CapitaLand reopens all malls in China, sees rise in residential property sales there

About 80 per cent of stores in CapitaLand's malls and business parks in China were in operation as at end-March. PHOTO: CAPITALAND

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Property giant CapitaLand has reopened all its malls in China previously shut due to the country's coronavirus lockdown.

The group's four malls in Wuhan - the epicentre of the outbreak - reopened on April 2 after receiving clearance from local authorities.

About 80 per cent of stores in CapitaLand's malls and business parks in China were in operation as at end-March, CapitaLand said in a bourse filing on Monday (April 6).

In a separate filing, CapitaLand Retail China Trust (CRCT) said its portfolio had seen improvements in business activity and footfall in March compared to February.

CRCT Management chief executive Tan Tze Wooi said the trust was "very encouraged" by the return of tenants and shoppers, adding that it would work closely with retailers to meet pent-up demand through targeted offerings and attractive promotions.

He said: "In the last few years, we have actively shaped the portfolio to become more resilient by diversifying our presence across more cities and diversifying our tenant base across different trade categories.

"While we expect short-term volatility to our business due to Covid-19, we maintain our long-term collaborative stance with our business partners and a positive view of the China market."

Apart from mall tenants, about 95 per cent of CapitaLand's office tenants have also resumed operations, with over 65 per cent of tenants' employees returning to the office, the property developer said.

On the residential property front, CapitaLand's sales offices across China reopened progressively in March, with residential sales for the month exceeding 1.3 billion yuan (S$263.6 million). This is more than 5.5 times its sales for January and February combined.

Its new La Botanica township in Xi'an, launched on March 24, sold all 288 units within four days for a gross sales value of 405 million yuan, it said.

Other notable sales it made in the first quarter of the year include Jing'an One in Shanghai, and Citta Di Mare and La Riva in Guangzhou. The three properties netted the company about 336 million yuan, 390 million yuan and 288 million yuan in sales respectively.

CapitaLand group China president Lucas Loh said Chinese homebuyers have become more discerning since the virus outbreak, but added that the company recorded healthy figures since reopening sales offices, indicating a sustained underlying demand for new homes.

CapitaLand said most of its projects under construction have resumed work, and it is now focused on catching up with its annual sales and handover targets.

CapitaLand shares were trading at $2.77 as at 2.18pm on Monday after the announcement, up $0.15 or 5.7 per cent. Units of CRCT were also up $0.08 or 7.6 per cent at $1.14.

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