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Real Estate Daily News

19, 20, 21 & 22 Feb 2021 (Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon)

Singapore Real Estate

S-Reits gearing up with healthy balance sheets
The gearing ratio, also known as aggregated leverage, is the ratio of a Reit's total debt to its total assets. This metric, used to assess a Reit's financial leverage, is closely monitored by investors. A low gearing ratio could point to greater capacity to undertake more debt for future acquisitions while a high gearing ratio could lead to credit concerns especially during economic downturns.

Developers exploring home design tweaks to support remote working
With working from home expected to remain a fixture going forward, some developers are exploring design tweaks to upcoming and future residential developments to support remote working. These could include more flexible spaces or having function rooms on-site which can double up as a business centre to host meetings and conferences.

BlackRock close to selling Woodlands industrial building
Big-ticket sales of industrial properties continue to be buoyant. BT understands that BlackRock is in advanced stages of stitching a deal to sell a high-specification light industrial building along Admiralty Street for S$142 million. The buyer is tipped as US-based real estate investment manager AEW. The pricing for Admirax, a seven-storey property in the Woodlands area, reflects about 6 per cent net yield. It is on a site with 60-year leasehold tenure that began in October 2000, which leaves a balance tenure of almost 40 years.

Marina Bay view could be priciest real estate feature in Singapore
A panoramic view of the iconic Marina Bay Sands and the Central Business District could well be the most pricey amenity in Singapore real estate. A collection of five penthouses, put up for sale recently at Marina Bay Residences with an indicative price of $138 million, will give a sense of how much a buyer would pay for this sought-after view. The maintenance fees and sinking fund for the five properties add up to about $20,000 every quarter.

Family behind Spring Court Restaurant buys Bukit Pasoh shophouse
The buzz in the Singapore shophouse market continues this year, and among the latest deals is a freehold conservation shophouse at the corner of Neil and Bukit Pasoh roads being bought by some members of the family that owns Spring Court Restaurant. The vacant unit, which is changing hands for S$12.93 million, is approved for restaurant use on both levels, said Mike Ho, director of Spring Court Restaurant when approached by The Business Times.

Seven shophouses at Lavender Street up for sale with S$60m guide price
Seven adjoining shophouses comprising even-numbered lots at 296 to 308 Lavender Street are up for sale with a guide price of S$60 million. This works out to S$1,526 per square foot (psf) on the proposed total gross floor area (GFA) of 39,322 square feet (sq ft), sole marketing agent Edmund Tie said in a press statement on Thursday. The expression of interest exercise for the seven shophouses will close on March 24 at 3pm.

Mapletree acquires industrial site in Hong Kong for HK$813m
Mapletree Investments on Friday said it has acquired an approximately 4,000 square metre (sq m) industrial site in New Territories, Hong Kong for HK$813 million (S$139 million), and plans to develop a data centre on the land. The data centre, estimated to be completed by 2023 with a maximum gross floor area of 20,140 sq m, will mark the real estate company's foray into data centres in Hong Kong.

Propped up by government support last year, construction sector could see more exits in 2021
As government relief measures taper off, more exits can be expected in Singapore's construction sector - a sector that was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic but where the worst of the impact may not yet be reflected. A total of 1,951 construction companies exited the sector last year, according to data analysis firm Handshakes's study of information from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra).

High steel prices could hit construction industry
On its own, the global steel price rally in recent months may not have much impact on the profit margins of those in the built environment sector. But it is another significant headwind that they face in their operations, industry observers said. Demand for steel is rising as activity picks up across the construction and manufacturing industries.

15,600 first-time flat buyers get S$500m since EHG launch in Sept 2019
Close to S$500 million has been disbursed to about 15,600 first-time flat buyers since the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) was launched in September 2019. Another S$748 million in Proximity Housing Grants (PHG) has been given to about 40,200 households since August 2015, said the Housing Board in a statement on Sunday. Both figures were accurate as at Dec 31 last year.

Why some HDB estates are so popular
The Housing Board resale market has had an amazing year, with sales volume for the full year hitting an eight-year high last year. The strong demand bolstered resale flat prices, which rose 5 per cent last year, the steepest annual price hike recorded since 2012. Given that the global economic outlook is likely to be more favourable this year, demand and flat prices are expected to rise further.

Accor to open luxury hotel at Duxton Hill
Despite the challenges faced by the hospitality industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Accor hotel group announced yesterday its intention to open Singapore's first Mondrian hotel by early 2023. The group said that the luxury lifestyle hotel will be built at Duxton Hill. "The move signals the group's confidence in Singapore's tourism sector," said Accor, which is the largest hotel operator in Singapore and currently manages 25 hotels here.

Dover Forest opens up wider debate on land and housing
Would anyone want to live right next to a noisy train track? For Dover resident Kelvin Leong, the answer - and the choice between clearing a shady forest around an MRT station or building on empty plots of land in nearby Ghim Moh, for the same objective of new public housing - is clear. The vacant sites, highlighted by the area's MP Christopher de Souza on Feb 1 in a parliamentary motion to preserve Dover Forest, sit around the popular Ghim Moh market and food centre. There is a bus terminal, Ulu Pandan Community Club and Star Vista shopping mall close by, Mr Leong, 41, pointed out.


Singapore Economy

'Team Singapore' partnerships a key route for internationalisation
The success of the GlobalConnect@SBF programme, which has facilitated 15 projects by Singapore businesses and helped establish them in overseas markets, showcases how Singapore businesses can come together as Team Singapore when internationalising. Speaking at the GlobalConnect@SBF Showcase, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing noted that the exhibited companies fell into three categories: small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) partnering each other, SMEs partnering Enterprise Singapore (ESG) or the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), and smaller companies partnering large enterprises.

Business 'bubble' travellers to arrive from early March
The first facility under Singapore's quarantine-free "business travel bubble" will welcome its guests from early March, after a stymied bid to bring in travellers by late January. Connect@Changi at the Singapore Expo, which was spearheaded by state investment company Temasek Holdings, opened for bookings on Thursday. But travellers can arrive only from March, since short-term business travellers using the quarantine-free Connect@Singapore pilot can enter the country only two to five weeks after submitting their applications.

S Pass quota cut not likely to slow S'pore's manufacturing growth: Analysts
Singapore - Manufacturing firms are concerned that the coming cuts in the S Pass quota for the sector will raise wage costs and lead to labour shortages. But analysts expect that the change will not have a damaging effect on the growth of the manufacturing sector, where productivity has generally been improving. The maximum proportion of foreigners on S Passes in manufacturing firms will be reduced from 20 per cent now to 18 per cent from Jan 1 next year, and 15 per cent from Jan 1, 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 16).


Companies' Brief

Keppel Reit launches private placement to raise at least S$270m
Keppel Reit's manager on Thursday proposed a private placement of between 235.6 million and 242.8 million new units at an issue price of between S$1.112 and S$1.146 per new unit to raise at least S$270 million in gross proceeds. The manager said in a bourse filing that it will use about S$262.5 million or 97.2 per cent of the gross proceeds to partially fund the real estate investment trust's (Reit) S$651.5 million acquisition of Keppel Bay Tower from sponsor Keppel Land, the property arm of Keppel Corporation.

KReit placement at S$1.13 a unit works out to higher DPU accretion for Keppel Bay Tower acquisition: analysts
Keppel Reit's (KReit) private placement has been priced at S$1.13 per new unit, about midway in its indicative range. This comes after its manager's proposal on Feb 18 of a private placement of between 235.6 million and 242.8 million new units, at an issue price of between S$1.112 and S$1.146. The issue price of S$1.13 represents a 4.1 per cent discount to the real estate investment trust's (Reit) volume-weighted average price of S$1.1783 for all trades done on Feb 17.

Roxy-Pacific associate acquires 999-year leasehold residential site for S$33.6m
Mequity Hills, a new associate of property developer Roxy-Pacific Holdings, has entered an agreement to acquire a 999-year leasehold residential site at 10A and 10B Institution Hill for S$33.6 million. The site has an estimated total land area of 8,761 sq ft and has a plot ratio of 2.8 under the 2019 Master Plan for residential development, Roxy-Pacific said in a Thursday bourse filing after the market close.

HSBC to name new S'pore CEO as Tony Cripps is set to leave
HSBC will soon announce a new Singapore chief executive to succeed Mr Tony Cripps, who will be leaving for the Saudi British Bank (SABB), said an internal memo signed by the bank's deputy chairman and chief executive Peter Wong and seen by The Business Times. Mr Cripps is to be managing director-designate and board member of SABB from April 4. SABB, in which HSBC is the largest shareholder with a 31 per cent stake, disclosed his appointment in a Wednesday bourse filing.

Privatisation bid for GL 'not fair but reasonable': IFA
Guoco Group's offer to take GL private at S$0.70 has been deemed "not fair but reasonable" by GL's appointed independent financial adviser, W Capital Markets. In a circular released on Thursday, GL's independent directors recommended - based on W Capital's advice - that its shareholders accept the offer. They added that shareholders can choose to sell their shares in the open market if they can obtain a price higher than the offer price, after taking into account the brokerage and related costs in connection with open market transactions.

Tougher delisting rules have little impact on Guoco Group's bid for Bermuda-registered GL
Tougher voluntary delisting rule changes introduced less than two years ago might have little effect on Guoco Group's lowball bid for GL Ltd. The changes were aimed at making it harder for dominant shareholders to take their companies private without adequately compensating minority investors. Last month, GL announced that a unit of Guoco Group would make a cash offer for the company at S$0.70 per share, or a 27 per cent discount to its net asset value.

Corporate digest


Views, Reviews, Forum & Others

On the going green journey
Chia Ngiang Hong, President, Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (REDAS)

The built environment must push for evolving education towards sustainability and climate change, and advocacy and capacity building to support investments in green innovation and incentivising mass adoption by developers and their value chain stakeholders. Many bigger local developers are firm believers of the green agenda and have integrated sustainability into their business operations when they design, build and manage buildings.

Budgeting for a greener future
While this week’s Budget grappled with the challenge of rescuing Singapore from the crippling economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it looked forward as well to another existential challenge for which there is no cure by way of vaccines or herd immunity. This is the environmental crisis, which preceded Covid-19 and will outlast it. In his Budget speech, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat put the critical need to meet the threat of climate change at the heart of his argument for Singapore’s ecological sustainability in the long term.

Evolve, adapt, innovate - S'pore's keys to the future
Faced with global disruptions, what will it take for Singapore to continue to succeed? Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing examined what has worked for Singapore thus far and how that might be applied to future challenges at the launch of a book by former minister Lim Hwee Hua on Thursday. Edited excerpts of his speech follow:

GST hike can't be put off indefinitely
In the five Budgets last year as well as in Budget 2021, which Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat presented on Tuesday, the overwhelming emphasis was on expenditure. With Singapore having experienced its worst recession since independence in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this was appropriate. Outsized levels of expenditure were needed to preserve and create jobs, shore up companies and reskill workers for the emerging post-pandemic economy.

The realities of vaccination
Can employers make it mandatory for staff to get vaccinated against Covid-19? Are workers protected against discrimination - or loss of their jobs - in the workplace if they refuse the jab? With both vaccine and virus still clouded in many unknowns, the implications of not getting the shot are very much still up in the air. Airlines are starting to require proof of vaccination, and many employers are nudging staff with incentives to get inoculated, for their own safety as well as that of customers and clients.

Why Covid-19 hits countries with 'loose', rule-breaking cultures harder
(The Guardian) - With a death toll of more than two million and nearly 100 million people infected worldwide, Covid-19 is still wreaking havoc even as vaccines are rolled out. Yet fatalities are far from evenly distributed. Some nations have effectively beaten the pandemic; others have been soundly beaten. Japan's 126 million citizens have recorded just over 5,000 deaths. With a nearly identical population, Mexico has suffered more than 150,000 deaths and counting.

Reigniting drivers of growth key to Asean's economic resilience
Pivoting towards the Asian global growth engine is one of the major world transitions of this century with a strong contributor coming from the economic emergence of Asean. South-east Asia's trade and economic integration, relatively lower labour costs and the growing wealth among its 650 million-strong population have made it a key destination for many multinational companies seeking new opportunities to produce, invest and sell. Despite the economic impact from Covid-19, the region's medium-term prospects, opportunities and global relevance remain intact, and so should its allure to multinationals.

S'pore, HK in talks on travel bubble as situation eases
Singapore and Hong Kong are in "close discussions" on the suspended air travel bubble for leisure travel without quarantine, as the Covid-19 situation in Hong Kong appears to be easing. The arrangement between the two sides had been suspended indefinitely since Nov 21 last year, the eve of its planned launch, after a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in Hong Kong. Both cities had earlier agreed that the travel bubble would be suspended if the seven-day average of unlinked cases in either city exceeded five.

Malaysia's rail chief moots enabling speedy clearance for travellers on JB-Singapore RTS
If Mohd Zarif Hashim has his way, 15 minutes would be all it takes for a train passenger to cross from Johor Baru to Singapore and vice versa. This includes the time needed to clear immigration in both countries. For this to work, Malaysia and Singapore would have to innovate and adopt a new workflow for border checks in the respective terminal stations at Bukit Chagar and Woodlands North of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link, the chief executive of Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) told The Business Times (BT) in an interview.

Design of JB-S'pore RTS station unveiled
The future Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link Station in Bukit Chagar will be "modern and futuristic", featuring an intertwined roof inspired by the concept of two hands holding each other by the wrists. It will have natural lighting and self-cleaning glass, which will reduce maintenance costs. The winning design for the station was unveiled in Malaysia yesterday, with architect Chin Yee Chong from Johor-based firm SM Architects bagging RM250,000 (S$82,330) in prize money in the Facade Design Ideas Competition.


Singapore Bugdet 2021

Budget 2021 in the media
The Business Times takes a look at key conversations surrounding the “Emerging Stronger Together” Budget, which is aimed at helping businesses and workers prepare for a post-pandemic environment. Key measures such as job support, digital transformation and sustainability initiatives drew public support while petrol price and GST hikes were not as well-received by the larger public, according to data by global media intelligence company, Meltwater.

Singapore can balance its budget during current term, if economy recovers: DPM Heng
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat is hopeful that Singapore will be able to balance its budget during the current term of government over the next four to five years. The government will draw on past reserves for a second consecutive year, with a projected S$11 billion deficit for this year's Budget.

Singapore's progressive wage model a sustainable one: DPM
Singapore's progressive wage model is a sustainable one which has worked well, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in highlighting the importance of getting various parties to work together to roll it out to more sectors. He was speaking during a panel discussion on the Budget, in response to a union leader's wish for the model - which sets out a wage ladder and training requirements for lower-paid workers at different skill levels - to be put in place across other industries more quickly.

Budget 2021 eyes future growth even as it offers firms lifeline now
The initiatives in Singapore's latest Budget will help keep the worst-hit firms afloat while supporting others in transforming and expanding, said experts at a roundtable discussion organised by The Straits Times and UOB on Wednesday. They underlined that such initiatives are especially important as government resources are finite and will have to be directed towards helping growing firms to innovate and stay competitive.

S'pore economy on track for recovery, thanks to steps taken: Panellists
Singapore's economy was battered by the pandemic last year, but recovery is on the horizon as measures have been taken to get it back into shape, experts said at the roundtable discussion organised by The Straits Times and UOB. They added that preliminary estimates gear it towards growth, with sectors like manufacturing taking the lead. This is despite the long-drawn nature of the pandemic, unlike previous crises.

What will happen to some firms when wage subsidies under Jobs Support Scheme end
Wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended until September for businesses badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, but other employers in sectors that have recovered will stop receiving these subsidies after March. The Sunday Times speaks to some employers.

Wage support helps manufacturing, security, biomed sectors recover
Singapore - When Singapore entered the circuit breaker period last April, Mr Toby Koh, group managing director of Ademco Security Group, was concerned that his security firm would suffer financial loss. But with help from the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), which helps employers pay a portion of their workers' monthly salary, he not only managed to retain all 253 existing full-time staff, he even managed to expand his workforce.

Helping large local enterprises grow as part of mindset change
Company bosses and workers have to transform their mindsets to ensure their businesses keep up amid the upheaval caused by the pandemic, experts said at a Budget discussion. They noted that part of this shift will include growing large local enterprises so that they become more attractive to job seekers and supporting them so that they can internationalise.

F&B, arts, construction, retail still feel the pinch
Employers in the food, retail, arts, and construction sectors welcomed the Government's plans to extend wage support for them until June, but many feel it is not enough. Safe management measures and a labour crunch caused by border restrictions mean they will continue to feel the pinch.

Institutional demand seen for SINGA bonds that follow SGS structure
The new Significant Infrastructure Government Loan Act (SINGA) bonds will qualify as liquid assets that financial institutions (FIs) can hold to meet regulatory requirements, The Business Times has learnt. This is akin to how banks already do so with government bonds. Given that these SINGA bonds will mirror their Singapore Government Securities or SGS (Market Development) peers in yield, tenor and structure, they too are expected to attract institutional demand from banks and insurers, rather than retail investors who would favour shorter tenors and higher yields.


Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) Situation

Stricter CNY curbs to remain for a few weeks after festivities
Tighter measures introduced ahead of Chinese New Year to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the community will remain in place until a few weeks after the festivities. Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, said yesterday that the situation has improved, but cautioned against easing measures.

Singapore on the lookout for more vaccine options: Lawrence Wong
Singapore continues to be on the look out for more vaccine options even though shipments for the approved vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna - are coming in now. Having more than one approved vaccine provides the country some sort of insurance as Singapore will not need to rely on a single supplier, co-chair of the Covid-19 multiministry task force Lawrence Wong said yesterday during a visit to the Jalan Besar Community Club.

Why that shot in the arm isn't just another jab
Vaccination is a personal choice, but what if you couldn't board an aeroplane because you decided not to take the jab, or have to cut down on business travel in keeping with your company's policy, or have to serve the usual 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) long after it has been cut short for others who have taken the vaccine? Worse, what if your job role has to change from front-end to back-end so that you interface less with clients, or you have to work from home more frequently as a result of your decision not to take the jab?

17 healthcare providers appointed to run Covid-19 jab centres, mobile teams
[Singapore] Seventeen healthcare providers, including Raffles Medical, Parkway Shenton and Thomson Medical, have been appointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to set up and run 36 new vaccination centres and 10 mobile vaccination teams. This comes as Singapore plans to start mass vaccinations against Covid-19 for the elderly from Feb 22, following the pilot scheme for seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.

Those vaccinated will be monitored for side effects and jab criteria refined
The Government will continue to observe and monitor people who were vaccinated to look out for those with side effects, collect this data and refine the criteria for vaccination. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this yesterday when asked about the 72-year-old man who suffered cardiac arrest on Tuesday night after getting his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the morning.

Check HealthHub app for test results, vaccination records
A new feature on the HealthHub mobile app allows Singapore residents to check their Covid-19 test results as well as their vaccination records. Users of the app can check their vaccination records in real time, such as the type of vaccine they took, which batch it belonged to, the place and date they were vaccinated, as well as their next appointment for the second dose.
*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


Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Global debt surges to an all-time record of US$281 trillion in 2020

US home construction slows in January

US existing home sales edge up as supply plummets

US import prices post biggest gain since 2012

US jobless claims hit four-week high in fresh labour setback

Biden pledges US$4b for global Covid-19 vaccine programme

Fed says risks of US business failures 'remain considerable'

Public debt-phobic Swiss government spooked by using loans to prop up economy

Property: blessing and burden for the Vatican

Marriott's new CEO will inherit company battered by Covid-19 pandemic

Home-renovation boom sends lumber price to record high

EU seeks alliance with US on climate change, tech rules

G-7 pledges $12b funding for Covid-19 response plan

Office buildings emptied by Covid may help France solve housing crisis

Dropbox to sublease some of its office space in transition to remote working

Britain and EU gear up for another fight  

San Francisco exodus leads pandemic housing reshuffle

Working from home may mean less pay: Survey

Australia retail sales up 0.6% in Jan, Covid-19 restrictions a drag

Japan's consumer price decline slows, weak demand keeps outlook murky

Japan's Feb factory activity expands for first time in 22 months: PMI

HK$459.4 million Hong Kong flat sale sets new Asia record

Hong Kong unemployment hits highest level since April 2004

Taiwan sees fastest growth since 2014 amid global chip shortage

India to test travellers from Brazil, S. Africa, UK as new virus strains found

Bank Indonesia cuts rate as economic recovery stalls

Active Covid-19 cases in Malaysia drop to near pre-MCO level Coronavirus Global situation

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