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 Feb 2021 (Tue)

Singapore Real Estate

Marina Bay 24-bedroom penthouse collection for sale at S$138m
Five penthouses at the 99-year leasehold Marina Bay Residences have been put on the market collectively, with an indicative price of S$138 million. When combined, they will create a super penthouse boasting 28,258 square feet (sq ft) of strata area across five storeys, said exclusive marketing agent Tristar Properties. This amalgamation will be subject to internal staircases being built to connect the units, if the necessary approvals are obtained. Super penthouses typically have a minimum size of 10,000 sq ft.

Expect bumper year for Asia Reit mergers
A bumper year is on the cards for mergers and acquisitions in Asia’s key markets. We haven’t seen anything like the activity we expected in 2020 and that will change this year. We know why asset transactions are limited. The prime assets are overpriced due to the amount of money chasing them and the stressed ones haven’t fallen far enough to be a safe bet.

The Substation to vacate space in Armenian St in July
The Substation will move out of its 45 Armenian Street home in July, as the National Arts Council (NAC) prepares to renovate the building and turn it into a new centre for multiple arts groups. The contemporary arts institution, which was founded in 1990 by the late theatre doyen Kuo Pao Kun, has a reputation as an incubator space for artists to experiment and collaborate. Its 1,630 sq m centre has a black box, art gallery and studio and working spaces.


Singapore Economy

Government will find ways to support all firms keen to upgrade
Local companies harbouring ambitions for growth can continue to expect policy and funding support, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing indicated on Monday. And this is not limited to the factory sector, he said during his stop at precision engineering firm Sanwa Plastic, as part of a series of visits across manufacturing sub-sectors. Stressing the need to “conquer new frontiers”, Mr Chan said: “Our commitment is that so long as our companies have the desire to upgrade themselves, we will try our best to find the means to support that.”

Singapore agencies must subject key Covid-19 expenditures to checks: watchdog
Large sums have been spent in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, stretching public resources and leaving less of a buffer for unforeseen needs, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said in a report on Monday. It asked if mechanisms are in place to relook whether large-scale projects should be delayed or cancelled. “Substantial expenditure had been incurred and will be incurred in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. New grant schemes were implemented to support businesses and individuals, and to deal with the public health and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the report.

110,000 local hires supported by Jobs Growth Incentive in October: Josephine Teo
The cumulative number of local hires supported by the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) rose to 110,000 in October, the second month since the scheme’s implementation, up from 50,000 in the first month. To complement job-matching efforts, the government is working with employment agencies, and has introduced the Human Capital Partnership (Employment Agencies) Mark to help jobseekers and employers identify exemplary agencies, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said at a media briefing on Monday.

Real household incomes decline for first time in more than 10 years
[Singapore] The Covid-19 pandemic hit Singapore households hard last year, with overall median household income from work falling by 2.5 per cent in nominal terms from S$9,425 to S$9,189. After taking into account inflation, this works out to a 2.4 per cent drop in real terms – the first such decline in more than 10 years, since after the economy was battered by the global financial crisis. In 2009, median monthly household income from work fell by 1.5 per cent in nominal terms, or 2.4 per cent in real terms after factoring inflation in.

SMEs counting on govt support amid gloomy outlook in 2021: QBE poll
Stormy skies will loom over their businesses, despite the sun peeking out from behind the clouds in 2021, if you ask small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Many are counting on the government to shield them from the rain. While they feel an increased positivity towards the economic climate in 2021, SME owners said in a survey by insurance company QBE that their own businesses are likely to remain a little under the weather.

80% plunge in arrivals and departures here last year
More than 42 million travellers were cleared for entry and departure at Singapore’s checkpoints last year, a plunge of over 80 per cent from the year before, while the low-value goods that came in doubled in volume to over 21 million pieces. The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said yesterday that the volume of arrivals and departures – which saw an 80.6 per cent fall from the over 217 million in 2019 – was the lowest in five years.


Companies’ Brief

Ascott Residence Trust to sell Somerset Xu Hui Shanghai above book value
Ascott Residence Trust (ART) has agreed to sell Somerset Xu Hui Shanghai at an aggregate value of 1.05 billion yuan (S$215.6 million) to an unrelated third party. Somerset Xu Hui Shanghai is a 32-storey serviced apartment building with a five-storey commercial podium and a basement car park. The property’s agreed value is 171 per cent above its book value, said the managers in a pre-market filing on Tuesday. ART is expecting to net a gain of 536.6 million yuan from the sale, which is slated to take place in Q2 2021.

Surbana Jurong’s Ream City to ramp up Cambodia tourism, economy
Ream City in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, aims to be more than a typical satellite development, with hotels and restaurants dotted along a main street. Rather, it is the product of strategic economic policies, and hopes to be a model for future development projects across the country. This is according to Khong Weng Fook, managing director of Canopy Sands Development, a member of Prince Holding Group. On Monday, Canopy Sands announced its approval of Singapore-headquartered Surbana Jurong’s masterplan for the 834 ha development in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Ho Ching to retire as Temasek CEO on Oct 1; Dilhan Pillay named successor
Singapore – Temasek Holdings announced on Tuesday (Feb 9) that its chief executive officer Ho Ching will retire from the state investment firm and step down from its board on Oct 1. She will be succeeded by Temasek International CEO Dilhan Pillay. Announcing the change, Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said: “Leadership succession is a strategic responsibility of the Board. We have had in place an annual review since the early 2000s.

Should investors beware the Lippo effect?
Locally listed stocks with links to the Riady family have generated significantly negative returns in the last five years, compared to gains in the Straits Times Index (STI) and FTSE ST Reit Index. The difficulties faced by some of these entities seem to have their roots in Indonesian developer Lippo Karawaci’s (LK) liquidity problems, following trouble at its US$21 billion Meikarta township project in 2018.

Manulife US Reit H2 DPU falls 11.3% to 2.59 US cents
Manulife US Real Estate Investment Trust (Manulife US Reit) saw its distribution per unit (DPU) decline 11.3 per cent to 2.59 US cents for the half year ended Dec 31, from 2.92 US cents a year ago. In a bourse filing on Monday morning, its manager said the drop was mainly due to lower property income as well as a provision for expected credit losses, and comes after factoring in the enlarged unit base from equity fundraising in H2 2019.


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

Is Jobs Growth Incentive scheme serving the right ends?
Within two months of the Jobs Growth Incentive being introduced, it has subsidised the employment of some 110,000 new local hires as at October, according to the Manpower Ministry’s preliminary estimates. The nature of these jobs, however, is less clear. Currently-available figures are broken down only by sector and age, with the JGI being calibrated to encourage the hiring of workers aged 40 and above in particular.

Of RCEP, business, and a less messy bowl of noodles
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed on Nov 15, 2020, at the virtually held 37th Asean Summit under the watchful eye of the international media. This came after an eight-year rollercoaster ride of negotiations, including the withdrawal of India – one of Asia’s major economies and original RCEP negotiating parties – at the eleventh hour.

Ensuring festivities usher in better times
The speed with which vaccines are coming on to the world market is cause for cautious optimism in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines inaugurated the momentum of global inoculation efforts, but those European, American and Chinese varieties are being joined rapidly by others. There is the British shot developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University. Sputnik V was greeted with initial scepticism outside Russia, but the vaccine is being seen now as constituting arguably the country’s biggest scientific breakthrough since the Soviet era, with countries lining up for supplies.

Problem of cooling in a hotter Singapore
Climate change and urbanisation are nudging up temperatures in Singapore – and increasing the need for cooling here. However, a new report has found that the growing use of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment here has contributed to more emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Commonly used as refrigerants, HFCs are also greenhouse gases that trap more heat than carbon dioxide.

Petrol pump prices rise to highest in almost 12 months
Petrol pump prices have gone up to what they were before the circuit breaker, hitting their highest in almost a year. A litre of the most popular 95-octane petrol is now retailing at $2.19 at all stations except SPC, which charges $2.15, according to fuel price tracker Fuel Kaki, an initiative of the Consumers Association of Singapore. The 92-octane grade is retailing at $2.15 – except at SPC where it is going for $2.11 – while the 98-octane grade is retailing at between $2.53 (at SPC) and $2.61 (at Shell).


Singapore Budget 2021

Budget 2021 to be delivered at 3pm on Feb 16
Singapore – This year’s Budget statement will be delivered next Tuesday (Feb 16) at 3pm by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat. The Straits Times will be providing live coverage as Mr Heng announces the details in Parliament. There will also be live-streaming of his speech and a live blog on the ST website, as well as a Budget microsite and updates on ST’s Facebook, Telegram and Twitter accounts.

Underemployment a bigger issue than unemployment: economists
If December’s data is any indicator, Singapore’s labour market appears to be on the mend, but economists warn that underemployment – rather than unemployment – could be the bigger issue this recession. Overall unemployment rate fell for the second straight month in December, coming in at 3.2 per cent, but Walter Theseira, an economist at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, believes one reason is that “a lot of people have decided to settle for any kind of job for the moment”.

Saving jobs in Budget 2021: what and whose jobs to save?
While the government’s call to retrain and upskill has been a familiar refrain in recent years, the push to do so is probably about to intensify at Budget 2021, according to economists. Describing this as a likely “core element” of the Budget, Sung-Eun Jung, an economist at Oxford Economics, said: “We expect the Singapore government to continue to nudge workers and businesses towards sectors that are likely to come out strong from the Covid pandemic, namely IT, technology, healthcare, financial services.”


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

2 community infections among 22 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore
Singapore: Two new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported in Singapore as of noon on Monday (Feb 8), said the Ministry of Health (MOH). Both cases were in the community, and no new infections were reported in foreign workers’ dormitories. The community cases are currently unlinked. One is a 49-year-old Singaporean man who works as a bus driver. His job involves transporting people from Changi Airport to dedicated facilities to serve their stay-home notices.

Engineer who received first dose of vaccine among 2 community cases
A 30-year-old Indian national who received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 27 was among the two unlinked community cases announced yesterday. The work pass holder is an engineer at Station Satcom and boards ships to install communications and IT equipment as part of his job. He was identified as a close contact of a previous case and put under quarantine between Jan 13 and Jan 24.

Passenger with positive Covid-19 test recovered before flight to India: Sats
A passenger who arrived at Tiruchirappalli International Airport in Tamil Nadu, India, on Sunday had recovered from a recent infection of Covid-19 and was issued a Fit to Fly health certificate after being assessed by a doctor in Singapore, ground-handling firm Sats said yesterday. This was in response to a report in India that the passenger, who had arrived on an Air India Express flight, had produced a certificate which showed a positive test result for the disease.

Pilot for quarantine-free business travel delayed until at least Feb 21: Sources
A pilot programme allowing short-term business travellers to stay, work and meet at dedicated facilities here without the need for quarantine has been delayed until at least Feb 21, The Straits Times has learnt. The first travellers under the Connect@Singapore segregated travel lane were supposed to be allowed into Singapore from the second half of last month, but the first dedicated facility for these visitors is now expected to open for check-in only from Feb 21, sources told ST.

Long queue for Covid-19 testing for Chinatown workers
The two-day Covid-19 surveillance testing for workers in Chinatown was off to a strong start yesterday, with more than 70 people seen waiting to get swabbed at lunchtime. When The Straits Times visited around 1pm, the queue was snaking out of the Kreta Ayer People’s Theatre where the tests were being conducted. Staff wearing personal protective equipment were conducting registration and taking the temperatures of those in the queue.
*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


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