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Friday, July 11, 2008

S'pore REIT to be syariah compliant

HONG KONG: Singapore's Cambridge Industrial Trust expects to declare itself "syariah compliant" early next week, sources said, in an effort to draw investment from the Middle East.

The property trust has asked the Islamic Bank of Asia to conduct due diligence, and an initial report has shown that few of its 43 assets were not in line with syariah principles.

One of the sources said the bank's syariah board was due to meet in Kuwait over the weekend and would probably give the go-ahead. A manager of Cambridge Industrial Trust declined to comment.

By Reuters

Abu Dhabi fund buys Chrysler Building

NEW YORK: The cash-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Council has bought one of New York's best-known skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building, for US$800 million, sources close to the deal said on Wednesday.

Despite a sharp downturn in the US housing market in recent years, bidding for landmark New York properties has remained skyhigh, showing investors still covet prestigious Manhattan properties.

The deal's price tag means the Middle East fund paid over US$10 million for each floor of the iconic 77-story Art Deco skyscraper which is situated in "Midtown" opposite Grand Central station.

Media reports had said the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, an investment fund based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had been holding negotiations with a subsidiary of Prudential Financial Inc over its 75 per cent stake in the Chrysler Building.

"We have sold our stake of 75 per cent on Tuesday," Prudential spokeswoman Theresa Miller said.

The remaining 25 per cent stake in the skyscraper is owned by Tishman Speyer Properties, a privately- held New York real estate firm.

"It's certainly a very healthy sign for the commercial real estate market in the US," said Dan Fasulo, a property analyst at Real Capital Analytics.

"Many of the oil-rich nations in the Middle East who (are) just flushed with capital from their oil profit are targeting or looking at our trophy real estate assets," Fasulo said.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Council is intensely secretive about its operations, but investment analysts say it controls over US$800 billion (US$1=RM3.24) of assets and is one of the world's biggest so-called sovereign wealth funds.

The fund made a US$7.5 billioninvestment in Citigroup, one of America's largest financial institutions, last November.

The Chrysler Building was designed by the architect William Van Alen and erected between 1928 and 1930.


‘Wynn Resorts may raise US$3b in HK share sale’

HONG KONG: US casino giant Wynn Resorts Ltd is considering a Hong Kong share sale to raise as much as US$3 billion (US$1 = RM3.24) to help fund the firm’s planned mega resort in the former Portuguese enclave of Macau, a newspaper reported yesterday.

UBS, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank have been hired to handle the transaction, the South China Morning Post cited sources as saying.

But the sources warned that volatile markets, racked by uncertainties over the US economy, may put off the listing in the near future.

“At the moment, the market is definitely not right,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

The report said Wynn’s current plans to open a 400-room hotel tower called Encore, next to its existing property, did not need new financing.

Instead, it could use any cash raised from a share sale to build a resort on the Cotai Strip, a huge piece of reclaimed land close to Las Vegas Sands’ huge Venetian Casino, which opened last August.

IPOs are suffering in general this year amid financial market turmoil, and Macau-related stocks are hurting even more because intense competition has shaved casino profits.

Casinos across the US, including those run by Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, have become less of a draw to consumers, who have been hit by economic uncertainty, a declining housing market and soaring gas prices.

Wynn’s US-listed shares have lost more than 30 per cent this year.

In Hong Kong, billionaire Stanley Ho’s Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) raised US$494 million in July by pricing its shares at HK$3.08 (HK$100 = RM41.57) apiece, at the low end of an indicated range in a deal handled by Deutsche Bank.

The firm had hoped to raise US$1 billion in an offering in January, but shelved the plan amid a weak stock market and queries made by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission regarding the shareholding structure of SJM’s parent firm, STDM.

On Wednesday, SJM delayed its Hong Kong IPO by a week to July 16.

Since Ho’s monopoly on gaming in the former Portuguese colony was broken up in 2002, the city has seen a flood of investment from foreign operators, transforming it into a gleaming gambling paradise.

By Agencies