Top HK developer Sun Hung Kai’s board ousts chairman

Top HK developer Sun Hung Kai’s board ousts chairman


HONG KONG – The board of Hong Kong’s top developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties, ousted company chairman Walter Kwok on Tuesday as a family power struggle convulsed one of the city’s most respected blue-chip firms.


Mr Kwok, who has taken a leave of absence since Feb 18, has accused younger brothers Thomas and Raymond of trying to have him dismissed without legal basis, but a Hong Kong court on Monday rejected his bid to block a vote by the board.


Their mother, Kwong Siu Hing, 79, will take Walter Kwok’s place, the firm said in a statement.


Sun Hung Kai shares climbed 1.3 per cent in the morning, following a 1.8 per cent gain on Monday. But they had shed a tenth of their value since the start of the month, as the Kwoks’ increasingly acerbic battle made newspaper headlines. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times

Champion Reit to raise nearly US$1b for Langham deal

Champion Reit to raise nearly US$1b for Langham deal


HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s Champion Reit is raising up to US$980 million through a sale of units and convertible bonds to buy the Langham Place office and retail complex, according to a document sent to investors.


The real estate investment trust (Reit) announced in February it would buy most of a 59-storey office tower and mall from Great Eagle Holdings, saying a bank loan, convertible bonds and a unit sale would fund the US$1.6 billion deal.


The unit sale, priced at between HK$3.60 and HK$3.80 and arranged by Citigroup, will raise about US$380 million, or up to 18.6 per cent of the enlarged issued capital.


Units traded at HK$3.85 at Tuesday’s market close, down 3.27 per cent.


Meanwhile, the convertible bond issue aims to raise up to US$600 million, with the securities yielding 4.75 per cent to 5.25 per cent, the document said. The conversion price will be between 25 per cent and 32 per cent higher than the price of the share sale.


The Langham Place deal is the first major acquisition by any of Hong Kong’s six Reits.


After the hugely popular 2005 initial public offering of Link Reit – the privatisation of 151 government-owned shopping malls – shares in most Hong Kong Reits slid because of a reputation for using financial engineering to sell buildings in IPOs at above-market prices.


Champion Reit, which raised US$808 million in a 2006 listing with one asset, the Citibank Plaza building, used interest rate swaps and a dividend waiver by sponsor Great Eagle to effectively bring forward future rent rises into its IPO valuation.


But under investor pressure, Champion is using the Langham Place deal to unwind its financial engineering. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times

US recession still probable: Greenspan

US recession still probable: Greenspan


LONDON – A recession in the United States remains a probability, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said in an interview published on Tuesday.


Speaking to the Financial Times from Washington, Mr Greenspan said he believed ‘there is a greater than 50 per cent probability of recession’. He noted, however, that ‘that probability has receded a little’.


The likelihood of a severe recession had ‘come down markedly’, he added: but it was too soon to tell whether the worst was already over.


According to the Financial Times, Mr Greenspan estimated that house prices in the United States would drop by a further 10 per cent from their levels in February, which comes to a 25 per cent drop from their peak.


‘Such house price declines imply a major contraction in the level of equity in owner-occupied homes, the ultimate collateral for mortgage-backed securities,’ he said.


United States economic growth has slowed dramatically in recent months and a growing number of economists believe the world’s largest economy will experience a recession during 2008 amid a housing slump and related credit crunch. — AFP


Source: Business Times

US new home sales rise 3.3% in April

US new home sales rise 3.3% in April


WASHINGTON – Sales of new homes in the United States rose an unexpected 3.3 per cent in April from the prior month, to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 526,000 homes, a government report showed on Tuesday.


The spike in sales was unexpected as most analysts had predicted that sales declined last month.


March sales, however, were revised lower to 509,000 properties compared with an initial tally of 526,000, according to the Commerce Department survey.


And although sales rose in April from the prior month, sales of new homes in the 12 months to April have dived a hefty 42 per cent amid a lingering housing market slump.


The median sales price of new houses sold in April rose 9.1 per cent compared with March to US$246,100. — AFP


Source: Business Times

Restoration work underway at Cornwall Gardens Road

Restoration work underway at Cornwall Gardens Road


SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said expects one lane of Cornwall Gardens Road to be opened this Friday.


LTA said its inspection of the area is complete and reassures the public that buildings in the area are safe.


The family that has moved to the hotel since the incident has returned home. Telecommunications network to the area is up and running as well.


Cornwall Gardens Road has been blocked off since part of it caved in due to the MRT Circle Line construction.


Although tunnelling work in the area has stopped, LTA said the incident will not affect the Circle Line’s construction schedule.


Source: Channel NewsAsia


PUB clears river sludge along Robertson Quay

PUB clears river sludge along Robertson Quay


SINGAPORE: The air along Robertson Quay has finally been cleared. And the source of the offending stench a 1m-thick layer of sludge lining the bed of the Singapore River has been removed, giving the area a breath of fresh air.


The years of muck that lined a 50m stretch of riverbed could have been due to dead leaves, litter and silt discharged from nearby worksites, especially after rain, said a PUB officer during a media briefing at the quayside on Monday.


The sludge fronting the Red House at The Quayside had been assailing the nostrils of visitors, patrons and tenants for the last three months. And while the PUB assured that the air is clean again, the agency would “continue to monitor the situation”.


TODAY had reported last week that visitors to the pubs and restaurants located along the bend at Robertson Quay had complained of a pungent smell.


Mr William Yeo, PUB’s assistant director of catchment and waterways, said the agency conducts a major dredging exercise along the river once every few years.


Whenever they are notified about a stench, they will carry out localised dredging the last one at Robertson Quay was done in 2001.The latest dredging exercise was completed on Monday, the third such this year. Patrol boats also make daily rounds, scooping up dead leaves, plastics and cans.


“The river is very large so we need help from the public and businesses to give feedback to us,” said Mr Yeo. He added that they will continue make their rounds but if there is no smell, they will not disturb the riverbed.


Restaurant staff along the river told TODAY that they are finally getting a breath of fresh air. The managing partner of the Brussels Sprouts, Ms Monique Kwok, 40, said that she is looking forward to more business. She said that customers had previously associated the foul smell with the restaurant lining the river.


“Business is definitely going to improve because more people will probably visit the area and hang out by the river now that the smell is gone,” she said. – TODAY/ar


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Parkway Life REIT investing in two nursing homes in Japan

Parkway Life REIT investing in two nursing homes in Japan


SINGAPORE: Parkway Trust Management, the manager of Parkway Life Real Estate Investment Trust, is investing in two nursing homes in Japan for some S$34m.


One of the homes is located in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture and the other is in Ibaraki City, Osaka.


The vendor of both properties is nursing home operator ZECS Community Co.


Under the sale and leaseback agreements, ZECS CC will lease back 100 percent of the space at each property for 15 years, with an option to extend the leases for an additional five years.


Parkway says demand for high-quality nursing homes is expected to soar in a country where more than a quarter of all Japanese will be at least 65 years old by 2025.


It expects to fund both investments by debt, which will increase the REIT’s gearing from 8 percent to 11 percent.


The investments are expected to be completed on May 30. – CNA/ir


Source: Channel NewsAsia

URA releases 2 sites at Woodlands, Kallang Pudding Road for sale

URA releases 2 sites at Woodlands, Kallang Pudding Road for sale


SINGAPORE: The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has launched an industrial site at Woodlands Industrial Park E5 for sale by public tender.


The site has an area of 1.68 ha and is zoned for a Business 2 development. The tender for the site will close at noon on July 22.


The URA also released the detailed sales conditions for a reserve list site at Kallang Pudding Road for industrial development. The 0.57 ha site is zoned for a Business 1 development.


Businesses are grouped under Business 1 and Business 2 zones, according to their impact on the environment.


Under the government’s reserve list system, a site on the reserve list would only be put up for tender if a developer’s indicated minimum bid price in his application is acceptable by the government.


Both sites have a gross plot ratio of 2.5 and have a lease period of 60 years.


Source: Channel NewsAsia

Goh Chye Boon is Tianjin JV CEO

Goh Chye Boon is Tianjin JV CEO


KEPPEL Corporation yesterday announced the appointment of Goh Chye Boon as chief executive of a Singapore-China joint venture company formed to spearhead the Tianjin Eco City project.


Mr Goh is now deputy secretary (industry) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).


He will be seconded to head the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City (SSTEC) project from June 1, but will serve concurrently as deputy secretary (special projects) at MTI.


A Keppel statement yesterday said that Mr Goh’s experience in the public sector will equip him for his new role. Keppel is the leader of the Singapore consortium for the project.


Lim Chee Onn, Keppel’s executive chairman, said that the Tianjin eco-city is intended to be a global model for building sustainable communities.


He said that the project needs talented and committed individuals to drive the vision of ‘creating a future that harmonises resources and economic growth with the environment and the community’.


Besides stints at various ministries, Mr Goh chaired the organising committee of the 2006 IMF-World Bank meetings held in Singapore and was instrumental in organising the upcoming 2008 Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix.


His public sector experience covers many areas including economic development, fiscal planning, policy planning and community development.


Besides MTI, he has held leadership appointments at the Ministry of Finance; Monetary Authority of Singapore; Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports; People’s Association and the Defence Ministry.


He is also a director of the Economic Development Board; EDB Investments; Exploit Technologies; Sentosa Cove; the Singapore-MIT Alliance (SMA) Governing Board; Spring Equity Investment and is on the board of Singapore Grand Prix.


Source: Business Times

Surbana wraps up 2 Qatar masterplan projects

Surbana wraps up 2 Qatar masterplan projects


SINGAPORE-BASED Surbana Corporation yesterday said it had completed two masterplan projects in Qatar, one each for the municipalities of Al Wakrah and Al Khor.



Both projects, by the Surbana Urban Planning Group, were awarded last year by Qatar’s Urban Planning and Development Authority and launched recently.


The detailed masterplans, to be implemented over a 25-year period, maps out the land use and zoning for the two municipalities taking into account the need for infrastructure, residential and commercial spaces, transportation networks and environmental concerns.


Surbana said in a press statement yesterday that they were presented to the Qatari government in March this year. Residents from both municipalities as well as various government agencies were invited to give feedback.


Both municipalities are near Qatar’s industrial hubs with Al Khor in the north and Al Wakrah in the south.


The vision is for these areas to flourish as ultra-modern and vibrant cities with downtown precincts devoted to the arts and culture, family recreation, fishing and marina as well as heritage. There will also be a mix of commercial spaces, government buildings, educational institutions and residential enclaves.


Upon completion, the two municipalities will be able to house a population of 170,000 for Al Khor (1,552 sq km) and 600,000 for Al Wakrah (2,483 sq km).


Separately, Surbana said a project it designed clinched an award in Abu Dhabi last week. The Tourism Development & Investment Company, Abu Dhabi’s lead developer for tourism assets, took the Best Commercial/Office Project Award at the Cityscape Abu Dhabi awards for its waterfront headquarters.


The nine-storey building, scheduled for completion in 2010, has a series of eco-friendly energy conservation features.


Source: Business Times