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8th March 2014

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IRAS Warns of E-mails Scams

Source: Business Times

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has sounded the alarm over a scam e-mail

impersonating the statutory board. The scam e-mail, titled "Your 2013 Tax Return Report!!!",

began circulating yesterday morning, IRAS said. The e-mail claims that a report on the recipient's

2013 tax refund is attached, and asks the recipient to go through the attachment to view the report.


In a statement yesterday, IRAS said: "Members of the public should not respond to this e-mail or

click on any attachment or file from the e-mail."


An IRAS spokesman told The Business Times that the scam e-mail had triggered anti-virus alerts

in some cases. He said that the imposters had spoofed IRAS's e-mail, with the sender shown as

"Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore []"


IRAS has advised the public to delete the mail and scan their computer or mobile device with

anti-virus programs. It added that recipients who are unsure of the authenticity of such e-mail

should call the IRAS hotline instead of replying to the e-mail.


It said that it has alerted the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), and is also conducting its

own investigations.


Last August, a separate scam e-mail titled "IRAS Reward" made its way round the Internet,

asking recipients to fill in a form for rewards.


Another statutory board, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra), encountered

a similar incident when misleading letters - bearing the Lion Head symbol - from Data Register

Pte Ltd were sent to companies. Acra received over two thousand queries and sounded two alerts

regarding the letters, which sought information and payment from recipients.

Singapore Real Estate

More luxury units going at discount

Source: Straits Times

Prices are dropping at more luxury projects as developers struggle to move unsold stock. At the uncompleted Hallmark Residences in Bukit Timah, units are being advertised at a discount of up to around $300,000, according to a marketing e-mail obtained by The Straits Times.

Condos latch on to Cluny Park address

Source: Straits Times

The exclusive pocket of Bukit Timah that lies west of the Botanic Gardens has been quiet in recent years but that could change with the arrival of new homes. Dotted with pricey low-rise housing and with the delights of the gardens on their doorstep, the Cluny Park estate has long been the preserve of old money and very wealthy professionals.

Property values 'unlikely to slide in longer term'

Source: Straits Times 

Property values are unlikely to slide in the longer term, if the Government continues with stable, clear-sighted policies, Law Minister K. Shanmugam has said. "(As) we move into a high-tech economy... we remain a safe centre for banking and financial services... where the Government does not move arbitrarily and acquire for no compensation. The Government doesn't chase people away," he said on Thursday.

Real Estate Companies' Brief

GIC real estate president doubles as COO

Source: Business Times / Companies

GIC has appointed Goh Kok Huat as its chief operating officer, effective April 1, 2014. The 49-year-old remains as president of GIC Real Estate, a position he has held since 2011.

"In 2013, GIC implemented its New Investment Framework which capitalises on GIC's core strengths: a long-term perspective, a global presence, a skilled and experienced team, and the ability to invest in cross-asset opportunities. GIC operates in a landscape that is increasingly complex and competitive, and actively refines its strategy to build investment capability and agility," said a GIC statement yesterday.

"As chief operating officer, Mr Goh plays a crucial role at this juncture of GIC's organisational transformation. He will oversee the integration of investment strategy and process, with operations and technology."

Ho Bee buys 2nd London realty for £171m

Subsidiary signs sale and purchase agreement to buy a prime Grade A office investment at 1 St Martin's Le Grand

Source: Business Times / Companies

AT a time when the Singapore property market is languishing, property group Ho Bee Land continues its overseas foray, buying its second property in London for £171 million (S$362.5 million).

Yesterday, Ho Bee said that its subsidiary, HB Le Grand, has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Nomura Properties to buy a prime Grade A office investment at 1 St Martin's Le Grand.

Originally constructed in the late 19th century, the property once served as the General Post Office of London. The building was redeveloped behind its original Portland stone facade in the late 1980s by Nomura. It now comprises 276,792 square feet of Grade A office arranged over basement, ground and nine upper floors.

-By Angela Tan

OUE Hospitality Trust

We give OUE Hospitality Trust (OUEHT) an "Add" rating and a target price of S$0.96, based on dividend discount model at a rate of 7.9 per cent. The stability of OUEHT is anchored by the Mandarin Orchard Singapore master lease and Mandarin Gallery retail segment.


CIMB Research March 7 |

Close: 84 cents |

Lian Beng

Lian Beng and Centurion ("Buy", TP: S$0.82; March 7 close 64¢) are JV partners in an industrial building and workers dormitory, M-Space, which has obtained temporary occupation permit (TOP). Lian Beng, which has started recognising the rental income from the dormitory business of this venture, will book its share of profits from the sale of M-Space units in the current quarter.

Frasers Centrepoint

Source: Straits Times

Frasers Centrepoint (FCL) had a meeting with 17 investors during its recent Hong Kong non-deal roadshow. Investors welcomed a new property name with a decent market cap in excess of $4 billion within the listed space.

Property link among big dividend payers

Source: Straits Times

Property developers and landlords dominate the list of high-yielding medium-sized stocks, according to data compiled by SGX My Gateway. The top five dividend payers on the FTSE ST Mid Cap Index over the past year all had real estate links.

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

Yuan swings renew fears over China developers

Source: Business Times / Companies

THE recent volatility in the Chinese currency has rekindled fears over the growing exposure of mainland property developers to overseas debt.

In the past two years alone, Chinese developers have issued US$40 billion in foreign currency bonds, the result of a combination of onshore lending restrictions and low US dollar interest rates. The China property sector now accounts for some 40 per cent of Asia's two biggest high-yield debt benchmarks, the Merrill Lynch and the JP Morgan Asian Credit indices.

Chinese loan-seekers have enjoyed an additional benefit of borrowing overseas, as exchange rates have moved in their favour. However, the recent reversal in the renminbi has raised concerns over the rapid growth of unhedged foreign exchange liabilities for firms that generate all their income in local currency.

-From Singapore

Banyan Tree launches Penang beach resort units for sale-leaseback

Source: Business Times / Companies

HOTEL-management company Banyan Tree Holdings and Malaysian boutique property developer Senja Aman Group yesterday launched the sale of luxury suites for the Angsana Teluk Bahang beach resort in Penang.

Offered for sale through strata titles at the launch held at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur were 150 fully-furnished two-bedroom suites; the units, which range from 950 sq ft to 1,200 sq ft in size, are slated to be ready in early 2017.

They are priced from RM1.6 million to RM3 million (S$621,000 to S$1.2 million), which works out to RM1,684 to RM2,500 per sq ft.

-By Lee Meixian

CVC, Carlyle Said to Await Morrison Property Study Result

Source: Bloomberg / News

Buyout firms CVC Capital Partners Ltd. and Carlyle Group LP (CG) are awaiting the outcome of Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc (MRW)’s property review next week as they evaluate a bid for the U.K. grocer, said people familiar with the matter.

The value of the real estate has been emphasized by the buyout firms meeting with banks to discuss financing for a potential buyout, said two people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

Morrison estimates its freehold property is worth about 9 billion pounds ($15 billion), exceeding its market capitalization of 5.5 billion pounds. The company is due to announce the results of the review when the Bradford, England-based retailer reports annual results on March 13.

CVC and Carlyle were approached about working with members of the founding family of the 115-year-old company, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg last month. A buyout would exceed 7 billion pounds and require a group of funds to work together, they said then. Other parties, including TPG Capital, have been contacted in recent weeks about participating, two people said.

Spokesmen for Morrison and CVC declined to comment as did officials for Carlyle and TPG.

Morrison rose 0.4 percent to 237.5 pence at the close of trading in London, after earlier gaining as much as 2.6 percent.

The buyout firms are considering whether the grocer, once taken private, could be split into a property company that owns the land and a retailer that leases the space, the people said. Under-performing locations could also be closed with the land sold or leased to help pay down debt, said one of the people.

‘Not Feasible’

There is also thought to be potential in expanding the grocer’s online presence and smaller convenience stores, one of the people said. Morrison only started its Internet grocery service on Jan. 10 and has fewer than 100 convenience outlets.

Should the grocer announce similar steps next week to those being considered by the firms, interest in a buyout could diminish, the people said. Morrison isn’t expected to sell more than 10 percent of its real estate, one person said.

Splitting the property into a separate company “is not a feasible strategic avenue at this stage,” Jefferies International analysts led by James Grzinic said in a March 6 note, while adding that “the considerable asset-backing should not be ignored when considering the group’s prospects.”

Morrison, started in 1899 as a market stall selling eggs and butter, may next week report a slump in annual earnings amid increased competition from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl. Pretax profit in the year through January probably fell to about 730 million pounds from 879 million pounds a year earlier, according to the average of 16 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The company may say sales dropped to 17.8 billion pounds, based on the average of 19 estimates, less than a third of the annual revenue of market leader Tesco Plc. (TSCO) Morrison posted sales of 18.1 billion pounds in fiscal 2013.

-By Kiel Porter and Jeffrey McCracken

RBA’s Stevens Says He Doesn’t See Need to Reduce Rates Further

Source: Bloomberg / Luxury

Australia’s central bank Governor Glenn Stevens said he’s not sure how long a flagged period of interest-rate stability will last and doesn’t see the need to further loosen “very accommodative” policy at the moment.

“I haven’t said how long a period because I don’t know,” Stevens told a parliamentary panel in Sydney. “That’s a bit of a shift on our part, where we had been saying that there might be scope to go down a bit more if needed. I don’t think we do need to at this point in time.”

Stevens last month said a “period of stability in interest rates” is likely after extending a policy pause since the latest reduction in August took borrowing costs to a record-low 2.5 percent. Policy makers are seeking to engineer a transition from a resource-investment boom to increased residential construction and household consumption.

The nation’s currency has rebounded about 4 percent since the RBA’s Feb. 4 decision as data showed rising housing prices, surging building approvals, and accelerating economic growth even as the jobless rate jumped in January to a 10-year high. Asked about means to lower the currency, Stevens today said so-called jawboning “has a limited effect” on the currency.

“I’ve said that I thought in the 90s or over a dollar was rather higher than any plausible assessment you could come to based on our costs and productivity relative to other countries. I haven’t changed my view about that,” he said. “I don’t resile from what I’ve said before but I have nothing new to say.”

The Australian dollar traded at 90.80 U.S. cents at 11:56 a.m. in Sydney. Traders are pricing in about a 17 percent chance of a quarter percentage point rate increase in the cash rate in September, according to swaps data compiled by Bloomberg.

Aussie Price Impact

Australia’s dollar dropped about 14 percent last year, the steepest decline after the yen among 10 developed nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg Correlation Weighted Indexes. It accelerated its decline in the final quarter of 2013 as policy makers sought to talk down the Aussie. Stevens said the decline in the currency had contributed to a rise in consumer prices in the fourth quarter.

“Our assessment is that inflation is not quite as low as it might have looked six to twelve months ago, but nor is it accelerating to the extent a literal reading of the latest data might suggest,” Stevens said. “The general situation – 18 months of below-trend growth, a rise in unemployment, a marked slowdown in wages – is not one that would be obviously associated with a sustained rise in price pressures. Our view remains that the outlook for inflation, while a little higher than before, is still consistent with the medium-term target.”

The RBA cut rates to support the economy as a mining boom moves from the employment-intensive investment phase to one of increased supply and higher exports.

Rise Strongly

“It is clear that dwelling investment activity will rise strongly over the period ahead,” Stevens said. “The question then is: will the additional demand likely to be generated outside mining as a result of these trends be just the right amount to offset the large decline in mining investment spending, so keeping the economy near full employment? No one can answer that question with great confidence.”

Adam Boyton, chief economist for Australia at Deutsche Bank AG in Sydney, said Stevens’s comments indicate the cash rate is likely to remain unchanged for some time.

“The governor appears to have reinforced the ’low-for-long’ message in the bank’s current policy assessment,” he said in a research report. “It seems clear from this that the hurdle for the bank to move away from its current neutral bias is relatively high.”

-By Michael Heath