ARA Asset Management reports 137% jump in Q1 earnings to S$9.2m

ARA Asset Management reports 137% jump in Q1 earnings to S$9.2m

 

SINGAPORE : ARA Asset Management has posted first-quarter earnings of S$9.2 million, up 137 percent from a year ago.

 

Revenue more than doubled to S$17.5 million.

 

The growth was mainly due to higher management fees from its REIT portfolio, as well as higher net property income.

 

ARA is expecting its asset enhancement initiatives to boost income for the full year of 2008. It is looking to set up REITs in new asset classes.

 

As at March 31, ARA’s total assets under management stood at S$10.4 billion. – CNA/ms

 

Source: Channel News Asia

Allco REIT appoints sales managers for Australian properties

Allco REIT appoints sales managers for Australian properties

 

SINGAPORE : Allco REIT has appointed sales agents for its properties in Australia.

 

The properties are Central Park in Perth and Centrelink Headquarters in Canberra. Together, they are valued at around A$483 million or S$624 million.

 

CB Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) will sell Allco’s 50 percent interest in Central Park through an international Expressions of Interest campaign which closes on July 10.

 

JLL and Colliers International have been appointed to market each of Allco REIT’s and Record Realty’s 50 percent interest in Centrelink Headquarters through an international Expression of Interest campaign which closes on June 5.

 

Central Park is a premium grade office tower and the tallest building in Perth. The property comprises a 47-storey office tower, with a total net lettable area of about 716,000 square feet.

 

Centrelink Headquarters is a new five-storey Grade A office complex. The property is located within the core of the Tuggeranong Town Centre, one of four town centres within the Australian capital Canberra.

 

Allco had said that the capital will be redeployed to higher-growth areas in Singapore and Asia. The funds could also be used to repay debts. – CNA/ms.

 

Source: Channel News Asia

Merrill CEO is ‘bullish on the world’

Merrill CEO is ‘bullish on the world’

 

JOHN Thain, the chief executive officer of brokerage and investment banking giant Merrill Lynch, talks to BT’s associate editor Vikram Khanna about the crisis on Wall Street, the changes at Merrill and its prospects looking forward.

 

Q: Warren Buffett says the worst of the crisis on Wall Street is over. Do you agree?

 

A: First, let me say I wouldn’t disagree with Warren on anything!

 

We’re through with the sub-prime-related credit problems for the most part. But I still believe the US economy is going to go through a difficult period as a combination of falling home prices, rising food prices, rising energy prices and rising unemployment impacts the consumer and that will impact the real economy. So I still believe we’re going to go through at least a couple of difficult quarters, more related to a slowdown driven by the consumer rather than the sub-prime related problems.

 

Q: How will this slowdown impact financial institutions, particularly Merrill?

 

A: It won’t impact Merrill so much. The next problem area will be those financial institutions which have large exposures to consumer-related debt – home equity loans, auto-loan receivables, credit-card receivables. And those would be primarily the regional banks.

 

Q: Looking ahead, do you foresee further restructuring of US financial institutions?

 

A: We’ve been seeing that. Huge amounts of capital have been raised, and particularly, in the case of investment banks, leverage has been reduced. I think both of those are likely to continue.

 

Q: Do you foresee Merrill having to raise still more capital?

 

A: No, I don’t. We’ve raised US$12.8 billion of common and mandatory convertible at the beginning of the year. That was about US$4 billion more than we lost in 2007. And we raised another US$2.7 billion of perpetual preferred. So, right now, our equity capital is US$44 billion, which is just a little under its record high.

 

Q: You are the first CEO of Merrill who has not been from within Merrill. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an outsider?

 

A: I think you have to look at why I decided to come to Merrill and why they offered me the job. It’s first the business mix, the strategy of Merrill. It has an excellent strategy – a combination of the world’s best wealth management business and a world class investment bank and sales and trading organisation. That strategy is very powerful and makes a lot of sense.

 

There are great synergies between the wealth management business and the investment banking business. You take a company public, you sell it, the wealth management side can manage the wealth, the wealth management side also has great contacts who can provide new IPO opportunities, new M&A opportunities.

 

Merrill also has a very strong brand and a very strong culture. And it’s a global business; we have a global footprint. The investment banking, sales and trading parts of the business are 60 per cent outside the United States.

 

So the combination of a very good set of businesses, a global footprint, a very strong brand and a very strong culture was what was attractive to me.

 

Q: How do you plan to change the corporate culture at Merrill in any way, if at all?

 

A: The culture is strong and it’s a very good culture. The one place where we want to change that is inside some of the sales and trading businesses. There were too many silos where each of the trading desks were focused only on their own P&L and in many cases, were paid only on the basis of their own P&L. We’re going to move towards a more company-wide focus. And so, compensation will be based on how well the company does as a whole does. We will also change the risk management culture. I brought in a new person, Noel Donahue, to co-head risk, and risk now reports directly to me. And so, the risk management functions and the focus on risk controls is also a change.

 

Q: You’ve worked at Goldman Sachs, where risk management was part of your job as CFO. Goldman has emerged from the credit crisis relatively unscathed. What did it do right that some other investment banks did not do?

 

A: One of the things Goldman did right was that it made risk management a very senior-level focus. The risk management functions were just as important as the trading functions. So there was a good balance between the two.

 

Second, the senior management, right up to the CEO, were very hands-on in understanding the business and understanding the risks of the business.

 

Third, Goldman’s compensation philosophy has always been oriented towards the firm as a whole. Those three things enabled them to weather this difficult environment.

 

Q: How do you respond to the public outcry against the compensation policies of financial institutions, which many people say reward excessive risk taking on the upside, without imposing commensurate penalties on the downside.?

 

A: You have to look at how compensation is done and what form it takes. I believe in employees getting a significant part of compensation in the form of equity. Actually, that’s one of the other things we’ve changed at Merrill; we’ve increased the proportion of equity in people’s compensation. When you give them stock, they participate on both the upside and the downside. And I think that’s a very important element in aligning the interests of management with that of shareholders.

 

Q: Merrill has significant operations across several Asian countries. How do you see the prospects for your Asian operations?

 

A: The Asian part of our business is the fastest growing and has some of the best opportunities in the world. The wealth that’s being created in Asia and the growth in Asian economies fits our business mix perfectly. As new wealth is being created, we want to expand our wealth management business. As economies grow, companies need access to capital, countries have infrastructure needs which need to be addressed, and that creates a lot of investment banking opportunities and sales and trading opportunities. So I am very optimistic about the growth prospects in Asia and in particular, here in Singapore.

 

Q: Which Asian countries are you especially focusing on at this time?

 

A: Certainly, Singapore is one. India is second and China is third. Singapore is one of our major hubs in the region. We also have a very strong presence in India. And China is a big focus because of its growth. We have strong presence there in terms of bringing Chinese companies to the international markets. But we don’t have the licences we need to operate in the domestic market in China, so that’s an important focus – that we get those licences.

 

Q: Merrill’s advertising slogan is ‘Bullish on America’. Are you bullish on America?

 

A: We’re bullish on the world, and on the opportunities for both our wealth management business and our investment banking business. We are a global company, not just a US company, and I think there are great opportunities around the world.

 

Source: Business Times

SHE ALSO SLEEPS IN DIRTY FACTORY

LITTLE GIRL PLAYS IN DIRTY FACTORY

 

SHE ALSO SLEEPS IN DIRTY FACTORY

 

HDB investigating feedback that tenants of two units at Tampines industrial estate are living there

 

TO the children, it’s home.

 

By Desmond Ng

 

 

07 May 2008

 

TO the children, it’s home.

 

They have pet dogs and toys and leave for school from there.

 

After school, they head back there.

 

But home to these kids is neither a house nor a flat.

 

It’s a flatted factory unit in Tampines industrial estate, the same place where The New Paper recently found foreign workers living illegally.

 

The units in the estate, managed by the Housing Board (HDB), are meant for light industrial activities such as printing, manufacturing and production.

 

They are not meant to be used as residences.

 

The corridors are often busy with workers operating fork-lifts. And it’s on the same corridors that the children play catch with their pet dogs.

 

Is this any way to bring up children, asked a reader who wanted to be known as Patrick.

 

Declining to give his name and occupation for fear of his safety, he had tipped off The New Paper about families living illegally there.

 

‘I don’t think it’s a good environment to bring up your children.

 

‘It’s dirty, noisy and could be dangerous. They should be brought up in a proper home,’ he said.

 

SOUND OF KIDS’ LAUGHTER

 

He said he has noticed these children living in the estate for at least five years.

 

The children are believed to belong to two families, although a man who said he’s a relative of one girl claimed she stayed over only occasionally.

 

The children try to keep a low profile, although they can be seen playing along the corridors during the day.

 

Over a few days, The New Paper team observed one family apparently living in one of the units on the third floor of the flatted factory.

 

The unit was occupied by two children of primary-school age and their father. We didn’t see their mother.

 

On one weekday night, we could hear them laughing inside the unit. It was about 10 pm, and most of the workers had left.

 

A signboard stating ‘Weng Seng Engraving’ was displayed outside their unit.

 

But when we peeked inside, there was no equipment to suggest a business of that nature.

 

Instead, inside the dimly-lit unit were a stove, a refrigerator, a small oven, a sofa, some clothes, toys and a study table.

 

We couldn’t linger for long because of a yappy Jack Russell terrier.

 

A man came out and we inquired about engraving services but he said that he didn’t provide such services.

 

We also tried to speak to workers in neighbouring units, but they were tight-lipped and didn’t want to say anything to expose their neighbour.

 

On two separate weekday mornings just before 7, we saw the father leaving the unit with the children, seemingly to take them to school.

 

That was when the estate was quiet and all the units were closed.

 

He was quite cautious and scanned the area several times before leaving the unit.

 

He drove an old second-hand Japanese car. There was no HDB season-parking label on its windscreen.

 

When we approached him on one of the mornings, the man denied he was living there, even though his two children were with him.

 

‘I don’t live here. This is my office,’ he replied curtly in Mandarin before walking away quickly.

 

A business search revealed that the engraving business had been dissolved about two years ago.

 

It was registered to a man with a residential address in Pasir Ris.

 

When we went to the HDB unit, a woman said the corner five-room flat was sold to her family about six months ago for about $340,000.

 

She didn’t know where the previous owner had moved to.

 

While observing the unit at the industrial estate, The New Paper team also noticed another family living in one of the units on the next floor.

 

We saw a girl leaving the unit in her primary school uniform in the wee hours of the morning.

 

She was heard saying, ‘Bye bye, mummy’ before leaving.

 

When this reporter tried to speak to her, she said she didn’t live there and ran off.

 

We saw her again on a few occasions playing with two puppies on that floor.

 

When we called the telephone number displayed outside the unit, a Mr Kang answered and said he was helping his relative to babysit her daughter, who is in primary school.

 

The company, he said, repairs air-conditioners and refrigerators.

 

Mr Kang said that his relative was from China and worked in a nearby factory. He didn’t know where the Singaporean father is.

 

He said in Mandarin: ‘Her mother comes here very early in the morning and leaves her here while she goes to work in a factory nearby. They both live in a rented flat in Bedok Reservoir.

 

‘I would rather she leave her daughter here when she’s working because they are renting from an old uncle who lives alone.’

 

Mr Kang said that when the mother works overtime, he would ask them to stay overnight.

 

He said: ‘But they don’t stay overnight often.

 

‘It’s just that if she finishes work after midnight, it can be dangerous for the two of them to walk home.’

 

He claims he doesn’t know much about the other family living there.

 

Said Mr Kang: ‘Anyway, it’s very safe in this block. Everybody knows everyone and we watch each other’s back. If anything happens to her (the little girl), I will have to bear much responsibility. ‘

 

The units here are under 1,000 sq ft each – about the size of an HDB five-room flat.

 

Rentals vary, but are typically about $1,000 a month.

 

Factory worker Michelle Chu, who is from Malaysia, said she has seen some children in the area but never knew that they lived there.

 

Said the 28-year-old: ‘I don’t think it’s right for the children to be living here.

 

‘But I’m sure the parents have their reasons for doing this. No parent will want their children to live in this area unless forced by circumstances. ‘

 

When contacted, HDB said the use of its flatted factories for residential purposes was not allowed. It said it had received feedback recently that the tenants of the two units are living there.

 

Said an HDB spokesman: ‘We’re investigating and if there is evidence that the units had been misused, we will serve notice to the tenants to terminate the tenancy.’

 

HDB added that it will also take action if there is feedback on misuse during its routine inspections.

 

‘We also regularly remind our industrial tenants against the misuse of the premises and the consequences.

 

‘For Tampines Industrial Park A, a general circular was sent to all tenants in February this year reminding them on the proper usage of their premises,’ added the spokesman.

 

The New Paper understands that to date, the HDB has not evicted or taken action against any tenants in Tampines or other industrial estates for using their units as residences.

 

Source: The New Paper

S’pore ousting HK as top millionaire hub

S’pore ousting HK as top millionaire hub

 

China seen to be 3rd richest country by 2017: study

 

By NISHA RAMCHANDANI

 

(SINGAPORE) Singapore is expected to pull ahead of Hong Kong as home to the highest concentration of millionaires over the next decade, sealing its reputation as a wealth centre not just in Asia but worldwide.

 

And while the US and Japan should remain the top two largest global economies, emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and Brazil will make their presence felt more strongly.

 

Now ranked seventh in terms of total net worth, China will grab third place by 2017, bypassing several G7 countries to become the third-richest country, while India is expected to make its debut in the top 10 list at No 8. Russia and Brazil will also display significant growth, moving up from 19th to 11th place and 15th to 12th place respectively.

 

With the Economist Intelligence Unit, Barclays Wealth released a report yesterday that forecasts the evolution of the level and distribution of household wealth in 50 countries between 2007 and 2017. Household wealth was measured using three components – financial holdings such as cash and other liquid assets, non-financial holdings such as property, and an aggregate measure that combined the two.

 

Last year, Singapore trailed Hong Kong in highest wealth density, with 23.3 per cent of residents having wealth of more than US$1 million. But by 2017, Singapore is expected to see this figure grow to 40.7 per cent – some 436,000 households – in comparison to Hong Kong’s predicted 39.4 per cent.

 

According to the report, countries with the highest percentage of dollar millionaires tend to be small, densely populated financial centres such as Singapore and Switzerland.

 

In addition, the study revealed that the disproportionate distribution of wealth is expected to narrow as the concentration of wealthy households in Singapore, with US$3 million and US$5 million, is on an upward trend. Households with wealth of US$3 million will more than double from the current 5.1 per cent to 12.5 per cent, while those with US$5 million will almost triple from 2.1 per cent to 6 per cent.

 

Barclays Wealth chief executive for Asia-Pacific, Didier von Daeniken, pointed to Singapore’s recent efforts to shift its focus from manufacturing towards technology and financial services. In addition, the opening up of previously protected sectors, like financial services, and bilateral trade agreements serve as an impetus to garner foreign direct investment.

 

For China, wealth creation has stemmed largely from the stock market and real estate. Citing figures from Ernst & Young, the report said 464 IPOs were launched in China over the past three years, raising US$134 billion. As the country’s economy continues to expand, the average net worth per household is expected to quadruple, from US$18,000 in 2007 to US$74,000 10 years later.

 

‘Asia now represents 25 per cent of HNWI individual wealth globally but only about 10 per cent of the income of the major private banks,’ said Mr Daeniken. ‘Growth for private banks can come from two areas – more penetration of existing wealth and more wealth being created.’

 

In Asia, Barclays clients are typically entrepreneurs, a trend that is expected to remain in the future.

 

Source: Business Times

Govt has arsenal to counter US-driven slowdown: PM Lee

Govt has arsenal to counter US-driven slowdown: PM Lee

 

In a crunch, it can pump-prime the economy and give targeted assistance

 

By CONRAD TAN

 

(SINGAPORE) Singapore is prepared to face any economic scenario that emerges from the current uncertain climate, including a prolonged downturn in the United States, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

 

One option to fall back on would be to boost economic growth through government spending, including resuming construction projects that were earlier put on hold, he said.

 

‘If things do get bad, which cannot be ruled out – although it does not appear to be on the cards – we are not without recourse,’ he told a group of some 100 guests including chief executives, senior bankers and economists at a discussion hosted by Thomson Reuters.

 

‘If we need to move on fiscal policy to stimulate the economy, we can do that. If we have to have directed assistance to help the lower-income because unemployment has gone up – right now it’s at a very low level, but if that happens – we can do that.

 

‘And if I have to stimulate the economy or some sector of the economy, I can do that too.’ In the construction sector, for example, the government could restart projects that it had put on hold, he said.He also said that he wished that the government had ‘moved earlier’ to ease the office space crunch in the financial sector, which has grown so rapidly that prime office space rents have soared, prompting banks to move some of their staff and operations to out-of-town locations.

 

‘I wish we had moved our banking and financial centre six months earlier than we actually did. But at that time, the market looked cold and nobody was interested and we were unable to generate the interest for it to take off.’

 

But the government has since taken steps to build more office space, housing and schools to ease some of the capacity constraints, he said.

 

HSBC economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde asked Mr Lee if he thought that Singapore could be in danger of losing its lead over other countries in export competitiveness, especially given the recent disappointing growth figures for electronics exports.

 

Singapore‘s non-oil domestic exports fell by 5.9 per cent in March, the steepest decline since February last year. Electronic exports shrank for the 14th month in a row.

 

Mr Lee said that the falling dollar value of electronics exports was likely to be an ‘inevitable trend’ – partly because ‘prices have been crashing’ even though the volume had risen – but that other sectors of manufacturing such as pharmaceuticals would provide support. ‘Our overall export numbers are not bad – could be better, but they’re not bad. I don’t think it is a sign of our losing export competitiveness. ‘

 

David Conner, chief executive of OCBC Bank, asked Mr Lee what he thought the reaction of other governments in the region to rising food prices and overall inflation was likely to be.

 

Mr Lee said that ‘it would be a pity’ if countries closed up their markets ‘because it’s really the markets that are going to make sure that the food goes where it’s needed and there’s enough for everybody to eat’.

 

He said that cooperation among the Asean countries was necessary ‘to make sure that we coordinate among ourselves and do not work against one another’.

 

Long-term problems affecting food supply such as under-investment in research and development would take time to solve, he said. ‘We must be prepared to see food prices up for some time.’

 

Separately, he told Reuters in an interview before the discussion that the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) would not disclose as much detail about its investment portfolio as Singapore’s other state-owned fund, Temasek Holdings, despite pressure from foreign governments.

 

‘GIC and Temasek are different,’ he said. ‘We do not want to tell people exactly how much we have so it’s easier for them to make a run on the Singapore dollar.’

 

GIC, which invests Singapore’s foreign reserves overseas, is believed to be the world’s third largest sovereign wealth fund, with an estimated US$330 billion in assets under management, according to Morgan Stanley in February. Unlike Temasek, which began publishing an annual review of its portfolio in 2004 containing consolidated financial statements and its investment returns, GIC reveals only that it manages funds ‘in excess of US$100 billion’ on behalf of the government and the Monetary Authority of Singapore..

 

Source: Business Times

$20m plan aims to boost solar tech in new buildings

$20m plan aims to boost solar tech in new buildings

 

By CHEN HUIFEN

 

THE Economic Development Board has launched a $20 million solar capability scheme to help the private sector become more environmentally friendly.

 

Announced at the Semicon Singapore show yesterday, the scheme aims to encourage companies to install solar technology in new building projects. It is offering financial support of up to 40-50 per cent of the cost of solar solutions, capped at $1 million per project.

 

‘The scheme enlarges the practice field for our solar energy ecosystem,’ said EDB managing director Ko Kheng Hwa. ‘We believe this will go a long way towards building up critical capabilities among various players, including system integrators, architects, engineers and developers.

 

‘The implementation of capabilities nurtured under the scheme will be exportable, as there is growing demand internationally for eco-friendly developments. These capabilities will also support wider adoption of solar energy in Singapore as its cost continues to fall.’

 

The scheme is applicable to new private sector building developments that meet Green Mark Gold standard, under a benchmarking system administered by the Building and Construction Authority. Projects at existing buildings may be considered case by case.

 

The scheme is the latest initiative by the Clean Energy Programme Office (Cepo) led by Mr Ko.

 

Set up early last year, Cepo is an inter-agency workgroup tasked with coordinating clean energy efforts.

 

Yesterday, Cepo announced the formation of a clean energy international advisory panel . Chaired by EDB chairman Lim Siong Guan, the panel will advise Singapore on the development of a clean energy industry and help chart R&D direction. Panel members include British parliamentarian Ronald Oxburgh, European Photovoltaic Industry Association president Winfried Hoffmann and Norway’s Renewable Energy Corp president and chief executive officer Erik Thorsen.

 

Source: Business Times

Beach Rd building sold for $70m

Beach Rd building sold for $70m

 

Hirsch Bedner and Irish private equity firm turning asset into boutique offices

 

By KALPANA RASHIWALA

 

AN Irish private equity firm and renowned international interior design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates have bought 700 Beach Road, currently a small office, home office development named In-City Lofts, for a total $70 million.

 

The duo will pump in a further $3.5 million to upgrade the eight-storey building and reposition it as a boutique office block.

 

The building has 8,500 to 12,000 sq ft floor plates, 4.5-metre ceiling heights and a roof terrace with a full-sized lap pool and gym facilities. When the refurbishment is completed in August this year, the property – located between Golden Mile Tower and Golden Mile Complex – will be renamed 700 Beach.

 

The spruce-up will increase the building’s existing net lettable area by about 5,000 sq ft to 67,000 sq ft – of which 12,000 sq ft will be owned by Hirsch Bedner and 55,000 sq ft by Fine Grain Property Consortium (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

 

The all-in investment of $73.5 million by the two parties works out to $1,097 per square foot of the enlarged total net lettable area. Hirsch Bedner has taken about one-and-a-half floors while Fine Grain has bought the remaining six-and-a-half levels.

 

The site’s lease was extended to 99 years starting April 2004, after the building was completed.

 

The interior design process of the refurbishment for the entire building is being handled by Hirsch Bedner, which will also move into the space it has bought. This will be the Los Angeles-based firm’s regional office, housing its 80-strong design team.

 

Fine Grain has appointed Jones Lang LaSalle to lease its space in the building. ‘The gross monthly per square foot asking rent is in the high single-digit range and we’re targeting MNCs who’re sensitive to high office rents in the CBD,’ says JLL regional director and head of markets Chris Archibold. JLL is in talks with three potential tenants for areas of various sizes, Mr Archibold added.

 

Assuming an average rent in the high-single digit range, the net property yield would be about 8 per cent, analysts say.

 

Fine Grain is 65 per cent controlled by Ireland-based investors led by Ronald Bolger, Singapore’s Honorary Consul General in Ireland and former managing partner of KPMG Ireland.

 

The other 35 per cent is controlled by Singapore- based investors led by Colin MacDonald and Wan Fook Kong. (Mr MacDonald is also managing director of McCraic Holdings, owner of Molly Malone’s Irish pub and BQ Bar). Mr MacDonald, his brother Alastair (a chartered accountant), Mr Bolger and Mr Wan are directors of Fine Grain.

 

700 Beach Road is Fine Grain’s first property acquisition in Singapore and the firm has allocated about $70-80 million more for further property purchases here in the next six months or so. ‘We’re targeting undervalued assets, overlooked by investors perhaps because of the properties’ current use or the way they’re being managed. We can refurbish and reposition such assets and seek to add value to existing buildings rather than build something from scratch,’ says Mr MacDonald, who is also Fine Grain’s CEO.

 

Fine Grain’s portion of the acquisition will be funded by 70 per cent debt, provided by Munich-based Hypo Real Estate Group.

 

700 Beach Road was sold by In-Space Pte Ltd, whose shareholders include Wee Chwee Heng of Kumpulan Akitek.

 

Source: Business Times

Sun Venture awarded Scotts Road site

Sun Venture awarded Scotts Road site

 

It bid $32.99m or $226 psf ppr for the office site

 

By ARTHUR SIM

 

DB&B subsidiary Sun Venture Investments has been awarded a transitional office site at Scotts Road after emerging as the highest bidder last week.

 

Its bid of $32.99 million or $226 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr) for the 97,284.1 sq ft site was 3 per cent higher than the next highest bid received by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in the public tender.

 

DB&B develops and manages property assets and its CEO Billy Siew Kim Leng revealed that the overall construction costs could be in the region of $35 million, taking the overall development cost to about $68 million, including land cost.

 

The project, which has a maximum permissible gross floor area of 145,926.2 sq ft, will be partially funded through bank loans but even in the light of tightening credit markets, ‘funding will not be an issue’, Mr Siew said. This is probably because of the positive response from potential tenants.

 

Mr Siew had said last week that DB&B was in talks with two potential anchor tenants when it first ventured to bid for the site. However, since emerging as the top bidder, DB&B has received between eight and 10 expressions of interest, he said.

 

And the asking rent of $9.50 psf a month has apparently not put potential tenants off either, even though the first transitional office building being leased by Prudential Assurance Company Singapore on the other side of Scotts Road is being leased for $6.50 psf a month.

 

Mr Siew explained that as a built-to-suit office space provider, the office building will come fully fitted with raised floors, back-up generator and, more importantly, interior fittings, representing a cost savings for the future tenants.

 

The completion date is set for mid-2009.

 

Source: Business Times

Conduct poll before forming an en bloc committee

Conduct poll before forming an en bloc committee

 

Wednesday • May 7, 2008

 

Letter from David Soh Poh Huat

 

IT IS interesting the fact that en bloc unhappiness still prevails despite last year’s new rulings.

 

Maybe it is time the guidelines are further tweaked to follow those of the Housing and Development Board’s Lift Upgrading System.

 

Before any en bloc committee is formed, the management committee should conduct a poll for every registered resident to either opt in or out of en bloc.

 

If 100 per cent consent is not obtained, the project should be scrapped and put on hold for three to five years.

 

This will be more efficient and neighbourly than forming an en bloc committee, wasting precious time and resources, and then scrapping a project when there is no majority..

 

Source: Today Newspaper