The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 9, 10 & 11 Jan 2021 (Sat, Sun & Mon)

Singapore Real Estate

Performance of STI, private home resale market took different paths during pandemic
Prices of private homes in the resale market proved more resilient than the Straits Times Index (STI) in 2020 as home prices rebounded to end-2019 levels in the months following the circuit breaker. According to data from the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS), the prices of completed homes…

4 property trends to watch in 2021
Singapore’s property market witnessed a roller-coaster ride over the past year. Home sales plunged to historical lows during the April and May circuit breaker period. But at the end of the movement restrictions, property buying activities rebounded strongly across many market segments.


Singapore Economy

Singapore unemployment eases to 3.3% in November
Singapore’s unemployment rates eased in November, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, in what economists see as a promising sign of labour market stabilisation. The overall unemployment rate fell to 3.3 per cent, down from the 3.6 per cent high of the preceding two months and the lowest rate since July, according to Manpower Ministry figures on Friday.

Wholesale traders top beneficiaries of ESG loan schemes in 2020; sector set to pick up in new year
Cash-strapped businesses got S$17.4 billion in loans last year from key schemes supported by government agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG), as the Covid-19 downturn hit. More than 20,000 companies tapped these funds between March and December 2020, outstripping the S$1.3 billion infusion in 2019, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing told reporters on Friday.


Companies’ Brief

Chip Eng Seng warns of FY2020 loss on Covid-19 impact
Property developer Chip Eng Seng is expecting to report a FY2020 net loss in mid-February 2021 as opposed to its FY2019 net profit of S$32.6 million, due to the adverse impact of Covid-19 on its businesses. The full year net loss incurred will be wider than the S$25.7 million net loss it reported for H1 2020, said the group in its profit warning issued on Monday.

Keppel-linked Floatel reaches agreement with lenders for full discharge of some assets
Keppel Corporation said that offshore vessel player Floatel has reached an agreement with lenders of its revolving credit facilities and bank vessel facility, which will deliver a full discharge of security over the assets owned by some of the Floatel group entities. The agreement is conditional upon securing and satisfying all conditions precedent to a new revolving credit facility, which will be drawn in part to fund a settlement payment of US$46 million to the lenders.

Lendlease Global Commercial Reit sets up S$1b debt issuance programme
The manager of Lendlease Global Commercial Reit (LReit) on Friday evening announced a new S$1 billion multicurrency debt issuance programme. The issuer for the programme is RBC Investor Services Trust Singapore, in its capacity as trustee of LReit. Under the programme, the issuer may issue unsubordinated, unsecured notes, as well as unsecured perps.

OCBC first Singapore bank to get woman CEO; Helen Wong to take over from Samuel Tsien
Singapore’s second-largest bank has picked a seasoned hand in Greater China to lead the charge for the lender’s next phase of growth, and with that, its first female CEO. OCBC on Friday said Helen Wong, former chief executive of HSBC in Greater China, will be its new group chief executive officer from April 15. The 59-year-old will also be the first woman to head a Singapore bank.

Top Glove’s independent directors suffer ire of institutional investors
The stinging rebuke suffered by the board of Top Glove from BlackRock this past week is a warning to directors of all public-listed companies that passive institutional investors with relatively small stakes have the means and motive to hold them personally responsible for problems that come to light under their watch. BlackRock said last week that it had voted against the re-election of six independent, non-executive directors at Top Glove’s annual general meeting (AGM) held on Jan 6. They were Lim Han Boon, Rainer Althoff, Noripah Kamso, Norma Mansor, Sharmila Sekarajasekaran and Lim Andy.

Green shoots into 2021
S-Reits started 2021 in the green with the iEdge S-Reit Index gaining 2.0 per cent in price change over the first five trading sessions of the year, after exiting 2020 with total returns of -2.2 per cent. In 2020, S-Reits outperformed the Straits Times Index’s -8.1 per cent total returns and major global Reit markets which recorded an average of -7.5 per cent total returns.

Unitholders question family ties to First Reit
During a virtual dialogue session between the Securities Investors Association (Singapore), or Sias, and First Reit on Thursday, unitholders raised concerns that “there are some lines being drawn among the family members”, such that First Reit did not know that Lippo Karawaci (LK) was planning to negotiate the rents down.


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

A civic duty to help stem the spread
Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)

Yes, not only will I encourage my staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19, I will also urge my Redas members to do so. Vaccines have largely proven to be successful throughout human history. Given the very stringent process in developing and testing, along with trials to ensure safety and effectiveness before approval for use, and also our HSA’s rigorous review process, we ought to be confident that any approved vaccines have met the requisite criteria. Getting vaccinated will provide valuable peace of mind to management, employees and the people around them, as well as contributing to Singapore’s efforts to reach a critical mass in the population achieving herd immunity.

A selection of sustainable funds
Recent months have seen a flurry of fund launches with a sustainability cast, particularly in credit but also in equity and multi-asset funds. Investing sustainably does not necessarily mean investing in a specific theme fund. Firms may integrate ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors into a funds’ investment process, which means investors benefit with the ESG lens in the portfolio’s risk management.

Sea change in commitment to sustainability among funds
In the space of two to three years, a sea change in commitment to sustainability and stewardship has engulfed the asset management industry – and that is a good thing. As recently as 2018, a column by this author found a divide in the stance towards sustainability and ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing between larger firms with a global presence and smaller firms.

Go ‘glocal’ to grow in Asean
It seems unlikely that putting pork floss on top of a simple white-bread bun could help power a company’s expansion to 17 international markets. But that is what has happened at BreadTalk, the high-growth food and beverage group that sprouted from a single outlet in Singapore’s Bugis Junction selling its signature Flosss buns. It has since grown to span 11 food brands, employ close to 7,000 people and open almost 1,000 outlets in Asean and around the world.

Who’s on the hook if vaccines go wrong?
Whether it is a loss of income, hefty medical bills or other serious adverse effects from getting a shot, someone has to pick up the tab, be it vaccine manufacturers or governments. In the past, so-called liability shields have given companies cover to produce effective treatments quickly without legal exposure. But it is a risky endeavour for countries to absorb full responsibility for highly novel products, developed and licensed at lightning speed. Especially when every man, woman and, eventually, child will need to be injected.

The future of AGMs: physical or virtual?
The year 2020 was a watershed year – one in which work, meetings and business in general went digital. The Covid-19 pandemic even forced annual general meetings (AGMs) online. The Asian Corporate Governance Association concluded in a recent study that the number of virtual meetings increased significantly in Asia, including in Singapore, Malaysia, India and Australia.

Why we are terrible at New Year’s resolutions and forecasting
As a new year begins, we make a new set of resolutions. Alcohol and cigarette sales drop and new gym memberships spike 30 to 50 per cent, as people put those New Year’s resolutions to work. There is also another common feature. We see a deluge of forecasts and predictions pouring out of the financial media and the mouths of the “experts”.

More merchants join tourism voucher scheme
Singaporeans who have not redeemed their SingapoRediscovers vouchers (SRV) have more options now as the list of eligible merchants is expanding. The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is also actively reviewing whether hostels with private facilities – such as private en-suite rooms – can be made safe for leisure stays and eligible for the SRV scheme.

Golf on upswing during pandemic, driving up club membership prices
When travel became impossible and all but essential economic activity was put on hold, golfers – and businessmen with time on their hands – turned their attention to playing at home, driving up the price of golf club memberships. The cost went up by as much as $60,000 between March last year and this month, said brokers, with the heftiest hikes for the Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) and Sentosa Golf Club memberships.


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

PM Lee receives Covid-19 vaccine as nationwide vaccination drive starts
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took the Covid-19 vaccination on Friday morning, at the start of a nationwide drive to vaccinate staff across various public healthcare institutions. Also vaccinated were the Health Ministry’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak, along with 88 healthcare workers from the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). “It’s painless, it’s effective, and it’s important,” Mr Lee, who will turn 69 in February, said. “I hope that Singaporeans will take it up as we roll it out.” Speaking to reporters after the 30-minute observation period was up, he said: “We have got ample vaccines coming in.

Rise in imported cases in Singapore to be expected, say experts
The rise in imported Covid-19 cases here is to be expected, experts said, adding that it is an indication of Singapore’s lifting of border restrictions and the success of measures to screen out infections amid a rise in cases globally. From Dec 15 to yesterday, Singapore identified 562 imported cases from 31 different countries. The number of daily cases was in the double digits, compared with the period between October and November when fewer than 10 imported cases were recorded daily. Singapore had unilaterally lifted border restrictions since September, gradually allowing into the country visitors from Brunei, China, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia and Taiwan.

42 imported cases here – highest since last March
Singapore reported a nine-month high of 42 imported cases yesterday, more than half of whom were work permit holders who arrived from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Five of these 24 work permit holders were foreign domestic workers, and 40 of the imported cases were asymptomatic.

Singaporean working at Crowne Plaza tests positive for UK strain
A Singaporean man who works at Crowne Plaza Changi Air-port’s Azur restaurant was among the two community cases linked to previous cases announced yesterday. There were also 21 imported cases confirmed by the Ministry of Health (MOH), taking Singapore’s total to 58,836. The 20-year-old Singaporean is the third confirmed case at Azur.

Malls may face entry restrictions if they slip up on crowd management
As clampdowns on businesses and individuals breaching safe distancing measures continue, shopping malls are no exception to scrutiny. Entry restrictions may be imposed on malls that face crowd management issues even as more visitors are allowed in under phase three of Singapore’s reopening, the authorities said.

Covid-19 vaccination may mean shorter quarantine if data shows it cuts risks
Travellers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 may avoid having to serve lengthy stay-home notices (SHNs) when they return to Singapore in the future, Education Minister Lawrence Wong has suggested. Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry coronavirus task force, said the government would consider drastically reducing or even doing away with the two-week quarantine requirement if data shows that vaccination significantly reduces transmission risks.

S’pore PRs from Malaysia can apply to return for leave under expanded scheme
Malaysians who are Singapore permanent residents working here will be able to return home for short-term leave before coming back to Singapore for work. From Monday, they can apply for the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme, which will let them return to Malaysia for a short time after working in Singapore for at least 90 days.

Vaccine can be quickly adapted to counter new strain: BioNTech
The Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech – and currently used in Singapore – can be quickly modified if the virus mutates to the extent that the vaccine is no longer effective against it, said BioNTech’s chief strategy officer and managing director Ryan Richardson. At present, however, a preliminary study has showed that the shot appears to be effective against the more infectious coronavirus strains that surfaced in Britain and South Africa.

The vaccine & you
Covid-19 vaccinations in Singapore: What to expect

How do vaccines work?

What vaccine trials tell about the effects

How safe are the coronavirus vaccines?

Understanding Singapore’s vaccination strategy
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Health (MOH) website at and refer to for updates on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) situation


Global Economy & Global Real Estate

US mortgage rates hit record low

US loses 140,000 jobs in December as economy sputters

UK commercial real estate looking to cut debt

UK house prices climb to record high as tax cut stokes market

London luxury home buyers now need a place to park their jets

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After record surge, bitcoin poised for wild weekends

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China’s Dec PPI -0.4% y-o-y, CPI +0.2% y-o-y

China ‘censoring local media coverage’ of Alibaba investigation

South Korea’s Jan 1-10 exports drop 15.4% y-o-y

Vietnam to exceed 6% growth target for 2021, say analysts

Top Glove defends its board following BlackRock’s criticism

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