Sime Darby Centre for sale

Blackstone Group plans to sell Sime Darby Centre in Bukit Timah, one of the office and retail assets it acquired last year from Malaysian palm-oil producer Sime Darby Berhad, according to people familiar with the matter.

Located in an ageing commercial block along Dunearn Road and directly in front of King Albert Park MRT station, Sime Darby Centre houses tenants like kitchenware retailer ToTT, Scanteak, Cold Storage and ChildFirst pre-school. The block consists of builtup area of 250,000 sq ft — 80 per cent is office space and the rest is retail. The development sits on freehold and 999-year leasehold land parcels zoned for commercial use and with 1.8 plot ratio.

Blackstone owns a 70 per cent stake in the Sime Darby Centre and Sime owns the rest. The conglomerate, Malaysia’s biggest listed palm-oil producer, sold some property assets in Australia and Singapore to help pare debt.

The site could attract bids from large and mid-sized Singapore developers including Far East Organization, City Developments, Frasers Centrepoint and United Industrial Corp.

The New York-based private equity firm expects to fetch about S$300 million for Sime Darby Centre, which it bought for just under S$200 million last year. Blackstone in May acquired a majority stake in three Singapore property assets, including the Sime Darby Centre, in a deal that valued them at about S$300 million.

Blackstone, which manages more than US$100 billion (S$140 billion) in real estate assets worldwide, in the past has bought residential apartment blocks in Singapore’s prime area.

Condo rents pick up in Feb

Rents for non-landed homes picked up 1.1% in February, compared to January’s figures. This trend was seen across the CCR (core central), RCR (city-fringe) and OCR (suburban) regions. The improvements was likely due to expatriates coming to Singapore in the first half of the year, who were unlikely to be aggressive in negotiating down rents. Rents could dip or stagnate in the second half of the year as fewer expats arrive.Leasing volumes were seen flat though: 3757 (Feb) vs 3796 (Jan).

For the HDB market, leasing volumes improved slightly to 1477 units compared to 1459 in the previous month. Rents slid 0.8% in Feb from Jan.

Braddell Road Flyover to delay completion to June

After having been delayed three times, the troubled Braddell Road flyover project has a new deadline. It is now slated to be completed by June, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said. Its original deadline was end-2015.

A spokesman for LTA told The Straits Times that it had been working closely with the public works project’s main contractor, Feng Ming Construction (FMC), to “rectify, review and improve” safety measures after a stop-work order (SWO) stalled progress on Feb 23.

Safety inspectors from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) discovered several safety violations during a random spot check at the worksite. The SWO was lifted on March 8, and the works have now fully resumed, said LTA .

 

 

Shophouses in the vogue again among investors

Investment in Singapore shophouses has stabilised and shows signs of picking up after taking a hit following the introduction of a loan curb in 2013. Total transaction value has been rising in the past two years even though the number of caveats lodged remained fairly steady at just over 100 a year.

Transaction value rose by about 7.6 per cent to $707.07 million last year, from $657.3 million in 2015. Demand for shophouses fell off a cliff in 2014, after the imposition of the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework at the end of June 2013.

Three adjoining 999-year tenure shophouses in Amoy Street in Tanjong Pagar were recently acquired by an institutional fund for $59.6 million, or about $2,500 per sq ft, based on the floor area. In another deal, a family office bought a shophouse at 54 Boat Quay for $12.9 million or about $2,985 psf on the floor area.

Office properties, seen as a proxy for shophouses, have faced challenging leasing environment as a deluge of new office buildings weighed on rents in recent years. The average rental yield for shophouses ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 per cent, depending on the tenure of the asset.

Asia Square Tower 2 in Capitaland Acquisition plans

Capitaland is said to be in exclusive negotiations to acquire Asia Square Tower 2 from Blackrock. Based on sources, the price under negotiations is above S$2,700 psf. The recent sales of Asia Square Tower 1 in June 2016, and the GLS in November 2016 won by IOI Properties @ S$1689 psf,  demonstrate strong confidence in the office market in Marina Bay area. Tower 2 comprises of offices and the Westin Hotel. It was over 90% occupied as in end 2016.

Airbnb gets green light in Japan

Airbnb Inc. is finally getting the green light to do business in Japan after years of operating in grey areas of the law.

Airbnb, which just closed a $1 billion funding round that valued the company at $31 billion, has found a more receptive audience in Japan, compared with the clashes it had with municipal governments in New York, Barcelona and its home town of San Francisco. A tourism boom has cut into the supply of available hotel rooms and helped make the archipelago Airbnb’s fastest-growing market. Overseas visitors will probably continue to set records as Japan prepares to host the World Rugby Cup in 2019 and the Olympic games the following year.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved rules on Friday that limits home-sharing by private citizens to 180 days a year, according to the final draft of the legislation. The bill, which also leaves room for local authorities to impose their own restrictions, is now submitted for deliberation and approval by Japan’s parliament.

The new legislation, which still needs to pass Japan’s Diet, distinguishes between those who share their own dwellings and absentee landlords, anticipating that the latter are more likely to be the source of friction in neighborhoods. While Airbnb doesn’t break down its 48,000 listings in Japan by type, a search on its site shows hundreds of houses available for rent, as opposed to rooms in occupied homes. About 90 percent of hosts that aren’t present on the premises said the 180-day restriction would make their businesses unfeasible, according to a survey by the Japan Association of New Economy last year.

Airbnb, like its ride-sharing counterpart Uber Technologies Inc., has faced resistance from local authorities. Still, Japan’s home-sharing limits are relatively lenient, compared with 90 days in London and 60 days in Amsterdam. Still, for some hosts in Tokyo, the new rules may force them to choose between giving up a second source of income and committing to becoming a full-time rental property operator. Until now, high occupancy rates in popular neighborhoods such as Shibuya and Asakusa made it possible to make a profit on rented apartments, prompting people to take a second or third lease. The legislation would require a landlord’s permission and an operating license.

For those hosts that decide to stick with it, the good news is that demand will only continue to grow. More than 24 million overseas tourists visited Japan in 2016, topping the record for a fourth straight year, according to the nation’s tourism organization. Airbnb accommodated 3.7 million of those visitors, according to the company. The number will hit 35 million by 2020, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-10/airbnb-nears-approval-in-room-starved-japan-with-tighter-rules

Singapore became the least risky country in the world for investments.

Singapore has surpassed Norway and Switzerland to be the least risky country in the world for investments, according to the latest results of the Euromoney Country Risk (ECR) survey on Thursday (March 9).

This is the first time Singapore has topped the ECR survey, which has ranked countries based on their investment risks for more than 20 years. In 2007, Singapore was ranked 21 on the list, but has slowly climbed up the rankings. Over the past decade, only Switzerland or Norway have topped the survey.

Despite financial problems in the oil services industry, non-performing loans in Singapore still hover around the 1 per cent mark. Singapore’s banking sector is also the most stable in the region and among the strongest in the world, Euromoney added.

A total of 186 countries are covered in the survey. The top ten countries in the latest rankings are Singapore, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada and Germany.

Prime Waterfront Homes and Living in Singapore

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