RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Keppel to launch 8,500 residential units in China by 2019-2021

It is looking to grow in China, particularly in Jing-Jin-Ji, Yangtze River Delta, and Greater Bay Area.

Keppel is about to unlock huge potential from its overseas landbank, according to RHB analyst Leng Seng Choon. He noted that the firm has 3 million sqm of remaining residential areas for sale in China, which are mainly in Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuxi and Tianjin. Additionally, Keppel is also developing the Saigon Sports City township in a prime area near Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam.

“Assuming average selling price (ASP) per sqm of RMB10,000 ($2,000), the gross domestic value (GDV) is around $5.9b (RMB30b). Of the 21,584 remaining units for sale in China, around 8,500 are ready to be launched from 2019 to 2021,” Leng said in a report.

The analyst noted that Keppel is targeting to launch 2,000 residential units in China in 2019. “In Q1, the property division sold 390 homes (with a total sales value of $230m), more than the 300 units sold in 1Q18. Most of the homes were sold in China, mainly in Wuxi. Keppel just launched its new Nanjing residential project in middle April, and all 271 units in Phase 1 were fully sold at launch,” he explained.

Keppel is looking to source for further growth in the China property market, with focus on high growth areas, namely, Jing-Jin-Ji, Yangtze River Delta and Greater Bay Area. “With an estimated combined GDP of $8.05b (US$5.9b), we believe the fundamentals of the property market of group’s focus areas are still intact and will still provide the growth sustainable return on investment in the foreseeable future,” the analyst said.

Keppel owns a significant landbank in the Jing-Jin-Ji cluster with 1.3 million sqm left for long-term development. Based on the group’s previous projects, Tianjin’s ASP per sqm ranges between $2,000 (RMB10,000) and $4,000 (RMB18,000).

“Assuming ASP per sqm of $2,000 (RMB10,000), the group could be looking at $2.56b (RMB13b) worth of GDV to be developed over the span of 10-15 years, depending on market conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Keppel has 1.83 million sqm of remaining area for sale in Vietnam as of end-March. The report noted that the firm’s exposure in terms of land holdings is mainly in HCMC (Districts 2, 7 and 9), implying that its focus would still be in prime areas whereby opportunity for property value appreciation is still high.

In the past two years, Keppel’s earnings have been anchored by its property division. In FY18, 99% of EBIT was from its property development division, whilst the offshore marine and investments divisions were in the red due to the challenging market.

Leng noted that the property division completed 10 major transactions, including property project sales and commercial property divestment, totalling $1.7b in 2018.

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