The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th June 2017

Top Story

Disruption looms for property sector as technology investments mount
Real estate has been a spectator to technology disruption for years, but all that could be changing as the traditionally tech-laggard sector moves into the epicentre of a technology revolution.  Some say it is a new generation of managers and executives, digital natives themselves, who are driving the change. Regardless, a new term has been coined to describe this phenomenon: “proptech” – the real estate version of “fintech”.

Construction sector must face up to reality: Desmond Lee
The push for technology in the building and construction sector may cause some companies to shut down or consolidate if they do not keep pace, said Second Minister for National Development and Home Affairs Desmond Lee.  Urging construction firms, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to get in step with the times, Mr Lee said: “Transformation is not only for big firms, we want everyone to be progressive.”

Singapore Economy

Singapore economy ‘to stay sluggish in months ahead’
Despite renewed momentum in the property sector and signs that the earnings downgrade cycle has bottomed out, Singapore’s economy is likely to be sluggish in the coming months in line with prospects for the world as a whole, said banking group Credit Suisse.  This comes amid weak oil prices and a competitive telecommunications sector, which are holding back earnings recovery.

Inflation in May reaches highest level in three years
Inflation spiked last month to reach its highest level in almost three years.  Economists said this was due more to the timing of certain subsidies than stronger economic growth, though they also noted that cost pressures in the economy could continue picking up over the rest of the year.  The consumer price index – the main measure of inflation – rose 1.4 per cent last month from a year ago, the fastest rate of growth since July 2014.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Water Reclamation Centre officially opens
The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Water Reclamation Centre was officially opened on Sunday by Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Zhang Yuzhuo, Party Secretary of the Communist Party of China Tianjin Binhai New Area District Committee.

Growth in S’pore factory output slows in May
Singapore’s factory output continued to moderate by growing at a lower-than-expected 5 per cent in May 2017 versus a year ago, as the electronics cluster sustained its double-digit growth while the biomedical manufacturing extended its steep decline.  Stripping out biomedical manufacturing, output grew 13.1 per cent.

Visitor arrivals to Singapore up 4.4% in first four months of 2017
Visitor arrivals to Singapore rose 4.4 per cent year on year in the first four months of 2017, with China emerging as the top source market for travellers.  According to preliminary figures from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Singapore received around 5.79 million visitors during that period, of which 1.1 million were from China.

Medical tourism growth easing here
Medical tourism growth here is expected to slow down amid stiffer regional competition, especially from the Malaysian healthcare market, according to UOB Kay Hian.  The softer outlook in Singapore comes amid a decline in growth of foreign patient numbers.  This, in turn, is expected to take a toll on growth in revenue.

Stores ringing in more sales by fashioning new retail experience
Greater customer engagement by retailers, coupled with a recovering economy, has contributed to a stronger showing in the retail sector, say experts.  Total estimated retail sales rose 2.6 per cent in April from a year earlier – the strongest showing since last July – compared with a revised 2 per cent increase in March, according to figures released by the Singapore Department of Statistics earlier this month.

High prices, weak economy drag F&B sales down
High prices and a holdover from a weak economy may have dampened food and beverage (F&B) services sales in April, compared with a year ago, said industry players.  This is despite an improving economy said to have helped boost retail sales earlier this year.  Except for January, during which Chinese New Year reunion dinners took place, F&B services sales were down in February and March, too.

Firms rush in to issue bonds on low interest rates
After a quiet six months in the second half of last year, the local bond market has roared back to life this year, with issuances returning in strength and investors snapping them up with fervour.  Persistently low interest rates are driving both supply and demand. Despite some recent central bank hikes, interest rates are still close to historic lows.

Singapore firms see silver lining in eldercare industry
Aa Singapore strives towards its Smart Nation vision, it cannot escape the fact that it is also an ageing society.  But rather than view the silver tsunami as a disaster to be averted, industry players say it is a wave that local businesses should catch.  By one estimate, the ageing market sector in the Asia-Pacific is projected to reach US$3.3 trillion by 2020, making it a potential sunrise industry.

Digital transformation in the spotlight
Spontaneity can easily go wrong. But this was not the case at the second BT-NCS roundtable discussion. Immediately after host Lai Weng Yew, vice-president, Business Application Services at NCS, welcomed the panelists, the exchange of views at this discussion was free-flowing and easygoing.

SP Group poised to transform into ‘power sector’s Uber’
As wave after wave of disruption buffets the power sector, grid operator SP Group is taking steps to turn itself into the industry’s “Uber”: In time to come, it sees itself providing a platform that matches the supply and demand of power, especially as power generation becomes a fragmented and distributed business.

Singapore Real Estate

S$48m makeover of 6 HDB shopping complexes completed
Six of 21 HDB shopping complexes island-wide in Singapore have been upgraded for some S$48 million as of June this year as part of the Housing & Development Board’s efforts to progressively rejuvenate the malls to better serve the residents.  The upgrading works to maintain the shopping complexes’ vibrancy include adding facilities for the community, providing better connectivity and increasing the retail and dining options for residents, said HDB in a statement.

China co-working space player opens Singapore office
UrWork, a Chinese co-working space operator, opened its Singapore office on Friday. It offers a platform that would link Singaporean and Chinese entrepreneurs, enabling them to leverage its network in 18 cities, including New York and London.

Most law firms likely to renew leases
With an eye on containing costs, most law firms here are likely to renew their office leases in the months ahead, rather than relocate or expand their premises.  Pressures of stiffer competition and a dip in the amount of legal work have meant that cost control is a significant priority for both local and foreign legal practices in Singapore.

Luxury property sales pick up at Sentosa Cove
Singapore’s luxury property market is beginning to stir, especially at exclusive Sentosa Cove.  Despite reports of properties racking up million-dollar losses and plentiful vacant units, sales at the posh waterfront area are picking up.  So far this year, caveats have been lodged for seven bungalows at the prestigious address, totalling $102.7 million, CBRE data shows.

Credit Suisse sees upside potential for property developers listed in Singapore
Property developers offer upside potential in a Singapore stock market that is already fairly valued, while around the world, “domestic champions” stand to benefit from inward-looking politics, Credit Suisse strategists said on Friday.  The private bank’s house view is that continued improvements in Europe, robust fundamentals in the United States and better-quality growth out of China would underpin a modest but steady expansion for the global economy in 2017.

Companies’ Brief

UOL set to buy 4.23% UIC stake from Haw Par
Property developer UOL Group is poised to buy investment holding company Haw Par Corporation’s stake in United Industrial Corporation (UIC) via a share swap, it said on Friday.  This came after days of speculation following the trading halts of three companies linked to veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw. There was talk that he might be restructuring his empire of companies, and a privatisation of UIC could be in the works. The speculation drove the three counters to multi-year highs in the last couple of weeks.

Keppel in JV to buy mixed-use Shanghai project for US$525m
Keppel Land China and Alpha Investment Partners have tied up with a co-investor to acquire an office and retail mixed-used development, SOHO Hongkou in Shanghai, China, for some US$525 million.  Keppel Land China and Alpha are wholly-owned units of Keppel Land and Keppel Capital Holdings, respectively, which in turn are wholly-owned by Keppel Corp.  Under the joint venture agreement, Keppel Land China’s wholly-owned Joysville Investment will acquire a 30 per cent stake in Vision (III) Pte Ltd.

GLP stock dives over 5%; company says talks with bidders still on
Leading provider of modern logistics facilities, Global Logistic Properties (GLP), is still in talks with shortlisted bidders interested in buying the firm and has taken measures to ensure fairness in the process, it said on Friday.  The announcement came fast and furious after its shares plunged on Friday trading.

Astrid Park bungalow sold for S$46 million to Hin Leong family
The family that controls oil trading group Hin Leong is understood to have bought a bungalow in Queen Astrid Park for S$46 million – the biggest purchase in a Good Class Bungalow (GCB) Area to be caveated so far this year.  The price reflects S$1,548 per square foot based on the land area of 29,709 sq ft. On the sprawling site with a wide road frontage is a bungalow that was built a decade ago and spans two storeys. It has five bedrooms, a large hall, a pool and other facilities.

The Ascott Limited closes seven new contracts to manage 1,300 China apartments
Property giant CapitaLand’s serviced residence unit The Ascott Limited said that it has clinched seven new contracts to manage over 1,300 apartments across six cities in China.  The properties mark the firm’s first foray into Kunming and Yichang while deepening its presence in Chongqing, Dalian, Shenzhen and Xuzhou, Ascott said.

Oxley prices another US$55m of bonds due 2021 at 6.375%
Developer Oxley Holdings has priced an upcoming series of US$55 million bonds due 2021 at 6.375 per cent.  They will be consolidated with US$200 million 6.375 per cent bonds due 2021 issued on April 21, and US$100 million 6.375 per cent bonds due 2021 issued on May 16.  The latest series will mature on April 21.  Oxley last traded at S$0.585.

Views, Reviews & Forum

More upside in store for UOL and UIC
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and seasoned businessman and veteran banker Wee Cho Yaw clearly knows that – going by his latest effort towards his long-time goal of unlocking value in United Industrial Corporation (UIC).  With UIC’s second-largest shareholder Philippine tycoon John Gokongwei still a likely hurdle to a takeover of UIC by Mr Wee, the latter has adopted a more prudent and astute approach to gaining control of UIC.

No takeover offer for UIC, but deal goes beyond that
At first glance, the decision by UOB’s Wee family to shift as many of its shares in United Industrial Corp (UIC) as possible to their flagship property firm UOL without triggering a takeover offer does not seem like a big deal.

Harnessing technology to address workplace safety & health issues
Three-dimensional visualisation and animation technologies are often associated with the latest gaming and entertainment applications. In certain construction projects underway in Europe, such underlying technology also enable designers and engineers to check if real-life components are appropriate before installation begins.

Some private-sector firms already doing their part to go green
Even before the public sector unveiled its plans to reduce its electricity and water usage as an example to others, some companies in the private sector had already embarked on green initiatives of their own.  For example, property firm CapitaLand launched its second electronic waste collection drive across seven of its office properties in April.

Are HDB residents tenants or owners?
The report on the homes in Geylang Lorong 3 reaching the end of their leases highlights the issues surrounding leasehold properties (Govt taking back 191 homes in Geylang when lease ends; June 21).  While applying to rent out my HDB flat, I noticed that the Housing Board referred to me as a “tenant”, and my potential tenant as a “sub-tenant”.

Help middle class realise dream of owning private property
I support the call to bar foreign developers from participating in public tenders for residential sites (Keep foreign bidders out of housing; June 11).  Such developers are not only cash-rich, but may also have other non-commercial considerations to invest in Singapore, like wanting to diversify or minimise their political risk by investing outside their home country or moving capital to a safe haven like Singapore to avoid government scrutiny.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

FBI probing deals involving Manafort and son-in-law

Subsidised complex turns itself into a gated community

Sixty buildings fail British safety tests, fuelling fire fears

Firm that supplied panels in Grenfell Tower tragedy knew they were flammable

Fridman’s L1 Retail to buy Holland & Barrett for £1.77b

London home values rise at slowest pace since 2012

China keeps up the pace in per capita GDP rankings

China’s early data signal that growth may have peaked for 2017

China SMEs hit by borrowing pains as banks made to rein in risky loans

China needs to rebalance its investments: analyst

China capital controls cast pall over US$100b city in the sea

Li Ka-shing’s brick-and-mortar Watsons stores defy online shift

Aussie property boom causes rift between haves and have-nots

Waterfront home in Vancouver lists for $66m

As China trial looms, Crown Resorts’ offshore network is hard to find

Soaring building costs strike sour note for NZ’s ‘rock star’ economy

Vancouver mansion lists for C$63m in buoyant market

Doha’s hotels suffer in Eid holiday due to Arab sanctions

Post-war Angola’s corrupt building boom

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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