Top Stories

Phase 1 of 150km green trail will start at year end

Construction work on the first 60km of a continuous 150km green trail that will go around Singapore will start at the end of the year.  The project aims to enhance connectivity and create new recreational spaces for cyclists and park goers.  In a ceremony held yesterday morning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planted a tree at the Sengkang Riverside Park, marking the start of phase one of the Round Island Route, an idea first conceptualised in 2011.  The 150km corridor, which is more than three times the length of Singapore, will be built in three stages.

Singapore Economy

Parliament to discuss Brexit impact on S'pore

Parliament will sit again on Monday after a two-month break. Among the many issues on the agenda is the fallout from Britain's decision to withdraw from the European Union.  Backbenchers Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) and Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) intend to ask about the impact of "Brexit" on the Singapore economy.  Mr Lim also wants to know if the government will take any action to mitigate any adverse effect on both the stock market and the economy.

What S'pore considers when urban planning

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Sunday highlighted three key considerations that Singapore takes into account when urban planning. They are: the need for long-term city planning; the need for constant innovation and research and development (R&D); and the need for constant engagement with different stakeholders before taking decisive actions.  On the need for long-term planning, he said: "It is not easy to do this at a time when we are facing a more frantic social and media culture expecting more immediate results." Yet, it is still needed.

Brexit throws up interesting punts - but caution still rules

Don’t jump in just yet. With the sterling down 10-15 per cent after Britain voted to leave the European Union, some investing or trading opportunities are looking interesting, including trophy assets like London residential property and hard-hit stocks like UK banks and homebuilders.  But analysts think investors should be in no hurry to act after "Brexit", given political uncertainty in Britain over the next few months as the ruling Conservative Party chooses a new leader and prime minister by Sept 9.

Few expect MAS to act on latest Singdollar surge

The robust Singapore dollar is pushing against perceived policy limits and raising the odds of policy adjustment by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), although most analysts doubt that the needle has shifted enough to spur central bank action.  The Singdollar has been strengthening against a number of key currencies this year, with a notable pick-up after Britain's vote to exit the European Union, or "Brexit". Prevailing wisdom is that investors are seeking refuge in the currency from uncertainties surrounding the fate of Britain and the European Union.

Singapore Real Estate

Errors in analyst's report on SRX Property's HDB data

One of the analysts made several inaccurate statements about the technical aspects of SRX HDB indices versus those of the HDB statutory board in a story by Janice Heng in The Straits Times and a story by Lee Meixian in The Business Times (both on July 8).  Here is a link to ST Digital that shows the correction: http://www.

This is the correction:

While we respect the expert analysis of property markets by Eugene Lim of ERA, he made two technical and factual errors in his assessment of SRX Property's HDB data.  We would like to correct the record.

Northwave EC posts dismal first-day sales of about 20 units

Only 20-odd units at Northwave have been sold on the first day of sales, despite the 358-unit executive condominium (EC) project collecting 240 e-applications. This is a figure that has raised eyebrows among market watchers BT spoke with, who compared it with The Criterion and Parc Life - two projects which also suffered weak sales recently.

Bangladeshi group pays S$135m for Centrium Square's retail space

All the retail space of Centrium Square, which will come up on the current Serangoon Plaza site in Little India, is understood to have been sold to a foreign investor for S$135 million.  This works out to S$4,967 per square foot based on the freehold strata area of 27,179 sq ft - all on the first two levels.  The purchase is being made made by Canali Logistics, a Singapore-incorporated vehicle of Mohammed Saiful Alam, who controls Bangaldeshi conglomerate S Alam Group, which is involved in a range of activities, including agrobusiness, consumer products, cement, steel, power, energy, transportation, shipping, manufacturing, trading and property.

Park Mall to shut at end of September

Park Mall, the popular destination for home furnishings in Penang Road, will put up its shutters for good come end of September.  Many of its retail tenants have already found new homes while signs stating "Moving Out Sale" hang in the windows of some stores.  Park Mall's closure comes after it was bought for $411.8 million by a joint venture group last December. Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust, which acquired the mall in 2005 and also owns Suntec City, is part of the joint venture company.

Luxury homes hit auction floors as sale, rental prospects wane

The auction floors in the Republic were busier last quarter with auctioneers sealing deals valued at nearly three times that the previous quarter, as more luxury home owners faced difficulties servicing their loans amid heightened economic uncertainties and turbulent financial markets.  Between April and June, seven properties — six of which were residential — worth a combined S$14.81 million, went under the hammer, figures by real estate consultancy JLL showed.

Companies' Brief

Singapore property/Reits | Overweight

Rising expectations of a prolonged low interest rate environment amid increased uncertainties as Brexit unfolds will see continued interest in property/reits (real estate investment trusts) in Singapore. The increase in the required return for the United Kingdom/Europe exposure is more than compensated for by the built-in buffer and the drop in the risk-free rate. The UK commercial segment is likely to be most at risk. Maintain "overweight" with CapitaLand, City Developments, Ascendas Reit, CDL Hospitality Trust and Keppel Reit as our top picks.

Views, Reviews & Forum

Basel III rules may cause another property-fuelled crisis

Property was behind the last big financial crisis, and if the fallout from Brexit worsens, it may be behind the next. No wonder: real estate is an outsized part of banks' books, whether through mortgage loans or as collateral for other lending. So any blow to values can hurt the financial system - and now, investors can blame it on regulators.  Basel III, the set of banking rules created after the 2008 crisis to bulletproof the system against another major blow-up, may in a cruel twist have increased banks' sensitivity to property. A regulation, now being revised, allowed banks to reduce the capital they set aside for loans to risky borrowers as long as there was real estate attached to the deal.

Tougher rules on lift, escalator upkeep to improve safety

As part of a series of measures to enhance lift and escalator safety and reliability, owners and contractors of those systems will face tougher maintenance regimes, industry regulator the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) announced on Friday.  But people in the industry BT spoke to note that the new regimes could see firms, already plagued with labour shortages, having to bear increased operating costs - to the tune of 10 to 15 per cent annually - to comply with the regulations.  From November this year, escalator owners will have to engage BCA-registered contractors to carry out maintenance on a monthly basis. Contractors will be held to 10 specific areas and requirements for maintenance.

Feedback wanted on allowing double tax deduction for costs

Companies could soon benefit from double tax deduction for costs associated with issuing retail bonds, if proposed legislation is passed.  The initiative is part of efforts to broaden the range of investment options available to retail investors, the Finance Ministry (MOF) said yesterday.  The move is outlined in a draft Bill, which also contains a suite of other proposed changes and refinements to the Income Tax Act.  The MOF is holding a public consultation on the Bill until July 29, and is inviting feedback.

Singapore governance in a troubled post-Brexit world

A sense of social insecurity and ambivalence about immigration shaped the vote in the Brexit referendum. Many developed countries including Singapore are not immune from rising disillusionment with globalisation, compounded by periodic economic crises. As Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam put it in a Facebook post responding to the Brexit outcome, there is a growing disaffection worldwide with the Establishment. Leaders must address peoples' "needs for jobs and security, and a balance in immigration that preserves a sense of identity". How can Singapore pay heed to, and address, some of these trends?

Frozen UK property funds not sold to retail investors here

The type of funds focused on British real estate that have seen almost panicked redemption demand in the wake of Brexit are not sold to retail investors here, a Straits Times check with several banks and fund managers showed.  About seven property funds in Britain have frozen withdrawals, including those managed by Henderson Global Investors, Columbia Threadneedle, Canada Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, as investors rush to get their cash out.  Investments of more than £18 billion (S$31.3 billion) have been frozen - the biggest such event since the global financial crisis.

Living with robots

Standing at just 1.4m, Hospi, Changi General Hospital's (CGH) newest porter, still gets the occasional stare as it moves along the building's corridors.  That is because it is not human. It has a computer screen for a face, and a cold, hard, white body to match.  But it can move almost as well as a person, with the ability to avoid obstacles, take the lift and move from room to room to deliver items without supervision, and has, since last year, taken on some of the work of porters at the hospital.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

China's soft inflation, grim global outlook point to more stimulus

G-20 nations pledge to boost trade despite growing protectionism

IMF warns of euro area downside risks

Japan's service-sector sentiment weakens on post-Brexit yen gain

Vietnam's economy seen slowing to 6.2-6.3% this year

British property panic a red flag for banks, insurers

Europe's banking sector on the brink

Manhattan tenants ditch higher rents for flood of better deals

S Korea's 20t won stimulus plan lifts builders from 11-year lows