CDL: From eight-man outfit to major player

Property conglomerate City Developments (CDL) is among the few genuine veterans on the local market, having been listed on the Malayan Stock Exchange way back in 1963.

The company, then run by eight staff from a small office at the former Amber Mansions, where Dhoby Ghaut MRT station now stands, went public just three months after it was set up.

It was known for being one of the first residential developers to introduce the "showhouse" concept, now a norm in the industry.

When political and social turmoil rocked Singapore in 1969, CDL struggled to stay afloat. In 1972, Mr Kwek Leng Beng, then a young executive at Hong Leong Group, led the acquisition of a controlling stake in CDL.

The move transformed the company into one of the largest and most profitable developers listed here today.

During the 1970s, CDL expanded its portfolio to include investment properties, building its first shopping and residential complex, City Plaza in Geylang Road.

It entered the hospitality industry within the next decade and later ventured into other parts of Asia, Britain, the United States and New Zealand.

In 1989, CDL formed and listed CDL Hotels International on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In 1996, it listed London hospitality subsidiary Millennium and Copthorne Hotels on the London Stock Exchange, making it the first Singapore-controlled company to do so.

Today, CDL - the property arm of Hong Leong Group - is one of the largest real estate players in the industry, with a market capitalisation of $8.51 billion. Its indicated dividend yield is at 0.85 per cent.The value of its assets has surged from $14 million in 1972 to $19.7 billion today.

Jacqueline Woo

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline CDL: From eight-man outfit to major player. Subscribe