Category Archives: Office

Government support for business costs

THE government will continue to keep a close eye on business costs, even as it took the stance of letting market forces set the price of rentals. But where there are possible market failures, such as when it is not commercially-viable to provide space for startups, the government will step in – and has indeed done so.

In the retail and the F&B (food and beverage) sectors, rental costs as a share of business costs is around 30 per cent. Rental costs make up between 0.7 and 4.8 per cent of total business costs in the manufacturing sector, and constitute about 5 per cent of business costs in most services sector.

Rentals across all sectors – industrial, commercial, retail and office spaces – have been declining for the past 3 years– thus the rental problem has not been so severe.

JTC has set up LaunchPad@one-north 2 years ago and future plans include building a network of LaunchPads around Singapore — the next one to be completed in the Jurong Innovation District in 2017.

The government has ways to support businesses, such as the Capability Development Grant (CDG), the SME Working Capital Loan and Automation Support Package (ASP). CPG defrays up to 70 per cent of qualifying project costs and thus encourages businesses to build business capabilities. SME Working Capital Loan has catalysed over S$700 million and 4,800 loans as of Dec 31, 2016, to the benefit of about 4,300 SMEs. Under the initiative, SMEs can access unsecured working capital of up to S$300,000 to help them address cash flow concerns and growth financing needs. The CDG and ASP schemes, which help companies achieve productivity improvements through automation, collectively supported 226 automation projects in 2016.

The government also introduced Bridging Loan for Marine & Offshore Engineering (M&OE) companies in November 2016 and enhanced the Internationalisation Finance Scheme for M&OE.

Both schemes aim to facilitate the access of these M&OE companies to working capital and financing to stabilise the sector as it copes with prolonged weaknesses in oil prices. Applications for loans amounting to over S$90 million have been approved as of February 2017. These support measures are expected to catalyse about S$1.6 billion in loans over one year.

The government continues to monitor the sector closely by tracking indicators such as order books and output levels, and evaluating feedback from industry players.

Samsung Hub Office sold at S$3280 psf

The 20th floor of the 999-year-leasehold Samsung Hub office tower is sold at S$43.07 million or S$3,280 psf based on the strata area of 13,132 sq ft. Standard Commodity Trade Centre Pte Ltd is selling the space on a vacant possession basis to Lei Shing Hong Properties (Singapore). The buyer plans to occupy the space for its own use.

The company is part of Hong Kong-based Lei Shing Hong group, which is involved in businesses ranging from retailing premium cars, trading and securities brokerage, to property development and investment. The S$3,280 psf fetched for the 20th floor is identical to that for the 21st level back in 2014.

Six Tg Pagar conservation shophouses up for sale

A row of six adjoining conservation shophouses in Tanjong Pagar has been put up for sale at an indicative price of $57.8 million.

The guide price for the units – 48 to 56 Peck Seah Street – works out to about $2,900 per sq ft, based on the existing gross floor area of 19,938 sq ft. The shophouses sit on three separate land lots and have a combined land area of 8,213 sq ft. The site is zoned commercial under the Chinatown (Tanjong Pagar) Historic District Conservation Area in the 2014 Master Plan.

The units, which are owned by a fund managed by Phoenix Property Investors, have a 33m-wide road frontage and are near the Tanjong Pagar MRT station.

The private equity property fund acquired the shophouses in January 2015 for $42.8 million from shipping firm K Line (Singapore).

New projects in the area include Tanjong Pagar Centre, the upcoming Frasers Tower and the redevelopment of CPF Building.

P&G investing US$100m into innovation centre in Singapore

Global consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) is to invest US$100 million (S$140 million) over the next five years to set up its first digital innovation centre in Singapore. Up to 50 new staff could be hired.

Called an E-Centre, the project was officially launched yesterday in partnership with the Economic Development Board. As it does not have a single, fixed location, staff involved in its activities will work either in P&G’s Singapore Innovation Centre in Biopolis Street or its offices at The Metropolis.

This E-Centre will develop digital solutions for Asia-Pacific operations, synchronising the supply chain to increase revenues and lower inventory while serving emerging retail channels more efficiently.

Some projects in the pipeline include machine learning, where algorithms allow machines to predict parameters within the supply chain for better accuracy, as well as process automation, which uses robotics to eliminate repetitive tasks.

The centre will also use data analytics to optimise product distribution and marketing strategies across the region. For example, by analysing an area’s demographics data, P&G will be able to determine the potential sales growth and prioritise store distribution accordingly.

Sime Darby Centre@Bt Timah sold to Tuan Sing

Developer Tuan Sing Holdings bought Sime Darby Centre in Bukit Timah for $365 million. The property at 896 Dunearn Road sits on a commercial site of 140,886 sq ft (part freehold /part 999-year leasehold) with an allowable gross plot ratio of 1.8 and a maximum permissible gross floor area of 253,595 sq ft. It is 96 % occupied over a net lettable area of around 202,712 sq ft. The tenants include kitchenware retailer ToTT, Scanteak, Cold Storage and ChildFirst pre-school.

New York-based private equity giant Blackstone Group had bought 70 % stake in Sime Darby Centre for just under $200 million last year from Malaysian palm oil producer Sime Darby Berhad, according to media reports.

This means Tuan Sing’s purchase resulted a 25% gain for Blackstone on its investment. There is a significant potential for commercial activities that can serve the needs of the vast residential community in the vicinity, thus the asset can generate long-term revenue and profit.

Investment property sales drop in Q1

FROM a high base in the fourth quarter of last year, big-ticket property transactions of at least S$10 million declined substantially in the first quarter.

However, the mood in the market is decidedly positive – with much anticipation of the imminent mega transactions of Jurong Point mall, and Asia Square Tower 2 in the CBD.

“Investment market sentiment is positive and the price gap has mostly disappeared except for hotels,” said CBRE executive director, capital markets, Jeremy Lake.

In particular, the tone of investors towards the office sector seems to have reversed dramatically. “The oversupply in the Singapore office market is yesterday’s story, and today’s story is all about the recovery and rental growth,” said Mr Lake.

Figures compiled by Savills Singapore showed that S$5.2 billion of investment sales of property, as these big deals are known, were sealed in Q1, down 34.8 per cent from S$8 billion in Q4 last year. However, the Q1 number is double the S$2.5 billion in the same year-ago period.
Photo: The Business Times
Photo: The Business Times

Both Savills and Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) estimate that some S$2.7-2.8 billion of deals in the commercial property segment were transacted in January to March this year – giving it a share of slightly over 50 per cent of total investment sales.

Major transactions include the S$881 million sale of a 70 per cent stake in TripleOne Somerset by a consortium led by Perennial Real Estate Holdings to Stanley Ho’s Hong Kong-listed Shun Tak Holdings, and Manulife’s S$747 million purchase of PwC Building at 8, Cross Street, from DBS.

Savills said the S$2.8 billion of commercial property investment sales in Q1 was a 41.9 per cent increase from the nearly S$2 billion in the previous quarter.

The residential sector saw S$2.1 billion of big-ticket sales in the first quarter, giving it a 40.2 per cent share. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, however, the Q1 tally was down almost 12 per cent, according to Savills.

C&W Singapore research head Christine Li highlighted the flurry of bulk residential sales in Q1 as some foreign housing developers sought to offload their remaining unsold units ahead of regulatory sales deadlines imposed on them under the government’s Qualifying Certificate rules – to avoid paying hefty penalties.

A string of last-minute deals were also inked on the night of March 10 – including TwentyOne Angullia Park, The Line @ Tanjong Rhu, Robin Residences and The Lumos – before the new Additional Conveyance Duties (ACD) took effect the next day.

The ACD plugged a loophole that some bulk buyers in Singapore residential projects had been using to enjoy significant savings in stamp duties.

Savills Singapore managing director Steven Ming said: “Unless annual residential prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming years, it is unlikely that institutions will return to the bulk residential sales market as the hefty 18 per cent stamp duty cuts deep into their required rates of return.”

The effect of this would be the shift of interest by institutional investors to other sectors of the real estate market here, he added.

Industrial properties posted S$344.2 million of investment sales in the first quarter, down 67.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

CBRE and Savills expect the total investment sales for 2017 to be in the S$18-20 billion region – down from around S$23 billion last year. C&W expects the number to remain in the S$20 billion range.

Mr Ming of Savills commented that with institutional investor interest expected to be diverted from residential towards the office, retail and hospitality sectors here, investment sales are expected to continue despite yield compression.

“As both private equity funds and ultra high net worth individuals have either raised new money or have a need to diversify to reduce concentration risk, yields have potential to remain low and go lower as prices will either hold firm or even edge up,” he reasoned.

Ms Li of C&W noted office asset prices are already starting to trend upwards, with rents expected to bottom this year.

In similar vein, CBRE Research’s head of Singapore and South-East Asia, Desmond Sim, argued that as the office recovery story gets more real in terms of rising commitment rates for new projects such as Marina One, this will push more institutional investors to be ready to commit.

CBRE predicts that by the end of the year, seven out of 10 institutional investors who are looking at the Singapore office sector will be ready to buy – up from five out of 10 investors now, which in turn is a higher ratio than just one out of 10 investors a year ago.

Regina Lim, JLL’s head of capital markets research, South-east Asia, observed that in the past four years, Singapore has seen a gradual decline in office demand, retail sales, food and beverage receipts, and gross domestic product growth.

As a result, the republic’s attractiveness to overseas institutional investors has waned, and they have gravitated to Australia, Japan and China commercial property, which have stronger growth stories.

“However, capitalisation rates in these markets have compressed and now Singapore looks less expensive in comparison to these markets.”

Mr Sim of CBRE said that on the residential sector front, while bulk purchases of units from developers have now become harder to do, there may be a bright spot in collective sales. “We should see more interest in en bloc sales from land-hungry developers, especially in the face of limited supply through the Government Land Sales Programme.”
– See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/business/investment-property-sales-drop-q1#sthash.8H86fsyp.dpuf

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.

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.

Singapore Property Giant bought Japanese commercial properties for almost 50B yen

CapitaLand, through its mall business CapitaLand Mall Asia, acquire a portfolio of four office and retail properties in Japan’s Greater Tokyo Area, for about 51 billion yen (S$636.3 million) including transaction costs.

CapitaLand currently also owns and manages four shopping malls in Japan – namely Olinas Mall, Vivit Minami-Funabashi and La Park Mizue in Tokyo; as well as Coop Kobe Nishinomiya-Higashi in Kobe.

The Ascott Ltd, CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence arm, owns and manages 46 properties with more than 3,500 apartment units in Japan. The group’s Japan portfolio also includes a 20 per cent stake in an office building – the Shinjuku Front Tower.

The acquisition will strengthen its foothold in Greater Tokyo, the world’s most populous metropolis, and increase the group’s total asset size in Japan to about S$2.5 billion.

The portfolio comprises two office buildings in Yokohama, Yokohama Blue Avenue and Sun Hamada; one office building in Tokyo, the Kokugikan Front; and, one shopping mall in Saitama, the Seiyu & Sundrug.

The long-term forecast of Greater Tokyo’s office market remains positive. The vacancies in central Tokyo expected to stay below 5 per cent through to 2025.

The Seiyu & Sundrug has a gross floor area (GFA) of close to 400,000 square feet, thus growing CapitaLand’s retail footprint in Japan by about 25 per cent to over 2 million sqft in GFA. Seiyu & Sundrug, in Saitama Prefecture, is the largest suburban mall within a three-kilometre radius.