City&Country: Foreign Briefs

Australand posts net profit of A$165.8 mil
Australand Property Group posted a net profit of A$165.8 million in FY2010, reversing the red ink of A$298.2 million in FY2009. The net profit includes an investment property revaluation gain of A$38.9 million. Distribution per security was 20.5 cents. Revenue in the same year to Dec 31, 2010, was up 9% to A$749.3 million. As at Dec 31, Australand’s investment property division owned a total portfolio valued at A$2.1 billion, including 73 properties, of which five are under development. The portfolio had a total lettable area of some 11.8 million sq ft.

Bangkok’s commercial property market recovers
Bangkok’s commercial property market bounced back in 2010, following a quiet 2009. CBRE estimates that more office buildings were sold last year than in the previous five years combined. CBRE alone handled the sale of six office buildings worth US$187 million. Land sale transactions in the same year hit more than US$50 million. This year, developers will still be on the lookout for suitable plots, especially those along the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) and MRT lines, especially for those ranging between 3,200 sq m (34,445 sq ft) and 8,000 sq m (86,112 sq ft), as they are easier to develop and launch. With a growing shortage of suitable plots in prime locations, CBRE expects land value to rise further.

CBRE to buy majority of ING real estate unit for US$940 mil
CBRE, the world’s biggest commercial property broker, agreed to buy the majority of ING Groep NV’s global real estate investment management unit for about US$940 million as the Dutch bank and insurer seeks to reduce property-related risk.

CBRE will purchase businesses from ING Real Estate Investment Management, or REIM, with €44.7 billion in assets, Amsterdam-based ING said in a statement on Feb 16. ING also agreed to sell US$100 million in equity stakes in REIM funds and the real estate investment management firm Clarion Partners. The US company will be bought by Clarion management and Lightyear Capital LLC.

ING is cutting its investments to real estate to limit risks and shrink its balance sheet. Its real estate management investment business managed €66.2 billion in assets, including the World Trade Center in Amsterdam, at end-December for more than 650 clients.

GIC offers US$1.5 bil for Paulson-owned resorts
Government of Singapore Investment Corp, which has a stake in Hyatt Hotels Corp, offered to pay US$1.5 billion for a group of bankrupt resorts owned by investors, including hedge fund Paulson & Co. The Singapore sovereign wealth fund seeks to buy five resorts, one of GIC’s lawyers, Michael Sage of Dechert LLP, said after unveiling the offer at a bankruptcy court hearing on Feb 13 in New York.

The properties include Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, Hawaii and the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami. GIC, which manages more than US$100 billion of Singapore’s foreign reserves, may be betting on a rebound in travel demand that is helping the US lodging industry recover after the recession sent occupancy to a 30-year low. Occupancy in the top 25 US markets climbed to 64% last year from 60% in 2009, according to Smith Travel Research Inc.

Beijing limits home purchases after government’s housing curbs
Beijing will ban residents from buying more than two homes after the Chinese government extended property curbs to prevent a housing bubble, says China Central Television.

Local residents will be limited to two homes and non-locals will be allowed to buy only one property, according to CCTV. Non-Beijing residents also need to provide five years of tax documentation to buy residential properties, the state-owned broadcaster says.

China has been cracking down on the property market to ensure housing remains affordable, with cities such as Shanghai, Qingdao and Jinan imposing local restrictions.

The government last month raised the minimum down payment for second-home purchases and introduced taxes for homes in Shanghai and Chongqing while the central bank raised interest rates on Feb 8 for the third time since mid-October.

This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 847, Feb 28-Mar 6, 2011

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