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New Launch Asia News Review / Issue 42

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Top News for the Week


New private home sales hit a high in Sept

New private home sales enjoyed their best September in seven years, while reaching heights not seen since the cooling measures were imposed in July last year.

The sales surge – 1,270 new private homes were sold, up 13 per cent from August – came as developers revved up launches after the Hungry Ghost month, with some in the city-fringe area proving catnip for buyers. Four of five new launches last month – Avenue South Residence, Meyer Mansion, The Antares and Uptown@Farrer – are in the city fringe, while Cuscaden Reserve is in prime district 10.

Nearly 60 per cent of last month’s sales were in the city fringe, known in the industry as the rest of central region.

Avenue South Residence in Silat Avenue rode on the hype around the future Greater Southern Waterfront development announced in August to make top seller last month, with 361 units moved at a median price of $1,941 per sq ft.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/new-private-home-sales-hit-a-high-in-sept https://www.straitstimes.com/business/sept-home-sales-soar-as-developers-rev-up-launches https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/developers-q3-private-home-sales-set-to-be-highest-in-six-years


Govt to spend over S$1b to spruce up public, private housing estates

More than S$1 billion will be spent on upgrading projects for both public and private housing estates “over the next few years”.

More details on which estates will be spruced up and when, will be announced later.

A key project to be launched for public housing estates from next year will be the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) for flats built between 1987 and 1997.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/govt-to-spend-over-s1b-to-spruce-up-public-private- housing-estates

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/1b-to-be-spent-on-upgrading-housing-estates https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/55000-hdb-flats-to-be-upgraded-from-next-year https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/over-50-parks-to-be-built-or-upgraded-with-communities-involved


Buyers from China bump up Singapore luxury condo sales

The luxury end of Singapore’s residential market is hot, and according to a report, it’s because of increased interest from mainland Chinese nationals.

In the first nine months of the year, 315 condo units in Singapore’s prime core central region were bought by foreigners, almost recovering to the pace before the government introduced cooling measures in July 2018.

Of those, 97 units, or about one-third, were purchased by mainland Chinese nationals, which make up the largest foreigner buyer group in Singapore. Meanwhile, only eight units were bought by Hong Kongers.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/buyers-from-china-bump-up-singapore-luxury-condo-sales https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/chinese-buyers-driving-surge-in-luxury-home-sales-here-colliers


Two Belmont Rd GCBs being sold

Two freehold bungalows along Belmont Road, the subject of mortgagee sales, are changing hands. The more advanced deal involves the smaller property, which is a stone’s throw from the Holland Village MRT station. Located within the Cornwall Gardens Good Class Bungalow (GCB) area, this property with a long driveway is being sold for S$18.6 million, which works out to S$1,139 per square foot based on the land area of 16,327 sq ft.

The buyer is understood to be Wing Tai Holdings chairman Cheng Wai Keung’s daughter, Carol. An option for the purchase of the property was exercised earlier this month.

As for the other property, which is in a cul de sac in the Belmont Park GCB Area, an option has been granted, but yet to be exercised, The Business Times understands. The buyer has yet to lodge a caveat.

Word on the street is that the price is between S$34 million and S$35 million, which would translate to S$1,260 to S$1,296 psf on 27,000 sq ft of land area.

Link to the story:



Property investors turn to S-E Asia amid Hong Kong unrest

From luxury Singapore condos to Malaysian seafront apartments, Hong Kong investors are shifting cash into South-east Asian property, demoralised by increasingly violent protests as well as the China-US trade war.

Mainland Chinese, who traditionally viewed property in Hong Kong as a safe investment, are opting for rival financial hub Singapore as a result of the protests and the US-China trade war, according to observers.

As well as hitting China’s economy, trade tensions may have discouraged some Chinese from investing in the West and pushed them towards Singapore, with its mostly ethnic Chinese population.

There are further signs the stable, tightly ruled city is benefiting from the Hong Kong turmoil – Goldman Sachs estimated as much as US$4 billion flowed out of Hong Kong to Singapore this summer.

Analysts warned there was little hope of Hong Kong’s property market recovering soon.

Link to the story:



Queenstown could get 5,000 new HDB flats by 2027

More than 5,000 new homes could be launched in Queenstown by 2027, based on details in a traffic study that will be conducted for Singapore’s oldest town.

The Housing Board called a tender for a traffic impact assessment (TIA) on Monday.

According to tender documents, about 2,060 of these homes in two developments could be launched as early as 2021 or 2022.

Another 3,280 units across four developments are expected to be pushed out five years later.

In total, there are 10 development sites comprising 7,147 proposed units, up to 6,600 sq m for commercial use, and a primary school.

The documents did not say when the other 1,807 units would be launched. The developments span 29ha in all.

The tender documents did not specify the locations of these homes, but said the developments could be served by new roads connected to Queensway, Portsdown Avenue, the Ayer Rajah Expressway and Alexandra Road.

Link to the story:



Nassim Road GCB on sale for some S$175m

A two-storey conservation good class bungalow (GCB) located at 40 Nassim Road is up for sale via public tender with an indicative price in the region of S$175 million.

The property, once occupied by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, has a total land area of around 58,784 square feet (sq ft).

The buyer can redevelop the land to accommodate three GCBs, given that the site has a wide frontage of around 70 metres and is made up of three adjoining plots with areas of 14,867 sq ft, 15,779 sq ft and 28,138 sq ft.

The built property, which cannot be torn down, has a total floor area of around 13,839 sq ft, features an entrance hall, living room, dining room, four en-suite bedrooms, and an internal landscaped courtyard with a pond and a helper’s room. It also has a garden, a car porch and a garage which can accommodate seven cars.

In July, a GCB at 33 Nassim Road was sold for S$230 million or S$2,721 psf by Wing Tai chairman Cheng Wai Keung and his wife, Helen.

Meanwhile, 50 Cluny Road was sold for S$45 million or S$2,980 psf.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/nassim-road-gcb-on-sale-for-some-s175m https://www.straitstimes.com/business/nassim-road-bungalow-on-sale-at-175m-guide-price


Intent to purchase property weakens in Singapore: Survey

Singaporeans are increasingly adopting a “wait-and-see” approach when it comes to buying properties.

This cautious mentality was seen in its property purchase intent index, which measures the likelihood of respondents buying a Singapore property in the next six months.

The index fell to an all-time low of 38 in the first half of this year, from 41 in the second half of last year.

The real estate portal surveyed 794 people in Singapore for its half-yearly consumer sentiment survey.

Slightly more than half, or 51 per cent, of respondents felt the Singapore economy was not doing well, from 37 per cent in the previous poll.

The latest survey’s overall sentiment index also fell five points to 40 in the first half of the year – indicating concerns over affordability and overall real estate climate, among other things.

When it comes to property prices, eight in 10 of those polled say private homes in Singapore are still too expensive, despite last July’s cooling measures.

More than half, or 58 per cent, also want the Government to step in and regulate prices of newly launched properties by developers, up from 49 per cent in the second half of last year.

When it comes to rents, the majority of those polled see rents falling across the board for Housing Board, condominium and landed property markets.

For the biggest condo rental market, more than one-third, or 36 per cent, of respondents expect rents to drop.

Link to the story:



Hong Leong’s Midwood condo to have preview ahead of Oct 26 launch

A six-day preview for Hong Leong Holdings’ new 564-unit Midwood condominium – in Hillview Rise near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve – begins on Oct 19, ahead of its launch on Oct 26.

Early-bird prices start from S$750,000 for a one-bedroom unit, S$1.015 million for a two-bedder, S$1.420 million for a three-bedder, and S$1.999 million for a four bedder.

Apartment sizes range from 484 square feet for one-bedroom to 1,259 sq ft for a four-bedroom. Midwood is scheduled to get its TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit) in September 2022. Kimly Construction is the project’s main contractor.

This is the first condo to be launched on a Government Land Sales (GLS) site by a two-envelope system – the Concept and Price Revenue tender approach – where the winner is selected based on concept and innovation construction first, and then price in the second envelope.

Last year, Hong Leong Holdings and Hong Realty secured the 99-year lease, 153,882 sq ft Hillview Rise GLS site, beating eight other bidders. A total of nine concept proposals were submitted.

Midwood comprises two 29-storey residential blocks that are built 120 metres apart from each other. In between is a six-storey block that has a 569-lot carpark, a covered link bridge connecting the residential towers, and a clubhouse.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hong-leongs-midwood-condo-to-have-preview-ahead-of-oct-26- launch


S’pore parents’ housing type could show how kids will fare

New research by the National University of Singapore (NUS) has found that the type of housing owned by Singaporean parents can be a good predictor of the next generation’s economic status. According to the study, children from grassroots families, defined as those with parents in the bottom 60 per cent, end up in housing that is more valuable than that of their parents. That is mainly due to Singapore schools being located close to Housing Board towns.

In contrast, children from middle-income families – parents in the 60th to 80th percentiles – have housing types that are worse than the ones that their parents lived in. This could be because government subsidies motivate them to buy more affordable public housing.

Another reason is that such children who grow up in suburban or non-mature HDB towns might find it harder to buy homes in neighbourhoods with high-quality public schools, which tend to be in pricier, more central locations.

Meanwhile, the value of homes owned by children born to the wealthiest 20 per cent of families are closest to their parents’ housing and wealth levels – partially due to the lack of wealth redistribution policies and low tax rates.

Still, such children end up worse off in absolute terms because there is less room for them to surpass their parents.

Link to the story:



Singapore’s Q3 property investment sales surge to S$16.7b: report

Real estate investment sales in the third quarter more than doubled to S$16.74 billion from S$6.7 billion in the previous quarter, on the back of a commercial sector surge from big ticket office transactions.

This was also 49 per cent higher than the volume of the first and second quarter combined, said a report.

The commercial sector led sales volumes with S$6.27 billion in sales. The largest office transaction of the year went to Allianz Real Estate and Gaw Capital Partners acquiring Duo Tower and Galleria

– located in the Bugis sub-market – from M+S for S$1.58 billion or S$2,570 per sq ft (psf). Another transaction in the Bugis sub-market was Angelo Gordon and TCRE Partners’ purchase of Bugis Junction Towers from Keppel Reit for S$547.5 million or S$2,200 psf.

The retail sector also saw some activity, with Lendlease injecting 313@somerset into its Reit (real estate investment trust) for S$1 billion. Lendlease Global Commercial Reit’s initial public offering was also well received by the market with a share price rise of 4.5 per cent on the first day.

Industrial sector transactions recorded a total of S$4.07 billion in the third quarter, with industrial investment volume driven by Reits.

Mapletree Investments injected Mapletree Business City II into Mapletree Commercial Trust for US$1.55 billion or S$1,308 psf. The data centre segment also saw Keppel DC Reit continuing to grow its portfolio by purchasing 1-Net North Data Centre for S$201.8 million, as well as a 99 per cent stake in Keppel DC Singapore 4 for S$384.9 million.

The residential sector, meanwhile, accounted for S$3.03 billion, while the hospitality sector recorded S$2.92 billion with higher investment volumes.

The hospitality sector saw Royal Group selling Darby Park Executive Suites for S$160 million to Indonesian tycoon Bachtiar Karim, after its initial purchase from Sime Darby Group last year.

PAM Holdings and Datapulse Technology bought Bay Hotel Singapore for S$235 million, while a joint venture by Hong Kong financial services firm AMTD Group and Far East Consortium International acquired Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore for S$287.1 million.

2019’s year-to-date volume stands at S$27.98 billion from the third quarter’s contribution, and is “increasingly likely” to surpass 2018’s volume of S$33.96 billion.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapores-q3-property-investment-sales-surge-to-s167b-report https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/spore-property-investment-sales-more-than-double-to-167b-in-q3


Move to create list of 50 post-1965 buildings to help raise profile of Singapore’s modernist architecture

Beach Road is a star-studded avenue of historical architecture and neighbourhoods from colonial and post-independent Singapore.

It comprises landmarks such as Golden Mile Complex, Kampong Glam, Shaw Tower, the Concourse, South Beach and Raffles Hotel.

Now, imagine voids along that stretch. Some of the structures could one day be demolished, given their prime locations and the nation’s penchant for redevelopment and collective sales, conservation expert Ho Weng Hin, 45, told The Straits Times.

Golden Mile Complex, for one, has undergone several collective sale attempts. “Beach Road serves as an open book of our architectural history. The erasure of such modern landmarks will be a great loss to our landscape,” Mr Ho said.

In anticipation of such a day, Mr Ho, together with 11 Singaporean architects and building experts, is piecing together an inventory of 50 post-1965 buildings.

The list will be submitted to an international database of 1900s modernist architecture maintained by Docomomo International – a body with 69 chapters across the globe dedicated to the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement. The movement was a response to vast changes in technology and society in the 20th century, and its architecture is characterised by functionality, minimal ornamentation, structural innovation and the experimental use of materials.

Link to the story:



Desperately seeking tenants as eateries shut before lease is up

A slate of restaurants have shut down or are shutting down even before their leases expire. Desperately seeking new tenants to take over their remaining leases, some restaurateurs are offering premises complete with furniture, fixtures and kitchen equipment at no extra cost.

Property agents said takeover fees are common as restaurateurs exiting the scene would try to recover some expenses they had spent in setting up the restaurants.

This trend of closures comes at a time as growth in the second quarter slowed to 0.1 per cent from

1.1 per cent in the first three months of the year.

Some developers are even offering free rent for up to nine months, who handled a unit in Boat Quay where the restaurateur left his security deposit of $75,000 to the new tenant who took over the remaining lease.

Experts say that the current shake-up in the food and beverage sector is not surprising, especially with ongoing disruptions from food delivery operators.

Restaurants and cafes that have shut this year include Atmastel at South Beach, an Italian restaurant helmed by Michelin-star chef Andrea Tarini, and On the Table at Pasir Panjang.

Link to the story:



Holland Village car park up for sale with S$32m indicative price

A freehold car park at Holland Road Shopping Centre is up for sale via expression of interest (EOI) with an indicative price in the range of S$32 million.

The car park, which is located on the basement level of the shopping centre, has a strata floor area of 1,503 sq m and is zoned commercial.

It is not subject to additional buyer’s stamp duty or seller’s stamp duty, and is eligible for purchase by both local and foreign buyers.

The EOI exercise for the car park will close on Nov 20, 3pm.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/holland-village-car-park-up-for-sale-with-s32m-indicative-price https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/holland-road-shopping-centre-carpark-on-sale-with-32m-guide-  price


Competition panel investigating online food delivery sector

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has commenced investigations into the online food delivery and virtual kitchens sectors, with an eye on the use of exclusive agreements and refusal of service by players to block competition.

The investigation, which comes amid tension among some industry players, is focused on two types of conduct, said the competition watchdog in response to queries from The Business Times.

One involves exclusive agreements which prevent food and beverage (F&B) tenants of virtual kitchens from using the online food delivery services of competitors.

The other involves the refusal to supply online food delivery services to F&B tenants of virtual kitchens either run or owned by competitors.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/competition-panel-investigating-online-food-delivery-sector https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/probe-into-online-food-delivery-sector


MOM keeps eye on companies at risk of salary defaults

Employers who are seen to be at higher risk of defaulting on salaries will have to tell the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) whether they have been paying salaries on time.

MOM has sent out about 200 letters every quarter this year to such employers. They were identified by indicators such as late payment of foreign worker levies and being in financial difficulty. If an employer reports that he is up to date in salary payments but his workers later file claims, the employer can be penalised for making false declarations.

Beside physical inspections, the more pro-active approach is one of the new enforcement strategies that MOM has taken to raise compliance with the Employment Act, according to the new Employment Standards Report released.

Another is to give more weight to workers’ claims in a dispute, if the employer does not keep or produce legally required records. Employers with less severe breaches are required to attend corrective clinics on the Employment Act and rectify their lapses.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/mom-keeps-eye-on-companies-at-risk-of-salary-defaults https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/manpower/mom-tracking-companies-at-risk-of-salary-default


Iras recovers S$175m in GST, penalties in Jan-Sept 2019 period

The taxman recovered a total of S$175 million in Goods and Services Tax (GST) and penalties between January and September this year, following audits and investigations of over 2,000 GST- related cases.

In a press release, it said 53 cases involved GST fraud and evasion. Of this number, 20 cases have ended up in court. “To date, 14 cases have been convicted, while six cases are still being heard in court,” said Iras.

Iras launched a web-based calculator on Oct 1 to let businesses more conveniently determine if they have to register for GST, by selecting its relevant sources of income and entering their income figures.

Those with taxable turnover exceeding the S$1 million threshold are immediately directed to the myTax Portal to submit their registration application.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/iras-recovers-s175m-in-gst-penalties-in-jan-sept-2019- period



Singapore starts talks with Australia on digital economy pact

Singapore and Australia began negotiations on a digital economy pact, with an eye on creating a seamless environment for online trade that also protects personal data.

Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham announced the launch of talks in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the latest ministerial meeting for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade pact.

The bilateral Digital Economy Agreement, which will cover digital trade facilitation, electronic invoicing and payments, financial technology, digital identity and artificial intelligence, is expected to be finalised by early next year.

Link to the story:



Workers won’t be alone as economy transforms: PM Lee

As industries transform and Singapore charts an uncertain future, workers will not be left to fend for themselves, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

He reiterated the ruling People’s Action Party’s (PAP) promise to always stand with workers and do its best for them, just as it has since early independence.

Speaking at the NTUC National Delegates’ Conference, PM Lee pointed to the challenges ahead as the economy enters a new phase.

Technology is transforming many industries, and established players are being disrupted. Workers have to be ready for change, and the Government has to help them “to train for new roles, to cope with the rapid changes in their industries and to remain employable”, said PM Lee. “It will not be easy, but rest assured, we will walk with you all the way.”

PM Lee noted that elsewhere in the world, there has been widespread unhappiness as workers lose jobs or feel they have been left behind by progress.

The social compact has been fractured, and this has given rise overseas to populist movements which divide societies.

Link to the story:



$15m boost for national monument restoration fund

Owners of national monuments will be able to access $15 million in a new tranche of funds for their restoration projects in the next five years.

The money, which will go to the restoration fund of the National Monuments Fund, is the third and largest tranche released by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth since the fund was introduced in 2008.

Tranches of $11.8 million and $5 million were granted in 2015 and 2008, respectively.

The $15 million will be made available to non-profit or religious organisations which own and manage national monuments that can be accessed by the public. The money will help them to co- fund upcoming restoration projects.

Application for the fund is open until noon on Oct 31.

The announcement came as the National Heritage Board (NHB) collectively gazetted three Singapore River bridges – Cavenagh, Anderson and Elgin bridges – as the nation’s 73rd national monument.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had announced on Aug 3 that the three bridges, as well as the Padang, would be gazetted as national monuments.

Link to the story:



SM Teo discusses smart cities with Russian officials

Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean has held talks with Mr Sergei Ivanov, Russia’s Special Presidential Representative for Environment Protection, Ecology and Transport, as part of a working visit to the Russian capital, Moscow.

Mr Teo and Mr Ivanov had wide-ranging discussions on smart city development, urban transportation, sustainable development, climate change, and cooperation in the Arctic during their meeting, Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Both leaders “expressed satisfaction with the good progress in bilateral relations” during their meeting and welcomed the signing earlier this month of a free trade agreement between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union, the ministry’s statement said.

They discussed the use of new urban solutions, digital technology and data analytics to improve urban transportation and city management, the statement said.

Mr Teo visited the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, a technology hub near Moscow known as Russia’s Silicon Valley, and Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. He discussed the centre’s programmes and development plans, and met Russian start-ups in the fields of artificial intelligence, cyber security and innovative prosthetics.

Link to the story:



Singapore to double down on digital growth: Iswaran

Playing a long game, Singapore will keep investing in a digitalised economy despite storm clouds, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran suggested.

Meanwhile, he called talent “the key ingredient in this entire enterprise”, and stressed that Singapore is putting resources into building skills capabilities through both education institutions and industry training.

Speaking at the two-day Future Economy Conference and Exhibition, he laid out fresh plans to support the development of the digital economy.

“Our response to uncertainty in the external environment is really to double down on some of the key initiatives that have long-term value for us,” Mr Iswaran said, just half a day after Prime

Minister Lee Hsien Loong told a conference that the Singapore economy will squeak past a full- year contraction this year “if we are lucky”.

The economy has already stagnated at year-on-year growth of 0.1 per cent for two quarters running, according to flash estimates this week.

But, dubbing the digitalisation of the economy a primary objective in “what some would call a ‘no- regrets, robust-across-all-scenarios’ strategy”, Mr Iswaran said: “Whether you have prolonged slow economic growth or a kick-up in the growth prospects, this investment in our digital capabilities is going to hold us in good stead.”

Link to the story:



Singapore plans four 5G networks to secure digital future

Singapore has set its sights on up to four 5G networks, instead of the two initially planned for, as it takes bolder steps to embrace a technology believed to be crucial to the nation’s economic growth.

All four networks can be rolled out by next year, although nationwide coverage will take much longer and be limited to only two networks due to the scarcity of 5G airwaves for islandwide reach. These scarce airwaves, that enable nationwide reach, will become available only in 2021, and wider coverage will start being rolled out in 2022. However, all four networks may offer localised coverage next year.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) more aggressive push to have two extra smaller 5G networks factors in immediate industrial needs – for example, in smart ports and smart factories to remotely operate cranes or vehicles to move shipping containers or goods round the clock.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/spore-plans-four-5g-networks-to-secure-digital-future https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/racing-to-gain-the-edge-with-next-frontier-5g-applications https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/four-way-5g-market-makes-it-anyones-game https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/four-new-industry-trials-rolled-out-for-5g


Opportunities for Singapore despite global challenges: Chee Hong Tat

Electrical appliance giant Dyson may have shelved some of its plans in Singapore, but it will still expand its presence in the Republic, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat.

He added that there are also many opportunities in the region that Singapore can seize, even amid global uncertainties.

He was speaking at the fifth edition of the RHT Asean summit. The one-day summit brings together participants in the business and investment communities to discuss how to capitalise on opportunities in the region amid the ongoing trade war.

In his keynote address, Mr Chee touched on Dyson’s recent announcement that it will cancel its plans to manufacture electric vehicles. The plans had included its maiden electric car plant running in Singapore by 2021. The firm first set up here in 2007.

To take advantage of these opportunities, Singapore can continue to be a trusted partner to both local and international companies by having a pro-business environment regulated by the rule of law.

Mr Chee said Singapore should also continue to build on its extensive connectivity to deepen economic cooperation, strengthen regional integration and support multilateral institutions. It should pursue regional and bilateral free trade agreements, while deepening trade and investment links with China.

Lastly, talent is important, which means equipping the local workforce with digital skills while also attracting global talent, said Mr Chee.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/opportunities-for-singapore-despite-global-challenges- chee-hong-tat


No extraordinary steps needed yet to counter trade war impact: Heng Swee Keat

It is unrealistic to expect that the United States and China can resolve their long-drawn trade dispute in a few meetings, but if the two sides can agree on a number of key areas first, it would be an important step that will restore global confidence, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said.

Trade conflict between the world’s two giants is a negative for the global economy, and Singapore will continue to be affected if the situation deteriorates, he warned.

The Republic is taking steps to stem the fallout, easing its monetary policy just a few days ago by reducing the pace of appreciation of the Singapore dollar slightly.

Mr Heng had said in July that the Government was ready with a stimulus package to help Singapore workers and businesses, should the economy take a plunge.

Singapore narrowly dodged a technical recession – or two consecutive quarters of quarterly contraction – based on figures released by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Monday.

Link to the story:



Growth doubts linger as Singapore thinly skirts technical recession

Singapore’s economy looks to have barely budged in the third quarter, in a Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) flash estimate, as the gross domestic product (GDP) inched up by just 0.1 per cent year on year – unchanged from the quarter prior.

Although construction and some services industries have given cause for cheer, the elephant in the room is whether the manufacturing sector has turned the corner. Doubts lingered even after the US and China reached an in-principle agreement for a partial trade deal over the weekend.

Services was the only sector to stay in the black on a quarterly basis, expanding by 0.7 per cent, even as its year-on-year growth – which has been slowing since early last year – cooled to 0.9 per cent in the third quarter.

Seasonally adjusted, the GDP was up by 0.6 per cent on the quarter before, after a 2.7 per cent decline in the second quarter. It thus escaped technical recession, or two straight quarters of quarter-on-quarter decline, by the skin of its teeth, with the MAS reaffirming an earlier guidance for full-year growth of zero to 1 per cent.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/growth-doubts-linger-as-singapore-thinly-skirts-technical- recession

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/technical-recession-or-not-underlying-factors-matter-more https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/technical-recession-avoided-with-01-growth-in-q3 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/recession-avoided-but-economy-not-out-of-the-woods-yet https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/some-good-news-for-firms-but-sentiment-still-weak-analysts


MAS eases monetary policy ‘slightly’ in October

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has eased monetary policy “slightly” in its half- yearly monetary policy review, in a move that economists see as leaving the door open for another possible easing in April 2020.

The slope of the Singapore dollar nominal effective exchange rate (S$NEER) band was made less steep, slightly reducing its rate of appreciation. The band’s width and the level at which it is centred are unchanged.

“This measured adjustment to the policy stance is consistent with medium-term price stability, given the current economic outlook,” said the central bank.

“MAS will continue to closely monitor economic developments and is prepared to recalibrate monetary policy should prospects for inflation and growth weaken significantly.”

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/mas-eases-monetary-policy-slightly-in-october-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/easing-of-singdollar-policy-reflects-uncertain-global-climate https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/pundits-retain-sgds-end-year-forecast-of-139-141-against- greenback


Singapore’s September non-oil exports continue falling streak with 8.1% drop

Singapore’s non-oil domestic exports (NODX) continued to fall in September, mainly due to lower exports to Europe, the United States and Japan, but showed a slight improvement over August and the five months of double-digit declines before that.

NODX fell 8.1 per cent year on year last month, following a 9 per cent drop in August, Enterprise Singapore said. Both electronics and non-electronics exports saw a decline.

Integrated circuits, personal computers and disk media products contracted by 30.2 per cent, 33.1 per cent and 12.2 per cent respectively, contributing the most to the decline in electronic NODX. For non-electronic NODX, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and jewellery contributed the most to the decline with a contraction of 26.7 per cent, 10.6 per cent and 52 per cent respectively.

On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, NODX dropped 3.3 per cent in September, after an increase of 6.7 per cent in August.

The seasonally-adjusted level of NODX reached S$13.8 billion in September, down from S$14.2 billion in the previous month.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapores-september-non-oil-exports-continue-falling- streak-with-81-drop

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/sept-y-o-y-nodx-falls-again-but-improves-on-august- showing

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/non-oil-exports-fall-for-seventh-straight-month-but-contraction- eases



August retail sales fall 4.1% from last year

Takings at the till fell for the seventh straight month in August, with sales for pricey items like cars taking an especially big hit.

Retail sales dropped 4.1 per cent compared with the same month last year, not far from the 4.3 per cent decline forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

If motor vehicles are excluded, the drop eases to 1 per cent, Department of Statistics data showed.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/august-retail-sales-fall-41-from-last-year https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/singapore-retail-sales-fall-for-7th-straight-month-in-august


Recession avoided but businesses remain on guard

Singapore may have dodged a technical recession but high-end manufacturer Racer Technology knows all too well that times are tough and likely to get even tougher in the months ahead.

The medical device maker used to have a pretty clear idea of what demand would be nine months down the track, and it would order raw materials accordingly. But with demand on the slide, it is down to a lead time of just three months.

Chief executive and founder Willy Koh told The Straits Times that sales for the firm’s hardware devices that cost $3,000 to $9,000 have dropped, although the call for disposable products like mouth pieces has remained constant.

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Frasers Property, Hitachi team up to drive digital transformation in Asia-Pac

Frasers Property Group and Hitachi Asia are investing up to S$50 million each to drive digital transformation in the Asia-Pacific real estate industry over the next five years.

According to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in Bangkok, both companies will explore opportunities to accelerate digital transformation for Frasers Property and the real estate industry – starting first with Singapore, Thailand and Australia. They will also potentially co- develop and invest in new services, the companies said.

Following Hitachi’s research, the size of the addressable property market for the Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan and China, is estimated to hit US$82 billion by 2025.

In addition, Hitachi Asia, Frasers Property and Japanese financial institutions have been working closely to develop a new multi-generational approach to provide technology and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution for the industry, the companies said.

As for what type of projects the company will look at, Frasers Property said in response to BT that it is not able to disclose details but will be using technology and digitalisation “to deliver better experiences to the users and to drive overall operating effectiveness”.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/frasers-property-hitachi-team-up-to-drive-digital-transformation-in- asia-pac


About 20 people in Singapore affected by Dyson decision

About 20 employees in Singapore have been affected by Dyson’s closure of its automotive division, as the British technology company ditches plans to build electric cars here. “We are hoping to find roles for as many people as possible,” a Dyson spokesperson said in response to queries from The Business Times.

“We are in a consultation process at the moment and have sufficient vacancies that we can absorb most of the people affected.”

Dyson’s commitment to Singapore is “as strong as ever” with “ambitious expansion plans in (its) research, operations and commercial teams”, said the spokesperson. “The Singapore government understands the reasons behind this decision and we look forward to continuing to deepen our relationship and our expansion there.”

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/about-20-people-in-singapore-affected-by-dyson-decision https://www.straitstimes.com/business/canned-dyson-project-a-setback-but-wont-tarnish-spores-allure-experts https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/motoring/whats-driving-dysons-sudden-exit-from-e-vehicle-market


Amazon Singapore sees growth backed by logistics capacity

Amazon is able to support its ramp-up of Singapore retail operations, country manager Henry Low told The Business Times, citing “a very long-term view of investments” in areas such as logistics infrastructure.

While tight-lipped about the e-commerce giant’s footprint and growth here, he confirmed that Amazon Singapore has expanded its warehouse space and is on a hiring spree.

The company has also not been shy about tapping third-party sellers on its platform for growth, a global strategy that Mr Low reaffirmed.

Mr Low would not say how much of Amazon Singapore’s inventory is from third-party sellers, but noted that it has brought in both local brands and “very good sellers who have had a very good track record of selling in other Amazon markets”.

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RedDoorz to have 29 budget hotels here by end-2020

Singapore-based hospitality start-up RedDoorz will expand its portfolio of 18 budget hotel properties in Singapore to 29 by the end of next year.

The five-year-old hotel management and booking platform operates both franchise and lease models for its hotels in Singapore.

RedDoorz said its expansion plan will make it the second-largest hotel chain in Singapore.

Last year, it launched its first fully-leased and operated property in Singapore – a 65-room hotel called RedDoorz near Marine Parade Central.

Under this model, RedDoorz manages the day-to-day operations of the establishments, which is helpful for property owners who prefer to be more hands-off or do not run hotels as part of their core business.

The start-up operates a network of over 1,500 properties across 80 cities in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Earlier this year, RedDoorz had its first close of US$70 million (S$96 million) as part of its larger Series C round, and launched a new regional tech hub in Vietnam.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/reddoorz-to-have-29-budget-hotels-here-by-end-2020 https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/reddoorz-gunning-for-ipo-and-making-expansion-a-priority


With 2 Singapore hotels in the bag, Hoi Hup aims for local portfolio

The price tag was almost half a billion dollars – a new record – but Hoi Hup Realty did not dither when offered the Andaz Singapore hotel in the Rochor area.

The proposed S$475 million consideration for the 342-room luxury hotel works out to S$1.39 million per key. This is the highest total price ever achieved for a standalone hotel transaction in Singapore, and the third highest in Asia this year.

Hoi Hup general manager Koon Wai Leong explained that Andaz was the right kind of product that Hoi Hup was looking for. “In general, hotels in Singapore for sale don’t come by often, let alone one that is a five-star hotel. Andaz is a scarce product. The location is very good, being in a spot which caters to both business and leisure travellers.”

The acquisition also fits Hoi Hup’s “objective to add income producing assets to the portfolio to balance out the cyclical nature of real estate,” Mr Koon said.

In addition to Andaz’s five-star rating and prime location, Hoi Hup was also sold on other intangibles.

“The hotel has been built by a strong team, not only with M+S, but with renowned designers Ole Scheeren for the architecture and Andre Fu for the interiors. Most hotels on the market have been around for some years, but Andaz is almost brand new. Andaz ticks all the boxes.”

M+S is the national joint venture between Malaysia and Singapore, which has agreed to sell wholly-owned Ophir-Rochor Hotel Pte Ltd (the developer and owner of Andaz Singapore) to Hoi Hup.

Link to the story:



Hotel Compass in Geylang up for sale with S$23-25m guide price

Hotel Compass, a freehold hotel in Geylang, has been launched for sale by public tender at a guide price of S$23 million to S$25 million.

The eight-storey hotel has 49 rooms, and occupies a site area of 436.9 square metres (about 4,703 square feet).

Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s 2014 Master Plan, the site is zoned “commercial/institution”, with a gross plot ratio of 2.8, and has a gross floor area of about 1,486.4 sq m.

The property is located near Aljunied MRT station on the East-West Line, as well as Mountbatten MRT Station on the Circle Line.

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Hospitality deals hit record $2.8b in Q3

Hospitality deals in Singapore reached the highest level recorded on a quarterly basis, hitting $2.8 billion in the third quarter, according to real estate firm report.

This was six times that of the previous quarter and 19 times that of the previous year, and comes on the back of significant transactions such as Bay Hotel, Mandarin Orchard and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. Hotel deals also took up 25 per cent of deal volume in Q3.

Mandarin Orchard and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport were recently added to the enlarged portfolio resulting from the OUE C-Reit and OUE H-Trust merger.

With sales recorded from the first half of 2019 factored in, hospitality deals in the first nine months of the year totalled $4.2 billion – higher than all full-year figures which started in 2006, the report added.

Overall, Singapore’s real estate investment sales “remained resilient” in the third quarter, totalling

$11.2 billion, despite macroeconomic headwinds and rising uncertainties.

This was a 53.7 per cent increase quarter on quarter (q-o-q) and 74.4 per cent year on year (y-o- y), on the back of stronger sales across of property segments.

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Far East Hospitality to open The Clan Hotel in Q2 2020

The Clan Hotel Singapore – the latest brand in Far East Hospitality’s portfolio – will open its doors in the second quarter of 2020, the hospitality owner and operator announced.

The luxury hotel with 324 rooms is located in Cross Street in the in the Telok Ayer neighbourhood, near Raffles Place and Chinatown.

In a news release, Far East Hospitality said that the new hotel “anchors the group’s vision” in rethinking what luxury means for a new generation of travellers.

It cited figures that show how travellers aged between 25 and 44 years old made up an average of 41 per cent of international visitor arrivals to Singapore over the last six months.

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Lower threshold price for foreigners buying apartments in Malaysia

Foreigners can soon buy Malaysian apartments and condominiums at lower prices in big cities, and the government will inject RM85 million (S$28 million) to improve traffic flow at the two Johor checkpoints into Singapore.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the minimum purchase price of high-rise units for foreign buyers has been lowered to RM600,000 from RM1 million currently.

The move is to help reduce supply overhang of these high-rise units totalling some RM8.3 billion, he said in presenting the 2020 budget in Parliament.

Link to the story:



Malaysia’s property market shows signs of picking up as developers build less

Malaysia’s property paradox may be coming to an end as developers build fewer homes. The government rolled out a slew of measures in the past year aimed at solving the nation’s two-fold problem of a lack of affordable homes and a RM19.8 billion (S$6.46 billion) property glut.

Signs are emerging it is working with official data showing that the number of completed units fell by one-third in the first half compared to the same period last year, while new projects slid by a fifth.

Developers constructed too many high-priced condominiums just as Malaysians needed cheaper homes. To address that, the government pushed the companies to offer discounts.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also announced incentives for home buyers last week in his Budget 2020 statement, including support for rent-to-own programmes and state guarantees to lower mortgage rates.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/malaysias-property-market-shows-signs-of-picking-up-as-developers- build-less


Hong Kong government spells out new housing policy, defends land seizures

Hong Kong’s government yesterday provided further details about new policies announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a bid to ease the city’s housing crisis, which includes seizing up to 400ha of land for public housing over the next five years.

Mrs Lam had on Wednesday said she would increase funding for temporary housing from the promised HK$2 billion (S$350 million) to HK$5 billion, building 10,000 transitional housing units in the next three years and seizing up to 160ha of brownfield sites in the New Territories for public housing.

Brownfield sites refer to land plots that have previously been developed but are not currently in use. The ones in Hong Kong tend to be farmland in the New Territories damaged by small, polluting businesses like e-waste recycling.

Another 290ha, whose exact location is to be announced next year, will also be inspected for hou- sing suitability.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hk-govt-spells-out-new-housing-policy-defends-land-seizures https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/hk-leader-outlines-steps-to-tackle-high-housing-costs





Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

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