Real News‎ > ‎2014‎ > ‎June 2014‎ > ‎

8th June 2014

Singapore Real Estate

Shaping the urban future with high-tech planning today

Source: Straits Times

One day, you will be able to sit back and relax as a robot car weaves through rush-hour traffic and drives you to work. It will even know of the jam along Lornie Road that it should avoid.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

UK developer cashing in on World Cup fever

Source: Straits Times

Lotte Builds Indonesia Malls in Demographic Play: Southeast Asia

Source: Bloomberg / News

Lotte Shopping Co. (023530), South Korea’s largest department store operator, plans to open four shopping malls in Indonesia by 2018 to tap growing consumer spending in a nation where half the population is younger than 30.

PT Lotte Shopping Avenue Indonesia will build two in Jakarta in the next three years, with the others in the country’s second-biggest city, Surabaya, and in Medan on Sumatra island, President Director Suh Chang Suk said in an interview in the capital on June 6. There is a lot more potential for malls in the world’s fourth-largest population, Suk said.

A growing middle class is increasingly attracting retail and consumer manufacturing companies to Southeast Asia’s largest economy, replacing natural resources as the key prospective industry for overseas money, Mahendra Siregar, Indonesia’s investment chief, said in April. Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, plans to open a store this year.

“For the retail industry it’s great because the population of the young generation is big,” Suk said.

Lotte Shopping, which gets most of its revenue from South Korea, rose 3.1 percent to close at 300,000 won in Seoul, heading for the biggest gain in eight months. The Jakarta Consumer Goods Index has risen 14 percent this year, after being the best performer among nine industry groups on the benchmark index in 2013.

By 2020, the number of middle-class and affluent Indonesians may almost double to 141 million from 74 million in 2012, according to a 2013 report by Boston Consulting Group.

Household spending grew 5.6 percent in the January-March quarter, helping to offset slowing exports and investment that caused economic growth to weaken to the slowest in more than four years. Demand for imports is driving persistent trade and current-account deficits that are weighing on the rupiah.

Consumers Optimistic

An April retail sales survey by Bank Indonesia rose 27.8 percent from a year ago. A May consumer confidence index by the central bank rose to 116.9 in May from 113.9 in April, with Indonesians more optimistic on the economy for the next six months. Minimum wages in Jakarta rose 11 percent this year, after a 44 percent jump last year.

“Raising minimum wages will increase domestic consumption, which is good for the retail industry,” said Suk, adding raises needed to be gradual.

Lotte, which also has department stores in China and Russia, will face competition in Jakarta from existing luxury malls such as Plaza Indonesia, Senayan City and Pacific Place, Suk said. Lotte will try to establish a different concept by combining fashion with art and culture for its malls, he said. A growing Asian and global attraction for South Korean culture and music has been dubbed the “Korean Wave.”

Urban Transport

South Korean companies have also put money into autos, steel, tire and petrochemical manufacturing in Indonesia. There is a pipeline for global foreign investment of about $80 billion, the investment coordinating board’s Siregar said on April 16. The main challenges for companies are a lack of infrastructure and the need to improve the ease of doing business, said Siregar, who visited South Korea in April to drum up interest.

Japan’s Aeon Co. Ltd. plans to open five malls in Indonesia in three years, Nikkei reported last month.

Traffic Congestion

Suk said the main problem for mall operators is traffic jams and a need for improved urban public transport, which would make it easier for people to get to stores and create a more dynamic economy. Worsening congestion on Indonesia’s roads has turned into a source of growth for minimarkets, whose share of grocery sales rose almost fivefold to 24.8 percent in the 10 years through 2012, Nielsen data show.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has to step down this year after two terms, planned to overhaul infrastructure across Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, yet progress has been slow. The leading presidential candidate, Joko Widodo, and his challenger for the July 9 election, Prabowo Subianto, have both pledged more road building.

Widodo’s policy platform includes easing the issuance of business permits, while Prabowo wants to create two million jobs a year and lift economic growth to 9 or 10 percent to spur incomes as the population rises.

“I don’t have any difficulty or worry about the election, as the candidates have a good plan to develop Indonesia,” Suk said.

-By Novrida Manurung and Herdaru Purnomo

Shanghai Island Shows Property Boom Promise as Debt Perils Lurk

Source: Bloomberg / Luxury

Property prices are booming in an island town of 60,000 people near Shanghai while the market slumps elsewhere. It comes at a cost: swelling borrowing that’s threatening local-government finances.

Tang Chunmei, a 43-year-old real estate agent in Chenjia Town, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from China’s financial hub, said average apartment prices may rise 35 percent in seven years. That contrasts with cooling nationwide, as home prices fell 0.3 percent in May in the first monthly drop since June 2012. Chenjia financed its expansion in part with a 800 million yuan ($128 million) bond sold through a financing unit last year, exceeding the town’s 120 million yuan of fiscal revenue, to build affordable apartments for farmers as rice fields are turned into tourist attractions.

“We’ve been so busy we can’t even take days off on holidays,” said Tang, who now lives and works in a neighborhood whose name means wealthy and grand, after relocating from a rural house nearby two years ago. “I don’t know if I’m concerned about the local-government debt. Life is better than before.”

Premier Li Keqiang must balance plans to build 36 million new homes for families like Tang’s, as he champions urbanization to spur economic growth, with steps to rein in local liabilities that have swelled to 17.9 trillion yuan. Debt in counties such as Chongming, which includes the island where Chenjia is located at the mouth of the Yangtze River, soared 77 percent through the end of June last year from December 2010, outpacing the 62 percent increase for provinces, according to audit bureau data.

Heavy Borrowers

An official at Chenjia’s local-government financing vehicle, who asked not to be identified, declined to comment on the source of funds for debt repayment. A press official at Chongming County also declined to comment.

“There’s a mismatch between local government revenue and resources, which is particularly conspicuous on the county level,” said David Cui, China strategist at Bank of America Corp. “There will be problems in the future for many local governments that borrowed heavily without adequate fiscal revenue.”

Regional authorities in the world’s second-largest economy established more than 10,000 so-called local government financing vehicles, or LGFVs, to fund construction projects after they were barred from directly issuing bonds under a 1994 budget law. Local governments are responsible for 80 percent of spending, while getting only about 40 percent of tax revenue, the legacy of a 1994 tax-sharing system, the World Bank said.

Better Life

Tang in Chenjia said the debt-fueled development in the town where she grew up has brought benefits. Her family gave up their one mu (1/6 of an acre) of farmland and two-story house in return for three separate apartments and hukou, the urban household registrations that give access to perks including health care and pensions.

A former housewife, Tang got her job at the real estate company after the move. She now earns as much as 60,000 yuan a year, three times the salary for a factory worker on Chongming Island, she said.

“The apartment is cleaner without all those agricultural tools,” said Tang, standing in her 114.5 square-meter three-bedroom, two-bathroom house, on which she spent 120,000 yuan decorating.

Farmers-turned-urban dwellers can put the apartments on sale three years after the ownership certificate is issued. Most buyers are Shanghai residents, Tang said.

Prices Jump

On the south side of town, wealthy people from Shanghai are buying villas along the coast as investments or vacation homes, according to Zhu Ana, a saleswoman at Boee Real Estate, a Zhejiang-based developer. The company built Tuscan-style villas priced up to 16 million yuan in the area, which also has a five-star hotel, the Hyatt Regency.

Second-hand housing prices in Chongming Island have climbed more than those in Shanghai every month this year, rising 19.8 percent in May compared with 15.8 percent in the financial hub, according to data compiled by Anjuke, a Shanghai-based property-listings site. By contrast, home prices nationwide dropped 0.3 percent from April, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd., the country’s biggest real estate website owner.

Too much inventory in other markets could see developers cut prices to meet their ambitious sales targets, Standard & Poor’s said in a report today. On average, rated developers set targets this year 20 percent higher than actual sales in 2013, which was a stellar 12 months for most companies, S&P said.

As the market slumps elsewhere, Chenjia aims to more than triple its population to 210,000 by 2020, according to a brochure provided by the LGFV. Planned projects include a conference venue, polo club, theme park and marina.

Relocation Woes

That’s all coming at a cost. Debt at Chenjia’s LGFV climbed to 6.6 billion yuan at the end of 2012, compared with 5.0 billion yuan in 2010, according to the bond prospectus. It estimates 2.84 million yuan of profit from the affordable housing project and 99 million yuan from store leases, while it gets 400 million yuan in subsidies from the central and the municipal governments, according to the filing.

Pressure to refinance old borrowings is forcing China’s LGFVs to issue a record amount of bonds this year. They sold 966.3 billion yuan of notes since Dec. 31, the most in the same period since at least 2002, according to data compiled by Bloomberg on 2,450 so-called chengtou bonds issued by the financing units.

Muni Trial

Chenjia’s debt-financed development hasn’t pleased everybody.

“Relocation’s not necessarily a good thing,” said Wang Kai, a 42-year-old taxi driver who works in Shanghai. “Prices go up when you move to the new neighborhood. Vegetable markets are more expensive. Old people in particular have nothing to do.”

Investors should exercise caution and consider the long-term viability of Chenjia’s development model, according to Hu Yifan, the Hong Kong-based chief economist at Haitong International Securities Group Ltd.

“The current price rise in Chenjia could be a short-term phenomenon given shrinking housing sales volume and falling sales prices nationwide,” Hu said. “Another concern is that the kind of LGFV bonds issued in Chenjia lack sufficient transparency.”

China will let some local governments repay notes themselves this year in an expansion of a municipal debt trial, the Ministry of Finance said in a May 21 statement. “Developing the muni market is a positive step because it should entail greater disclosure to investors,” Hu said.

The People’s Bank of China said May 6 it will strengthen monitoring of credit extended to LGFVs, real estate companies and industries with overcapacity. Premier Li has spoken of fine tuning policy as he juggles curbing excessive lending with steps to meet a 7.5 percent economic growth target this year. The government in early April rolled out tax breaks and sped up spending on infrastructure and social housing.

Chongming’s economic output grew 6.8 percent in 2013, according to figures posted by Shanghai Statistics Bureau on its website, lagging the 7.7 percent national growth.

Lu Haitao, a 35-year-old Chenjia-native who comes back to stay with family on days off from work in Shanghai, said the urbanization has increased opportunities even though there’s room for improvement in expanding options beyond blue-collar jobs.

“It’s good we’re moving forward,” said Lu, who was playing badminton in the neighborhood’s cultural center. “It’s good we no longer need to grow our own rice.”

-By Bloomberg News