S'pore set to welcome influx of foreign investments

By Channel NewsAsia's Wong Siew Ying in Cannes | Posted: 14 March 2007 2211 hrs

CANNES: Singapore could be looking at an influx of foreign investments in the coming years.

Some German, American and Middle Eastern companies at the MIPIM real estate conference in Cannes are considering putting their money in Singapore.

Investors are upbeat about the Asian property market, with some saying it will out-perform the US and Europe in the next 5 years.

This is mainly founded on strong GDP growth in the region and shifts in demographics which in turn drive consumption and housing demand.

Besides investing in Singapore, some foreign firms also want to work with local developers to help restructure their portfolio or even cooperate on joint ventures overseas.

Chua Choy Soon, Managing Director of SEB Asset Management, said: "We are launching an Asian Property Fund. We are raising about 300 million of equity in euros.....Apart from Singapore, we are looking at Japan, Korea and China, and of course some part of that money will find its home in Singapore."

Mr Chua said his company has already set up an office in Singapore and is looking at a few deals closely.

If successful, they could work out to some S$500 million to S$1 billion.

Some Middle Eastern companies are also looking at opportunities in Singapore.

Among them is Dubai's Akar Properties.

It is currently working with Surbana on a commercial project - the Singapore Tower in Dubai.

Sultan M Hareb Al Falahi, CEO of Akar Properties, said that Singapore and Dubai shared a lot of common areas.

For instance Singapore and Dubai are both logistics hubs, though Singapore is serving the Asian market while Dubai the Middle East.

Many investors at the MIPIM conference also enquired about Singapore's economic development, land use and property prices.

"First of all, they are keen to come to Asia. But within Asia, they recognise that Singapore is the one that offers them a very attractive investment proposition. We are attracting a lot of attention, we offer good returns - that's the bottom line for them. They are not coming to Singapore because they like Singapore or they don't have anywhere else to go," said Mah Bow Tan, Singapore's National Development Minister, who is at the MIPIM conference.

Mr Mah said that the lesson for Singapore is that it must continue to rejuvenate itself because even established cities like Paris, London and Madrid are doing so.

It is also important for Singapore to attract foreign investors as they bring along with them capital and new ideas, he said.

These will not only complement what Singapore already has but also give the city state a global image.

After the conference, Mr Mah will visit Madrid to learn about its city development, as well as Valencia which revamped its waterfront extensively to host the America's Cup. - CNA/ir