Developers cross their fingers and look to lucky numbers to give their bids a boost

A $1,571,888,888 bid was lodged for a Beach Road commercial site by a company linked to Chinese developer Cui Zhengfeng, in a tender exercise that closed on Thursday (Sept 28).
A $1,571,888,888 bid was lodged for a Beach Road commercial site by a company linked to Chinese developer Cui Zhengfeng, in a tender exercise that closed on Thursday (Sept 28).PHOTO: URA

SINGAPORE - What's in a number? Plenty, judging by some of the bids that developers have made for sites.

Two GuocoLand units had put in the highest offer, at a round $1.622 billion, for the commercial land parcel that includes the former Beach Road Police Station.

But a $1,571,888,888 bid was also lodged for the site by a company linked to Chinese developer Cui Zhengfeng, in a tender exercise that closed on Thursday (Sept 28).

Meanwhile, Japura Development, with ties to Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing's CK Hutchison Holdings, offered $1,403,888,778 for the same plot.

Unsurprisingly, the number eight crops up often in bids, being a homophone for "prosper" in various Chinese languages.

The numbers six and nine are also popular, as "six" in Cantonese resembles the word for "happiness" and "nine" sounds like "long-lasting".

CSC Land Group (Singapore) bid $401,999,999 for a residential site in Serangoon North Avenue 1, while parent company China Construction (South Pacific) Development took a gander at a Margaret Drive plot in 2016 with a $212,589,899 offer.

Far East Organization units have made "777" their calling card, such as in the joint $204,777,000 offer that Far East Civil Engineering and Japan's Sekisui House made for a land parcel in Toh Tuck Road in a tender that closed in April.

The same two companies bid $589,777,000 for a residential plot in Woodleigh Lane in a tender that closed in July 2017.

ZACD Group head of research Nicholas Mak said: "Sometimes, with the tender, there are circumstances that are out of your control... since you face roughly the same constraints as your competitors."

Under such conditions, he said, "you may want to have an edge" with numbers believed to be auspicious.

Or sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Mr Mak added that odd numbers in a bid may stem from something as simple as a developer's target price per plot ratio.

Of course, that did not stop his group's ZACD Investments from going in with another company for the residential site in Margaret Drive to offer... $205,888,889.99.