Singapore Real Estate
Proptech firm Showsuite partners Rajah & Tann, expands into legal tech
Singapore-based property technology company Showsuite has signed a contract with law firm Rajah & Tann and is expanding into legal technological solutions, the company said in a statement. The agreement with Rajah & Tann will see Showsuite’s digital platform “streamline and automate back-end work processes and digitise legal documentations associated with the sales of new homes when acting for property developer clients”, the company said.
GIC and ESR Cayman to acquire Australia property portfolio for A$3.8 billion
Entities of GIC and Hong Kong-listed ESR Cayman have entered into an agreement on Saturday with funds managed by Blackstone to acquire a property portfolio in Australia for A$3.8 billion (S$4.1 billion). In an exchange filing on Sunday, ESR Cayman said the property portfolio is the “largest logistics portfolio ever put to market in Australia”. Subject to merger clearance approval in South Korea and China, Bidco – an entity 20 per cent owned by ESR Cayman and 80 per cent owned by GIC (Realty) – will enter into unit sale agreements with the Blackstone funds for the acquisition of the property portfolio.
Thomson Road building next to North-South Corridor tunnel to be demolished
A four-storey building along Thomson Road, located just metres away from an upcoming tunnel for the North-South Corridor (NSC), will be acquired by the authorities and demolished after concerns over the strength of the building’s concrete emerged earlier this year. In a joint statement on Friday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said that 68-74 Thomson Road, a 57-year-old freehold building with 12 residential units and four commercial units, has to be acquired and demolished before excavation works on the NSC tunnel can begin as a result of the safety concerns.
Study to give new lease of life to modernist buildings
Built during Singapore’s postindependence years in the 1970s and 1980s, they are an important and often striking feature of the cityscape. Yet time has taken its toll on many large modernist buildings, which are in need of major retrofitting and upgrading. Now, these simply designed structures will be the subject of a study called by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to guide its policies on how to maintain and rehabilitate them.
Analysts upgrade Singapore export, growth forecasts on robust March trade data
Just one quarter in, economy watchers are upgrading an-already bullish export outlook for Singapore, as non-oil domestic exports (NODX) blew past expectations in March. The trade sector’s latest showing is also tipped to lift Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) recovery. NODX growth should stay robust in the months ahead, said Nomura economists Euben Paracuelles and Charnon Boonnuch, who think that Singapore will beat the rest of Asean to reach pre-pandemic levels this quarter: “Nomura’s leading index of Asia exports also points to NODX growth increasing further in Q2.”
WEF’s Singapore event likely to be held in dedicated event zone including MBS, other central hotels: sources
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) marquee event in Singapore this August will likely be held in a dedicated event zone in the city’s central area that could include the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort and two other nearby hotels, according to people familiar with the plans. The plan for a special zone is among several steps that organisers are considering to ensure the forum – traditionally held in the Swiss resort town of Davos at the start of the year – can be held safely in Singapore, which is one of the few countries in the world to have contained the coronavirus.
4 key challenges ahead for Singapore’s next 4G leader
Singapore – A younger leader with a long enough runway to tackle the huge challenges of a post-pandemic world is what Singapore needs, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat when he stepped aside as the leader of the fourth-generation team. As the 4G political office-holders deliberate over their next leader, Insight looks at the main issues that lie ahead and the traits needed to handle them.
DPM Heng suggests 3 new Cs for younger Singaporeans
The 5Cs of the Singaporean dream once went as follows: cash, car, credit card, condominium and country club membership. But these aspirations no longer resonate with younger Singaporeans today, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted during a speech in which he suggested three new Cs to shape the country’s future. These are: Creating more value for society; caring about the environment and wider community; and charting the way forward.
Frasers Property bags A$300m sustainability-linked loan in Australia
Frasers Property Limited’s subsidiaries in Australia have jointly obtained a A$300 million (S$309.1 million) five-year syndicated sustainability-linked loan from a syndicate of banks comprising Barclays, Mizuho and UOB. The loan comes with an accordion option of A$25 million under the Loan Market Association’s Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (2019). It builds in a reducing pricing structure with interest cost reduction from the second year onwards – provided that Frasers Property’s subsidiaries maintain a four-star rating or above in their respective Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) Development report and GRESB Standing Investments report.
At least 10 bosses of Singapore’s STI firms took home less pay in 2020
About half of the head honchos of Straits Times Index (STI) companies studied by The Business Times saw a decline in their respective pay cheques in FY2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic hampered businesses across most sectors. Collectively, their total remuneration edged up marginally to S$200.80 million in FY2020, from around S$194.50 million in FY2019. This was largely due to the pay packages of the chiefs at Genting Singapore, Wilmar International, and the total stated by the Jardine Matheson Holdings which reported the lump sum of all its directors.
Citi lasers in on Singapore as it exits 13 retail markets
Singapore is set to rise in importance for Citi in the region as the banking giant exits its consumer business in several markets across Asia. With the city-state now one of four wealth hubs for the bank, Citi will hire up to 1,500 staff for its consumer wealth businesses here to support plans to triple assets under management by 2025, said a top executive. As it is, last December the bank opened in Singapore its largest wealth advisory hub globally. That hub now serves some 150 clients each day.
E-commerce competition set to rise with Coupang said to be entering Singapore
South-East Asia’s e-commerce market is set to get more crowded, with South Korea’s e-commerce giant, Coupang, reported to be expanding into Singapore. Coupang, which has been called South Korea’s Amazon, is looking to hire senior executives in the city-state. The company’s LinkedIn page shows recently-listed job openings for roles such as head of operations, head of retail and head of logistics in Singapore.
HSA plans to move to a new home nearby
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is set to get a new home in Jalan Bukit Merah, located about 700m from its current building in Outram Road. Current plans show it will comprise a nine-storey laboratory block and a 13-storey office block, as well as three basement levels. A spokesman for HSA told The Straits Times last week that the move is in line with the Sin-gapore General Hospital (SGH) Campus Masterplan, which will see part of SGH relocated to the site bounded by Outram Road and Eu Tong Sen Street – currently occupied by HSA.
Views, Reviews, Forum & Others
Vaccine passport: A valid proof
Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS)
As vaccines become readily available and clearer scientific evidence of efficacy emerges, the requirement to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination for international travel will be more tenable when a higher percentage of the world’s population is vaccinated. Improved effectiveness of vaccines would enable fully vaccinated people to travel at lower risk to themselves and others.
Bulk of S-Reits in key global real estate indices
The FTSE EPRA Nareit Global Real Estate Index Series, designed to represent general trends in eligible real estate equities worldwide, is a widely followed global benchmark with an estimated US$340 billion of assets under management actively benchmarked or passively tracking the indices. The indexes are built by FTSE Russell, together with the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA) and the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Nareit).
US dollar at four-week low on retreating Treasury yields
The dollar fell to a four-week low against a basket of currencies on Friday last week, still smarting from a sharp drop in US Treasury yields the previous session, and as investors increasingly bought into the Federal Reserve’s insistence that it would keep an accommodative policy stance for a while longer. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield dipped to a one-month low of 1.528 per cent overnight, moving further away from March’s 1.776 per cent, its highest in more than a year, even in the face of Thursday’s stronger-than-expected retail sales and employment data. On Friday, the 10-year recovered some ground to trade at 1.5675 per cent.
Bank of Singapore eyes doubling of share in alternative investments by 2023
OCBC’s private banking arm, Bank of Singapore, plans to double its share of wallet in alternative investments by 2023 as ultra-low interest rates nudge investors to hunt for yield beyond traditional markets. This comes as part of a broader push to capture a larger share of Asia’s wealthy families, with the Greater China region seen as a key growth market, said the bank’s global head of products Lim Leong Guan.
Talent and skills key to tackling Singapore’s manufacturing challenge
Singapore – The gauntlet has been thrown down. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing has set Singapore’s manufacturing sector a “very stretched target” of maintaining the 50 per cent growth achieved by the sector in the last 10 years for the following 10 until 2030. Why this target has been set lies in the fact that manufacturing accounts for 21 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product. In comparison, in Canada, the United States and Western European nations, it is 10 per cent to 15 per cent.
Strong earnings poised to lift shares higher
Singapore – As if low interest rates and massive liquidity injections were not enough, equity markets look set to be further fuelled by blowout corporate first-quarter results. On Wall Street, key market indexes powered to new highs in the past week as the first set of results from the likes of JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi and Goldman Sachs came forth. Technology stocks, which had faced some headwinds in recent months, seemed revitalised as the 10-year Treasury yield fell below 1.6 per cent during the week.
DJIA, copper prices likely to climb further
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has gone through a turbulent period over the past year. In 2019, DJIA came out of its sluggish momentum when prices broke out of the 27,000 top and rose a further 2,000 points to beyond 29,000 by January 2020. DJIA’s upside halted when Covid-19 hit. Market jitters caught up with investors, and a sell-off ensured.
E-commerce boom to benefit Apac logistics players
Asia-Pacific’s logistics expenditure is estimated to log a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5 per cent between 2020 and 2024, according to Transport Intelligence (Ti). The UK-based research and analysis company estimated that spending amounted to nearly 2.6 trillion euros (S$4.2 trillion) in Asia-Pacific in 2020, accounting for 45 per cent of global logistics.
How best to counter the virus of disinformation on Covid-19 vaccines?
Early this month, a person claimed in a Facebook post that his cousin, a renowned doctor at a private hospital in Singapore, had suffered a stroke as a result of getting a Covid-19 vaccine. That post went viral, including on WhatsApp and social media chats, prompting Mount Elizabeth Hospital to issue a clarification on April 4. “We wish to clarify that the allegations in the post are untrue. The doctor’s family has also confirmed that the writer is not related to them and has written to Facebook to have the post removed,” the hospital said.
Dramatic rebound in the global economy: ‘This crisis is different’
From an economic point of view, it is almost as if the last year was just a bad dream. As recently as October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was warning that Covid-19 will cause “lasting damage” to living standards across the world, with any recovery likely to be “long, uneven and uncertain”. Yet the forecast it released this week is very different. By 2024, the IMF now believes, the US economy is likely to be stronger than it had predicted before the pandemic. For most advanced economies, it says, there will be only limited scars from the crisis.
Avoiding over-leveraged investments and outright scams
Over-leveraged and outright investment scams become prevalent in the late stages of a bull market when greed takes over, where it seems like everyone is making money hands over fists with little effort and not much intelligence. All investments should come with a warning label: ‘caveat emptor’, or buyer beware. Do not expect your banker, or the person at the dinner table recommending an investment to you, to do the due diligence that you should be doing.
In private equity, performance reporting lies in the twilight zone
The mythography of outstanding results from PE fund managers originates in the twilight zone of performance reporting. As an under-regulated, loosely-supervised segment of the asset management industry, private equity is enshrined in secrecy. Any marketeer knows that to attract customers it helps to mythicise a product’s values and benefits. Consumerism gained mass appeal once advertisers adopted standard manipulative techniques to influence behaviours and encourage emotional purchases.
Just another debt?
If you have a headache, would you split an aspirin into three small portions and ingest the medicine slowly so that the pain lasts longer? Of course not. Most of us would dismiss this as just plain silly. Why would anyone want to prolong the pain when one can just end it? But this is what many young people are doing these days when they embrace a new digital payment system that allows them to shop for clothes, accessories, jewellery and practically anything that they can order online, and yet delay the pain of paying for them.
S’pore trails in Asia-Pacific’s first-quarter IPO bonanza
Singapore – In a quarter that the Asia-Pacific region recorded the highest initial public offering (IPO) proceeds in 20 years, Singapore saw just one new listing, according to data in an Ernst & Young (EY) report. Exchanges in the region listed a combined 200 IPOs to raise US$34.3 billion (S$46 billion) in the January-March period, the report based on data from EY and Dealogic showed. It excludes special purpose acquisition company (Spac) IPOs.
Hotels have to follow official guidelines during pandemic
We agree with Ms Amita Chaudhury that everyone, including individuals and businesses, has a part to play in realising the Singapore Green Plan 2030 (Large amount of waste generated during SHN at hotel, April 6).
Singapore legislated mandatory waste reporting in 2014, and the stipulated requirements extend to hotels with more than 200 rooms. The management of these hotels is required to track the amount of waste generated at their premises and prepare waste reduction plans annually.
Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation
Covid-19 vaccine take-up rate for seniors in Singapore expected to rise: Experts
Singapore – While Singapore’s vaccine roll-out has been making good progress, the take-up rate for seniors aged 70 and older could be lower than for those who are younger because of factors such as mobility issues and lower digital literacy, said experts. Still, more seniors are expected to sign up for jabs in the coming months as more gain confidence in the vaccine after seeing their peers or family members go for it, they added.
Singapore takes Swiss cheese approach to Covid-19 contact tracing
Singapore – Singapore’s approach to contact tracing can be likened to a block of Swiss cheese. Each method may have its shortcomings, but put together, they make up a solid whole. “Every layer has holes in it,” explained Associate Professor Vernon Lee, who heads the Ministry of Health’s (MOH’s) contact tracing centre. “But because we have multiple layers, the holes do not align with one another.”
Tech tools help, but human input for Covid-19 contact tracing still essential
Singapore – Technology may have sped up the contact tracing process, but it cannot replace the human element. Associate Professor Vernon Lee, who heads the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) contact tracing centre, said people are still needed to sift through the data and draw inferences, making the big decisions such as whether or not to issue quarantine orders on those who have come into close contact with a Covid-19 case.
The Singapore perspective
In April last year, the number of Covid-19 community cases shot up, from fewer than 50 daily to many hundreds. The vast majority of the coronavirus cases then and to date in Singapore have occurred in migrant worker dormitories. The virus spread quickly in these dormitories due to the communal living arrangements and high-density environment.
Bunker tanker crewman is sole community case
A 39-year-old Indonesian was the lone locally transmitted case of Covid-19 confirmed here yesterday. He preliminarily tested positive for the B117 strain, which is reportedly more contagious. The man is a crew member on board a bunker tanker, and had not disembarked from the vessel except to go for Covid-19 testing and vaccination, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Vast digital backbone supporting vaccine drive
In the race to get Singapore vaccinated on schedule, technology has proved to be an invaluable tool. Behind each of the country’s 38 vaccination centres is a vast virtual infrastructure that captures, sorts and catalogues each jab to make the process as efficient as possible. This digital backbone includes built-in solutions to pick up data discrepancies, and the flexibility to adapt to new circumstances should the vaccine strategy shift.
Side effects of vaccine indicate immune systems are reacting
When healthcare student Melanie Hui, 21, got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in February, her arm was so sore she could not lift it to tie her hair. Ms Hui, who is also a cross country runner, said she also felt fatigued and had headaches for about two days after the jab. But when her grandmother, retiree Margaret Choong, 72, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine last month, all she felt was a little pain at the injection site on her arm.
How will J&J, AstraZeneca side effects affect use of the vaccines?
The use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine has been paused in the United States, while countries like Denmark and Germany have halted or restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the health authorities citing the risk of blood clotting as a potential side effect of both vaccines. This comes after a small number of patients with low levels of blood platelets who received the vaccines experienced cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT), a type of blood clotting in the brain.
Pandemic will leave deep and lasting scars in world economy
Hong Kong • Just as some patients recovering from Covid-19 suffer long-lasting symptoms, it is becoming clear that the same will be true of the global economy. While US$26 trillion (S$35 trillion) worth of crisis support and the arrival of vaccines have fuelled a faster recovery than many anticipated, the legacies of stunted education, the destruction of jobs, war-era levels of debt and widening inequalities between races, genders, generations and geographies will leave lasting scars, most of them in the poorest nations.
India, Thailand see record highs in new infections
New Delhi/Bangkok • India reported 261,500 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, taking the tally to nearly 14.8 million infections, according to the Indian Health Ministry yesterday. This is the first time that the single-day spike has crossed the 260,000 mark in India. A total of 1,501 deaths was reported on the same day, bringing the death toll to 177,150.
Kiev leads hunt for unwanted AstraZeneca vaccine supplies
Kiev/Ottawa • As safety concerns prompt western European countries to limit the use of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, Ukraine is leading a charge from the continent’s east to scoop up unwanted doses. The Kiev government, which has struggled to secure Covid-19 vaccine supplies, says it has been talking to the European Union about potential purchases for months. With Denmark banning the use of the AstraZeneca jab altogether last week, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania have joined the pursuit.
Pfizer agrees to Suga’s request to supply Japan with more doses
Tokyo • Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has agreed to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s request to supply additional doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, the vaccine minister of Japan said yesterday. “They have agreed on the essentials of the matter,” vaccine czar Taro Kono said, adding that further details including the shipment schedule will be discussed.
Global Economy & Global Real Estate
What will happen to all of New York’s empty office blocks and hotels?
Vatican weighs sale of London office at heart of financial scandal
Australia’s Crown Resorts offered A$3b to buy out James Packer
Asking prices for UK houses hit new high after tax cut extended: Rightmove
Britons spend as UK relaxes lockdown; banks raise growth forecasts
Australia in no hurry to reopen borders: PM
Historic oil glut amassed during Covid-19 pandemic almost cleared
Jakarta focussed on reforms to stimulate economy: Indonesian Finance Minister
Vietnam could export 4% of world’s electronics by 2025, but logistical bottlenecks a potential constraint
Japan’s exports post largest monthly gain since late 2017
Europe capitulation trade in full swing on vaccine bets
ESR buys Blackstone’s Aussie logistics assets for A$3.8b
Traditional IPOs outperform SPACs as blank-cheque frenzy cools
How NZ’s much-admired Covid-19 response helped fuel a housing crisis
China and US tech decoupling will slash global GDP, warns IMF
China’s home price boom spreads to more cities as investors defy curbs
China’s GDP hits record 18.3% growth but post-Covid recovery seen losing steam