The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry

The Leading Professional and Representative Body for the Real Estate Industry



Daily News – 4th, 5th & 6th February 2017

Singapore Economy

Budget watch: Economists expect bumper surplus for 2016
Economists expect a bumper surplus in government coffers for the financial year ending March 31, despite the slowing economy, muted property market and rising social spending.  A surplus, when the Government spends less than it takes in, would provide leeway for Budget 2017 to contain short-term help for companies struggling to keep afloat.  Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be delivering the Budget on Feb 20.

Firms stay cautious; Q1 2017 growth to be similar to Q4 2016
Business performance improved for firms here in the last quarter of 2016, but they remained highly cautious about prospects soon, a survey has found.  This cautiousness – the first in five quarters – would translate into a Q1 2017 growth rate similar to the pace seen at the end of 2016.  The latest Business Times-UniSim survey results found that sales, profits and new businesses for companies here continued on their upward trajectory for the third consecutive quarter in Q4 2016.

Making Singapore future-ready
The countdown has begun to the much-awaited release of the findings of the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE).  The 30-member team, which first met in January last year, will issue its report within the next two weeks.  It has been looking at how Singapore can stay ahead in the challenging climate of disruption that is turning almost every industry on its head, and amid geopolitical uncertainty that is adding to the woes of a slowing world economy.

Growth in S’pore private sector eases in January
The private sector started the year off with modest growth and employment prospects seemed to be picking up, according to data released yesterday.  The Nikkei Singapore Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) came in at 51.6 in January, down slightly from 52 in December.  Readings above 50 signal an improvement in business conditions on the previous month, while those below 50 indicate a contraction.

Singapore Real Estate

Shoppes price tag may still draw some investors
The US$3.5 billion (S$4.9 billion) price tag for a slice of the plush mall at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) may be too rich for some, but large pension funds seeking investments in markets where the local currency has remained strong could be interested.  Chesterton Singapore managing director Donald Han said Singapore stacks up as one of Asia’s best property markets because the relatively strong Singdollar enables investors to preserve their capital.

Red Dot Traffic building to have its heritage restored in S$25 million plan
The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) yesterday unveiled a S$25 million refurbishment plan that will restore the heritage of the Red Dot Traffic building at 28 Maxwell Road.  Last month, MinLaw announced that it would be taking over the conserved building for the expansion of Maxwell Chambers, one of the top five international arbitration centres in the world. The building will add 120,000 square feet of space to Maxwell Chambers and triple its current size.

Robinson Towers carpark to use smart vehicles for parking
When the redeveloped Robinson Towers opens in end-2018, it will be equipped with a new automatic carpark system that uses battery-powered automated guided vehicles (AGVs) instead of conveyor belts or lifts.  MHE-Demag, the material-handling arm of industrial group Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) which is bringing the technology into Singapore, said that the automated carpark system using AGVs is the first of its kind in Singapore and South-east Asia.

Companies’ Brief

Lion Global fund lets ordinary investors in on disruption story
In a saturated market, disruption is never far from the mind of Gerard Lee, chief executive officer of OCBC fund unit Lion Global Investors.  The Business Times understands that the firm is launching a new fund this week, touted as the first fund in Singapore for ordinary investors to easily access a global portfolio of disruption-themed stocks.  The LionGlobal Disruptive Innovation Fund also stands out with its semi-passive investment strategy. It is one of the first “smart beta” funds launched for the mass market here. Management fees are one per cent a year. The promotional launch rate is 0.68 per cent.

Strategic review may placate Sabana Reit unitholders
The sponsor and manager of Sabana Shari’ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana Reit) will do a strategic review of the Reit, giving its market value a much needed fillip that could go some way to placate dissatisfied unitholders.  News of the review, which was announced late last Thursday, lifted Sabana Reit units by 10.4 per cent to close at 42.5 cents last Friday. But they remain well below their initial price when the Reit listed in 2010.

GLP CEO and non-exec director involved in non-binding bids
Global Logistic Properties (GLP) said it has received various non-binding proposals from a number of parties, which include its CEO Ming Z Mei and non-executive director Fang Fenglei.  Mr Mei and Mr Fang have interest in one of the parties that have submitted the offers for the group.  Disclosing this on Friday after market closed, GLP said since the start of the strategic review in December, Mr Mei and Mr Fang have recused themselves from all board discussions and decisions relating to the strategic review.

Upgrading lessons from Woh Hup
Learning takes time, whether it is for a company to internationalise or to adopt productive technologies. For this reason, construction companies need to make provisions for mistakes and a couple of loss-making years, says Eugene Yong, executive director of homegrown building and civil engineering firm Woh Hup.  Amid the government’s drive to encourage local construction firms to expand overseas and reduce manpower by building off-site and using planning technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), some builders here have complained that it is hard enough to survive in the challenging climate, much less to deploy more capital for these initiatives.

Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust posts above-forecast Q1 DPU of 1.74 cents
The manager of newly listed Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust announced an above-forecast distribution per unit (DPU) of 1.74 Singapore cents for the first quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, as interest rates fell below forecast.  This is above a forecast of 1.64 cents, said the manager in a release on Friday night in its financial results for the second reporting period. The trust was listed on the mainboard of Singapore Exchange in June last year. Year-to-date, the DPU is now 3.58 cents.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Foster private interest in public spaces
Public spaces are vital arteries of a bustling city. When designed well, these can encourage diverse and gracious uses of spots that are open to one and all. Free of barriers and walls, they help to make the city feel welcoming. Yet, civic considerations often take second place to commercial priorities and urban development demands. It is not wrong to maximise economic yield, of course, but this may sometimes be done in crass ways, to the detriment of society, the liveability of an area and the well-being of users. Refined property owners, however, recognise that creating the right ambience and making spaces attractive to users can bring significant rewards.  The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s recent introduction of new guidelines to make public spaces in private buildings more user-friendly might help more people to see these spots in a different light.

Necklace of pearls around the bay
Architects and city planners don’t quite get along. Architects resent planners for hindering their creativity, while planners sometimes disapprove of architects’ too-narrow focus that may neglect public interest or obscure the bigger picture of building a city.  But Cheong Koon Hean, chief executive of the Housing and Development Board (HDB), is both roles merged in one. Her ambition was to be an architect, but by accident, she found her calling in planning.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

US remains the focus for markets amid uncertainty

Fed sees next potential asset-price bubble in apartment towers

He builds ‘land megayachts’ for the super rich

Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay eyeing US retailer Macy’s

China raises short-term interest rates in fresh tightening signal

Australia’s home market boom may be starting to crumble as buyers hold back

Australia forces foreign owners of 15 properties to sell

Australia’s Housing Dilemma Will Keep RBA From Changing Rates

Additional Articles of Interest – Local & Overseas Real Estate

Local & Overseas Real Estate – Full Article

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