Mohamed al-Fayed Reaps $A2.5 Billion From Harrods Sale

Harrods LondonMOHAMED al-Fayed has reaped about $A2.5 billion from the sale of one of the world’s most famous shops, Harrods, in Britain.

The sale ends 25 years of ownership by Mr al-Fayed, who paid <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”Cambria Math”; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1107304683 0 0 415 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-520092929 1073786111 9 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:””; margin-top:0cm; margin-right:0cm; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; mso-fareast-language:EN-US;} .MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:10.0pt; line-height:115%;} @page Section1 {size:595.3pt 841.9pt; margin:72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt; mso-header-margin:35.4pt; mso-footer-margin:35.4pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –> £615.

The new owner is the Qatari royal family.

Harrods includes seven levels of retail space and includes 300 department stores attracting some 15 million shoppers a year.

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Telstra to Float Chinese Real Estate Website Soufun

TELSTRA will float major Chinese real estate website Soufun.

Telstra, which is not commenting further because it is uncertain where Soufun would be listed, paid $US254 million for a 51 per cent stake in SouFou in August 2006, under the directorship of Sol Trujillo.

It is one of seven Chinese investments for Telstra, which also owns websites for cars, electronics and mobile phone services.

In a statement, Telstra said “Subject to regulatory requirements, further details will be provided as the process proceeds”.

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Move over Simcity, new internet-based property game arrives

REAL estate hobbyists will be able to play the part of a property entrepreneur, as part of a new internet-based computer game set to hit the market soon.

Property Mogul will allow players to acquire, sell and manage properties to build a portfolio. Players start with $1 million, and can utilize real estate agent help to advice on game based purchasers. Agents will be represented with an online avatar.

“Property Mogul is an entertaining and interactive game where players buy, sell and manage real estate, allowing them to apply real life principles to achieve virtual property tycoon status,” said Century 21 Australia chairman and owner Charles Tarbey. The agency has developed the game with Engaging Communications.

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Google Updates its Australian Street View Images

ONLINE real estate voyeurs may notice Australia’s capital cities looking greener, cleaner and generally more attractive.

After some 18 months touring roads in cars with roof-mounted cameras, and then blurring the scenes it recorded for privacy, internet-based business Google this week replaced much of the Australian imagery it uses for its Maps and Street View technologies (a UK Google Street image capturing a drunk man, pictured, right).

Google’s much anticipated upgrade – the first major improvement to the Street View service introduced here in August 2008 – affects capital cities, coast and country towns.

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BHP’s Plans to Move its Headquarters to Perth Delayed

MINING giant BHP Billiton looks unlikely to relocate its headquarters to Perth any time soon, according to news reports.

In 2008 Perth mayor Lisa Scaffidi labelled a new building BHP was occupying at City Square as “BHP’s new national headquarters” raising speculation the giant will leave its long-time home in Melbourne.

The mayor told a council meeting BHP’s Melbourne operations would be “significantly downgraded” in what was “a major boon” for Perth.

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Ritziest Suburbs Fall Hardest Since GFC Peak: RP Data-Rismark

AFTER what has been a largely bleak economic backdrop, the country’s most affordable suburbs are performing better than its ritziest.

According to research group RP Data-Rismark, exclusive suburbs including Mosman Park in Perth and Hunters Hill in Sydney (pictured, right) have reported drastic median price drops of more than 30 per cent since “the peak”, which it deems to be August 2008 (about six months after when many agents say the downturn started in the large Sydney and Melbourne markets).

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PCA Questions New Australian Population Strategy

A CONTROVERSIAL new population strategy – which sets no population target at all – has concerned peak property bodies.

The Gillard government’s first population strategy, Sustainable Australia, Sustainable Communities, is “political in nature’ according to the Property Council of Australia chief executive Peter Verwer, who added it contained “little more than motherhood statements, previously announced government initiatives and ongoing government programs.”

“This is not a detailed plan for managing population growth and to describe it as a policy or a strategy would be stretching credibility,” Mr Verwer was quoted as saying in The Australian. “We need to grow our population, which needs taxation revenue to fund vital services,” he added.

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ASIC Orders Banks to Relax Rules That Restricted Older People From Borrowing

IN A positive move for middle-aged and older Australians, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission has ordered banks to relax rules that restricted borrowing capacity.

On April 23 ASIC announced it clarified responsible lending guidelines introduced in January – which inadvertently resulted in banks and non-bank lenders being rejected credit applications from middle aged people without a substantial retirement egg.

ASIC now says lenders must ask more questions to determine whether a middle aged applicant will be able to repay a 25-year owner occupier mortgage loan, if they are due, for example, to retire in the next decade.

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Australian Residential Rents Tipped to Continue to Rise in 2011

RENTS for houses and apartments are expected to rise this year, as a result of accelerated economic activity, housing shortages and a depressed first home buyers market.

Australian Property Monitors, a property analyst, predicts a steep rise in rents this year, following what was a quarter of growth in March 2011.

According to APM, Sydney apartment rents have increased 7.1 per cent in the past twelve months, followed closely by Adelaide and Canberra.

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One in Four Australians Will Not Make Payments if Rates Rise 0.5 Per Cent: Report

A REPORT by finance giant QBE says one in 10 mortgage holders would not be able to make their repayments if interest rates rise by one quarter of a per cent.

This figure rises to one in four Australians, if interest rates were to rise half a per cent.

The report also says 80 per cent of first home buyers said the property market was overvalued, but one in five said they are still likely to make a purchase in the next six months.

The report, by QBE Lenders Mortgage Insurance, says on average 25 per cent of owner occupiers are suffering mortgage stress, with this figure likely to rise in line with future interest rate rises.

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Commercial Property’s Biggest Fundraiser to Peddle Off

THE commercial property sector’s biggest fundraiser is about to peddle off again, though thankfully for the Victorian participants, the weather is looking calmer than last year.

This time, the Chain Reaction bike ride will go national – with a Queensland ride scheduled for May taking participants from Forster, in New South Wales, to Brisbane.

A Victorian ride kicks off from Sydney next Saturday March 12, and concludes in Melbourne on Friday March 18, incorporating the Labour Day public holiday. The 1200 kilometre track will take participants through the Snowy Mountains.

Some 45 riders – representing commercial and residential sectors – are registered to accept donations for the ride this year.

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Google Shelves Controversial Real Estate Listing Initiative

GOOGLE has shelved plans to feature real estate listings within its Google Maps.

The company cited low usage for the feature, which is available in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Japan.

The feature was launched in 2009, but despite offering free listings, failed to knock off the dominant Australian real estate search engines, and

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Lend Lease Appoints New American CEO

SYDNEY-based developer Lend Lease has announced a new CEO for its American arm.

Lend Lease Australia CEO and managing director Steve McCann announced Robert McNamara’s appointment in a statement today (copied below).

Mr McNamara will report to Mr McCann, and be responsible for divisions including: Development, Project Management and Construction, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Investment Management.

He takes the help on April 19, 2010.

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Queensland Based Watpac Wins $40 Million in Contracts

Watpac’s Civil & Mining division has successfully bid for $40 million worth of projects in recent months around the country.

Yesterday in Queensland the division was awarded a $30 million contract on the Flinders Street Redevelopment in Townsville.

This major project for the Townsville City Council will see the existing pedestrian mall converted into a roadway and footpaths, reopening the space to vehicular traffic.


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Wheels in Motion For Commercial Real Estate Industry Charity Bike Ride

THE Victorian leg of Chain Reaction, the week-long event that has become the commercial real estate sector’s highest profile charitable exercise, starts in Melbourne next month.

The bike challenge, in which members of several agencies and other associated industries are represented, will take participants through 1000 kilometres to Mt Buller and back, and through Ballarat, Heathcote, Nagambie, Violet Town, Whitfield, Mt Buller, Mansfield, Yea and Flowerdale.

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RBA Lifts Cash Rate 0.25 Per Cent to 3.75 Per Cent at December 2009 Meet

Glenn StevensTHE Reserve Bank of Australia has given mortgage holders an early Christmas present, by increasing interest rates just 0.25 per cent this week.

The RBA meeting, the last one for what has been a strong year for major residential markets, will see the official cash rate increase to 3.75 per cent. The RBA meets again on February 2, 2010.

It’s the first time the RBA has increased interest rates for three consecutive months. Some analysts were speculating interest rates may increase by more than 0.25 per cent, on the back of strength in the residential sector.

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PCA Appooints Nigel Satterley to Head Residential Development Council

Nigel SatterleyTHE director of Australia’s largest, independent, residential land developer – Nigel Satterley – has been appointed by the Property Councl of Australia to head the divisions Residential Development Council.

PCA executive director Caryn Kakas said in a statement “Nigel has made a significant contribution to the RDC board since he joined the membership, and I congratulate him on his appointment as chairman.”

“The RDC plays a critical role in advancing the understanding of issues surrounding the efficient and sustainable delivery of housing options for Australians by promoting public policy solutions to the challenges which threaten to undermine housing affordability.

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Ray White Partners Gulshan Properties to Expand Into India

AUSTRALIA’s biggest residential real estate agency is expanding into India.

In a statement released today, Ray White confirmed it had formed a partnership with Indian real estate business Gulshan Properties, reportedly one of the top five real estate agencies in India and the largest provider of apartments and residential housing, in New Delhi, where it is headquartered.

“The Ray White group has expressed an interest in having a partnership in Delhi and the Gulshan Group provide a perfect platform for the growth of the Ray White business model throughout Asia,” Ray White chairman Brian White said in a statement.

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New Board of Directors for LJ Hooker

LJ Hooker’s new executive chairman Leslie Janusz has announced a new Board of Directors for the company he took control of the company from Suncorp on October 15.

According to a statement, the new LH Hooker Board comprises:

· Greg Paramor: founding partner of Equity Real Estate Partners, former Managing Director of Mirvac, and past President of the Property Council of Australia;

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Lend Lease Announces Stapling Proposal

Lend Lease today announced a plan to become a stapled entity, with newly created trust: Lend Lease Trust (LLT).

A copy of the announcement is below:

Lend Lease Corporation (“Lend Lease”) today announced a proposal to become a stapled entity (“Stapling Proposal”) on ASX. This will be achieved by distributing units in a newly created trust, Lend Lease Trust (“LLT”) to shareholders on a 1:1 basis and “stapling” each unit and share together so that they trade on ASX as a stapled security.

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Grocon, Oaktree Capital Management Make Bid for Multiplex Prime Property Fund

THE funds management division of Melbourne-based developer Grocon, and US-based private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management have made an offer for the Multiplex Prime Property Fund, with a $109 million cash and hybrid security offer.

The move would see Grocon take over the management of the fund, and unit holders walk away from a second instalment obligation, due in 2011. Investors would sell their units for 2 cents each, they are currently worth 1 cent.

It’s reported discussions have been underway between the groups since May this year, and that any deal would see the Grocon-Oaktree consortium pay an upfront $45 million to banks, and a further $56 million to pay some of the upcoming second instalment liability.

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Japan’s Sumitomo Forestry Buys Half Share of Henley Homes

A HALF share of Australia’s fourth largest home builder – Henley Homes – has been sold to Japanese industrial business Sumitomo Forestry for an undisclosed sum.

The deal comes after a four year negotiation, but the developers have worked together on two projects in Melbourne.

Sumitomo builds about 10,000 houses a year in Japan, and is also involved in projects at Wangaratta, in Victoria, Nelson in New Zealand, China, Korea and the United States.

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Billionaire James Packer Sells Sunland Shares For $28 Million

BILLIONAIRE James Packer has sold his interest in Gold Coast based developer Sunland, for $28 million.

It is reported Sunland purchased about half of the 35 million shares, which were valued at 80 cents each.

Mr Packer held a near 12 per cent stake in the developer, whose portfolio includes developments in Australia and the Middle East.

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