Parkway Life REIT beats forecasts with gross revenue of S$11.9m

Parkway Life REIT beats forecasts with gross revenue of S$11.9m


SINGAPORE: Mainboard-listed Parkway Life REIT has booked a distributable income of S$9.8 million for the first quarter.


That works out to a distribution per unit (DPU) of 1.62 cents.


All in, gross revenue hit S$11.9m on the back of sustained demand for private healthcare.


The REIT’s portfolio includes Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and East Shore Hospital. – CNA/ir.


Source: Channel News Asia

PM Lee says Singapore will continue to develop financial sector

PM Lee says Singapore will continue to develop financial sector


SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore will continue to develop the financial sector as more activities are being moved to the city-state.


Mr Lee, who was speaking to 120 bankers at the hour-long Thomson Reuters Dialogue on Tuesday, added that more would be done to ease capacity constraints, such as the crunch in office space and accommodation.


The financial sector in Singapore grew by some 17.5 percent last year. But the prime minister said Singapore needs to level up to cope with this upsurge in activities.


He said: “We are running up against constraints because we don’t have enough office space, we don’t have enough accommodation and rentals have gone up.


“We don’t have enough schools for the expatriates’ children. (But) we are addressing this – we are helping the United World College to build a new school in Tampines, and they told me that places are already fully taken.”


Mr Lee added that rentals are likely to come down, with more offices and apartments coming on stream in the next few years.


On the whole, he is optimistic that Singapore will be able to weather the economic slowdown in the US.


Responding to a question, Mr Lee said while the value of export in the electronics sector is down, the volume has increased and there are other sectors that are doing well within the manufacturing sector, such as the pharmaceutical and petrochemical businesses.


On the issue of inflation, the prime minister said food prices will continue to rise for some time as consumption continues to increase.


Another reason for the price hike is an under-investment in the agricultural sector previously. This shortage in food supply has resulted in hoarding and some countries have limited the export of rice.


Mr Lee said he hopes ASEAN member countries can coordinate efforts and not work against one another so as to ensure that rice gets to the people.


The topic of foreign talent was also raised at the dialogue session. Mr Lee said that like London and New York, Singapore needs to tap on a range of expertise from all over the world.


“We are not only a city, we are a country. We have to have a hard core of Singaporeans so that the character of the place remains Singaporean, while being cosmopolitan,” he said.


As for leadership renewal, Mr Lee said Singapore needs to keep it contestable while focusing on building a good team that can meet future challenges and find new ways of engaging the population.


Source: Channel News Asia

Developers may get grants of up to S$1m when installing solar panels

Developers may get grants of up to S$1m when installing solar panels 


SINGAPORE: The Economic Development Board (EDB) has unveiled more details of the Solar Capability Scheme, aimed at spurring demand for clean technology and building up expertise in the new industry.


The S$20 million scheme was first announced in Parliament in April by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran.


The EDB said it expects to fund up to 100 projects.


Under the scheme, new buildings need a minimum Green Mark Gold standard to qualify for a 30 to 40 per cent grant, while existing buildings will be assessed on a case by case basis.


Ko Kheng Hwa, Managing Director, Economic Development Board, said: “We expect interest, and this interest should grow as greater awareness seeps into the industry. Today, the very early adopters are already implementing some form of solar energy systems.


“So with this scheme, we are partially offsetting their initial capital investment, so we should expect that this will be welcomed by the developers and building owners.”


Besides meeting the required standard, other criteria include the innovative application of solar technologies and the aesthetics of the panels as part of the buildings and solar system design.


A seven-member Clean Energy International Advisory Panel has also been formed to help spur industries towards clean energy.


Led by EDB’s Chairman Lim Siong Guan, the panel will meet for the first time in June. It is tasked to give advice on the overall development of the clean energy industry in Singapore. – CNA/vm.


Source: Channel News Asia

Sg property mkt sees $8.5bn in investment activity in Q1

Sg property mkt sees $8.5bn in investment activity in Q1 


Investment activity in Singapore’s property market remained upbeat in the first quarter, despite uncertainties arising from the instability of global financial markets.


A report from property consultancy CB Richard Ellis said 8.5 billion dollars’ worth of investment transactions were recorded here over the first quarter.


CBRE said property market investment activity was underpinned by Singapore’s positive longer-term outlook despite the uncertainty of the global economic environment.


The report added that Singapore’s position as a financial hub and popular location for MNCs, and the equilibrium of supply and demand in its office market, are expected to sustain a healthy level of investment activity.


Source: 938 Live

M&C profits up 16 pct in Q1

M&C profits up 16 pct in Q1 


Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, which runs more than 110 properties worldwide, said its first-quarter profit rose 16 percent after customers paid more for rooms in Singapore and New York.


Net income grew to 28 million US dollars, while revenue per available room gained 7.4 percent.


Millennium is 53-percent owned by Singapore’s City Developments.


Chairman Kwek Leng Beng said results for the first quarter were broadly in line with expectations, and that outlook for the rest of the year is in line with company forecasts.


Source: 938 Live

Private sector to get S$20m for solar capability development

Private sector to get S$20m for solar capability development


SINGAPORE: The private sector can tap on S$20 million to offset part of the capital costs of installing solar technologies in new building projects, the Economic Development Board (EDB) announced on Tuesday.


The Solar Capability Scheme (SCS), launched at SEMICON Singapore 2008, is the latest programme by the Clean Energy Programme Office (CEPO). It seeks to build up the capabilities of companies through increased adoption of solar energy technologies.


The scheme also encourages innovative design and integration of solar technologies into energy efficient buildings. It applies to new building developments in the private sector which meet the required standard.


The amount of financial support for each qualifying project will be assessed

on factors such as innovation, design, effectiveness and skills development in the proposed solutions.


Financial support will range from 30 to 40 per cent of the capital cost of the solar solution and capped at S$1 million per project.


The EDB said applications for existing buildings undergoing extensive retrofit will be considered on a case by case basis.


Last year, the government announced a total of S$350 million from various agencies to support the development of the Clean Energy industry.


Singapore aims to grow the Clean Energy industry to generate S$1.7 billion in value-added and 7,000 jobs by 2015. – CNA/ac


Source: Channel News Asia

They’re Young And Wealthy but Normal

They’re Young And Wealthy but Normal


·  They drive hybrid cars


·  They donate to needy


·  They say no to luxuries


WHEN Mr Ray Sidney, a software engineer at Google, cashed in his stock options in 2003, they yielded him more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime.


06 May 2008


WHEN Mr Ray Sidney, a software engineer at Google, cashed in his stock options in 2003, they yielded him more money than he could ever spend in his lifetime.


But instead of building himself a 10,000-sq-ft mansion in Silicon Valley, he retired to a four-bedroom house in Stateline, Nevada, and started giving money away.


He has donated millions away for worthy causes.


Mr Sidney belongs to a new breed of people who are Gen Xers and Ys, Young and Wealthy but Normal, or Yawns.


The acronym comes from The Sunday Telegraph of London, which noted that an increasing number of rich young Britons are socially aware, concerned about the environment and give more money to charity or worthy causes.


They spend frugally for themselves.


Yawns sound dull, but they are the new movers and shakers. They are men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s who want nothing less than to change the world and save the planet.


For instance, Mr Sidney has given US$400,000 ($546,000) to a local arts council to help build a new arts centre, US$1 million to a bus company to help launch a route so that casino workers wouldn’t have to rely on private transportation to get to and from work, and US$1.7m for a new field and track at a local high school.




He has also donated millions of dollars to charities that try to cure diseases or save the world.


His one rich-guy, carbon-hogging guilt trip: a single-engine plane he flies about in once a week to see his girlfriend in San Francisco.


But his pet project these days is pure Yawn. He is building what he calls ‘an environmentally friendly affordable housing development’ on 40 ha of land near his home.


‘This world and our society and the people in it are good and worthwhile,’ he said, by way of explanation. ‘And I think it’s worth spending money to keep it around and try to improve it.’


Mr Sean Blagsvedt, who moved from Seattle to India in 2004 to help build the local office of Microsoft Research, is another Yawn.


Moved by young children begging on the streets, Mr Blagsvedt quit Microsoft and launched two networking sites, and, to link India’s vast pool of potential workers with the people who need labour.


The larger goal – to reduce poverty.


The 32-year-old lives at babajob’s headquarters in Bangalore, a 3,000-sq-ft apartment where his mother and stepfather also live and 15 workers come and go every day.


‘I’m a happy person,’ he said. ‘It’s great to do something that you believe in doing.’


The state of the economy and the state of the planet have inspired a growing global movement.


The movement makes perfect sense, said sociologist David Grusky, since society tends to follow cycles.


Anti-materialist periods like the hippie movement generated a pro-materialist reaction – the yuppie period, and so on.


He adds that the evidence of climate change and a concern with terrorism gives rise to more interest in spiritual as opposed to material objectives.


That helps explain why Earth Day has become so big again, why products are all going ‘green’ and why, an Internet community bulletin board where members offer items for free, has grown in five years from a dozen members in Tucson, Arizona, to a network of over 3,000 cities in 80 countries.


Mr Deron Beal, the site’s founder, counts four million members, and is growing by 20,000 to 50,000 members each week.


‘People have many reasons for freecycling, ‘ said Mr Beal. ‘But the biggest reason is environmental – reusing and recycling instead of helping create more waste.’


Mr Rik Wehbring, a 37-year-old millionaire, limits himself to living on US$50,000 ayear.


That’s no small change but well below what he could spend in San Francisco, where his rent eats up 40 per cent of his allotted spending.


Mr Wehbring doesn’t own a television, his mp3 player cost US$20 (‘and it works just fine’) and when he drives, it’s a Toyota Prius.


He buys most of his food from local farmers’ markets, is leaving the bulk of his estate to various environmental organisations and donates money to what he considers worthy causes.


Every day, he grapples with ‘how to live a low-carbon life’.


‘I don’t need a lot of material possessions, ‘ he said. ‘I haven’t had to buy anything in a while’.


Such frugality seems to run in his circle.


Mr Brad Marshland, 44, the husband of Mr Wehbring’s cousin, is a successful filmmaker living near Berkeley.


He, his wife and two sons, aged 10 and 12, dry their clothes on a line, grow their own vegetables and buy what they need at garage sales and second-hand stores.


He offsets his family’s ‘carbon footprint’ – how much energy it uses – by donating money to environmental groups online.


Source: The New Paper




Retiree, 68, climbs in & out of 10th-storey flat for past six months His reason?


I keep losing my KEYS


ONE slip, and it can mean certain death.


By Chong Shin Yen



06 May 2008


ONE slip, and it can mean certain death.


Yet, 68-year-old Heng Teck Song insists on climbing in and out of his one-room flat through his living room window from the staircase landing on the 10th storey.


His reason?


He keeps losing his keys and is tired of making duplicates only to misplace them again.


Mr Heng, who lives on the 10th storey of Block 52, Chin Swee Road, is known as the ‘Spider-Man Uncle’ to his neighbours.


The retiree, who used to be an odd-job worker, has been doing this for the past six months and thinks nothing of the risk he is taking.


Mr Heng, who was reluctant to talk about his family when asked, told The New Paper: ‘I’ve climbed in and out through my window countless times.


‘My arms are very strong and I’m very careful and nothing will happen.’


While speaking to The New Paper in his sparsely-furnished rental flat, Mr Heng even offered to show us how he climbs out the window, but we told him not to.


He said in Mandarin: ‘Do you want to see? Let me climb out and show you how I do it.’


His living room window is about 1 metre away from the staircase landing.


Mr Heng said that his memory is failing and that he has misplaced his keys more than 10 times.


‘I’m old and can’t remember things very well. Every time I duplicate a new set of keys, I will lose it again within days.


‘I got so fed up and decided I might as well enter and leave my flat through the window to save me the trouble.’


Mr Heng said that the lock to his door was spoilt and that only his metal gate can be locked.


He lives with a flatmate, a man in his 60s, who is working. And whenever his flatmate locks the gate after leaving home and is not around to unlock the gate for him, Mr Heng will do his daredevil stunt.


Mr Heng’s son, who lives elsewhere, heard about what he was doing and since last month, he has asked a friend in the neighbourhood to help look out for his aged father.


The friend, a technician who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, was at the flat during The New Paper’s visit.




Mr Tan, 52, said in Mandarin: ‘His son was worried that something might happen if he (Mr Heng) continues doing such dangerous acts.


‘So he passed me a set of the house keys and told me to keep an eye on him.’


Mr Tan lives in the next block and, after finishing work at 3pm every day, he would head over to wait inside Mr Heng’s flat for the old man to return.


Mr Heng would usually return by the evening.


In the day, Mr Heng would walk around the neighbourhood to chat with his friends.


Still, there were times when he insisted on climbing in even though he knew that MrTan was waiting for him inside the flat.


Mr Tan said: ‘He did it again last month. I was reading the papers when I heard him calling me (telling me he is home).


‘I looked up and there he was, perched precariously on the window ledge.


‘His hands were grabbing the window grilles and I was scared stiff. I didn’t dare shout at him in case he lost his footing. He then climbed in on his own swiftly.’


The window grilles, Mr Tan said, are not locked.


Mr Tan said that he had scolded MrHeng many times and told him to stop his dangerous acts, but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears.


‘He’s very stubborn,’ Mr Tan said. ‘His son also told me that he’s suffering from mild dementia. That’s why he can’t remember where he places his keys.’


Madam Lim, who lives directly below Mr Heng’s flat, told The New Paper that some neighbours call Mr Heng the ‘Spider-Man Uncle’.


Madam Lim, 74, said: ‘My friend, who lives at the opposite block, once saw him climbing into the flat.


‘She called me immediately and asked if my flat had been burgled. She thought that he (Mr Heng) was entering my unit.’


Another witness, Mr Qiu, 40, a hawker assistant, told Shin Min Daily News that he had seen ‘quite a few times’ how Mr Heng climbed in and out through the window.


Mr Qiu said: ‘I was stunned the first time I saw him doing it. I just stood there and watched him.’


While others were concerned that he was putting his life at risk, Mr Heng was nonchalant.


When asked if he had thought about what could happen if he slipped and fell, he waved his hands to gesture that it’s not a problem. He said: ‘If I die, then it’s fated.’


Source: The New Paper

Warren Buffett says the ‘R’ word

Warren Buffett says the ‘R’ word


Housing woes seen hurting bank results for a couple of years


(OMAHA, Nebraska) Warren Buffett, the world’s richest person, said on Sunday that the US economy is in recession, putting him at odds with a government report that showed weak growth.


Mr Buffett offered his assessment during a wide-ranging news conference, a day after a record 31,000 shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc attended the insurance and investment company’s annual meeting in Omaha.


Last Wednesday, the Commerce Department said that the US economy grew at a 0.6 per cent annual rate in the first quarter. But Mr Buffett said that the nation’s population also grew, making the real growth rate lower.


He also said that even if the data did not show the economy retracting, people felt as though it was.


‘The US is in recession as I define it,’ he said. ‘I would define that as a situation where people are doing less well than they were three months, six months or eight months earlier and most businesses find themselves in that position too.’


Housing remains a critical problem, he said, as hundreds of thousands of US homeowners find their mortgage payments heading higher, or that their homes are worth less than they owe.


While Mr Buffett said that the government could help borrowers who were misled on what they would owe, he opposed helping people simply because their home values had dropped, or investors who bought mortgage securities without understanding the risks.


Borrowers, he said, ‘shouldn’t be penalised for being misled, but shouldn’t be protected against mistakes’. He estimated that more than 80 per cent of borrowers with ‘option’ or ‘pick-a-payment’ mortgages that let them pay less than the principal due, in fact did so, and that many now owe more than their homes’ values.


Mr Buffett said that housing problems would weigh down bank results for ‘a couple of years’ and the industry’s large losses and write-downs due to bad debts were not over ‘by a long shot’.


‘There’s going to be more pain, sure,’ he said.


Alluding to a large stock offering last week by Citigroup Inc, which lost close to US$15 billion over the last two quarters, he said: ‘Citigroup is replenishing its stock at US$25 when it was buying it back not too long ago at US$50. Many institutions not only grew the Kool-Aid, but drank it … They paid a price, but the price was really paid by shareholders. ‘


He said that banks needed better risk management.


He also said that he recently considered the prospects of a large investment bank, which he did not identify, by reading its 270-page annual report. He highlighted 25 pages where he did not understand what he had read.


‘I decided not to pick that one,’ he added. — Reuters.


Source: Business Times

Greenspan: US is in an ‘awfully pale recession’

Greenspan: US is in an ‘awfully pale recession’


Continued stagnation this year may be the best the US can hope for


(WASHINGTON) Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said the US has slipped into an ‘awfully pale recession’ and may continue to languish for the rest of the year.


‘We are clearly receding’, with economic growth now at about zero per cent, he said in an interview with Bloomberg News.


Mr Greenspan, who now consults for clients including Deutsche Bank AG, also said it was too soon to declare the end to the credit crisis stemming from the collapse in the US sub- prime mortgage market.


The former Fed chief’s assessment echoes figures in the past month that show declines in the manufacturing and housing industries, though fewer job losses than economists forecast.


Mr Greenspan’s successor, Ben Bernanke, and his colleagues indicated last week that they are ready for a pause in interest-rate cuts after seven reductions since September.


Mr Greenspan spoke the day before the Federal Open Market Committee’s April 30 statement, where it dropped a previous reference to ‘downside’ risks to growth and noted ‘uncertainty’ about the outlook for inflation.


While declining to comment on monetary policy, Mr Greenspan said the US economy is returning to a more inflation-prone period. Import prices are rising, as are wages overseas, adding to pressures already caused by soaring costs of food, energy and other commodities.


Mr Bernanke was scheduled to speak on mortgage markets yesterday at 8.30pm in New York.


Mr Greenspan, 82, portrayed the US economy as being caught in a ‘tug-of-war’ between cash-rich businesses on the one hand and money-losing financial institutions on the other.


‘This is a very unusual situation,’ he said. ‘Neither side is obviously winning the battle.’


The US economy grew at a 0.6 per cent annual rate over the last two quarters, the slowest pace since the 2001 recession.


Mr Greenspan said that continued stagnation for the rest of this year may be the best the US can hope for and might even be the most likely outcome. ‘That’s certainly the most benevolent scenario,’ he said. ‘It’s not all that far from being the most probable.’


‘We’re in a recession,’ he said. ‘But this is an awfully pale recession at the moment. The declines in employment have not been as big as you’d expect to see.’


The former Fed chief said a recovery won’t begin until home prices show signs of stabilising, relieving pressure on financial firms to write off mortgage-related losses.


‘Until there are stabilised prices of homes – and I think they have a good way to go down – you still have prospective losses’ for financial companies and investors. ‘It’s too soon to tell’ if the worst of the credit crunch is over, he added.


‘It is possible, not probable, that prices could bottom out’ towards the end of the year, Mr Greenspan said.


He saw the US economy reverting to the period prior to the 1990s, when inflation was more of a threat.


‘The trade-off between inflation and growth is clearly turning adverse,’ he said. ‘We’re going back to where we were before the end of the Cold War.’


Mr Greenspan in the past had argued that the expansion of the global labour force brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of China was a powerful force bringing down global inflation. That trend is now fading as workers in the emerging markets obtain higher wages. — Bloomberg.


Source: Business Times