion in all (including the land cost of some $1.69 billion) and estimated the project would be completed by 2012.

Under the terms of an agreement signed with the government, from whom the consortium bought the site, the South Beach consortium has up to 2016 to complete the development.

CDL also revealed yesterday that in the group's stable of pre-sold projects under development that qualified for the deferred payment scheme (DPS), only about one-third of the units sold were under DPS and 'thus its exposure to potential defaults is well under control'. The group does not extend DPS to sub-sales.

In the recently completed The Sail @ Marina Bay Tower 2, all of the buyers who had opted for DPS have paid up for possession of their units. 'Furthermore, the majority of the group's launched properties are expected to receive Temporary Occupation Permit in 2010 and 2011,' CDL said.

The group also announced it is delaying launching new residential projects due to the subdued property market and global economic uncertainty. Nevertheless, it has proceeded with the construction for The Arte at Thomson and The Quayside Collection at Sentosa Cove, 'both of which were secured at relatively low land and construction costs'.

'The oversupply for the office and residential segments which was originally projected by the market is not as serious as anticipated. With the current tight credit crunch and economic slowdown, the majority of developers will naturally defer the development of their projects and delay launches,' CDL said.

CDL revealed it had secured an anchor tenant for 9 Tampines Grande, a BCA Green Mark Platinum commercial property slated for completion by 2009. BT understands the tenant is Hitachi Asia, which has leased about 85,000 sq ft or the entire South Tower in the project under a deal brokered by Jones Lang LaSalle. Hitachi is expected to move out of Hitachi Tower at Collyer Quay.

On its outlook, CDL said: 'With good management practices in place and prudence in expenditure, all core segments of business - property development, hotel operations and investment properties - should remain profitable over the next 12 months.'

For the first nine months of this year, CDL's group net profit dipped 1.8 per cent to $480.95 million, due partly to the absence of writeback of tax overprovisions booked in the same year-ago period.

As for Q3, the group's bottomline was dented by a $56 million or 38.2 per cent drop in profit before tax from property development. This was due to lower revenue recognition from the group's Singapore residential developments.

Profit contribution from investment properties quadrupled to $74.3 million in Q3 2008 from $17.8 million in Q3 2007, due to the gain recognised from the sale of Commerce Point, higher rental income, recovery of some property taxes from tenants and increased profit contribution from CDL Hospitality Trusts.

Profit from hotel operations slipped 11.3 per cent to $70.5 million in Q3 on the back of a weakening sterling and US dollar against the Singapore dollar. CDL's London listed hotel subsidiary Millennium & Copthorne Hotels has hotels in the UK, US and Asia-Pacific.

Third quarter earnings per share slipped to 16.6 cents from 18.6 cents in the same year-ago period. Net asset value per share stood at $5.93 as at Sept 30, 2008, up from $5.72 as at Dec 31 last year. Unlike most other Singapore-listed property groups which revalue their investment properties and state them at fair value, CDL states its investment properties at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment losses.

Group revenue fell 13.6 per cent to $688.2 million in Q3 2008. For the first nine months of this year, revenue dipped 4.8 per cent to $2.2 billion.

On the stock market yesterday, CDL closed 12 cents lower at $6.09.

The group said that its gearing remains relatively low at 46 per cent, based on cost and not including revaluation surpluses, with interest cover of 11.7 times.

S'pore May Be Among The First To Recover From Global Economic Slowdown

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 13 November 2008

Economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong have benefited from the global economic boom in the last five years. But their open and exposed economies mean they are also vulnerable to recessionary pressures as the world economy slows down.

Skyscrapers in Singapore's financial district

However, Morgan Stanley said it is not all doom and gloom for Singapore. Experts said the country would be among the first to bounce back once a global recovery takes place.

Stephen Roach, chairman, Morgan Stanley Asia, said: "If the global economy surprises on the upside, Singapore will be one of the first economies in the region to benefit from that. But I think it is hard to be too optimistic right now on global economy prospects over the next few years."

Morgan Stanley, too, is feeling the pinch of the global slowdown. It announced on Thursday that it would be retrenching 10 per cent of its staff in the institutional securities unit and 9 per cent in asset management.

The global financial services firm said less of these cuts are likely to come from Asia. In fact, Morgan Stanley remains bullish on the prospects of Asian growth once the crisis is over and this bodes well for markets like Singapore.

Roach said: "The main challenges are to consider the options that (the) Singaporean government must consider to counter very powerful external headwinds around the world.

"The good news is that Singapore is more integrated with the rest of Asia than it is with Europe, South America and North America. The Asian region itself is likely to fair better than the rest of the world in this global downturn."

Morgan Stanley downgraded its growth forecast for Asian countries earlier this week, but it expects a sharp recovery in Asia in the next few years on the back of solid economic fundamentals in the region. - CNA/so

US Faces Long, Moderate Recession: Stephen Roach

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

He says Asia will still emerge in better shape than the rest of the world

THE world economy will take years to return to the rapid growth it experienced before the current financial crisis struck, Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach said yesterday.

Mr Roach: The recovery in the global economy is going to have a big, wide bottom and then a very gradual up-slope in 2010 or 2011. 'The best I can see in the years beyond that is a return to 3.5-3.75% global growth'

But Asia should still manage to weather a long but moderate recession in the US relatively well, he added.

'The global economy is in terrible shape right now. This is the worst global crisis that I've seen in my 36-year career as a professional economist,' said Mr Roach, who was Morgan Stanley's chief economist until his appointment as head of the group's Asia operations in April last year.

'Asia is going to feel the impact, but Asia is actually going to come out of this better than the rest of the world, and I think the markets are overdoing the gloom with respect to Asia.'

He was speaking to reporters at Morgan Stanley's annual Asia-Pacific Summit in Singapore.

The US will most likely go through a lengthy but moderate recession as consumer spending contracts and people there gradually adjust to lifestyles fuelled by less borrowing, he said.

'My suspicion is that the US recession is going to be long, but it's not going to be deep - it'll be moderate, but not mild.'

In that case, Asia will still fare better than the rest of the world, managing about 5 per cent growth in each of the next two years, he said.

On Wednesday in the US, Morgan Stanley said it would fire 10 per cent of staff in its main institutional securities business - which includes investment banking - and 9 per cent of workers in asset management, Reuters reported.

Asked how the latest job cuts would affect the bank's operations in Asia, Mr Roach said only that the staff cuts in Asia 'will be a good deal less than our global work force reductions given our belief that this region is a huge source of growth for the world and for Morgan Stanley'.

The four-trillion-yuan (S$880 billion) package of fiscal measures announced by China last Sunday would likely support China's economic expansion at about 7 per cent, even as the contribution to growth from exports slow sharply, he said.

'If China can hold the line at 7 per cent, then the region can hold the line at say, 5 per cent, and Asia will come through this global tsunami in better shape than the rest of the world.'

But the prospects of a rapid rebound in economic activity worldwide to pre-crisis levels are dim, he said.

'I think the recovery in the global economy is going to have a big, wide bottom and then a very gradual up-slope in 2010 or 2011 - an anaemic recovery.'

Economic output worldwide, as measured by gross domestic product, grew at an average annual pace of nearly 5 per cent in the four-and-a-half years to mid-2007, when the current crisis started, he said.

'It's now slowed to about 2-2.5 per cent - this is a recession by any standards and it's an amazingly sharp and abrupt slowdown.'

Any recovery in global GDP will likely only emerge in 2010 and 2011 and 'the best I can see in the years beyond that is a return to 3.5-3.75 per cent global growth', he said.

'The 5 per cent, bull-like years of world GDP expansion - you're not going to see that for a long, long time, in large part because of the multi-year adjustment of the US consumer.'

New BTO In Punggol Priced Higher

Source : TODAY, Friday, November 14, 2008

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has launched Punggol Arcadia, a 750-unit project under its Build-To-Order (BTO) system, at the junction of Punggol Place and Punggol Field.

Prices for the 120 three-room units range from $181,000 to $211,000 each.

The 465 four-room units will cost anywhere from $268,000 to $327,000 each; while the 165 five-room units come with a $356,000 to $416,000 price tag.

By comparison, a four-room flat at the Punggol Breeze BTO project launched in June could be bought for $223,000.

The HDB said Punggol Arcadia, located next to the planned town centre, offers a better location. Some of its four-room units are also slightly bigger.

But could the higher prices at Arcadia deter buyers?

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail pointed out that the median price of the five-room flats were just a few thousand dollars below that of Punggol resale flats.

BTO flats, he argued, “should be priced about 20 per cent cheaper than resale flats in the same area.

Otherwise, buyers may as well go for a resale flat where they do not have to wait to move in and can enjoy grants of up to $70,000.”

Nonetheless, he thought the prices could be indicative of higher construction costs. He also said the three-room flats at Arcadia could see demand as there are no resale flats in that size available.

Applications for Punggol Arcadia should be submitted by Nov 26.

STB Considering Proposal For ‘Progressive Opening ’ Of Resort

Source : TODAY, Friday, November 14, 2008

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) “is considering” a proposal, submitted by Marina Bay Sands, for “a progressive opening from end-2009 onwards” of the integrated resort (picture).

“As discussions are still underway, we are not able to provide more details,” added the STB in a statement yesterday. It said it would work closely with Las Vegas Sands (LVS) to facilitate the completion of the integrated resort which was originally to have been finished by end-2009.

The STB also noted that Las Vegas Sands had managed to secure additional funds, and it would have the necessary funding to complete Marina Bay Sands.

“We welcome LVS’ affirmation that it will focus its development activities and available capital principally on the timely completion of two of its developments, one of which being the Marina Bay Sands. LVS expects to invest approximately $756million in additional equity in MBS,” said STB.

New HDB BTO Prices Defy Gloom

Source : The Business Times, November 14, 2008

Private home prices may be looking shaky, but the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has launched the 750-unit Punggol Arcadia with five-room flats going for as much as $356,000 to $416,000.

This represents an increase of between 7 and 8 per cent compared to the neighbouring Punggol Sapphire, which HDB launched six months ago.

Both Punggol Arcadia and Punggol Sapphire are being sold under HDB's Built-to-Order scheme (BTO) and both are about equal distance to the Punggol MRT/LRT station.

In February this year, HDB also launched Punggol Spring, which is twice the distance away from the MRT/LRT station. Launch prices of Punggol Spring were about 20 per cent lower in comparison to Punggol Arcadia.

The prices of new HDB flats do take into account resale HDB prices. But it is not known exactly how this is factored into new flat prices.

In Q3 2008, HDB's resale price index rose 4.2 per cent, and 12.4 per cent in the first nine months of 2008.

While the location of Punggol Arcadia is 'attractive', ERA (Asia Pacific) associate director Eugene Lim notes that the pricing is also close to HDB resale prices nearby.

'In terms of prices, the current resale prices for four-room flats at Punggol Field blocks 201 and 202, which is diagonally across Punggol Arcadia and a slightly longer walk to the proposed town centre and MRT station, are $300,000 to $330,000. Five-room resale flats in the same locality are selling for $360,000 to $420,000,' revealed Mr Lim.

Four-room flats at Punggol Arcadia are priced at between $269,000 and $327,000.

Still, Mr Lim expects take-up to be good.

Not as optimistic is PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail who believes that BTO flats are generally supposed to be the cheapest subsidised HDB flats.

'In fact, such flats should be priced about 20 per cent cheaper than resale flats in the same area. Otherwise, buyers may as well go for a resale flat where they do not have to wait to move in and can enjoy grants of up to $70,000,' adds Mr Ismail.

Mr Ismail concedes that the prices for Punggol Arcadia may reflect rising construction costs. Nevertheless, he feels that demand for Punggol Arcadia will be affected.

According the HDB data, only 262 applications were received for the 750-units available on the first day of applications yesterday.

Describing HDB pricing as 'reactive', Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han asked: 'How do you price flats now?' Mr Han said that if one considered the rising HDB resale price index and the average cash-over-valuation of resale flats, 'HDB's adjusted prices could even be considered at the lower end'. According to HDB data, he median cash-over-valuation amount of all resale transactions in Q3 2008 was $19,000.

Mr Han also did not rule out that demand for HDB flats could be sustained by downgraders from the private residential market.

Still, given that HDB resale prices will eventually feel the impact of the global financial crisis, Mr Han believes HDB prices for new flats will be adjusted down accordingly.

HDB Launches 750-Unit Punggol Arcadia Under BTO System

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 13 November 2008

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has launched Punggol Arcadia, a 750-unit project under its Build-To-Order (BTO) system. The project is at the junction of Punggol Place and Punggol Field.

Buyers can choose from 3-room, 4-room and 5-room units. The price of these flats range from S$181,000 for a 3-room unit to S$416,000 for a 5-room unit.

4-room units cost between S$268,000 and S$327,000. This is higher than the S$223,000 for a 4-room unit to S$382,000 for a 5-room unit for the 964-unit Punggol Breeze BTO project launched in June this year.

HDB said Punggol Arcadia, located next to the planned Punggol town centre, offers a better location. Some of its 4-room units are also slightly bigger than those of Punggol Breeze.

The project is also close to amenities such as the Punggol MRT station, bus interchange and schools.

Those who wish to apply for a unit should make their submissions by November 26 via the Internet at HDB's InfoWEB. Computer terminals with access to the site can be found at all HDB offices.

For more information, visit HDB's InfoWEB at - CNA/vm

F&N Shelves 2 Projects

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2008

IN LIGHT of weak market sentiments, property and beverage group Frasers and Neave have decided to shelve the launch of two private projects - Lakeside Drive and Sirat Road.

The homes were originally planned for a December launch, but now will be delayed, said the company at its full-year results briefing on Friday.

Profit from local properties grew 19 per cent largely from earlier sales this year for projects such as One Jervois, One St. Michael's and Soleil@Sinaran.

During the year, the group sold 313 units of the 986 launched units.

As a group, F&N posted net profit of $436 million, up 15 per cent from last year. Profit after tax hit a record for $568 million.

World Recession Deepens

Source : The Straits Times, Nov 14, 2008

Credit crisis worsens ahead of Washington G20 summit

PARIS - THE blast of recession hit Europe on Friday as leaders from more than 20 rich and emerging countries headed for a crisis summit in Washington.

The blast of recession hit Europe on Friday as leaders from more than 20 rich and emerging countries headed for a crisis summit in Washington. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The EU announced that the 15 countries in the eurozone was in recession for the first time ever, with a 0.2 per cent contraction in the second and third quarters.

Italy reported it was in recession, Spain reported its first quarterly contraction in six months and the Netherlands said it had gone through six months of zero growth. France narrowly avoided joining Germany and Britain in recession.

With even Asian trading tiger Hong Kong reporting a shrinking economy and European car-makers reporting a 14.5-per cent sales slump in Oct, pressure grew on world leaders ahead of their summit to discuss how to stop the financial crisis becoming a prolonged recession.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, European Commission head Manuel Barroso met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Nice, France, to work on proposals for the summit.

Japan said it would lend up to US$100 billion (S$151.75 billion) to the International Monetary Fund to help it shore up emerging countries.

Japan will also press for IMF reforms including giving greater influence to China, and said it would support the dollar as the main global currency despite the weight of US debt.

Global stocks rallied despite the new bad news. After a 6.67-per cent leap on Wall Street overnight, shares in London opened with surge of 3.9 per cent and the Tokyo market closed with a gain of 2.72 per cent.

But there was increased pressure on the world leaders arriving for the Washington summit, which starts with a dinner Friday night to start discussions on drawing up new rules for the global economy.

Tensions also appeared with the European Commission warning that it could take action at the World Trade Organisation if a rescue package for US auto majors appeared illegal.

The outgoing US president George W. Bush declared that 'the crisis was not a failure of the free market system' and that 'our aim should not be more government. It should be smarter government.'

Mr Bush argued that it would be 'a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success' in response to calls from many quarters, including France, for extended rules and regulations for economies and boardrooms.

'Many European countries had much more extensive regulations and still experienced problems almost identical to our own,' Mr Bush said. 'We must recognise that government intervention is not a cure-all.'

Mr Sarkozy, currently president of the European Union, said on Thursday, 'I leave for Washington tomorrow to explain that the dollar, which at the end of World War II was the only world currency, can no longer claim to be the sole world currency.'

'The world changes. We are in the 21st century and the French view is that we cannot continue into the 21st century with a system (established) in the 20th century,' he said.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Thursday that its 30 rich member economies were in protracted recession, and said the US economy would contract by 2.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.

In this rapidly worsening climate, French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said it was 'astonishing' that France had escaped recession in the third quarter, as shown by official data putting growth at 0.1 per cent after contraction of 0.3 per cent in the second quarter.

The oil price in Singapore fell by 40 cents to US$57.24 in a market marked by the possibility of an emergency OPEC meeting on Nov 29 to discuss a further output cut, but also by an IEA report that demand is falling rapidly. -- AFP

Eurozone sinks into recession: official data
BRUSSELS - THE economy of the 15 nations sharing the euro has slumped into recession for the first time ever, EU data released on Friday revealed, with GDP falling 0.2 per cent in the second and third quarters.

The 27-nation EU as a whole avoided the same fate only by recording zero, rather than negative, growth in the second quarter.

On a 12-month comparison, the eurozone economy grew 0.7 per cent in the third quarter, down sharply from 1.7 per cent in the previous quarter, the official Eurostat agency said. -- AFP

Italy in recession
MILAN - ITALY fell into recession in the third quarter, with the economy contracting 0.5 per cent from the second quarter when it shrank 0.3 per cent, official figures showed on Friday.

The preliminary estimate by the national statistical agency ISTAT was much steeper than expected for the eurozone's third largest economy.

A Dow Jones Newswires consensus had forecast a 0.2 per cent contraction for the period.

The recession is the first in Italy in four years.

Third-quarter performance was down 0.9 per cent compared with the third quarter of 2007, against a forecast of 0.3 per cent.

ISTAT is to confirm the figures on December 10.

The government in September - before the full extent of the world financial crisis became apparent - officially forecast growth of 0.1 per cent this year and 0.5 per cent in 2009.

The International Monetary Fund was much more pessimistic, predicting that GDP would shrink 0.2 per cent in 2008 and 0.6 per cent next year.

The European Union, for its part, has forecast zero growth for both years.

Recession fears deepened on Monday with figures showing industrial output slumped 2.1 per cent in September from August, the biggest single-month drop since December 1998.

It was 5.7 per cent less than a year earlier and down 2.3 per cent for the first nine months of 2008, ISTAT said. -- AFP

France avoids recession
PARIS - FRANCE narrowly avoided slipping into recession in the third quarter of 2008 with growth of 0.14 per cent compared to the second quarter, Economy and Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said on Friday.

'The figure is astonishing because everyone was expecting a negative figure and preparing for a recession, which is technically two consecutive quarters of negative growth,' Ms Lagarde said.

The French statistics institute INSEE, due to release official figures later Friday, earlier estimated that the economy would contract 0.1 per cent in the three months to Sept after shrinking 0.3 per cent in the second quarter.

'France, unlike Germany on minus 0.5 (per cent) or Britain on minus 0.5 (per cent) has a positive 0.14 per cent,' Lagarde said.

'This is good news and shows that France is not technically in recession,' she said, adding that 'government policies are beginning to have an impact.'

Household consumption and business investment 'are the two drivers which in the third quarter pushed France past Germany and Britain,' the minister said.

Household consumption held up better than in the second quarter, she said, while business investment grew 0.3 per cent after a fall of 1.0 per cent in the three months to June.

External trade, the other major component of the economy, was neutral.

The French government expects overall growth of 1.0 percent this year but recently cut its 2009 forecast to a range of 0.2-0.5 per cent.

The European Commission puts French growth at 0.9 per cent this year and zero in 2009 while the International Monetary Fund expects a recession next year with a contraction of 0.5 per cent. -- AFP

IMF sees significant Philippines growth slowdown in 2009
MANILA - PHILIPPINE economic growth is expected to drop further to about 3.5 per cent next year from a significantly lower 4.4 per cent expansion forecast for this year amid the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.

Lower state revenues from a slowing economy would jack up the national government?s budget deficit this year to about 0.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), and to 1.7 per cent of GDP next year or about 150 billion pesos (S$4.7 billion), it said.

An IMF mission held talks with President Gloria Arroyo's economic managers here to review the government's plans to navigate through the crisis, mission chief Lee Il Houng told a news conference.

Lee expressed concern that 'domestic taxes have performed weakly through the year' and have remained at around 14 per cent of GDP despite revenue gains from high oil prices.

He warned that tax revenues could fall close to levels seen before the government raised a value-added tax by two percentage points to 12 per cent in 2005 - owing to increased income tax exemptions and a planned corporate income tax cut.

'This could re-kindle investor concerns, especially in the context of expected tight external financing conditions for emerging markets next year,' he added.

The mission backed a bigger budget deficit next year 'to soften the reduction in growth while containing any adverse market reaction' but said Manila needed to reform excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products, trim fiscal incentives given to investors and step up tax administration reform.

It said with inflation expected to average 9.8 per cent this year and six per cent next year amid an economic slowdown, 'monetary policy could be eased in the period ahead'.

The IMF mission urged Manila to keep its foreign exchange reserves 'at a sufficiently high level' to sustain confidence in the peso.

Mr Dennis Arroyo, a senior official of the economic planning ministry and no relation to the president, told reporters the IMF's economic growth as well as budget deficit projections were broadly in line with the government's own figures.

The lower end of the government's GDP growth targets has been pared to 4.2 per cent this year and 3.7 per cent for 2009, the Filipino official said.

He gave the government's expected budget deficit next year at about 165 billion pesos, up from about 75 billion pesos this year. -- AFP

房地产商清存货大派甜头 有些直接降价高达20%

Source :《联合早报》November 14, 2008



有200个单位的Rosewood Suites是一个设施完善的共管公寓,除了游泳池、网球场、篮球场和迷你高尔夫球场,还设有儿童游乐场、水力按摩池和健身室。

位于兀兰地铁站附近的Rosewood Suites也在昨天宣布以每平方英尺580元推出。市场人士认为,这已比一年多前的行情便宜了大约10%,如果是去年中推出,发展商很可能把推出价格瞄准在每平方英尺650元。



例如新加坡报业控股的员工近日都收到电邮,只要购买远东机构旗下几个推出已有一段时间的项目,包括Astor、东景园(East Meadows)、海涛苑(Water Place)、德明景(Dunman View)、西湖园(Lakeshore)、岭景峰(Hillview Regency)、Hillvista、Rafflesia、碧山8、Vida和东陵景(Tanglin View),就能享受额外3%的特别折扣,以及不超过1万8000元的礼卷。







拥有200个单位的99年地契共管公寓Rosewood Suites,则是益民林发展(EL Development)旗下的项目,该公司董事经理林有顺昨天告诉本报,30个单位已经在上周末的预售活动中成功找到买家。


他认为,Rosewood Suites的一大卖点是目前市面上很少售价低于每平方英尺600元以下的新项目。目前,兀兰一带的共管公寓,例如Casablanca和Rosewood都是屋龄在五年以上的房子,至于La Casa则是执行共管公寓,刚刚取得临时入伙证,还不能在公开市场上转手。这些项目的每平方英尺售价介于500元至580元。

榜鹅新预购组屋 售价不比转售低

Source :《联合早报》November 14, 2008


这个名为“Punggol Arcadia”的组屋项目位于榜鹅域(Punggol Field)和榜鹅坊(Punggol Place)的交界处,临近榜鹅地铁站,埃奇菲小学和培道中学也近在咫尺。









价格太高或太低 都会引起不满




虽然Punggol Arcadia的售价比上个预购组屋项目来得高,不过仍获得良好反应。截至昨天下午5时,750个单位已获得262份申请。