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Weekly News Review / Issue 36

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

Residential

Luxus Hills, Parc Clematis see brisk sales

Developer Bukit Sembawang Estates has sold 71 of the 78 homes of its Luxus Hills (Signature Collection) during the preview weekend at prices ranging from S$3.058 million to S$4.2 million. A total of 32 homes were sold on Aug 30, the first day of preview, prompting the developer to release the remaining 46 homes for sale.

Located in Seletar Hills Estate, the 999-year leasehold landed development comprises 58 intermediate terraces, 10 corner terraces and 10 semi-detached homes. The intermediate terraces are between 3,757 and 3,810 sq ft in size; the corner terraces are from 3,541 to 3,671 sq ft, and the semi-detached units, from 3,541 to 3,671 sq ft.

Meanwhile, SingHaiyi Group’s newly launched 1,468-unit Parc Clematis (formerly Park West) sold 324 of the 465 units released for sale by the end of the launch day on Aug 31. This worked out to an average selling price of about S$1,580 per sq ft.

Residential unit sizes range from 452 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit to 2,669 sq ft for the largest five-bedroom Penthouse unit. The strata Terrace units start from 2,659 sq ft and the Bungalow units are 3,832 sq ft each.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/luxus-hills-parc-clematis-see-brisk-sales https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/two-newly-launched-projects-see-brisk-sales

 

Meyer Mansion condo launch set for Sept 13

Developer Guocoland will start selling units at its freehold Meyer Mansion condominium on Sept 13, with a public preview on Sept 6.

GuocoLand declined to divulge the pricing for the project but analysts expect prices to be above S$2,700 per sq ft.

Located at the former Casa Meyfort along Meyer Road, the development is a 25-storey residential tower comprising 200 units. It offers a range of units from 484 sq ft one-bedroom apartments to 2,142 sq ft four-bedroom premium units.

Higher floor units of the condo boast unblocked panoramic views of the sea while lower floor units offer views of Meyer Mansion’s own gardens, said the developer. Meyer Road is in District 15 and is touted as a prime seafront residential district.

Said GuocoLand group managing director Cheng Hsing Yao: “It is extremely rare for a high-rise freehold site along Meyer Road to become available, and it will be increasingly so in the future. An opportunity like Meyer Mansion will be very hard to come by going forward.”

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/guocoland-to-launch-freehold-meyer-mansion-on-sept-13 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/meyer-mansion-condo-launch-set-for-sept-13

 

Muted updates to DC rates amid challenging macro scene

Against the backdrop of a challenging macroeconomic environment, the government has announced muted adjustments in development charges (DC).

The Ministry of National Development announced that it is raising DC rates for commercial use by 1.7 per cent on average for the period Sept 1, 2019 to Feb 29, 2020. The increase is only a shade of the 9.8 per cent hike for the last revision that took effect on March 1 this year.

DC rates for non-landed residential use have been trimmed by 0.3 per cent on average. This follows the 5.5 per cent cut in March. For non-landed residential use, DC rates were cut in just seven out of the 118 sectors by between 4 per cent and 7 per cent, with no change to the DC rates for the remaining 111 sectors. The biggest cut of 7 per cent is for Sector 112 (which includes places such as West Coast and Clementi).

Developers pay DC for the right to enhance the use of some sites or to build bigger projects on them.

DC rates remain unchanged for all other uses. During the previous revision, DC rates for the use group that includes hotels were jacked up by 45.6 per cent on average.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/muted-updates-to-dc-rates-amid-challenging-macro-scene https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/development-charges-for-non-landed-residential-use-cut-again

 

Muted response to two Government Land Sale sites, but third site pulls in nine bids

The one-north Gateway site attracted nine bids by the time the tender process for it and two other plots closed.

The top offer was $155.7 million, or $1,001 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr), lodged by TID Residential, a joint venture between Hong Leong Holdings and Mitsui Fudosan.

Tenders also closed for land parcels in Tan Quee Lan Street and Bernam Street.

The Tan Quee Lan Street site received two bids, led by the $800.2 million, or $1,535 psf ppr, submitted by a partnership between GuocoLand subsidiary GLL D, Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty.

There were four bidders for the site in Bernam Street, with an offer of $440.9 million, or $1,463 psf ppr, from Chinese firm HY Realty leading the way.

An analyst noted that the top bids were more measured, a reflection of the global economic uncertainties.

The demand for the one-north Gateway site was not surprising, given its “palatable size and strategic location”. Bidders were “probably encouraged by the growing tenant pool, as well as the limited options available in the private residential market.

Huttons Asia research head Lee Sze Teck noted that while the Tan Quee Lan Street site is an attractive one, “only developers with the experience of developing projects in the city centre will participate, which is why we did not see many bids”.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/9-bids-for-one-north-gateway-site-with-top-offer-of-1557m https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/muted-response-to-two-government-land-sale-sites-but-third-site- pulls-in-nine-bids

 

Fewer HDB resale flats sold in August, prices up slightly

There were fewer Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats sold in August compared with July, though resale prices showed a slight increase month on month.

A total of 1,921 HDB resale flats changed hands in August, a 9.4 per cent decline from the month before.

Resale volume in August was 7.6 per cent lower than the same month last year.

Of the HDB flats sold last month, 42.2 per cent were four-room flats, 23.7 per cent were five- roomers, 23.4 per cent were three-roomers and 8.3 per cent were executive flats. The rest of the transactions were multi-generation and two-room flats.

However, last month’s resale prices were 0.6 per cent lower than the same month last year, and

14.1 per cent lower than the peak for HDB resale prices in April 2013.

Prices in non-mature estates rose by 0.4 per cent year on year while those in mature estates fell 2.1 per cent.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/fewer-hdb-resale-flats-sold-in-august-prices-up-slightly-srx https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/fewer-hdb-resale-flats-sold-in-august-but-prices-inch-up

 

Bank lending down as home loans fall for 7th straight month

Mortgage lending declined for the seventh month in a row to help send overall bank borrowing down last month – the first contraction in six months.

Banks lent a total of $680.7 billion, down 0.9 per cent from the $687.08 billion in June, preliminary data showed.

Housing loans totalled $201.77 billion, 0.2 per cent lower than June and the seventh month of contraction. They were down 0.8 per cent on July last year.

For consumers, the drop may signify more prudent purchase behaviours due to imminent uncertainties in their earning powers.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/banking/bank-lending-down-as-home-loans-fall-for-7th-straight-month

 

Extended family sold Pinnacle unit for larger Pasir Ris flat

In 2008, educator Anita Kaur and her husband bought a five-room flat in Pinnacle@Duxtonfor

$619,000. They sold it for $980,000 in 2015, making a neat profit of nearly 60 per cent.

Winning the ballot and living in the famous estate was exciting at first, but when the children came along, Ms Kaur and her system administrator husband decided they needed a bigger place as they were also sharing it with her husband’s parents and grandmother.

After crossing the minimum occupation period of five years at the Pinnacle, the extended family of four generations moved into Sea Horizon, an executive condominium in Pasir Ris, which they secured for $1.3 million.

Their Pinnacle unit with three bedrooms was 105 sq m, while they now have four bedrooms spread over 160 sq m in Pasir Ris.

Interest in the Pinnacle was renewed recently after the Government announced that 9,000 new residential apartments would be built on the site of the Keppel Club after its land lease expires at the end of 2021.

Property pundits expect the future Keppel units to draw as much interest as the Pinnacle because of its seafront location and proximity to the central business district.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/extended-family-sold-pinnacle-unit-for-larger-pasir-ris-flat https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/owning-an-hdb-flat-in-some-areas-like-sitting-on-a-goldmine

 

2 new Punggol BTO projects

Two new Build-To-Order (BTO) projects comprising 2,724 flats will be launched in the waterfront district of Punggol Point this month at the Housing Board’s sales exercise.

Both contain heritage elements in their design – Punggol Point Crown is inspired by the old Ponggol Zoo that was located near the Strait of Johor between the late 1920s and early 1940s. The second project to be rolled out is phase two of the seafront Punggol Point Cove, whose design draws reference from Punggol’s first incarnation as a fishing village.

Flats available range from two-room flexi to five-room flats, and the projects are expected to be completed in 2024.

The first phase of Punggol Point Cove was launched in August last year alongside Punggol Point Woods. The four projects together will make up the waterfront district of Punggol Point, located next to Punggol Point Jetty.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/2-new-punggol-bto-projects https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/hdb-to-launch-over-2700-flats-in-punggol-point-for-sale https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/more-than-2700-flats-in-punggol-to-be-launched-in-september https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ponggol-zoo-gone-but-not-forgotten

 

Parliament: HDB to review how it interacts with single unwed parents

The Housing Board will carry out a comprehensive review of how it interacts with single unwed parents seeking a roof over their heads.

It will look at the “various touchpoints” these parents may encounter in their housing journey, from its e-applications system to front-line officers, said the Ministry of National Development’s Senior Parliamentary Secretary Sun Xueling in Parliament.

She also said the board will explicitly state on its website that single unwed parents can approach it to apply to buy or rent a flat.

The board will also look at introducing a section dedicated to addressing common housing queries from these parents.

She expressed the hope that these measures would help allay their fears.

“Single unwed parents and their children are our valued citizens. We are committed to do better,” she said.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/hdb-to-review-how-it-interacts-with-single-unwed-parents

 

Tech@SG pilot spurs hopes of demand spike for home rentals

Singapore’s plans to expand its pool of foreign tech talent under a new scheme may help to boost the private home rental market here, property consultants said.

Under the Tech@SG pilot, which will be rolled out in Q4 2019, qualifying high-growth technology firms will have the Employment Pass applications of “core team members” facilitated to help them get the talent needed to set up new teams here.

Singapore’s residential market will benefit from having more highly skilled foreigners as most of these expatriates tend to receive a good housing allowance on top of a good salary package.

According to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, rentals of private properties rose 1.3 per cent in Q2 2019, compared with the 1 per cent increase in the previous quarter.

“There’s been some pressure on rents already, and if at least 1,000 of them come, this may shift the bargaining power over to the landlord,” said Lee Sze Teck, head of research at Huttons Asia.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/techsg-pilot-spurs-hopes-of-demand-spike-for-home-rentals

 

D’Grove Villas condo in District 10 relaunched for collective sale at S$392m

Freehold high-rise condominium D’Grove Villas in prime District 10 has been put up for collective sale again, this time at a slightly lower asking price of S$392 million.

This translates to a unit land rate of S$2,908 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the residential redevelopment site.

The property’s first en bloc attempt was launched in March at S$398 million, and the tender closed in May.

Located at 8A Orange Grove Road in the Ardmore precinct, the 21-storey condominium has 45 units and sits on a 50,400 sq ft freehold site overlooking the Singapore Botanic Gardens and the city skyline. D’Grove Villas is zoned for residential use, and has a gross plot ratio of 2.8 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014.

The tender for D’Grove Villas will close at 3pm on Sept 30.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/dgrove-villas-condo-in-district-10-relaunched-for-collective-sale-at- s392m

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/en-bloc-sale-of-dgrove-villas-condo-in-district-10-relaunched-at- slightly-lower

 

St George’s Road shops and apartments up for collective sale at S$26.5m

Three shops and the residential units above them along St George’s Road have been launched for an en bloc sale via private treaty, at an asking price of S$26.5 million.

Located at 2, 4 and 6 St George’s Road, the 4,403 sq ft freehold site has a plot ratio of three and gross floor area of 13,210 sq ft.

The price works out to S$2,006 per sq ft per plot ratio. All the owners have consented to the sale. The site is zoned residential with commercial use on the first storey. The buyer can build up to five storeys for a new building on the site.

No closing date has been set for the sale.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/st-georges-road-shops-and-apartments-up-for-collective-sale-at- s265m

Commercial

Sun Venture secures maiden green club loan of S$455m for 71 Robinson Road

Sun Venture, a real estate investment company with a focus on commercial real estate in Singapore, has secured its first green club loan of S$455 million for the acquisition of 71 Robinson Road.

The building is a 15-storey office tower at the corner of Robinson Road and McCallum Street in the Central Business District.

The green loan was delivered in partnership with OCBC Bank, which acted as the adviser, facility agent and security agent. OCBC and DBS acted as joint green loan mandated lead arrangers.

This maiden green loan will finance both the acquisition of 71 Robinson Road and future investments into improving its energy, water and waste footprints.

The aim is to eventually achieve the higher-tiered Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark GoldPlus award in future. 71 Robinson Road currently has a BCA Green Mark Gold award, which it received earlier this year.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/sun-venture-secures-maiden-green-club-loan-of-s455m-for-71- robinson-road

 

Top Global to buy units in Thong Teck Building from Allied Tech director

Mainboard-listed property group Top Global has decided to buy 23 freehold commercial strata- titled lots with 43 property addresses in Thong Teck Building for S$170 million.

The properties comprise 39 office units and four retail units located within the nine-level Thong Teck Building on 15 Scotts Road, which was built in the mid-1970s and upgraded in 2014.

Top Global said it will pay the total purchase price of S$170 million in cash, funded through bank financing and internal cash resources.

The properties have a net lettable area of about 57,000 square feet, and collectively represent 54 per cent of the management corporation strata title (MCST) share value as at July 31.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/top-global-to-buy-units-in-thong-teck-building-from-allied- tech-director

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/top-global-paying-170m-for-43-units-in-thong-teck- building

 

Shopee opens new regional HQ in Kent Ridge

Home-grown shopping platform Shopee opened its new six-storey regional headquarters in Kent Ridge, in a move that bodes well for Singapore’s push into the digital economy sector.

Since its launch in 2015, Shopee, which is owned by consumer Internet firm Sea, has grown into one of South-east Asia’s leading e-commerce platforms, with operations in seven places including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

In the second quarter of this year, the platform achieved 246.3 million orders regionally and recorded a gross merchandise volume of US$3.8 billion (S$5.3 billion).

Shopee’s new 244,000 sq ft office is almost six times larger than its previous one in Science Park Drive.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/shopee-opens-new-regional-hq-in-kent-ridge https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/shopee-pumping-more-into-user-engagement-and-services-for-sellers https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/seas-digital-economy-a-bright-spot-for-singapore-dpm-heng

 

Retail, office strata lots at former Chevron House put up for sale

Five strata lots for retail and office use, spanning seven storeys at 30 Raffles Place, have been launched for sale.

The building, formerly known as Chevron House, is undergoing comprehensive asset enhancement initiative (AEI) works, with property developer Oxley Holdings having agreed to sell it to Golden Compass, the investment vehicle of US real estate fund AEW.

The guide price for the retail space is S$5,000 to S$5,500 per sq ft of net lettable area (NLA); that for the office space is S$3,000 to S$3,300 psf, based on strata floor area.

Based on The Business Times’ calculations, the guide prices work out to a total indicative price tag of between S$461.7 million and S$507.9 million, in the event that all five lots are purchased together. The strata lots can be purchased individually or collectively, or on a per-floor basis.

The retail podium comprises two strata lots, spread across four storeys from Basement 2 to Level

  1. It has a NLA of 51,376 square feet (sq ft) and a strata area of 61,516 sq ft.

The property will be marketed through an expression of interest exercise, which closes at 3pm on Oct 10.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/retail-office-strata-lots-at-former-chevron-house-put-up-for-sale

 

Reporting organisation sets up Asean hub in Singapore

Sustainability reporting organisation Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is opening its Asean regional hub in Singapore on Sept 3, with the backing of a 12-member consortium including Singapore Exchange (SGX), and three Big Four firms.

Providing “a single common global language”, the GRI Standards sustainability reporting are used by 80 per cent of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting firms in the region, and are “referenced or required” by regional stock markets, GRI chief executive Tim Mohin told The Business Times.

Noting that Asean is a fast-growing region, he said: “We see the need for sustainability reporting really growing with the economy.”

More than 90 per cent of the world’s largest companies report ESG information, of which 75 per cent use the GRI Standards.

The new regional hub will support firms in the ten Asean countries with services and training related to identifying, managing, and reporting ESG impacts.

It will also liaise with governments, capital markets, civil society and other stakeholders in the region.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/reporting-organisation-sets-up-asean-hub-in-singapore

 

Charles Schwab to close Singapore office by year’s end

Less than two years after opening its Singapore office, discount broker Charles Schwab has decided to cease operations here at year’s end.

The brokerage said that following a review of its business outside the US, it has decided to focus its resources “on markets where we can most effectively serve clients and where we can do it most efficiently for the firm”.

Its business outside of the US will henceforth be focused in Hong Kong, China, Latin America and in the United Kingdom and Europe, its spokesman said in a statement by e-mail.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/charles-schwab-to-close-singapore-office-by-years-end

Retail

BreadTalk to buy food-court operator Food Junction for S$80m

Food and beverage (F&B) player BreadTalk Group is looking to buy the entire stake in Food Junction Management (FJM), which operates food courts and F&B outlets in Singapore and Malaysia, for S$80 million.

BreadTalk announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Topwin Investment Holding, had on Aug 30 entered into a sale and purchase agreement for the proposed acquisition of FJM from Food Junction Holdings.

The total consideration of S$80 million will be paid in cash and funded through BreadTalk’s internal resources, including available cash on hand, and debt facilities.

FJM operates 12 food courts in Singapore and three in Malaysia, with another one scheduled to open next year at The Mall, Mid Valley Southkey, in Johor Bahru.

Meanwhile, BreadTalk operates food courts under the Food Republic and Food Opera brands in Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Cambodia and Thailand. As at June 30, the group runs 14 food courts in Singapore and two in Malaysia.

BreadTalk said the acquisition will allow it to obtain additional revenue streams and benefit from the synergies with its existing food court and F&B outlet business through the “streamlining of costs” and sharing of resources.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/breadtalk-to-buy-food-court-operator-food-junction-for- s80m-0

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/breadtalk-plans-80m-acquisition-of-food-junction

 

Taobao’s first physical store in South-east Asia opens in Funan

Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao has opened its first store in South-east Asia, in Funan mall, to cater to rising demand for its home furniture goods.

Called Taobao Store by Virmall, the shop is a partnership between Taobao and Virmall, a local firm that helps to curate and bring in products from merchants on Taobao.

Opened on Wednesday (Sept 4), the shop offers more than 300 products from furniture to kitchen appliances and clothes. About 80 per cent of the items are from the home and living category, the fastest-growing category in Singapore on Taobao.

The 6,000 sq ft store on Basement Two of Funan mall is about 10 times larger than Taobao’s previous six-month pop-up at multi-label concept store NomadX in Plaza Singapura.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/taobaos-first-physical-store-in-south-east-asia-opens-in-funan

 

Japan’s largest train operator to open shops in Thomson-East Coast Line stations

Japan’s largest train operator East Japan Railway Company (JR East) will open retail shops in 27 of the 32 stations on the future Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), which is slated to begin operations in phases from the end of this year.

The company plans to open shops in three stations — Woodlands North, Woodlands and Woodlands South — in December, the report said.

JR East is the first Japanese railway operator to develop commercial facilities at metro stations in foreign countries.

The new operator will rent 5,000 sqm of floor space from LTA for 16 years starting from the end of 2019.

The largest shopping area, at 1,570 sqm, will be at Woodlands station.

Link to the story:

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/japans-largest-train-operator-open-shops-thomson-east-coast-line-stations

 

Government

URA moves to conserve former SCGS buildings at Emerald Hill

Plans are in the works to conserve three buildings on the site of the former Singapore Chinese Girls’ School (SCGS) in Orchard Road, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

It said it has proposed their protection and that the buildings will be adapted to house new cultural and lifestyle uses, in line with the government’s plans to strengthen and differentiate Orchard Road with unique offerings.

The agency, which carried out a study of the site, assessed three buildings there to be of high historical and architectural significance.

The buildings are the Main Block (built in 1925), Principal’s House (1930) and Song Ong Siang Block (1956). Each of these buildings features an architectural style representative of its time, serving as a link to the school’s history, the URA said.

The news follows a campaign, launched by the school’s former students last September, to save their old campus of almost 70 years from potential redevelopment.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/ura-moves-to-conserve-former-scgs-buildings-at-emerald-hill https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/ura-to-conserve-3-buildings-at-scgs-former-orchard-rd-site

 

Singapore planning a subterranean future as it faces space constraints

Space-starved Singapore has expanded outwards by building into the sea and upwards by constructing high-rises but planners are now looking underground as they seek new areas for growth.

The nation has carefully managed its rapid growth in recent decades to avoid the problems faced by other fast developing Asian metropolises, such as overcrowding and traffic chaos.

But with its population of 5.6 million expected to grow steadily in coming years, authorities are now considering how to better use the space below the streets.

Singapore has already built an underground highway and state-of-the-art air conditioning system, but is now looking to house more facilities beneath the surface in order to optimise land use above it.

According to a draft development plan released in March, authorities want to put utilities, transport as well as storage and industrial facilities underground in order to free up land on the surface.

There are as yet no plans to put housing underground, however. Three-dimensional technology will be used to produce subterranean maps, with three pilot areas targeted initially, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which created the development plan.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-planning-a-subterranean-future-as-it-faces-space- constraints

 

Singapore Land Authority’s OneMap to get 3D upgrade

Users will be able to digitally navigate through void decks, or even capture the view from a specific floor of a building, when the Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) integrated map system OneMap goes three-dimensional.

The upgrade, which is expected to go live by the end of next year, was announced by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education.

Instead of acting as a map service that relies on real-life street photos, the 3D version will use models and renderings to project how buildings look like in a neighbourhood. This can be done even for buildings that are not yet built.

This will allow home buyers, for example, to get a better idea of the view from a specific floor of an apartment building, or even conduct shadow analysis to see where shadows cast by the sun will fall.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/online-map-service-to-get-3d-upgrade

 

Mitigation measures can reduce impact on wildlife, says LTA

Tunnelling under Singapore’s largest nature reserve to build the Cross Island MRT Line would call for 3ha of forests next to the reserve to be cleared, which could mean loss of habitat for critically endangered wildlife.

But if mitigation measures are carried out – such as if trees are re-planted in the affected areas or security fences are made “wildlife-friendly” – the impact of the upcoming train line on the Central Catchment Nature Reserve could be reduced, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said.

Despite the “major” impact that the construction and operation of the Cross Island Line could have on biodiversity, this could be reduced to “moderate” or even “negligible” depending on the work site, provided that mitigation measures to reduce the impact are carried out, according to the report.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/mitigation-measures-can-reduce-impact-on-wildlife-says-lta https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/cross-island-line-running-under-nature-reserve-or-skirting-it-both- feasible-says

 

New Singapore govt e-service to help banks combat fraud

A new government e-service that will help financial institutions address compliance challenges and better assess fraud risks in trade financing has been added to Singapore’s digital national trade platform.

The Trade Finance Compliance (TFC) service was created by a joint partnership between Singapore Customs, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and financial institutions as part of efforts against money laundering and terrorism financing.

The new service on the Networked Trade Platform (NTP) will help solve banks’ inability to validate the underlying trade and the lack of reliable data to conduct price checks for non- commodity goods, Singapore Customs said.

Using data derived from permits issued by Singapore Customs, TFC allows financial institutions to reference such information to augment their checks for trade finance compliance. To ensure proper data governance, traders can give consent on the NTP for their data to be shared directly with financial institutions of their choice.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/new-singapore-govt-e-service-to-help-banks-combat-fraud https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-body-to-promote-tech-use-by-legal-professionals-in-region

Economy

Economists slash Singapore’s 2019 growth forecast to 0.6%

Private-sector economists have sharply lowered their full-year growth forecast for Singapore to

0.6 per cent, down from their 2.1 per cent prediction in June, in the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) latest quarterly survey of professional forecasters released on Wednesday. The downgrade “is hardly surprising given the escalation of the US-China trade conflict since the last survey”, combined with much weaker than expected Q2 numbers, said Maybank Kim Eng economist Lee Ju Ye.

The lowered expectation is in line with the government’s forecast range of zero to 1 per cent, reduced in August from 1.5 to 2.5 per cent previously.

Sent out in August, the survey received responses from 23 economists and analysts. It does not represent MAS’s views or forecasts.

For the third quarter, the economists expect year-on-year growth to be 0.3 per cent, better than the second quarter’s flat 0.1 per cent print.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/economists-slash-singapores-2019-growth-forecast-to-06 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/economists-slash-singapore-2019-growth-forecast-to-06

 

Singapore factory activity remains in contraction

There was a slight uptick in manufacturing sentiment last month but the sector remained in negative territory for the fourth consecutive month on the back of escalating trade tensions.

The purchasing managers’ index (PMI) – an early gauge of factory activity – edged up 0.1 point from July to a reading of 49.9. A reading above 50 indicates expansion; one below points to contraction.

August’s modest rise was due to a marginal expansion of new orders and a slower contraction in inventory, noted the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM), which compiles the index.

The PMI for the electronics sector also recorded a 0.1 point increase from July to 49.4 last month, although it is still in contraction for the 10th consecutive month.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/spore-factory-activity-remains-in-contraction https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/singapore-factory-outlook-edges-up-in-aug-but-still-in-contraction

 

Singapore-Sichuan 2018 trade grows over 40% to $2b

Despite uncertain global economic conditions last year, trade between Singapore and China’s Sichuan province grew 42.8 per cent year on year to US$1.44 billion (S$2 billion).

In the first half of this year, the growth figure was even higher at 50.3 per cent compared with a year ago, said leaders at the 20th Singapore-Sichuan Trade and Investment Committee meeting in the Shangri-La Hotel.

A large part of this growth stems from the “immense potential” in Sichuan and Asean, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Ng Chee Meng on the sidelines of the event.

Sichuan recognises that there are opportunities for its firms to use Singapore as a springboard to Asean as well, accounting for a large part of the growth, said Mr Ng.

He added in an opening address that Singapore remained the largest foreign investor in Sichuan last year.

Both sides continue to deepen collaboration, with 17 project agreements signed in areas ranging from medical technology to transport and logistics.

Among them, Singapore biomedical start-up Innovfusion signed a research collaboration agreement with the West China Hospital of Sichuan University to co-develop a smart system for administering general anaesthesia.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-sichuan-2018-trade-grows-over-40-to-2b https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-sichuan-ink-17-pacts-on-back-of-jump-in- bilateral-trade

 

IRAS tax collection up 4.4% to S$52.4b in fiscal 2018/2019

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) collected S$52.4 billion in tax revenue in the fiscal year 2018/2019, up 4.4 per cent from a year ago.

The increase was underpinned by Singapore’s 3.1 per cent economic expansion in 2018, IRAS said on Monday in its annual report.

IRAS’s collection accounted for 71.1 per cent of government operating revenue (GOR), and also

10.6 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Out of that amount, total income taxes made up 56 per cent of IRAS’s collection in the period. This comprises corporate income tax, individual income tax and withholding tax.

Meanwhile, GST collection, which makes up 21 per cent of total tax collection, saw a marginal increase of 1.6 per cent to S$11.1 billion from S$11.0 billion a year ago. This was in line with the growth observed in private consumption expenditure in 2018.

Property tax collection for the period was S$4.6 billion, down 4.7 per cent from S$4.4 billion the year before from a lower number of property transactions. (see amendment note)

Betting taxes, which consist of betting duty, casino tax and private lotteries duty, was at S$2.66 billion, down 0.9 per cent from S$2.69 billion a year ago.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/iras-tax-collection-up-44-to-s524b-in-fiscal-20182019-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/taxman-pulls-in-524b-in-fy201819-up-44-from-year-ago

 

Singapore slips to 40th spot in Global Liveability Index

Financial hubs like London, New York and Singapore did not fare well in a survey of the world’s most pleasant cities to live in.

Singapore slipped three places to 40th spot in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) 2019 Global Liveability Index, behind Hong Kong – at 38th place from 35th last year – but ahead of London (No. 48) and New York (No. 58).

EIU’s ranking showed that the world’s most liveable cities are generally less global capital, more regional second city.

Vienna took the top spot for the second year running, confirming that life is officially better on the banks of the Danube than it is by the Yarra River in Melbourne, which took second place.

To assess living conditions, the index examines the quality of healthcare, education, infrastructure, stability and culture. Each city is graded on over 30 factors, which are then compiled into a weighted score of between one and 100.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-slips-to-40th-spot-in-global-liveability-index https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/vienna-the-worlds-most-liveable-city-for-the-second-year- running-eiu

Industrial

ESR-Reit secures railway firm as tenant at Tuas industrial property

ESR-Reit has secured a new lease for about 168,846 sq ft at its 8 Tuas South Lane property with Singapore railway firm P-Way Construction and Engineering, the industrial Reit’s (real estate investment trust) manager said.

That accounts for about one-fifth of the 768,201 sq ft of lettable area at the property. ESR-Reit did not disclose the lease terms including the duration and rent amount.

P-Way will use the space to supply steel fabrication works, store railway equipment and parts, and provide dormitory services for its employees.

The company specialises in railway construction, installation and maintenance, and is contracted by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority to provide track work services.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/esr-reit-secures-railway-firm-as-tenant-at-tuas-industrial- property

 

Certis Cisco wins contract to secure JTC properties

Security firm Certis Cisco will tap digital technology to deploy its officers more efficiently at more than 60 properties owned by JTC Corporation in the southern and western parts of Singapore.

Certis, which won a three-year contract with the statutory board to secure an area of 150 sq km, will monitor the properties remotely through a centralised security operations centre. The contract includes the option of a three-year extension.

Some of the technologies that will be rolled out in the second quarter of next year include a multi- service platform that will integrate data from 150 streams of video analytics, 500 sensors such as fire alarms and lift fault sensors, as well as 1,200 closed-circuit television cameras. Called Mozart, the system will be used to coordinate recovery and response efforts.

Certis, which employs 16,000 people in Singapore, will also be using smart data analytics to make decisions on manpower and resource deployment in critical areas.

Its security officers will be equipped with a mobile app, called Argus, that will allow them to do security reporting and monitoring.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/certis-cisco-wins-contract-to-secure-jtc-properties

Hospitality

Ascott set to open 4 new properties by end-2019

The Ascott Limited – Capitaland’s wholly-owned lodging business unit – will open a record four properties in Singapore this year, with another four under the Citadines and lyf brands expected to open by 2021, the serviced residence operator said in a news release.

The four property openings in 2019 will add a total of 846 units. The first to open its doors is lyf Funan Singapore, followed by Citadines Balestier Singapore and Ji Hotel Orchard Singapore in September, while Citadines Rochor Singapore is slated to open in December.

Ascott is also on track to open its first Citadines Connect property in Singapore – called Citadines Connect City Centre Singapore – in 2021. It will be located near Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and the Plaza Singapura mall.

The other three new properties that will come on board Ascott’s portfolio in the next two years are Citadines Raffles Place Singapore, lyf Farrer Park Singapore and lyf one-north Singapore.

These will increase Ascott’s total portfolio in Singapore to 17 properties across over 3,100 units.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/ascott-set-to-open-4-new-properties-by-end-2019

 

Singapore hotel rates, bookings surge in July; stronger H2 expected

Singapore’s hotels appear to have garnered robust bookings for July and August, with expectations for a healthy performance in the second half of the year.

Market watchers pointed to the peak travel season as well as diversion of traffic from Hong Kong as likely factors, but also warned that economic headwinds could pose a downside risk for the hotel industry.

Preliminary estimates from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) showed that total hotel room revenue for the January to July period is up 2 per cent year-on-year to some S$2.33 billion. The average occupancy rate dipped 0.2 percentage point at 86.1 per cent, while the average room rate (ARR) was marginally higher at S$217. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) registered around S$186, or 0.2 per cent lower.

However, for the month of July alone, the average occupancy rate hit 93.8 per cent, while the average room rate clocked about S$217. At nearly S$204, RevPAR for July was the highest out of the first seven months of this year. Preliminary estimates for August haven’t been released as yet. For the first half of 2019, visitor arrivals to Singapore grew by 1.4 per cent year on year to about 9.32 million.

Market watchers also expect the easing growth in fresh hotel room supply to help bolster the industry’s recovery in the next few years.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-hotel-rates-bookings-surge-in-july-stronger-h2-expected

Shophouse

99-year Chinatown conservation shophouse up for sale at S$8.5m

A three-storey conservation shophouse located at Chinatown is up for sale via expression of interest with an S$8.5 million indicative price.

This works out to S$2,660 per sq ft with an estimated gross floor area of 3,196 sq ft.

Located at 18 Sago Street with a 5.4-metre frontage, the property sits on a land area of around 1,115 sq ft with a 99-year leasehold tenure from 1991. It is zoned for commercial use under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) 2014 Master Plan.

As a commercial property, the sale is open to both locals and foreigners, with no additional buyer’s stamp duty or seller’s stamp duty imposed on the purchase of the property.

The expression of interest exercise will close on Oct 2 at 3pm.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/99-year-chinatown-conservation-shophouse-up-for-sale-at-s85m

 

9 conservation shophouses in Geylang, Joo Chiat put on market

A row of seven adjoining conservation shophouses in Geylang has been launched for sale at a guide price range of S$40 million to S$42 million.

Also under the same sale exercise are two adjoining conservation shophouses on Joo Chiat Road, offered at a guide price of around S$7 million to S$7.5 million.

Both sets of freehold properties are for sale via expression of interest, which will close at 3pm on Oct 3.

The Geylang shophouses are located at the corner of Geylang Road and Lorong 14 Geylang, near Aljunied MRT station. They have a total land area of 10,520 sq ft and a gross floor area (GFA) of 18,000 sq ft. The block is fully tenanted and comprises a corner coffee shop, a mobile phone retailer, a Thai massage parlour and other retail trades.

As for the two Joo Chiat properties, they have a land area of 2,393 sq ft and a GFA of about 4,600 sq ft. They are tenanted.

Both sites in Geylang and Joo Chiat are zoned for commercial use with a plot ratio of 3, under the URA’s Master Plan 2014.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/9-conservation-shophouses-in-geylang-joo-chiat-put-on-market

 

32 shophouses in Lavender St, Serangoon Rd for sale at $138m

A group of 32 freehold shophouses in Lavender Street and Serangoon Road is up for sale by public tender at a guide price of $138 million.

This translates to $1,736 per sq ft on the estimated gross floor area (GFA), or about $934 psf per plot ratio, assuming no development charge.

The shophouses – called The Lavender Collection – occupy about 49,200 sq ft and have a GFA of about 80,000 sq ft.

The site is zoned “commercial” with a gross plot ratio of 3.0.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/32-shophouses-in-lavender-st-serangoon-rd-for-sale-at-138m

Overseas

Hong Kong home prices ease for 2nd consecutive month in July

Hong Kong private home prices fell for the second straight month in July, according to government data released, amid continued pressure on the local economy from increasingly violent street protests and United States-China trade tensions.

The price drop slowed to 0.1 per cent, compared to June’s revised 0.6 per cent fall, but property agents said the deceleration was due to low transaction volumes and they expected the downward trend to continue over the next few months.

Some analysts expect a fall of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent over the remainder of this year.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hong-kong-home-prices-ease-for-2nd-consecutive-month-in-july

 

Australia August home prices rise at fastest pace since 2017

Australian house prices boasted their biggest monthly gain since 2017 in August amid record low interest rates and looser lending rules, a much-needed boost just days before data are expected to show the economy expanding at its slowest pace in a decade.

Indeed, figures out showed a surprise drawdown in business inventories that suggested the economy might not have grown at all in the June quarter.

Such a dismal outcome would be an embarrassment for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who won election in May based largely on a pledge that growth would always by stronger under his watch.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/australia-august-home-prices-rise-at-fastest-pace-since-2017

 

 

 

By:

Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

 

This document has been prepared by Huttons Asia for general information only. Huttons Asia does not guarantee warrant or represent that the information contained in this document is correct. Any interested party should undertake their own enquiries as to the accuracy of the information. Huttons Asia excludes unequivocally all inferred or implied terms, conditions and warranties arising out of this document and excludes all liability for loss and damage arising directly or indirectly there-from. All rights reserved.

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