Asean an important ‘life raft’ in uncertain climate: PM Lee
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is an important “life raft” for all the ten member states in the current uncertain global environment, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday. The spirit of regional cooperation has become more important than ever, as a result of recent global events such as Britain’s decision to exit the European Union and the election of Donald Trump, a non-establishment candidate, as the next US president. “In many countries, the mood is to go it alone, unilaterally push for their own interests, and doubt the value of mutual give-and-take in a rules-based international order,” said Mr Lee at a gala dinner at the Shangri-la Hotel to open the three-day Asean Tourism Forum (ATF).
UK envoy: Post-Brexit UK will push for better trade pacts with S’pore
Once out of the European Union, the United Kingdom will be free to pursue better trade pacts with other countries that it previously could not. British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman on Wednesday likened Britain after the exit to a hungry, daring country, ready to explore deeper collaborations with Singapore in areas in which it had previously held back. Speaking to the local media, he said: “Because we won’t be a member of the European single market, we will be free to consider in areas where we have not be able to strive for greater ambition.” These comments on UK-Singapore trade relations came just a day after British Prime Minister Theresa May laid out plans for Brexit negotiations, promising that Britain will emerge “more global and internationalist in action and in spirit”.
Singapore SMEs beat global average in export value per firm
It looks like Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been busy selling their wares overseas – running up the highest average annual exporting revenue per company of US$2.21 million. The global average: US$1.5 million. A study commissioned by FedEx Express, titled “Global Trade in the Digital Economy: Opportunities for Small Businesses”, found that exporting revenues made up 87 per cent of these companies’ overall revenue. The findings came from 9,000 interviews done in 17 markets; 512 of those interviews were done in Singapore. Non-exporting SMEs were excluded from the survey.
Small businesses here looking to hire despite economic challenges
Small businesses in the Asia-Pacific region say they are going to grow their businesses and hire more staff this year, despite the current challenging economic times. This was the key finding of a new study of eight Asia-Pacific countries conducted by global professional accounting body, CPA Australia. The Singapore segment of the findings was shared with The Business Times ahead of its official release. Singapore was the seventh most optimistic country of the eight markets surveyed, with over half (51 per cent) of the respondents here saying that they expect their businesses to grow in the next 12 months. Singapore ranked above only Australia, and well below Indonesia and Vietnam.
Singapore Real Estate
Hong Kong’s home curbs may help end Singapore’s three-year slump
Singapore’s three-year housing slump could see relief from an unexpected quarter in 2017: Hong Kong. So says Cushman & Wakefield Inc, which expects the slide in the city-state’s home prices to end this year as foreign investors turned off by Hong Kong’s move to increase the stamp duty for overseas buyers look to Singapore instead. Desmond Sim, head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia at CBRE Ltd, said Singapore house prices are approaching their trough, with a forecast price move of flat to minus 2 per cent.
East Coast may offer 6,000 new HDB flats
Home hunters could soon get a shot at new Housing Board flats with coveted sea views along Singapore’s East Coast. The Government is looking into creating a new Bayshore district, which includes 6,000 HDB flats – a huge change for the overwhelmingly private estate area located on reclaimed land. Another 6,500 units will be set aside as private homes. If they materialise, these Bayshore flats would be the first HDB homes built along the East Coast since the old-generation Marine Parade flats constructed in the 1970s, some of which have fetched more than $900,000 on the resale market in recent months. The potential development is detailed in tender documents put up by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and which were reported by Lianhe Zaobao yesterday, calling for consultancy firms to develop a master plan for the plot. The Bayshore district spanning 60 ha is surrounded by Bayshore Road, the East Coast Parkway, Bedok Camp and Upper East Coast Road.
The Nassim deal a win-win: Analysts
While developer CapitaLand had to give veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw an attractive discount when he bought 45 of its plush condominium units, analysts say it was a win-win deal for both parties. On Monday, it was announced that Mr Wee, chairman emeritus of United Overseas Bank, had bought the remaining unsold units at The Nassim luxury condo for $411.6 million. While he reaped a bulk sale discount of about 18 per cent, CapitaLand avoided having to pay Qualifying Certificate (QC) penalties that would have hit $9.3 million if the 45 units had been left unsold by August. A QC deems that developers that buy private residential land must sell all units within two years of obtaining a temporary occupation permit.
Global contest to design Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 kicks off
A global contest to decide who will design Changi Airport’s future Terminal 5 has kicked off, with a list of shortlisted firms expected soon. The development is a significant milestone for the T5 project – Changi’s biggest expansion to date – which has so far focused mainly on land preparation and other ground works. The front runners for one of the most coveted architectural jobs in the industry are believed to include local firm DP Architects, which was part of the design team for the Esplanade and Singapore Flyer, and has tied up with British firm Grimshaw Architects for the T5 project.
4 new mega childcare centres to open by mid-2018, bringing total to 9
Four more mega childcare centres run by anchor operators will open by mid-2018, bringing the total number of such centres to nine. Construction of the four centres will start this year. Two of the upcoming ones will be in Punggol and have 1,000 childcare places each – believed to be the largest ever for a childcare centre here. The others will be in Sengkang (400 places) and Bukit Panjang (300 places). A centre in a Housing Board void deck usually admitsabout 100 children.
AA Reit studying potential investment targets: CEO
With industrial properties increasingly up for sale in the market, AIMS AMP Capital Industrial Reit (AA Reit) is currently evaluating one single property and one portfolio of properties in Singapore. The Reit manager CEO Koh Wee Lih declined to offer further information on this, except to say that it has not committed to a purchase yet. “We’re always looking to the market for yield-accretive investment opportunities that are aligned to our strategy and portfolio,” he told BT.
Straits Trading buys Japan property for 925m yen
Property firm Straits Trading Company on Wednesday said it plans to buy for 925 million yen (S$11.6 million) the rights to a rental residential property in Osaka, Japan. The property, Splendid Namba II, is a 14-storey freehold rental residential property located in Naniwa-ku, Osaka, Japan. Completed in March 2015, the property has a net lettable area of about 2,992.8 square metres, comprising 120 apartment units. As as end-December 2016, the property has an occupancy rate of 95 per cent.
Park Hotel Group to launch new mid-scale brand
Hotel owner and operator Park Hotel Group will open its sixth hotel in Singapore under new brand Destination in the second quarter of this year. This comes as it was awarded a hotel management contract from FG Property No 1, a related company of Master Contract Services. The fifteen-storey 300-room Destination Singapore Beach Road, which is located next to Golden Mile Complex, was previously meant to be operated by UK-based Whitbread group under the Premier Inn brand.
CCT flags rental pressure amid stiff rivalry
CapitaLand Commercial Trust (CCT) is seeing more negative rental reversions amid a short-term oversupply of new offices and keen competition among office landlords. But CapitaGreen, which became wholly owned at end-August last year, is expected to support stable distributions at least in 2017, its trustee-manager CEO Lynette Leong told a briefing on Wednesday. The Reit reported an estimated distribution per unit (DPU) of 2.39 Singapore cents for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, bringing the estimated payout for the second-half year to 4.69 cents.
e-Shang acquires 80% indirect interest in Cambridge Industrial Trust manager
Cambridge Industrial Trust Management Limited, manager of Cambridge Industrial Trust (CIT), announced in a Singapore Exchange filing that nabInvest Capital Partners Pty Limited and CREIM Limited have agreed to sell their aggregate 80 per cent indirect interest in the manager to e-Shang Infinity Cayman Limited, a subsidiary of e-Shang Redwood Limited (ESR). The transaction also includes e-Shang Infinity acquiring a 100 per cent indirect interest in Cambridge Industrial Property Management, the property manager of CIT.
CDL invests 72m yuan in China co-working space operator Distrii
City Developments Limited (CDL) announced on Thursday that it has signed an agreement to invest 72 million yuan (S$14.8 million) for a 24 per cent stake in Distrii, an operator of co-working spaces in China. This will be Distrii’s first international foray outside China. It will lease more than 60,000 square feet of space at CDL-owned Republic Plaza Tower 1 in Singapore’s Central Business District. Expected to be one of the largest co-working spaces in Singapore, it will integrate food and beverage, entertainment, recreational and office facilities. It is expected to open in the first half of 2018 as the space is still currently leased out.
IHC appeals to investors to ‘vote for continuity’
Medical property developer International Healthway Corp (IHC), which is facing a shareholder revolt as well as unwanted scrutiny from an activist investor, has appealed to investors to “vote for continuity” and give it more time to shore up its performance. The move comes ahead of an extraordinary general meeting next Monday where shareholders will vote on whether or not to replace IHC’s entire board of directors. In a statement to the Singapore Exchange yesterday evening, IHC refuted a claim by the requisitioning shareholders that the company’s performance is “worrying”.
Surbana CEO defends axing ‘poor performers’
Surbana Jurong group chief executive Wong Heang Fine told staff in a strongly-worded e-mail that the group cannot allow a small proportion of poor performers to be a drag on the rest of the organisation. That was why the infrastructure consultancy terminated the employment of a group of workers in Singapore over the past two weeks, he noted. “How can we be the best in class and build a great organisation when employees are not concerned with how they are performing relative to their peers?” wrote Mr Wong in the e-mail seen by The Straits Times yesterday.
Views, Reviews & Forum
HDB, town councils and who best to run estates
When a lift malfunctions or a slab of plaster falls off the side of a Housing Board block, the relevant town council – not the HDB – must pick up the pieces. Town councils are officially responsible for maintaining the common spaces of HDB estates. But a valid question that has been raised in both coffee shops and Parliament is whether the HDB might bear some responsibility for such incidents as well.
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