CapitaLand makes $990m offer to take Ascott private

CapitaLand makes $990m offer to take Ascott private


Company sees value in subsidiary that has not been recognised by market, analysts say




(SINGAPORE) Property giant CapitaLand yesterday made a general offer for its listed subsidiary Ascott Group in a deal that values the serviced residence unit at $2.8 billion.


CapitaLand, South-east Asia’s largest property firm by market value, owns 66.5 per cent of Ascott.


Under the unconditional general offer, CapitaLand aims to buy all Ascott shares it does not own at $1.73 a share. CapitaLand said that it could invest up to $989.5 million to acquire the remaining 33.5 per cent of Ascott as well as any outstanding options and awards that could be exercised.


Ascott, which last traded at $1.21 a share on Jan 4, has a market capitalisation of $1.94 billion. CapitaLand’s offer price is 43 per cent higher than the last traded price and represents a premium of 41.8 per cent to the one-month volume-weighted average price of Ascott shares.


The offer price is also a premium of about 145 per cent to Ascott’s unaudited net asset value per share as at Sept 30, 2007.


Analysts said that CapitaLand wants to take Ascott private because the latter’s value has not been fully reflected in its share price performance. The offer is also timely as Ascott’s shares are nowhere close to their peak.


The shares have fallen from their one-year high of $2.06 in May last year. And over the past one year, the company’s stock has fallen 17.7 per cent.


‘CapitaLand sees a lot of value in Ascott, but that has not been recognised by the market,’ said a property analyst.


Interest in the stock has typically been low, the analyst said, as many investors who want a stake in Ascott just buy shares of CapitaLand instead. ‘Ascott has never been that well followed,’ echoed David Lum, an analyst at the Daiwa Institute of Research. ‘It is followed, but not as followed as CapitaLand. It is not a liquid stock.’


Shares of both CapitaLand and Ascott as well as Ascott’s listed trust Ascott Residence Trust (ART) were suspended yesterday pending an announcement.


But in a move that surprised many, CapitaLand first put out a statement saying that it might make a general offer. The actual details of the offer – including the offer price – were released much later last night.


The former announcement led to market speculation that news of the intended offer could have leaked, forcing CapitaLand to first declare that an offer was in the making.


CapitaLand’s Ascott stake is thought to be key as it gives the company a global footprint. Its offer was ‘not unexpected’, analysts said.


Ascott is the biggest operator of serviced apartments in Asia and Europe. The company has close to 14,800 units in the key cities of Asia, Europe and the Gulf region as well as 5,400 units under development – making a total of over 20,200 units.


The company aims to boost revenue by expanding the number of units to 25,000 by 2010. And for its next phase of growth, it will look to emerging markets, its chief executive, Jennie Chua, has said.


If Ascott is delisted, it will be able to move faster on projects together with CapitaLand, the developer said. CapitaLand will also be able to fully integrate Ascott’s business and operations into the whole group, which will allow it to deploy capital and human resources seamlessly within the group.


Analysts compared CapitaLand’s offer for Ascott to OCBC Bank’s bid for its listed unit, Great Eastern Holdings.


OCBC has made offers to buy out Great Eastern in the past and has steadily accumulated shares in its subsidiary over time. However, the bank has not made offers at very high premiums to those shareholders who have yet to sell. CapitaLand is similarly unlikely to offer high premiums to buy out Ascott shareholders who hold out, analysts said.


CapitaLand’s shares closed at $6.25 on Jan 4, the last day of trading before the counter was suspended. The acquisition will be funded by bank borrowings, CapitaLand said. The company, which is one of the biggest listed on the Singapore Exchange, has a market capitalisation of $17.5 billion.


Source: Business Times

Two residential sites off Mandai Rd up for auction

Two residential sites off Mandai Rd up for auction


PROPERTY firm Colliers International yesterday announced the auction of two residential sites off Mandai Road. Both plots have 999-year leases from Oct 16, 1884. The sites are being sold on a non-vacant basis. This means the buyers will be responsible for vacating the tenants.


The two sites are at 20-28 and 43-56 Meng Suan Road. Each is expected to go for about $250 per sq ft (psf), said Colliers auctioneer Grace Ng.


This means the smaller plot at 20-28 Meng Suan Road, which is 21,066 sq ft, will cost about $5.3 million including a development charge (DC). The site is now occupied by a row of nine single-storey terrace houses.


The larger plot at numbers 43-56, which is 31,043 sq ft, will cost about $7.8 million, also including a DC. The land is occupied by a row of 14 single-storey terrace houses.


‘The successful buyer can consider developing a row of 10 terrace houses on the smaller plot of land of about 1,938 sq ft each for the inter-terrace units and about 2,583 sq ft each for the corner units,’ said Ms Ng. ‘The larger plot of land can accommodate up to nine similar terrace houses, as well as four other semi-detached houses of about 2,583 sq ft each. Given the limited supply of land, freehold and 999-year leasehold, this is a rare opportunity for developers and investors to acquire two huge plots.’ And with the government about to release a 30-hectare site at Mandai for nature-themed attractions, the area will become more vibrant, she said.


The auction will be held on Jan 30 at Amara Hotel.


Source: Business Times

Need cash? Rent out your HDB flat

Need cash? Rent out your HDB flat


HDB’s new rules enable owners to generate income from their units The downside? You may have to move in with your relatives


Pssst. Over here.


By Larry Haverkamp (Doc Money)




08 January 2008


Pssst. Over here.


Can you use some spare cash?


What? You want to know the interest rate?


Don’t worry. There is no interest.


Payment terms? There is also no need to repay. That’s because it is your money anyway.


Have you guessed?


I am talking about taking money out of your CPF account before age 55.


As you know, this has always been impossible. Until now.




I will explain how it is done with the story of Goh Ah Beng.


He is 30 years old and urgently needs $3,500 to repay loan sharks.


But he is not exactly broke.


He and his wife, Ah Soh, own a 4-room flat and also have $5,000 in their CPF ordinary accounts.


Ah Beng goes to the nearest CPF office and asks: ‘Can my wife and I please withdraw $3,500 from our CPF accounts? We desperately need the money.’


The CPF lady is sympathetic but tells him the rule: ‘You must wait until you are 55 before withdrawing your CPF money.’


Ah Beng is only 30. He can’t wait another 25 years. He needs the money now.


Fortunately, there is a way:


Step 1: Each month, Ah Beng pays his $1,200 mortgage from his ordinary account (CPF).


Step 2: Under HDB’s new rules, he qualifies to rent out his entire flat.


Step 3: He finds a tenant who pays $1,200 monthly rent into Ah Beng’s bank account (cash).


The effect is that $1,200 per month is converted from CPF money into cash. Simple.


Safety Valve: Are the new HDB rental rules a loophole (bad) or a safety valve (good)?


I would say the latter. It offers a way for the truly needy to access their CPF money.


Of course, it requires moving out of one’s home, which is not fun or easy.


But that is as it should be. The inconvenience assures that people will not dip into their CPF balances frivolously.


By the way, you don’t want the rent expense for your new place to eat into your rental income.


The best is to live with relatives and pay nothing.


That is what most people do. HDB tells me that 58 per cent of people who rent out their flats move in with relatives.


History: Until recently, you had to live abroad to get permission to rent your entire flat.


In March 2005 it got easier. The minimum occupancy was set at 5 years for flat owners without an outstanding HDB loan and 10 years for all others.


In March 2007, the rules were relaxed further by de-linking rental from the home owner’s loan status, so it was no longer necessary to pay down the loan in order to rent out the flat.


Now there are two categories:


(i) If you purchased from HDB directly OR from the open market with a CPF housing grant, you can rent your flat after living in it for 5 years.


(ii) If you purchased from the open market (without a CPF housing grant), you can rent your flat after living in it for 3 years.


It is an important change and makes more than three quarters of the 830,000 HDB flats eligible to be rented.





Cash kickbacks


THERE is another way to convert CPF money into cash.


You may have seen newspaper ads like, ‘CPF highest returns, up to 7 %’ and ‘CPF Investment. Best returns, 7 %.’


But when I called, the financial advisers hardly mentioned investments.


What they really sell is a way for you to withdraw cash from your CPF account.


It works like this: Using your CPF money, you buy a unit trust.


The 3 per cent commission is included in the price. Then, the agent returns 0.75 per cent of the commission to you in cash.


They encourage you to buy and sell your unit trust frequently, like every two weeks.


It brings monthly commission and cash to 6 and 1.5 per cent.


If you trade $50,000 of unit trusts, the monthly cash received is $750(.015 x $50,000).


Not bad.


Two problems: First, it is expensive. The annual interest cost comes to 54 per cent (.06 – .015) x 12 months.


Second, it is not permitted by the CPF Board.


In fact, if you turn in the firm that sold you this deal, the CPF Board will require it to deposit into your CPF account an amount equal to the cash kickback that it paid you earlier.


The CPF Board tells me it is not really the Board’s intent to offer a bounty on these firms.


But still, the money is good. It could make for a lot of whistle-blowers.







3-room: $1,200


4-room: $1,400


5-room: $1,600


Executive: $1,700


Note: Figures are average monthly rents from 1 Jul to 31 Sep 2007.


Source: Housing Development Board


Source: Newpaper

CapitaLand makes $1.73-a-share offer for rest of Ascott

CapitaLand makes $1.73-a-share offer for rest of Ascott


Move to privatise service residence arm a bid to strengthen unit’s market position


By Lee Su Shyan, Assistant Money Editor & Fiona Chan, Property Reporter


PROPERTY giant CapitaLand plans to privatise The Ascott Group, its listed service residence arm, in a bid to strengthen Ascott’s position in the market and streamline the group’s operations.


The move was announced in a statement to the Singapore Exchange late last night. It followed an earlier statement that fore-shadowed the plan.


Trading of both CapitaLand and Ascott shares were halted the whole of yesterday.


Trading in units of the Ascott Residence Trust (ART) was also halted to avoid confusion, although the trust is not involved in the offer.


CapitaLand will offer $1.73 cash for each share, valuing the entire Ascott group at a whopping $2.8 billion.


The offer price gave investors a healthy 43 per cent premium over the $1.21 closing price on Friday, the last trading day before yesterday’s halt.


The property group already owns 67 per cent of Ascott, which was listed on the mainboard in 2001.


Chief executive of CapitaLand Liew Mun Leong said: ‘CapitaLand has created significant value for its shareholders along the entire real estate value chain and by building a capital-efficient business model.’


For Ascott, ‘this approach can be accelerated further if Ascott is privatised’.


In making the offer, CapitaLand cited intensifying competition in the growing global service residence market.


‘As a listed entity, Ascott has to comply with listing and compliance requirements, and this may restrict Ascott from having full flexibility to leverage on the capital base, resources and opportunities of CapitaLand.’


For example, when CapitaLand partners Ascott in a development now, this counts as an ‘interested person transaction’, which lengthens the time to completion.


Secondly, if Ascott is fully owned by CapitaLand, the property giant feels that it will have more flexibility in managing its mix of developments. It will also be better able to respond to demand in different markets.


Cost savings is a third factor.


Yesterday’s preliminary statement that CapitaLand was looking to buy the Ascott shares it does not own caught the market by surprise.


Some baffled analysts were unable to suggest why the offer had been made.


‘It’s not as though Ascott is in trouble,’ said an investment analyst who asked not to be named. ‘Its gearing is not high – in fact, it’s low – and it’s in a sector that’s doing well.’


Ascott is the largest operator of service apartments in Europe and Asia, with a portfolio of more than 20,000 units in 23 countries. It has a market capitalisation of $1.94 billion.


In 2006, the group spun off some assets into ART, a real estate investment trust that now owns 18 properties.


CapitaLand’s move to take Ascott private ‘goes against the grain of an asset-light balance sheet’, a strategy it has stressed repeatedly, said the investment analyst.


But Kim Eng Research analyst Wilson Liew said CapitaLand might ‘think it’s a good time to buy back some Ascott Group shares’.


‘The consensus seems that it is rather undervalued,’ he said.


Since June, at least five research houses have put out an ‘overweight’ or ‘buy’ call on Ascott, with target prices ranging from $2.17 to $2.46.


It has traded mostly between $1.40 and $1.90 over the last year, hitting a high of $2.06 in May and dropping to a low of $1.12 just weeks ago.


The group’s net asset value per share was 70.6 cents as at Sept 30. Revenue for the three months ended Sept 30 rose 17 per cent to $116.5 million, although net profit dipped 41 per cent to $34.1 million.


Source: Straits Times

Review criteria of HDB design-&-build scheme

Review criteria of HDB design-&-build scheme


THE recent sale of City View@Boon Keng has brought property prices to a new level. It seems the prices offered are cheaper than other private properties in the area. However, one question that needs to be asked is whether this is an HDB property or a private one. All reports have labelled it HDB, but are these HDB prices?


As part of the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS), the HDB has allowed private developers to buy the site and then develop it for sale. Benefits of this scheme have been widely publicised in the media as well as on the HDB website. On paper, it seems a wonderful prospect for both the public and the HDB. The public get flats with better quality, while the HDB does not have to build them itself.


One criterion set by the HDB was that the combined income of applicants must be below $8,000. Thus, if a couple buy the most expensive flat in City View@Boon Keng at more than $700,000, they face the prospect of paying over $2,000 in instalments, based on a 90 per cent loan over 30 years. To service that amount, they have to fork out additional cash on top of their CPF contributions. The rationale is about the same, even if they buy an average priced flat for about $500,000. Unless applicants have healthy savings, they will spend a significant portion of their lives paying off their loans.


The HDB may need to review the criteria it has set for the DBSS. Although they may have worked for past HDB projects, they may no longer apply to the DBSS. If the HDB decides the DBSS is the concept for Singapore’s future housing development, it should take into serious consideration the prices private developers will set. Affordable housing may no longer be realistic if we leave these issues unaddressed.


Chan Han Jun


Source: Straits Times

Distribution of collective sale proceeds should be based only on area

Distribution of collective sale proceeds should be based only on area


I SHARE the view of Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi in the letter, ‘Flaws likely if en bloc choice left to owners’ (Online Forum, Jan 5).


Responses from the Singapore Institute of Surveyors and Valuers (SISV) and Law Ministry (Dec 29) contrast with the Law Minister’s speech on Oct 19 at the Symposium for International Bar Association Conference: ‘Especially in the implementation of principles…very much depends on a balance between individual and societal rights…how each society strikes this balance must be a function of its social, cultural and economic construct.’


The Law Minister added an important caveat that ‘the contextual approach should not become an excuse for arbitrary or capricious government’ and ‘harmony in a diverse society cannot be achieved with a laissez-faire system’.


He concluded with essence of Rousseau and Locke: ‘Free society requires rules, rules require free society.’


The SISV should review its civil society role and heed Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong’s comment in the Sept 20 parliamentary debate: ‘It seems to me a little irresponsible of the SISV to recommend methods of apportionment without also providing detailed guidelines on how to apply them in a fair and equitable manner.


‘It is tantamount to giving a loaded gun to a soldier without also providing the necessary training and guidance in its usage.


‘Is it then any wonder that the recommendations are frequently abused in such a manner as to effectively oppress minority owners?’


The Law Minister assured the House that he ‘would look into this’ as he took Mr Siew’s point about the guidelines and have discussions with the SISV.


Mr Chan argued eloquently that the distribution of collective sales proceeds should be based only on area because ‘condo units are sold by area and not by share value’ and ‘especially when the intrinsic value of each square foot is computed as an aggregate of area, premium for high floor level, unit design, open view…’.


I agree with this school of thought, but believe ‘intrinsic value’ comprises two elements:


1. Core Value: Based on strata-title-area of the unit owned by subsidiary proprietors. This is factual and categorically stated in title documents. Hence, it must be key to apportionment because it underpins the very basis of collective sale in terms of land footprint.


2. Consumption Value: Based on state of affairs affecting each unit at point of purchase and ‘consumed’ by occupants during residency tenure. This is a facetious basis and worthless because a collective sale results in wholesale demolition/redevelopment of estate (unless it is a conservation project involving en bloc alteration and amendment works). Hence, any open vistas or preferred sun-facings are no longer relevant in a collective sale.


At the point of purchase during, say, a soft launch, the top floor unit at Level 10 may have a great view of the lake. But at the point of collective sale, that same unit may now be overlooking a neighbouring estate’s garbage centre or is now overshadowed by new adjoining condo of 35 storeys.


What is a good design at one point in time may be not so great at point of collective sale as demographic/real estate trends change over time.


Consumption Value is pertinent only in an individual sale-and-purchase (for example, in a resale transaction), and not in a collective sale.


Mr Chan said that share value ‘is a guide for conservancy charges calculation”. This is erroneous based on Section 13(1) of the Land Titles (Strata) Act, Section 13(1) and Section 62(1) of the Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act of 2004.


It is clear from the statutory provisions the share value determines ‘the undivided share of the subsidiary proprietor of that lot in the common property comprised in that strata title plan’. These statutory provisions underpin explanation of ‘share values’ (see


Tan Meng Lee


Source: Straits Times

Two landed sites to go on sale with tenancies

Two landed sites to go on sale with tenancies


Prices should be less than market rate as house owners need to be compensated


By Joyce Teo


TWO sizeable landed residential plots off Mandai Road will be sold via auction later this month – with prices expected to be below the market rate for comparable plots.


The catch: The 23 houses that sit on the land are owned by different owners rather than the two brothers who own the two respective plots.


That means the buyers of the plots will have to negotiate with the owner-tenants of each house separately and compensate them individually.


After that, the buyer can build three-storey landed homes on the 999-year leasehold sites, both sited on Meng Suan Road.


Colliers International, which is conducting the auction on Jan 30, said fairly large landed plots are relatively rare. For instance, the Government will release only two landed sites for sale in the first half of this year, said its deputy managing director for agency and business services and auctioneer, Ms Grace Ng.


The first Meng Suan Road plot has an area of 21,066 sq ft and is occupied by a row of nine single-storey terrace houses. The second is 31,043 sq ft and with a row of 14 single-storey terrace houses.


The father of the two brothers who own the sites sold the houses to individual owners 40 to 50 years ago for less than $5,000 each.


This may sound unusual, but sales with tenancies were quite common in the past, said Ms Ng. The owners of the Meng Suan Road houses have enjoyed a great deal as they pay the land owners ‘ground rent’ of just $20 a month.


Negotiating with these owners may take time, but the buyer will be able to take heart that he is likely to get a good price. ‘We have applied some discount because they are encumbered with existing tenancies,’ said Ms Ng.


The indicative price of the sites is between $250 and $260 per sq ft, inclusive of the development charge. This puts the smaller plot at about $5.3 million and the bigger one at around $7.8 million.


Negotiating with the house owners will be somewhat simplified by the fact that owners of six of the 23 houses are related to one another, said Ms Ng.


Dealing with multiple owners may not be easy, but it is something that boutique development firm Link (THM) Holdings has proven it can handle.


The firm, which began as a fashion business, said yesterday that it had acquired a freehold site in Ban Guan Park, off Holland Road, comprising nine apartments and nine shops, after negotiating with the individual owners since late 2005. It paid $31.1 million for the site of 32,900 sq ft and plans to build 20 semi-detached houses.


The firm said there were several failed collective sale attempts in the past decade.


Its director, Mr Kenny Tan, said the firm then decided to talk to individual owners to address their concerns and to get them to sell individually.


Source: Straits Times

Paragon to get $82m makeover



Paragon to get $82m makeover


PARAGON Shopping Centre will soon sport a new look.


The icon along Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping strip is embarking on an $82-million makeover that will give it a new facade and more retail and office space by the end of the year.


Its new front will include pop-out glass boxes that will lift shopfronts above the ground level.


Stores at the front of the building will sport windows three times taller than the current ones.


And a yet-to-be-disclosed flagship store will make its mark with a five-storey high shopfront.


The makeover ‘will provide these tenants with significant visibility and brand expression,’ said Mrs Linda Kwan, Paragon’s general manager.


The new look for the mall at the junction of Orchard and Bideford roads is the work of DP Architects, which oversaw the integration of Paragon and the former Promenade into a single mall in 2003.


DP aims to create a modern and upmarket look for Paragon, to reflect its status as a leading mall for international luxury goods.


The latest renovation will also add 11,600 sq ft to Paragon’s nett lettable area, which now stands at 650,000 sq ft. Besides the extra retail space, two more floors, or 29,000 sq ft, will also be added for use as offices and medical clinics.


The mall will remain open during the renovation.




Source: Straits Times

Resettled residents asked: What estate name and facilities would you like?

Resettled residents asked: What estate name and facilities would you like?


By Tan Hui Yee


IF HOME is where the heart is, all the better if the residents love its name.


More than 500 households in Silat Road and Henderson Road recently had the novel experience of voting for the name of their future estate, among other things, in a pilot consultation exercise, as part of a redevelopment project.


They chose ‘Kim Tian Green’ as the name – since the new estate will be in Kim Tian Road – over alternatives such as ‘Kim Tian Heights’ and ‘Kim Tian Towers’.


Also, an overwhelming 83 per cent of respondents supported proposals for amenities such as a pebble walk, a space for a community garden, a family playground and an activity court.


The HDB said it will proceed with the facilities.


The consultation, which took place between September and October last year online and via mailed survey forms, came about after a forum to enhance community bonding last year highlighted the need for the HDB to gather the opinions of residents being resettled.


In addition, the HDB organised a mini-exhibition on the proposals, as well as two briefing-cum-feedback sessions chaired by the Members of Parliament for the area – Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee and Ms Indranee Rajah.


Under a redevelopment exercise for the Silat and Henderson precincts announced last year, households living in their 739 flats will be offered homes among the 1,100 two- to five-room replacement flats in Kim Tian Road.


Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu, who headed the community bonding forum last year, said: ‘It is encouraging to see that residents want to be involved in the planning of their precinct. It demonstrates that residents are keen and ready to realise the vision…for greater community ownership and bonding’.


Meanwhile, the HDB also said yesterday that the current joint selection scheme for residents whose HDB flats are undergoing redevelopment will be improved.


Currently, up to four households can select their replacement flats together if they are neighbours on the same floor, or if they are related families. With the improved scheme, any group of up to six households in the precinct will be allowed to pick their flats together. This scheme is aimed at preserving neighbourly ties when residents are resettled.


Flat owners in Blocks 9 to 12, and 9A and 12A Ghim Moh Road will be the first to use the enhanced flat selection scheme. The registration period for their replacement flats began on Dec 28 and will end on Jan 25.


Those who wish to pick their flats through this joint selection scheme need only indicate their preference in the application forms for the new flats.


Source: Straits Times

S’pore office costs escalate

S’pore office costs escalate


Tuesday • January 8, 2008


Esther Fung



A dearth of supply and high demand from businesses expanding in the region drove up prices so much that Singapore recorded the second highest annual growth in office occupancy costs in the world last year.


Annual office occupancy costs here rose 93 per cent to US$16,220 ($23,275) per workstation, just behind Moscow’s 95-per-cent growth, according to real estate consultancy DTZ Debenham Tie Leung’s Global Office Occupancy Costs survey.


The survey tracks total occupancy costs across 137 business districts in 49 countries and ranking is focused on a workstation basis to better reflect the costs of accommodation, DTZ said.


“With no significant new supply till 2010 and the depletion of office stock in the Central Business District as several office buildings undergo redevelopment or upgrading, the office occupancy cost is expected to rise further,” said Ms Angela Tan, DTZ South-east Asia’s executive director.


Singapore is now the 13th most costly place in the world to occupy an office, up from 55th a year ago. Worldwide, London’s West End remained the most expensive.


In the Asia-Pacific, Singapore moved to fourth place from ninth a year ago and is now behind only Hong Kong, Tokyo and Mumbai. Property consultants expect office occupancy costs to continue to rise in the region this year, although uncertainty arising from the US sub-prime crisis will keep price hikes in check.


“We see a huge demand from the financial sector and multinationals, and the accountancy and legal sides are expanding rapidly,” said Mr Chris Archibold, regional director and head of markets at property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle.


Source: Today Newspaper