Singapore announces shake-up of REIT market rules

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SINGAPORE (Oct 9): Singapore announced a series of proposed reforms to its real estate investment trust market (REIT) on Thursday, which include a change in debt limits and more safeguards to try to ensure trust managers act in the interests of investors.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said it was proposing to change the leverage limit for REITs to 45 percent of their property assets. Currently REITs that have a credit rating can leverage up to 60 percent of their assets, while those that are unrated can leverage up to 35 percent.

The central bank is also proposing new safeguards to ensure that the performance fees paid to REIT managers are set by a clear methodology that takes into account the long-term interest of REIT investors.

Currently, there are concerns that REIT managers' pay may encourage them to take actions contrary to the interests of investors, such as buying more property to raise the trust's market value but potentially lower the yield investors receive.

Singapore's REIT sector is the biggest in Asia outside of Japan, with 33 trusts listed and a combined market value of $48.9 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data. ($US1=1.2691 Singapore dollar)