Cheung Kong Property eyes Singapore sites

HK firm seeking land, as well as hoping to embark on commercial developments

Mr Justin Chiu, Cheung Kong executive director. PHOTO: CHEUNG KONG PROPERTY

Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Property Holdings will keep seeking land here as well as in its other two core markets of mainland China and Hong Kong.

It also hopes to embark on more commercial developments and - with partners - is looking at white sites in the Marina Bay financial district, according to the company's executive director Justin Chiu.

"We like Singapore. It fits Cheung Kong's three main criteria for us to go into a host country," he told The Straits Times yesterday.

"One is the legal system - common law is good. Secondly, there is sufficient and available local talent. It's a free economy as well."

Other than the Marina Bay area, where a white site is available on the Government Land Sales reserve list for this half year, the company is "definitely looking to trigger more reserve-list sites", he said.

The company, controlled by tycoon Li Ka Shing, has already been participating in almost all government tenders for sites on the confirmed list, he added.

"Whether it's residential, offices or retail, doesn't really matter. We look at the merits of each site."

Dr Chiu was speaking on the sidelines of the firm's announcement of its latest development here.

Stars at Kovan, a mixed project of 390 condominium units, five strata terrace units and 46 shops, comes after a nearly five-year hiatus from the market for Cheung Kong.

Its last project was Thomson Grand, launched in July 2011 - completed last year. Stars of Kovan is its eighth residential project here.

Previous projects include Marina Bay Financial Centre, Marina Bay Suites and Marina Bay Residences, all jointly developed with Keppel Land and Hongkong Land Holdings.

Stars at Kovan is a two-minute walk from Kovan MRT station and will be priced at about $1,550 to $1,600 per sq ft (psf).

One bedders are from 506 sq ft and about $800,000 while two bedders are from 732 sq ft and about $1.2 million. Three bedders are from 947 sq ft and will cost about $1.5 million.

There will be an early-bird incentive as well, said Mr Francis Wong, director of Cheung Kong Real Estate.

It spent about $10 million on building its showflat and sales gallery, which it plans to open by April 30. Pre-sales will start early next month. Sales of the shops will come later and the firm could sell these in Hong Kong and London as well.

Dr Chiu, who is also chairman and non-executive director of ARA Asset Management , did not comment on Asia Square, which a consortium led by ARA had been in talks to buy. But the office sector here is not something ARA is looking at now, he said.

Still, it remains difficult for fund managers to buy in Singapore due to the Additional Buyers' Stamp Duty.

"It's upfront cost, which even more than backend cost (cost paid after selling, such as tax on profit) affects the internal rate of return (IRR)... And especially for a fund manager, IRR is the criterion."

But neither are they waiting for a tweak in property cooling measures.

"Sometimes there are good deals, if we can buy the special purpose vehicle. There are still some available especially in Hong Kong, where the investment market is more seasoned and many investors have already set up these vehicles."

The company also has two other real estate investment trusts (Reits) with Singapore assets, Suntec Reit and Cache Logistics Trust, which are looking hard at acquisitions according to their mandates, or commercial and logistics or warehouses.

"This is especially as we now think that interest rates are not likely to go up too much this year," said Dr Chiu.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2016, with the headline Cheung Kong Property eyes Singapore sites. Subscribe