Keppel swings back to $300 million first-half profit, quadruples dividend

Keppel is making good progress towards achieving its Vision 2030, chief executive Loh Chin Hua said. PHOTO: KEPPEL CORPORATION

SINGAPORE - Keppel Corporation has bounced back into the black for the first half with all its key business units turning in improved performances.

The group reported net profit of $300 million for the six months to Jun 30, reversing from a loss of $537 million in the same period last year.

All its divisions registered profit, including Keppel Offshore and Marine (O&M), it said on Thursday (July 29).

Keppel's losses in the same six months last year were underpinned by $930 million in impairments, mainly from O&M.

Its buoyant result this half was supported by a 16 per cent rise in revenue to $3.68 billion, bolstered by higher contributions from the urban development, asset management and energy and environment businesses.

Keppel is offloading $2.3 billion worth of assets as part of a programme announced last September. Half of these transactions have since been completed, enabling the company to unlock cash totalling $854 million, which helped improve its cash flow and lower net gearing.

The board has approved an interim cash dividend of 12 cents a share for the first half, compared with just three cents in the first half of last year. It will be paid out on August 19.

Keppel is making "good progress" towards achieving its Vision 2030, chief executive Loh Chin Hua said.

The strategy, announced in May last year, involves refocusing Keppel's portfolio on sustainable development, with an asset management arm to fund growth and recycle capital.

Part of the restructuring involves the proposed combination of Keppel O&M and Sembcorp Marine announced last month, as well as ventures into new growth areas such as electric vehicle charging, liquefied hydrogen and green ammonia supply.

Keppel now focuses on four key businesses: energy and environment; urban development; connectivity; and asset management.

"Beyond organic growth, we are actively exploring merger and acquisition opportunities in our focus areas to grow the group's business and improve the quality of our earnings more quickly," Mr Loh said.

Acquisitions could include assets in renewable energy in Australia, India, the Philippines, Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Mr Loh said there are also opportunities for Keppel's urban development business as economies recover from Covid-19, adding that home sales doubled year on year across all its markets to 2,650 units during the first six months of 2021.

Keppel Land also recorded higher contributions from its China and Vietnam property trading projects and divestment gains.

Keppel Land China said on Thursday that it will divest 100 per cent of its equity interest in Chengdu Shengshi Jingwei Real Estate for approximately 1.6 billion yuan ($324 million).

Keppel closed up 2.1 per cent at $5.39 on Thursday before the results announcement.

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