As The Edge Singapore launched its first issue, the fabric of property development started to change. The financialisation of real estate helped to lighten balance sheets, burdened by debt and high gearing ratios.

First was CapitaLand with CapitaMall Trust, followed in swift succession by the IPO of Ascendas REIT, also in 2002. Cheung Kong Holdings (now CK Asset Holdings) became the third Asian developer to list a REIT when it became sponsor to Fortune REIT.

REITs were a need, not a want. In 2002, indebted developers such as the newly formed CapitaLand, and Keppel Land, had to figure out ways to deal with high gearing levels on their balance sheet, yet work out ways to keep their Grade-A and trophy buildings within their control.

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