Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CapitaLand's Vietnam investments could soar

CEO says residential, retail projects catering to mass market top agenda

CAPITALAND could raise its investments in Vietnam to US$2-2.5 billion in three to five years, from US$1.2 billion today.

At the top of its agenda are residential and retail projects catering to the mass market, the property group's president and CEO Liew Mun Leong said yesterday.

Mr Liew was speaking in Hanoi after he witnessed the signing of a pact on training collaboration between CapitaLand and a unit of Vietnam's Construction Ministry. He also launched a Vietnamese edition of his book, Building People: Sunday Emails from a CEO.

CapitaLand will enter the 'affordable housing' market in Vietnam aggressively, Mr Liew said. It will build homes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City for households with a monthly income of about US$2,000. According to CapitaLand, 58 per cent of households in these cities are in this category.

The homes could be priced around US$1,000 per sq metre (psm) and could measure 60-70 sq m. The developer will provide basic fittings. The aim is to provide housing that ordinary people can buy, Mr Liew said.

To achieve this, CapitaLand is likely to seek a minority partner to help it obtain land at economical prices.

CapitaLand is currently developing more than 4,000 residential units in Vietnam, some of them at two projects in Hanoi. At mid-end project Mulberry Lane, 71 per cent of 768 units launched have been taken up, and selling prices range from US$1,500- 1,800 psm.

CapitaLand is also keen on building malls in Vietnam, and is looking for land in Hanoi's new central business district. The malls would be similar to suburban shopping centres in Singapore, carrying items that serve the needs of a growing middle-class.

'People migrate to (high-end) consumption progressively,' Mr Liew said. 'If I build a shopping mall that sells Prada and LV, I'm taking a high risk.'

Mixed-use developments are another area of interest for CapitaLand, and it remains committed to growing its service apartment business in Vietnam.

CapitaLand has said previously it aims to have assets in Vietnam make up 10 per cent of group total assets in the next three to five years, up from the one per cent now.

Fast urbanisation, rapid economic growth and a pro-business climate are some of the reasons CapitaLand is attracted to Vietnam, Mr Liew said yesterday.

Source: Business Times, 8 Jun 2010

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