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Billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s City Developments Ramps Up Singapore Projects As Home Sales Hit Record

City Developments—controlled by billionaire Kwek Leng Beng—is ramping up the launch of its residential projects in Singapore after the developer posted record home sales in 2021 despite lingering uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company and its partners sold 2,185 residential units valued at S$4.3 billion ($3.2 billion) last year, the highest-ever annual property sales achieved by the group, City Developments said in a statement on Friday as it announced full-year 2021 earnings. Its prime residential projects such as the 540-unit Irwell Hill Residences near the Orchard Road shopping strip and the 696-unit CanningHill Piers (being jointly developed with partner CapitaLand) across the Raffles Place central business district were among the best sellers.

City Developments said it will launch three new residential projects in 2022, with more than 1,300 residential units across Singapore. Piccadilly Grand—a 407-unit residential condominium project with a commercial component at Northumberland Road, just outside the Singapore CBD—will be launched in the first half, it said.

In the second half, the developer also plans to launch a 639-unit condominium at Tengah Garden Walk in the western part of Singapore. The company will also start marketing the 256 prime residential units at the former site of Fuji Xerox office tower in Tanjong Pagar on the edge of the Raffles Place CBD, it said. Demolition works have started and construction of the mixed-used development, which will have serviced apartments, offices and retail components, will start by the end of 2022.

City Developments has been stepping up its residential developments to tap resilient housing demand in Singapore despite property cooling measures introduced by the government last year. In December, the company announced the redevelopment of its Central Mall property after acquiring the adjacent Central Square building. The mixed-use development will comprise offices, retail, a hotel and potentially a residential component.

Reflecting its optimism in the housing market, City Developments bought a 99-year leasehold plot for S$768 million in the government’s first land auction of the year. It plans to build 640 residential units across four 21-story blocks on the 19,567 square meter site on Jalan Tembusu in one of the Singapore’s most exclusive enclaves in the eastern region.

“While there will be some headwinds on the back of the property cooling measures, we believe that the market remains well-supported by resilient fundamentals such as an improving job market and strong household balance sheets,” Sherman Kwek, group CEO of City Developments said in a statement after winning the Jalan Tembusu bid in January. “There remains genuine demand from first-time home buyers and upgraders, who are relatively less affected by the cooling measures.”

Last year’s robust home sales, along with the recovery in the group’s hotel operations, helped City Developments achieve a net profit of S$97.7 million in 2021, compared with a record loss of S$1.9 billion in the previous year when the company wrote off its investment in financially troubled Chinese subsidiary Sincere Property Group.

“Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic persists and presents uncertainties, the overall global outlook remains positive this year with the resumption of travel, opening of borders and an overall resolution to push ahead to open economies,” Kwek Leng Beng, executive chairman of City Developments, said in a statement on Friday. “The group’s hotel operations segment is poised for a long-awaited imminent rebound, boosted by pent-up demand for tourism and corporate travel.”

Kwek is also the chairman of Singapore’s Hong Leong Group, which was founded by his father in 1941. His cousin Quek Leng Chan, also a billionaire, runs a separate group in Malaysia, also called Hong Leong. With a net worth of $8.5 billion that he shares with his family, Kwek, 80, was ranked No. 8 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published in August.

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