Fairmont to sell Raffles Hotel

Fairmont to sell Raffles Hotel


SINGAPORE – Fairmont Raffles Hotels International said on Thursday that it will sell its stake in Singapore’s landmark Raffles Hotel to a consortium led by ex-Credit Suisse banker Mark Pawley.



Fairmont, which is controlled by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and US private equity firm Colony Capital, did not disclose the selling price, although Singapore media said the figure was around $650 million (US$471.7 million).


Fairmont did not name the members of the consortium. Mr Pawley is CEO of Singapore-based private equity firm Oxley Capital that specializes in real estate, though an executive at Oxley told Reuters the firm was not the buyer.


The Business Times cited unnamed sources as saying the overseas buyer was linked to a European family.


Colony bought the 121-year-old hotel for about $200 million in 2005 as part of a bigger $1.7 billion acquisition of the Raffles Holdings hotel chain, the Business Times said.


Raffles Hotel, a Singapore national monument, was founded in 1887 by four Armenian brothers. In its colonial heyday, its guests included luminaries such as authors Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham.


Fairmont, which operates 88 hotels globally under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel brands, said in a statement it will continue to manage the Singapore hotel after the sale. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times

Ho Bee’s Q1 net profit down 62%

Ho Bee’s Q1 net profit down 62%


Property developer, Ho Bee Group, on Thursday reported its net profit for the first quarter eneded March 31, 2008 fell 62 per cent to $26.10 million (US$18.93 million) due to the lower recognition of revenue from a property project.


Ho Bee, famed for its Sentosa projects, said earnings per share also fell to 3.54 cents.


Revenue fell almost 62 per cent to $94.19 million.


‘This was mainly attributed to the lower recognition of revenue from property development project, The Coast at Sentosa Cove, which recorded a higher percentage in its initial revenue recognition in the first quarter of 2007 than the current quarter,’ it said.


The group sold one of its investment properties during the first quarter of this year and yielded a net gain of $2.2 million. This relates to one floor of office space at Suntec Tower 2 in which the group had a 60 per cent equity interest.


Looking ahead, Ho Bee said the group’s revenue and earnings for the next two to three years will be underpinned by the substantial progressive recognition of income from the successful sale of its residential projects. — BT Newsroom


Source: Business Times

HPL in Libyan property venture

HPL in Libyan property venture


Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) said the company and the Social Security Fund Investments Company (SSFI) have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the formation of a joint venture company for the development of hospitality and tourism projects in Libya.



HPL said that with its superb Mediterranean climate, 1,800 kilometres of pristine coastline and desert attractions, as well as its heritage sites, Libya is poised to be an exciting new tourist destination.


SSFI has been established in Libya by decree of the General Peoples Committee and owned by the Libyan Pension Fund. SSFI has been entrusted with the management and investments of assets and funds of the Pension Fund of Libya.


SSFI, which manages 23 hotels, resorts and tourism villages in Libya on behalf of the Libyan Pension Fund, intends to build an iconic mixed-use 50-storey tower in Tripoli and another 3 high-rise towers and a modern shopping mall in Benghazi.


Other sizable and significant investment projects are also in the pipeline. — BT newsroom


Source: Business Times

Ascott buys London property for US$85.13 million

Ascott buys London property for US$85.13 million   


The Ascott Group (Ascott) said it has bought a serviced residence within London’s ‘Midtown’ region at High Holborn for 43.5 million pounds (US$85.13 million).



Ascott currently leases the property from Land Securities plc and operates it as Citadines London Holborn-Covent Garden.


Land Securities plc is the United Kingdom’s largest real estate investment trust.


Ascott said the 192-unit serviced residence enjoys a great location. Holborn is rapidly becoming a major shopping and office district. The property is a short walk from Covent Garden, one of the liveliest areas in London with many boutiques, theatres, restaurants and clubs. It is also near the city’s business area, across the Holborn Tube Station with easy access to both the Central and Piccadilly underground lines.


Ms Jennie Chua, Ascott’s president & CEO said Europe is an important region for Ascott’s global expansion.


‘We have a global portfolio of 21,000 serviced residence units, 5,600 are in Europe. In the recent year, Ascott has been ramping up its expansion in Europe’s gateway cities and emerging markets,’ she said. — BT newsroom


Source: Business Times

Ho Bee’s Q1 net profit drops 62% to S$26m

Ho Bee’s Q1 net profit drops 62% to S$26m


SINGAPORE: Property developer Ho Bee has reported a 62 percent drop in first quarter net profit to S$26 million. Its revenue also fell 62 percent to S$94 million.


Ho Bee said this was mainly due to the lower recognition of revenue from a property development project, The Coast at Sentosa Cove.


The company also noted that the global economic and financial uncertainties caused by the US sub-prime crisis will continue to affect the sentiment of both the stock and property markets.


Property transactions are expected to remain weak in the short term.


However, Ho Bee said its revenue and earnings for the next two to three years will be underpinned by the progressive recognition of income from the successful sales of its residential projects. – CNA/ir


Source: Channel News Asia

Ascott acquires prime London property for S$116m

Ascott acquires prime London property for S$116m


SINGAPORE: CapitaLand’s Ascott unit has bought an existing serviced residence in London for S$116.4 million.


The property is located within London’s ‘Midtown’ region at High Holborn.


Ascott is currently leasing the property from Land Securities, the UK’s largest real estate investment trust.


The property is being operated under the brand name Citadines London Holborn-Covent Garden.


The 192-unit serviced residence is located within a major shopping and office district.


Ascott says Europe is an important region for the company’s global expansion.


The company has a global portfolio of 21,000 serviced residence units, of which 5,600 are in Europe. – CNA/ir


Source: Channel News Asia

Inflation to hit Singapore harder than US economic slowdown

Inflation to hit Singapore harder than US economic slowdown


SINGAPORE : Inflation is a more serious problem for Singapore and other Asian economies than an economic slowdown in the United States, according to HSBC’s senior Asian economist, Robert Prior-Wandesforde.


He said if inflation continues to push upwards, Asia could find itself facing an economic slowdown next year. His comment came at a seminar organised by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce.


Inflation in Asian economies has been on a relentless move upwards, with Singapore seeing inflation rising at its fastest pace in more than 26 years.


HSBC said the Singapore government appears to be tackling inflation well, but external factors are key when assessing the overall outlook.


Mr Prior-Wandesforde said: “Singapore isn’t too badly placed; I think we can manage this reasonably well. The countries that I’m more worried about would be some of the lesser developed countries, where inflation is starting to get a bit out of hand.


“The governments and central banks are going to need to do something about that. That means pressure on growth eventually, and that could be the bigger danger for Singapore as we go into 2009 and 2010.”


He said inflation is a bigger worry than the anticipated slowdown in the US because as a whole, Asia is still expected to show robust growth, led by economies such as China and India.


He added: “Asia has survived what has already been a reasonably big US downturn surprisingly well. In fact, some Asian countries have picked up at exactly the same time as the US has been slowing down.


“I do think there’s a possibility that the reverse could happen with these various commodity price shocks having a bigger impact on Asia than the Western world. Asia is slowing down more aggressively in 2009 (and) 2010, at exactly the same time as the US picks up.”


Prices of commodities such as oil and rice have been surging, leading to protests in Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. – CNA /ls


Source: Channel News Asia

Indiabulls to raise US$235m in Sg IPO

Indiabulls to raise US$235m in Sg IPO 


Indiabulls Properties Investment Trust plans to raise about 235 million US dollars in a Singapore initial public offering to fund investment in Indian real estate.


According to a listing prospectus, the trust will be managed by Indiabulls Real Estate, which is expected to hold 42.8 percent of the total trust units after the offering.


The trust will use the IPO proceeds to invest in two prime commercial development properties in Mumbai.


Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are co-managers of the offering.


Source: 938Live

Singapore office rents to stay high for next 12 to 18 mths

Singapore office rents to stay high for next 12 to 18 mths 



Rents in Singapore’s office market could stay at artificially high levels for the next 12 to 18 months.


This is according to a report by property consultancy CBRE which said the republic’s office leasing market remained active in the first quarter with renewals and relocations dominating activity.


This as banks and financial institutions continued to expand during the quarter while business support and professional entities such as law and IT firms also added space.


CBRE said this could spur further upside in Singapore’s office rents for selected buildings.


Meanwhile, office rentals across Asia also trended upwards in the quarter.


CBRE said the majority of 16 major Asian financial centres, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo have recorded vacancy levels below 5 percent for four or more quarters.


Despite increasing uncertainty in the global economic outlook, CBRE said corporate expansion continued in many parts of Asia and business sentiment remained largely positive.


Source: 938Live

US home slump puts owners ‘underwater’

US home slump puts owners ‘underwater’


Values fall 7.7% in Q1 to lowest point in nearly 3 years


(NEW YORK) US home values dropped 7.7 per cent in the first quarter to the lowest in almost three years, according to estimates by Zillow.com, an online data provider.


The decline is the biggest in 12 years of data compiled by Seattle-based Zillow.com, a website started in 2006 to provide homeowners, real estate agents and potential buyers with value assessments called ‘zestimates’ for single-family homes, cooperative apartments and condominiums.


US house prices dropped for the first time since the 1930s last year, discouraging buyers who fear being ‘underwater’ on their mortgage, or owing more on their home than it’s worth. That’s already happened to almost 52 per cent of homeowners who bought in 2006 when prices peaked, Zillow estimates.


At the same time, record foreclosures are adding to a glut of unsold homes and driving prices down further.


‘It’s clear evidence that the fundamentals of those housing prices were not sustainable, ‘ Zillow vice-president of data and analytics Stan Humphries said in an interview on Tuesday. ‘That’s definitely aggravated nationwide by the liquidity crisis.’


Financial institutions have reported at least US$318 billion in mortgage-related losses and asset writedowns since the beginning of last year.


The proportion of banks tightening lending standards for even prime borrowers rose last quarter to about 60 per cent from 53 per cent, according to the Federal Reserve’s Senior Loan Officers’ Survey.


The survey, published on Monday, also indicated that the share of banks making it tougher for companies and consumers to borrow approached a record after the sub-prime-mortgage collapse made them more reluctant to lend.


‘The inability to secure refinancing is ultimately contributing to the growing rates of foreclosure in many parts of the country,’ Mr Humphries said. — Bloomberg


Source: Business Times