First Sponsor Q4 profit more than doubles to $72.9m after partial divestment in project

SINGAPORE - Mainboard-listed First Sponsor Group reported on Tuesday (Feb 7) that net profit jumped 128.5 per cent to S$72.9 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2016, up from S$31.9 million a year ago, thanks largely to gains from partial divestment of its stake in a China project.

Revenue in the final quarter tumbled 78.5 per cent or S$78.7 million from S$100.3 million in the year-ago quarter. This was due mainly to lower revenue from sale of properties and property financing of S$74.1 million and S$4.8 million respectively, while rental income from investment properties remained constant at approximately S$3.4 million.

But the group was lifted by gains of S$98.8 million in the quarter, mainly from the dilution of interest in the Star of East River project in Dongguan.

"This partial divestment has unlocked the capital gain of the group's investment in this project, thereby enabling the group to recoup all its cash capital previously invested with a surplus cash return of approximately S$23.2 million and a remaining 30 per cent equity stake in the project," it said.

Earnings per share for the quarter rose to 12.36 Singapore cents from 5.41 cents a year ago.

First Sponsor is a mixed property developer and owner of commercial properties in China and the Netherlands, and also provides property financing services in China.

For the full-year ended Dec 31, 2016, First Sponsor saw record net profit of S$113.1 million, up 67.9 per cent from S$67.4 million a year ago.

The company has has recommended a final tax-exempt dividend of 1 Singapore cent per share, adding up to a total dividend for FY2016 of 2 cents per share, a 17.6 per cent increase from FY2015.

In a separate announcement on Tuesday, First Sponsor said that it is working together with Dutch property developer Provast to develop three residential tower blocks with facilities in Amsterdam Southeast.

First Sponsor acquired the Dreeftoren and Oliphant office towers in October and December 2016 respectively, and is also the owner of the hotels in Arena Towers nearby.

First Sponsor and Provast plan to use the land adjoining the Dreeftoren and Oliphant office towers to develop three residential blocks comprising a total of approximately 600 high-quality apartments and 2,000 sq m of auxiliary facilities. In addition, the existing Dreeftoren and Oliphant office buildings will be totally renovated by First Sponsor. Discussions with the city council are underway on the development project.