Singapore Economy

Engineering remains key to Singapore's future: PM Lee

Engineering is essential to Singapore's future and the government is doing its best to encourage more people to study it and work in this field, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.  At a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Institute of Engineers, Singapore (IES) on Friday, he noted that it has become harder to attract outstanding people to study engineering and take on engineering jobs.

Brexit may dampen S'pore banks' prospects

Analysts say Brexit has cast uncertainty over the prospects of Singapore banks and this comes amid warnings from the central bank of risks ahead for the sector.  The decision by British voters to leave the European Union (EU) has brought risks to Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) growth. While Singapore's trade demand exposure to the UK is relatively small, exposure to the EU is significant, said Citi in a recent report in which it estimated that the Republic's exports to EU accounted for 8.1 per cent of total exports.

Singapore Real Estate

HDB resale prices inch up 0.1% in Q2

Flash estimates released by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) on Friday showed resale flat prices inching up 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2016 - undoing the 0.1 per cent dip in the index in Q1 this year.  Ismail Gafoor, PropNex Realty CEO, noted that the index has shown marginal price movements up and down in the past three quarters. As a result, the index is down just 0.1 per cent from a year ago.  Mr Gafoor said: "It is obvious that prices are in a consolidation phase. With prices consolidating, we expect transactions to pick up. Resale buyers who have remained on the sidelines should have by now understood that prices will not fall very much more below this level.

Bottoming seen in home prices, going by URA data

Most property consultants say that the Urban Redevelopment Authority's second-quarter flash estimates signal that a bottoming out in private home prices is fast approaching.  This, coupled with the recent improvement in private home sales, also means that the authorities would be inclined to delay any easing of the property cooling measures. Some agents are also hoping that Brexit could help divert some property buying interest to Singapore.

Treasure Crest EC e-applications outnumber units

Sim Lian Group's executive condominium project Treasure Crest was greeted with overwhelming demand over the weekend.  The development received 520 e-applications between Friday and 5pm yesterday, outnumbering its 504 units. E-applications close on July 10.  Balloting and booking for the 99-year leasehold development will take place on July 16.  Treasure Crest, located in Sengkang New Town, comprises 84 three-bedroom units, 364 three-bedroom premium units and 56 four-bedroom units spread across eight blocks of 15 storeys each.  They range in size from 958 sq ft to 1,345 sq ft and are priced at an average of $735 to $755 per sq ft.

Companies' Brief

Keppel consolidates asset management businesses

Keppel Corporation said it has completed the consolidation of its interests in the group's four asset management businesses under its wholly-owned subsidiary, Keppel Capital Holdings.  The latter now owns 100 per cent interests in Keppel Reit Management, Alpha Investment Partners and Keppel Infrastructure Fund Management, as well as a 50 per cent interest in Keppel DC Reit Management.  Keppel Data Centres, a wholly- owned subsidiary of Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation, will continue to own the other half of Keppel DC Reit Management.

Edmund Tie & Co: There and back again

It is all in the name for property consulting firm Edmund Tie & Company - or at least it soon will be.  The firm's original founders have bought back a majority shareholding in the company, which has been operating as DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) for the past 16 years.  It was relaunched as Edmund Tie & Co yesterday after Mr Tie and other shareholders bought the roughly 69 per cent stake held by property firm Cushman & Wakefield.  DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) was formed in 2000 with the alliance of Edmund Tie & Co, CY Leung & Co in North Asia and DTZ Holdings in London.  TPG Capital bought DTZ in 2011, and Cushman last year, merging the two entities globally.

Ascendas Reit

Ascendas Funds Management, the manager of Ascendas real estate investment trust (Reit), on Friday announced that Lim Hock San has been appointed independent director with effect from Friday. Mr Lim, 70, president and chief executive of United Industrial Corporation as well as Singapore Land, is also appointed member of the investment committee, operational risk management committee, as well as the nominating, human resource and remuneration committee.

CapitaLand Mall Trust


DBS Group Research | July 1

July 1 close: S$2.17

Target price: S$2.20

As we approached the last day of operations at Funan, the detailed redevelopment plan has yet to be announced.  Based on our assumptions, we forecast that the redevelopment will impact CapitaLand Mall Trust's (CMT) net asset value (NAV) per share by +1 Singapore cent to +5 Singapore cents, and have provided two scenarios based on different combinations of the various components, and believe that adding a serviced apartment and office in the new integrated development will add most value, nurturing an ecosystem of users to the revamped retail offering.

UOL Group


CIMB Research | June 30

July 1 close: S$5.52

Target price: S$8.06

CONCERNS over UOL's UK exposure have been overstated. Currently, it has only £200 million exposure to the country via a completed office property and a mixed hotel/residential project. Combined, the two make up only 3.5 per cent of its total asset base.  We reckon when the latter is fully completed, this exposure would rise to a still-small about 8 per cent of total assets.  As for earnings, rental income derived from its 10,900 square metres of office building makes up less than one per cent of group topline. UOL's Singapore residential projects have enjoyed continued buying interest over the past six months and sales are largely locked in at Botanique at Bartley (95 per cent sold) and Riverbank@Fernvale (75 per cent sold).

The billionaire retail rebel

Tadashi Yanai likes T-shirts. They're comfortable, anybody can wear one and if you get a lot of people to buy them, you could become very rich. Mr Yanai has been selling T-shirts for over 30 years and now has more money than anybody in Japan. All because in the mid-1980s, the son of a suit maker from Yamaguchi prefecture got tired of selling stuffy menswear and created Unique Clothing Warehouse, better known as Uniqlo - the temple of everyday clothing for every body.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Malls, office buildings set to charge higher parking fees

Expect the cost of private parking in shopping centres and office buildings to go up as well, soon after higher public parking rates kick in at the end of the year.  Industry insiders say private carpark operators peg their fees to public rates and would raise them in tandem with the coming hike.  On Thursday, it was announced that short-term public carpark charges will rise by 20 per cent from December. Outside of the restricted zone (RZ) in the city area, parking will cost $1.20 an hour, up from $1. Within the RZ, parking will cost double that - at $2.40 an hour, up from $2.

Levy HDB rates or higher to park on private estate roads

While carpark charges at HDB estates will increase, with those owning two or more cars paying higher differential rates from Dec 1, those living in private residential estates continue to enjoy year-round free parking regardless of the number of cars they park on public roads outside their homes ("Public parking gets costlier"; last Friday).  Free parking in and around private estates is subsidised by non-motorists, who also pay for the repair and maintenance of the roads, as well as the daily cleaning of the parking spaces on public roads.  One of the main reasons the Government wants to raise carpark charges is presumably to make Singapore car-lite ("Govt taking clear stand on curbing car ownership: Experts"; last Friday).

Price rise will help allocate scarce carpark space efficiently

The increase in public carpark charges is a necessary one in view of the shortage of carpark space ("Public parking gets costlier"; last Friday).  Singapore faces a scarcity of land needed to expand the space for public parking, so inevitably prices have to be raised to curb the high demand for parking space.  Higher prices ensure that scarce resources go to those willing and able to pay for the good (parking space), resulting in a more efficient allocation of resources.  Although it will not be a popular decision, Singapore would not be what it is today if its policies were made based on popularity.

Higher parking fees may drive fresh price hikes

I agree that "everyone will follow when the Government takes the lead" ("Malls, office buildings set to charge higher parking fees"; last Saturday).  Indeed, not only the carpark operators but also all businesses will surely raise their prices accordingly.  After all, practically every business needs transport and car parking.  Another vicious circle is about to begin, affecting both motorists and non-motorists.  It will be another big blow for all consumers.  While both the Housing Board and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have noted that it has been some time since the last increase, there does not seem to be a clear cause for raising the carpark charges.

Brexit unlikely to cause global recession

The Brexit vote has caused widespread financial market turmoil, but a British exit from the European Union (EU) is unlikely to cause a global recession, economists say.  However, investors should brace for more volatility, and the pound is expected to weaken further.  Previous crises - such as the Asian financial crisis and euro area recession in 2011 - led to sharp asset price declines in affected regions but had minimal impact on global growth, noted Citi Private Bank global chief investment strategist Steven Wieting at a briefing yesterday.  "It's early to argue that Brexit will cause a break-up of the euro zone or a global downturn," he said.

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