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Weekly News Review / Issue 39

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Top News for the Week


Sales of luxury apartments here hit 11-year high

Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least $10 million each have hit an 11-year high, fuelled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super rich from its less developed South-east Asian neighbours, as well as multi-millionaires from mainland China. In the first eight months of this year, 68 condominium units in the wealthy city state were sold for

$10 million and more each, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to last year, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have been seeking an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, which has been hit by protests, while others may have been moving funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the United States

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/singapore-property-cycle-has-stabilised-says-minister https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/chinese-demand-drives-singapore-luxe-apartments-to-hit-11-year-high


Government working on new pricing model for HDB flats in Greater Southern Waterfront: Lawrence Wong

The Government is working out a new pricing model for future public housing in the Greater Southern Waterfront, in order to mitigate the so-called “lottery effect” of obtaining a subsidised flat in a prime area, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

Speaking to CNA938’s Arnold Gay and Yasmin Jonkers, Mr Wong said that the Government is still studying the best way to price future homes in the area.

During his interview, Mr Wong also addressed HDB’s recent announcement on higher income ceilings and enhanced grants for buyers.

In response to questions on whether the enhanced grants would shift demand to resale flats, Mr Wong said that the aim of the move was to “provide a better balance between new and resale (flats) in terms of grants”, so that the percentage of people buying those properties “will stabilise going forward”.

Currently, about 75 per cent of HDB buyers opt for new flats, compared with 25 per cent for resale flats, he said.

The new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) places no restrictions on flat buyers’ choice of flat type or location, and can be used for new or resale flats.

Link to the story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/new-pricing-model-hdb-flats-greater-southern-waterfront- lottery-11920858


New vertical ‘kampung’ to be built with flats for elderly

A vertical “kampung”, with flats for the elderly and facilities such as a polyclinic and a dialysis centre, will be built in the north-western part of the island.

To be completed in the second half of 2026, it will be located next to Yew Tee MRT station, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

This comes after the building of Singapore’s first retirement village in Kampung Admiralty, which opened in May last year. Almost all its roughly 100 flats are occupied.

The new project is part of broader efforts to rejuvenate Choa Chu Kang and Yew Tee.

The Yew Tee Integrated Development, which has yet to be officially named, will be developed by the Housing Board together with the People’s Association, Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency.

Link to the story:



HDB more flexible on criteria for securing public rental flats

The Housing Board has become more flexible on the eligibility criteria for those wishing to rent its flats under the Public Rental Scheme.

The criteria, listed on its website, no longer state that there is an “income ceiling” which stipulates that an applicant’s total household gross income must not exceed $1,500 per month.

Instead, there is now an “income guideline” that says one can still apply for a rental flat even if one’s monthly household income exceeds the $1,500 threshold, although it should not go above that figure in general.

Though the maximum income for securing rental housing from the HDB has not been changed since 2003, when it was increased from $800 to $1,500, steps have been taken to allow for more flexibility in the scheme over the years.

“(The figure of) $1,500 is used as an indication of income as first-timer households with this income are able to buy a new flat with the help of housing grants, and we want to encourage them to own their own homes,” said MND in its response.

But those who go above that threshold can also apply, said the MND, adding that there have been 590 households with incomes above $1,500 that received assistance with securing rental housing from 2016 to 2018. The figure was 210 from 2013 to 2015.

Link to the story:



Bishan Park Condominium up for collective sale with S$680m-S$688m guide price

Bishan Park Condominium in District 20 has been launched for collective sale, with the owners expecting offers of around S$680 million to S$688 million.

Located at 14 Sin Ming Walk, the estate comprises five blocks of 10 storeys each, totalling 320 units. The 99-year leasehold development, with 71 years left on its lease, sits on 269,796 sq ft of land area with a plot ratio of 2.1.

After factoring in a 7 per cent bonus balcony gross floor area (GFA), the land rate works out to around S$1,122 per sq ft per plot ratio.

An estimated S$70 million to S$75 million will be required for the intensification of the site and also to top up to a fresh 99-year lease, subject to approval from the relevant authorities.

The tender for Bishan Park Condominium will close at 3.30pm on Nov 8.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/bishan-park-condominium-up-for-collective-sale-with-s680m-s688m- guide-price


Braddell View’s latest en bloc attempt again closes without bids

The tender for Singapore’s largest private residential site, Braddell View estate, has closed without any bids after it was relaunched for collective sale at an unchanged price of S$2.08 billion.

At S$2.08 billion, the price translates to a land rate of S$1,159 per sq ft per plot ratio, after factoring in the 7 per cent bonus balcony gross floor area and the estimated differential premium.

The property at Braddell Hill was previously put up for sale on March 27, but that tender closed in May with no bids. At the time, market watchers cited factors such as the size of the estate and the cooling measures implemented in July last year.

Braddell View, which sits on a 1.14 million sq ft hilltop site overlooking MacRitchie Reservoir Park, comprises two commercial units and 918 residential units. The plot has a lease tenure of about 102 years with effect from Feb 1, 1978.

Link to the story:



North Bridge Rd commercial building up for sale at S$80m

A commercial building at 333 North Bridge Road is up for sale with an indicative price of S$80 million, with the tender exercise closing on Nov 5 at 3pm.

The nine-storey KH KEA Building is located on a corner plot with dual frontage along North Bridge Road and Cashin Street. It is next to Bras Basah Complex and has a 999-year leasehold tenure. Its lease, which started in April 1827, has been in effect for 92 years.

The building occupies a site area of 435.2 sq m or about 4,684 sq ft with a total gross floor area (GFA) of 2,698.7 sq m. A further GFA of 299 sq m may be built without any development charge.

Zoned for commercial use under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014, it has a plot ratio of 5.2 and building height of up to 16 storeys.

Link to the story:



Republic Plaza reopens after S$70m revamp

City Developments Limited (CDL) unveiled the revamped Republic Plaza, its flagship property in Raffles Place, following an extensive S$70 million asset enhancement initiative (AEI) which started in April 2018.

Although the building had previously undergone several enhancements, this was its first major facelift since it was completed in 1996. At 280 m tall, the 66-storey skyscraper stands as a Grade A office landmark in the central business district.

The 999-year leasehold property now has a gross floor area of 1.1 million sq ft and total net lettable area of around 780,000 sq ft.

Its AEI included a makeover of the main lobby, arrival frontage, individual lift lobbies as well as lift modernisation and interior enhancements to improve space efficiency.

The retail podium has also been expanded by 3,400 sq ft of lettable retail space, which was created from partial conversion of the carpark area.

Public area layouts were reworked to improve pedestrian traffic, and technical specifications were upgraded to allow a larger variety of food and beverage (F&B) offerings.

Republic Plaza now has a 24,100 sq ft retail enclave spanning three levels, housing close to 40 F&B and retail outlets. Over 80 per cent of the retail tenants are new to the building, while some returning tenants include TWG Tea, The Herbal Bar and Bose.

Link to the story:



Japan’s largest bank MUFG set to cut workforce in Singapore and Hong Kong

Japan’s largest lender, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), is preparing to cut half its Asian investment banking workforce outside its home country as it struggles with dwindling profits and a falling share price.

Top executives in Tokyo have decided to make redundant as many as 90 of the 180 MUFG Securities staff in Hong Kong and Singapore, with employees to be notified next month, according to people familiar with the decision.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/japans-largest-bank-mufg-set-to-cut-workforce-in-singapore- and-hong-kong


Billionaire James Dyson’s family office hiring in Singapore

The family office of James Dyson, the billionaire founder of vacuum cleaning giant Dyson Ltd, has incorporated in Singapore and is in the process of hiring IT and financial-services staff.

Weybourne Group Ltd is looking to build a team of senior staff in the city-state, according to job advertisements posted on Dyson’s website. The family office was established in 2013 and employs around 55 people globally. James Dyson, who earlier this year decided to relocate the company’s head office to Singapore from the UK, has a net worth of about US$11.9 billion, making him the UK’s second-richest person.

Singapore has proven a popular place to set up a family office because of its high standard of living, plethora of international tax treaties and strict privacy rules. The number of family offices quadrupled between 2016 and 2018, Monetary Authority of Singapore data show.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/billionaire-james-dysons-family-office-hiring-in-singapore https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/billionaire-james-dysons-family-office-hiring-in-spore


Watsons eyes more seamless experience for online shoppers

The drugstore business might be a traditional one, but the industry is also looking to remake itself to stay relevant.

Beauty, health and wellness retailer Watsons, which is headquartered in Hong Kong, aims to transform itself by offering offline and online channels to consumers to keep their loyalty.

Its latest move in Singapore is to provide customers with a click-and-collect express option when they buy products online, a process which, in effect, turns every physical store into a mini- warehouse.

Watsons Singapore is also becoming more savvy in stacking its shelves with products that appeal to a new demographic of consumers.

The chain now sources brands by looking at their social media reach on platforms such as Instagram. It is also offering more lifestyle products such as sports nutrition and protein powders. There is also growing demand for natural, organic and sustainable products. The brand has pledged not to sell personal care products containing microplastics starting next year. Watsons brand products, such as tissue paper, are also fair trade and sustainable.

Link to the story:



CapitaLand beats retail blues by working hand in glove with tenants

CapitaLand Group, a major retail landlord in Singapore, has been weathering the tough retail environment by working more closely with its tenants.

One is more targeted marketing activity including the CapitaStar loyalty programme, which has one million members in Singapore.

Another is refurbishing and repositioning the malls to stay relevant.

While tenant retention is high, the group wants its tenants to try new things. For retail leases that we sign every year (whether new or renewal), the group aims to have about 30 per cent of the tenants come up with new brands in Singapore, or a new concept within the same brand.

Tenants may also avail themselves of value-added services provided by CapitaLand, including advice on storefront design and window display, and technology (such as point-of-sale system and inventory management).

CapitaLand also holds a spectrum of seminars and talks for the tenants at various levels, from ground staff to CEO.

Link to the story:



Ikea reports S$1m dip in Singapore turnover to S$341m

Swedish home retailer Ikea generated a turnover of S$341 million in Singapore for fiscal 2019 ended Aug 31, inching down 0.3 per cent or S$1 million from a year ago.

“The overall healthy and largely flat turnover was in line with our expectations,” said Corinna Schuler, head of corporate communication at Ikea South-east Asia. “In this economic climate, we’re proud that our Singapore stores are keeping the loyal customers they have and raising brand awareness.”

In Singapore, it has two full-format stores, in Tampines and Alexandra. During the fiscal year, the company opened an in-store interior design service touchpoint at the Alexandra outlet, serving more than 1,000 customers and collaborating with Singapore freelancers and Livspace.com.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/consumer/ikea-reports-s1m-dip-in-singapore-turnover-to-s341m https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/ikea-rings-up-341m-in-full-year-revenue-here


Strong partners can help Singapore build capabilities: DPM Heng

Singapore is vulnerable to uncertainties in the global environment, and its buffer against present headwinds are companies and workers’ capabilities, which will enable it to ride the eventual upturn, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

“But capabilities can only be built if we have strong partners who have confidence in us, who are willing to stick with us through business cycles,” he added at the Distinguished Partner in Progress Award ceremony at the Mandarin Oriental hotel.

US firm Applied Materials, which supplies equipment and software for the manufacturing of semiconductor chips, is one such example.

Its commitment here is a “vote of confidence”, said Mr Heng, who conferred this year’s award to the firm. It has invested more than $100 million here over the past decade.

The award, last given out in 2016, recognises companies that have contributed significantly to Singapore’s economic growth and promoted the country’s interest in the social and community arena.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/strong-partners-can-help-singapore-build-capabilities- dpm-heng



Singapore population grows at a slower pace to reach 5.7m

Singapore’s population grew at a slower pace in the last five years compared with the same period before it, even as total population hit a record 5.7 million this June.

But the encouraging figures on citizen marriages and births across a similar time period give hope that the declining trend can be halted, experts said when commenting on the trends in the new population figures.

They added that an important task in the years ahead would be to encourage people aged between 25 and 29 to get hitched and start families.

The latest annual Population In Brief report shows total population expanded by 1.2 per cent from June last year to June this year, compared with 0.5 per cent before.

Citizens accounted for 3.5 million of the 5.7 million, while the rest were made up of permanent residents (PRs) and non-residents who include foreigners who work here and international students.

The growth in non-resident population at 2 per cent outstripped that of the citizen population at

0.8 per cent. This was due to a rise in foreign employment, by 22,000, mainly in the services and construction sectors.

Link to the story:



Singapore must ensure it has enough fintech talent

Singapore needs to work harder to ensure it has enough fintech talent – both local and foreign – in the coming years, said Monetary Authority of Singapore managing director Ravi Menon.

“If we don’t do this fast enough, this will become a binding constraint,” he told the inaugural Singapore FinTech Awards at Capitol Theatre, where he spoke about the Republic’s journey to becoming a smart financial centre.

The event highlighted individual success stories and showcased local fintech talent who have made a significant impact on the industry.

Ensuring there is talent is one of three areas that the fintech and financial services industry should work towards in the coming three years, said Mr Menon.

The other two areas involve strengthening business financing and boosting digital connectivity. Noting that fintech start-ups do not have the resources of large financial institutions, Mr Menon noted the importance of having an actively growing venture capital industry.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/spore-must-ensure-it-has-enough-fintech-talent-mas-  chief


Singapore’s core inflation in August stays at 3-year low

Headline inflation rose slightly in August while core inflation remained low and flat, according to figures released.

The mild rise of headline inflation to 0.5 per cent – from 0.4 per cent in July – reflected higher private road transport costs and a smaller decline in accommodation costs, the statement from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry noted.

Core inflation, which strips out private road transport and accommodation costs, stayed constant at a three-year low of 0.8 per cent that it registered in July.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/singapores-core-inflation-in-august-stays-at-3-year-low https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/headline-inflation-edges-up-to-05-in-august-core-inflation-stays-flat


Singapore may fare worse than Asean peers in the next global crash

South-east Asia’s greater exposure to a slowing China, among other economic shifts, have left Asean more vulnerable in a downturn than during the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009.

During the last crash, Asean economies were largely sheltered by a high starting point for growth, a supportive current account position, and low leverage, the analysts noted.

But half of the region’s economies have fallen into a current account deficit since 2006, on the back of an exports tumble. Also, the commodities sector will not be as able to cushion the economic blow, as prices and sales both came down; and private-sector debt is up.

On top of that, the region is now more exposed to the Chinese economy, with a five-point increase in China’s share of Asean exports between 2006 and 2018. Yet Beijing’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth has nearly halved in that same period, down to 6.6 per cent last year.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-may-fare-worse-than-asean-peers-in-the-next- global-crash


Singapore factory output tumbles 8%

Singapore’s factory output last month fared worse than expected, snuffing out hopes of a turnaround and reigniting talk of a technical recession.

The latest data also reinforced expectations that the central bank will ease monetary policy. Overall manufacturing output tumbled 8 per cent from a year ago, sharply below a 0.6 per cent drop forecast in a Bloomberg poll.

Electronics production saw its biggest monthly slump since 2012, with experts attributing the fall to supply chain disruptions from the trade war. The sector faces more bumps ahead, given that the next wave of US tariffs set to take effect on Dec 15 will affect laptops and phones.

Economists remain divided on whether the latest figures signal an impending technical recession, or two straight quarter-on-quarter declines. However, they expect the Monetary Authority of Singapore to ease the appreciation of the Singdollar next month.

A relatively weaker currency can help to boost demand for tradable goods and services here.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/growth-risks-compound-on-shock-factory-drop https://www.straitstimes.com/business/singapore-factory-output-tumbles-8 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/factory-output-plunges-amid-uncertainty-over-trade-war


Q3 technical recession unlikely due to manufacturing uptick: DBS

Singapore’s economy is expected to avert a technical recession in the third quarter this year, thanks to a mild improvement in the manufacturing sector, though support is still warranted, according to a latest report by DBS Group Research.

According to DBS analysts, Singapore’s economy will likely register a growth of 0.4 per cent year- on-year and a growth of 2.1 per cent quarter-on- quarter in Q3 2019, based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate.

The report also highlighted that a robust fiscal budget is expected early next year to render support for the economy, while the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will most likely ease the monetary policy stance moderately next month.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/q3-technical-recession-unlikely-due-to-manufacturing- uptick-dbs

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-to-avert-technical-recession-in-q3-but-support-still-needed-     dbs


Economists expect MAS to ease Sing$ appreciation in October

As Singapore continues to see sluggish trade and growth data, with core inflation at a three-year low, economists are looking to the central bank to ease monetary policy in its upcoming review and provide some support to the economy.

Many expect the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to do so via a “slight” reduction in the Singdollar slope, which corresponds to a relatively weaker currency that can help to boost demand for tradable goods and services here.

MAS uses the exchange rate as its main monetary policy tool to balance between inflation from overseas and economic growth, and its next policy announcement is to be out no later than Oct 14. The slight reduction, expected by analysts from at least five financial institutions, implies an annual appreciation of around 0.5 per cent for the Singdollar, down from current estimates of a 1 per cent annual appreciation.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/economists-expect-mas-to-ease-sing-appreciation-in-oct https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/mas-likely-to-slow-pace-of-singdollar-appreciation-analysts


Trade war, global slowdown dim outlook for Asia

Asia’s economic outlook will dim further amid a global slowdown, with no reprieve in sight for trade tensions between the United States and China, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Revising projections made in April, the Manila-based regional lender cut its growth forecast for developing Asia this year from 5.7 per cent to 5.4 per cent.

In doing so, it cited a slowdown in world economic activity and trade, the re-escalation of the US- China trade war, and a sharp contraction in the global electronics cycle.

Singapore and Hong Kong, which are heavily reliant on trade and investment, are most susceptible to these headwinds, the ADB said.

It slashed its growth forecast for Singapore this year from 2.6 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

It was also bearish on the outlook for next year, projecting 1.4 per cent growth, down from the previous 2.6 per cent forecast.

Weakening exports and investment slowed growth across different sectors, it said, adding that near-term growth prospects were bleak as the US-China trade conflict bedevils global growth.

Link to the story:



Hiring sentiment takes a knock in poll of 3,600 SMEs

Hiring sentiment has fallen the most steeply among Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are dialling down their business expectations for the next six months amid a dimmer global outlook, a survey has found.

In the index drawn up from a quarterly poll by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and consumer credit reporting company Experian, expectations declined quarter on quarter for all the seven measures on which firms were surveyed: turnover, profitability, business expansion, capital investment, hiring, access to financing and capacity utilisation.

But hiring expectations slid the most, slumping 1.74 per cent on quarter.

The hiring outlook in five of six sectors dimmed; the exception was construction and engineering, which improved on other fronts as well, likely due to strong public sector construction activities, said SBF and Experian, citing projects such as the Tuas mega port and the expansion of the integrated resorts.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/hiring-sentiment-takes-a-knock-in-poll-of-3600-smes https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/smes-outlook-softens-on-trade-war-fears-survey


Singapore in world’s top 20 for trade growth potential: StanChart study

Singapore continues to show substantial potential for trade growth, according to new research from Standard Chartered Bank (StanChart).

The city state came in at 16th place on the bank’s list of the top 20 global markets that are most rapidly improving their individual potential for trade to grow.

StanChart’s new Trade20 Index examined 12 metrics in 66 economies, across three equally weighted pillars of economic dynamism, trade readiness and export diversity.

For Singapore, its ranking in the index was largely thanks to its economic dynamism, amid increasing levels of inward FDI, StanChart said.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-in-worlds-top-20-for-trade-growth-potential- stanchart-study-0



Singapore tops list of cities most ready for AI disruption

Singapore is the city most prepared for the next wave of technology disruption that will be brought about by artificial intelligence (AI), according to a new index on AI readiness that ranks 105 global cities.

The technique that allows machines to learn from enormous sets of data is expected to bring new conveniences in modern living and economic benefits. But there is the risk of jobs being displaced, people’s privacy being exposed and inequality being perpetuated through AI being fed biased data, with cities at various stages of readiness for the new future.

In determining how prepared global cities are for this disrupted future, New York-based research outfit Oliver Wyman Forum’s inaugural Global Cities AI Disruption Index, scored cities on 31 metrics across four broad categories: vision, activation ability, asset base and growth trajectory. Singapore received the best overall score of 75.8, bolstered by its strong performance in the vision category, which measures the presence of plans to respond to technology changes and plans to upgrade labour skills and infrastructure such as mobile networks.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/singapore-tops-list-of-cities-most-ready-for-ai-disruption https://www.straitstimes.com/tech/spore-retains-spot-as-second-most-digitally-competitive-country


1st phase of Sentosa-Brani Master Plan to be completed by 2022

Construction will start by year-end on the long-awaited redevelopment of resort island Sentosa and nearby Pulau Brani, in a blueprint unveiled by national planners.

The Sentosa-Brani Master Plan will be rolled out in phases over the next two to three decades, Quek Swee Kuan, chief executive of government agency Sentosa Development Corp (SDC), told a briefing.

The plan is expected to bring in a “considerable” increase in the number of visitors to the island, up from 19 million a year now.

The redeveloped islands will feature five distinct zones, dubbed Vibrant Cluster, Island Heart, Waterfront, Ridgeline and Beachfront.

Each zone is expected to deliver its own experience, such as nature and heritage trails, adventure attractions, eco-resorts, water shows and beach events.

In the first phase, the iconic 37 m Merlion tower will make way for a “Sentosa Sensoryscape” connecting Resorts World Sentosa and the island’s southern beaches. The linkway is slated for completion in 2022, with a price tag of S$90 million.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/1st-phase-of-sentosa-brani-master-plan-to-be-completed- by-2022-0

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/90m-project-to-link-sentosas-north-south-shores https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/sentosa-merlion-to-make-way-for-themed-linkway-project https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/merlion-demolition-plan-upsets-some-but-experts-say-sentosa-overhaul-   vital


F1 Singapore Grand Prix draws 268,000 fans, 2nd highest on record

The Formula One Singapore Grand Prix recorded its second highest attendance in the night race’s 12-year history, having pulled in 268,000 attendees over three days – despite the hazy weather.

In a press statement, Formula One (F1) race promoters Singapore Grand Prix (Singapore GP) said the turnout overtook last year’s 263,000 and recorded the second highest attendance.

Apparently, the haze had not put a dampener on the appeal of the night race, which saw the world’s fastest drivers pitting against one another wheel-to-wheel at speeds of up to 320 kilometres per hour with iconic heritage buildings, modern architecture and a glittering skyline as backdrop.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/life-culture/f1-singapore-grand-prix-draws-268000-fans-2nd-highest-on-record https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/formula-one/undeterred-by-haze-thousands-turn-up-for-f1-race-and-concerts


Co-living firm aims to double number of beds here

Co-living start-up Commontown aims to double the number of beds it has in Singapore to 80 from 40 by the end of the year, and expand to Indonesia and Malaysia in the first half of next year.

The Singapore-headquartered South Korean firm will open new spaces in the Republic over the next three months, including in Geylang, Novena, Redhill, River Valley and Tiong Bahru.

The company opened its first Singapore space in April. This month, it launched a new space at Sixth Avenue in Bukit Timah and added a new unit to its Paya Lebar space.

Commontown said it has achieved 100 per cent occupancy for its initial four co-living spaces within the first four months of its launch.

The locations are in Tiong Bahru and Paya Lebar, with two spaces in River Valley.

The start-up was founded in Seoul in January 2017, and moved its headquarters to Singapore last year as a strategic base for its global expansion plans.

Commontown’s room rates start from $1,600 a month for a membership fee that includes rent, utilities, Wi-Fi, weekly cleaning of both private bedrooms and shared spaces, basic bedding and amenities, and access to community activities.

Link to the story:



Flight to safety checks into Singapore hotel market

Amid the ongoing trade uncertainty playing out between the US and China, there remains a strong weight of global capital seeking opportunities in safe haven destinations.

As a key global gateway city, Singapore remains high on investors’ radar, underpinned by its transparent banking and legal system.

A key beneficiary of the capital inflows is the hospitality sector in Singapore. According to market reports in 2019, there has been an uptick in hotel transaction volumes, including the sale of existing assets and hotel land sites, totalling approximately S$1.7 billion so far this year. With further transactions likely to close before the year ends, 2019 is set to be one of the best for hotel transactions.

The island city’s tourism sector will also see a boost in the medium to long term, with a slew of new initiatives announced this year. These include the expansion of the two existing integrated resorts, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, which will feature new attractions and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) facilities.

In addition, Singapore is seeking to diversify its offerings, with a new eco-tourism hub in Mandai scheduled to complete by 2023 and an integrated tourism development opening at Jurong Lake District by 2026. Most recently, the government announced plans to include new attractions at The Greater Southern Waterfront, south-west of the CBD.

Apart from leisure demand, we expect business and corporate demand to continue to rise. The competiveness of the Singapore economy has since attracted several global companies to choose Singapore as its new regional headquarters. New arrivals include Cisco, which opened its first South East Asia innovation centre; British technology firm Dyson; and newly-formed global technology services provider, NTT.

Link to the story:



CapitaLand gains big canvas for Singapore redevelopments from ASB purchase

Some folks may think that CapitaLand does not have many Singapore residential developments coming up – with only two projects currently.

However, the property group has a much larger canvas for creating development opportunities at home in various asset classes, beyond residential, after its S$11 billion acquisition of Ascendas- Singbridge (ASB) this year.

In fact, one of the group’s priorities in Singapore is to rejuvenate its vintage properties at Science Park 1 – and it has begun to engage the authorities on this.

Science Parks 1 and 2, sitting on respective land areas of about 30 hectares and 25 ha, began operations in 1982 and 1993, respectively. Based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014, Science Parks 1 and 2 are on land zoned for business park use. Most of this land has

1.2 plot ratio; this refers to the ratio of maximum gross floor area (GFA) to site area.

Market watchers reckon that the lower plot ratio for the Science Park precinct is due to historical reasons; it is home to the earlier generation of business park developments here.

Market watchers note that higher plot ratios and hence additional GFA would help achieve all these and incentivise redevelopment of the ageing stock of buildings in Science Park. To date, ASB has redeveloped eight of the old Science Park 1 buildings into three projects.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/capitaland-gains-big-canvas-for-singapore-redevelopments- from-asb-purchase


Industrial building with hidden storey: Illegal floor demolished, unit for sale at $4.2m

The company which built an illegal storey inside its penthouse unit at The Alexcier in Alexandra Road has demolished the floor and put the unit up for sale.

The owner is asking a cool $4.2 million for the unit, which has 16 years of lease left. Industry sources say the asking price, at $400 per sq ft (psf), is double what the owner paid. The first caveat at The Alexcier was recorded on Oct 2, 2006 as a new sale by the developer at $212 psf.

An online sale listing showed a photo of the vacant penthouse unit with a strata size of 10,506 sq ft, including a rooftop terrace of more than 4,000 sq ft. The advertisement also said the property was last valued at $4.3 million by DBS Bank in March.

Link to the story:



SLB Development inks agreement to divest industrial property

SLB Development has entered into a share sale and purchase agreement to divest the entire share capital of Wellprime, its wholly-owned subsidiary which owns a property at 50 Lorong 21 Geylang for S$13.5 million.

The freehold industrial property in question has a land area of about 837.1 sq m. SLB originally planned to redevelop it into a multi-use light industrial building comprising 11 factory units and common facilities.

It is selling the property to Jun Yuan Holdings.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/slb-development-inks-agreement-to-divest-industrial- property


Six adjoining Tanjong Pagar shophouses put on market for S$57.8m

A row of six adjoining shophouses in Tanjong Pagar have been launched for sale via an expression of interest (EOI) exercise.

Located at 48 to 56 Peck Seah Street, the three pairs of two-storey conservation shophouses with attic sit on three separate land lots with a combined land area of 8,213 sq ft.

They have a total indicative value of S$57.82 million, which works out to about S$2,900 per sq ft (psf) based on the total existing gross floor area of 19,938 sq ft. They can be sold individually or collectively. The EOI exercise closes at 3pm on Oct 23.

Link to the story:




One in 4 New York’s new luxury apartments is unsold

Among the more than 16,200 condo units across 682 new buildings completed in New York City since 2013, one in four remains unsold, or roughly 4,100 apartments – most of them in luxury buildings, according to a new analysis by a listing website.

Sales in buildings converted to condos, a relatively small segment, were not counted, because they are harder to reliably track. There are thousands more units in under-construction buildings that have not begun closings but suffer from the same market dynamics.

Projects have not stalled as they did in the post-recession market of 2008, and new buildings are still on the rise, but there are signs that some developers are nearing a turning point.

Already the prices at several new towers have been reduced, either directly or through concessions like waived common charges and transfer taxes, and some may soon be forced to cut deeper. Tactics from past cycles could also be making a comeback: bulk sales of unsold units to investors, condos converting to rentals en masse, and multimillion-dollar “rent-to-own” options for sprawling apartments – a four-bedroom, yours for just US$22,500 a month.

The slowdown is uneven and some projects are faring better than others, but for well-heeled buyers there is no shortage of discounts and sweeteners to be had.

Link to the story:



US existing-home sales rise to highest in over a year

Sales of previously owned US homes rose in August to the highest in more than a year amid lower borrowing costs and sustained income gains, adding to signs that the housing market is breaking out of a slump.

Contract closings rose 1.3 per cent from the prior month to a 5.49 million annual rate, the fastest pace since March 2018, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said.

That exceeded all forecasts in a Bloomberg survey of economists, whose median projection was

5.38 million.

The median sales price rose 4.7 per cent from a year earlier – the second-fastest gain in the past year – to US$278,200.

Link to the story:



Lower mortgage rates stimulate lethargic US housing market

Sales of new US single-family homes rebounded more than expected in August, the latest sign that the sluggish housing market was starting to get a lift from lower mortgage rates.

The report from the Commerce Department also suggested the economy continued to grow moderately. It added to solid reports on August retail sales, industrial production, housing starts and home resales in allaying financial market fears of a recession.

A year-long trade war between the US and China has heightened risks to the longest economic expansion in history, now in its 11th year, prompting the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates for the second time last week. The US central bank cut rates in July for the first time since 2008. July’s sales pace was revised up to 666,000 units from the previously reported 635,000 units. It was the second time in three months that new homes sales jumped above 700,000.

New homes sales are benefiting from a shortage of previously owned homes. The median new house price rose 2.2 per cent to US$328,400 in August from a year ago.

Link to the story:






Lee Sze Teck Head, Research


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