Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Keppel Land eyes mixed sites here

KEPPEL Land will be looking at acquiring large mixed-development sites in Singapore and residential sites in China targeted at owner-occupiers, its group chief executive Kevin Wong said at its results briefing yesterday.

Mr Wong said the mixed development site above Tanjong Pagar MRT station tendered last November was an example of the type of project the company was keen to pursue here. Its partnership with Hongkong Land and Cheung Kong Holdings had come in second to Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan's GuocoLand bid of $1.7 billion for the coveted site last year.

Keppel Land announced a full-year net profit of a record $1.05 billion in the 12 months ended Dec 31 last year, up 273 per cent from the previous year. Fourth-quarter net profit surged to $841 million - almost eight times that of the same period last year.

Its record profit was aided mainly by a $364 million gain from the sale of the group's one-third interest in the first phase of the Marina Bay Financial Centre as well as higher fair value gain on investment properties, said Keppel.

Full-year revenue, however, was down by 14.2 per cent to $792 million from a year earlier, while fourth-quarter revenue slid from $300.5 million to $281.5 million.

Keppel Land said that it achieved strong residential sales last year, with 5,250 homes sold - of which a record 4,600 were located overseas, mainly in its residential townships in China.

Mr Wong said China's recent property cooling measures were directed at speculators, not genuine home buyers.

'The key for us is to look for opportunities to satisfy this (genuine home buyer) market, which actually has a very strong demand. So that will be one of the key approaches for us, whether in Singapore or China,' he added.

Keppel also said in a statement that it is in a strong financial position, with a cash surplus of more than $1.5 billion, to continue to 'actively pursue acquisition opportunities in Singapore and the region'.

Said Mr Wong: 'In Singapore, prospective buyers may hold back their purchasing decision after the Government's recent anti-speculation measures.

'However, as the growth prospects for Singapore and Asia remain positive, the housing market will continue to attract both local and foreign buyers,' he noted, adding that while sales volume may be moderated, prices should remain stable.

Full-year earnings per share rose to 72.8 cents, from 24.2 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share was $2.97 as of Dec 31 last year, up from $2.36 previously.

The company is proposing a payout of 18 cents per share - comprising a special dividend of nine cents per share and an ordinary dividend of nine cents per share.

Keppel Land's shares closed four cents up at $4.57 yesterday.

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