Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2005, 12:00am

Words of wisdom on reits from singapore's most powerful woman

When her father-in-law speaks, everyone listens. When she speaks...

Singapore's most powerful woman, Ho Ching, on Thursday warned that real estate investment trusts (reits) were a high-risk investment product, telling a group of investors these were 'not one-way up-escalators to guaranteed gains'.

Ms Ho, the daughter-in-law of Singapore patriarch Lee Kuan Yew and chief executive of Temasek Holdings, revealed the dark side of reits, which apparently have some bad habits, namely, buying bricks and mortar at inflated prices and leasing back to the sellers at well above market rents. Both the landlord and the vendor are the winners, but the unit holders may not be.

Her warning looks like a wake-up call for investors in Hong Kong, where at least five reits - including the $30 billion Housing Authority's Link Reit - are expected to come to market this year.

In the reit listing game, Singapore leads Hong Kong 6-0. Even top tycoon Li Ka-shing, who made a fortune in Hong Kong, chose to list his Fortune Reit in Singapore.

It is certainly not like Singapore to knowingly undersell itself.

asian women in top league

What do Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi, Queen Elizabeth, Ms Ho Ching and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have in common?

They have all made it to the Forbes 100 most powerful women in the world. This year, Ms Wu ranks second behind US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Joining them is Philippine President Gloria Arroyo (No4), Shanghai Baosteel Group chairlady Xie Qihua (No14) and Lenovo chief financial officer Ma Xuezheng (No57). An honourable mention: China-born Christine Poon (No17), who is now worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson Medicines & Nutritionals. Asian women certainly are doing it for themselves.

sector spooked by dbs?

Singapore-listed DBS Holdings yesterday gave a first glimpse of what we can expect from Hong Kong banks in the first half. Being a market leader last year, DBS (Hong Kong) yesterday reported a worse than expected 23 per cent fall in net profit.

Lai See is sceptical that things can be so bad for all banks and wonders whether there is a lingering D-B-S (Deposit Boxes Scrapped) effect after the notorious October mishap, when the Singapore-based bank crushed scores of safety boxes containing cash, jewellery and heirlooms. Rivals certainly reckon that DBS lost market share due to the awful publicity. The truth will come out next week when HSBC, Hang Seng Bank and Bank of East Asia all present their interims.

what's holding up fubon?

Was it a coincidence? Another foreign bank, Taiwan Fubon Bank (Hong Kong), which took over International Bank of Asia, has delayed its interim results for nine days until August 11.

Originally scheduled to report next Tuesday, Fubon said some directors' failure to attend the board meeting caused the delay.

Tradition would suggest that the earlier the bank stuck its head into the results, the higher the chance that it gets a good set of numbers. Fubon can be a test of the theory next month.

chip off the shoulder

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp chief executive and president Richard Chang Ru Gin yesterday passed his chairmanship on to a 70-year-old non-executive director, Wang Yang Yuan, complying with the segregation of roles of the chairman and the chief executive. With one chip off his shoulders but still wearing two hats, will Mr Chang see it more appropriate to separate his chief executive role from his presidency?

all aboard for musical chairsProspects for aviation analysts look brighter than the sector they cover. Despite surging oil prices that are depressing airline stocks, top-flight analysts are taking off to desirable destinations. BOC International's Michael Chan is to land with Macquarie, whose aviation analyst Paul Dewberry is said to be getting on board with Merrill Lynch. Fasten your seat belts, guys. Hopefully the sector will take off as well soon.