City Developments Ltd. (CDL)—controlled by billionaire Kwek Leng Beng—posted its highest-ever net profit in 2022 as its hotels benefitted from a post-pandemic rebound in travel demand and the developer booked robust sales for its housing projects in Singapore, which has defied a global property downturn.
The company said net profit increased to S$1.3 billion ($971 million) in 2022, compared with S$84.7 million the previous year, bolstered by gains from the divestments of Millennium Hilton Seoul as well as sales of stakes in two commercial properties in Singapore.
“The group is pleased to deliver a sterling set of results for 2022, driven by prudent divestments and strong operational performance from our core business segments,” Kwek, chairman of CDL, said in a statement. “Our hotel operations made an outstanding rebound, having recovered in most markets to pre-pandemic levels.”
CDL said group revenue rose 25% to S$3.3 billion, with residential sales accounting for 42% of total. Among its best sellers are Copen Grand, a joint venture with Hongkong Land unit MCL Land in the western Singapore suburb of Tengah Town. The project’s 639 apartment units were fully sold within a month after its launch in October.
Robust sales at CDL projects add to signs of resilient demand for private housing in Singapore, with buyers undeterred by rising interest rates and mounting inflationary pressures that could tilt the global economy into another recession. Singapore’s home prices climbed 8.6% in 2022 after rising 10.6% the previous year, government data showed.
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To tap the resilient demand for housing in Singapore, City Developments are planning to launch three projects this year, including the Newport Residences, a 45-story mixed-use commercial and residential development in Tanjong Pagar on the edge of the Raffles Place central business district. The company will start marketing the 246 freehold residences, including a super penthouse, at the site of the former Fuji Xerox Towers on Anson Road, in the first half of this year.
Besides growing its Singapore portfolio, City Developments is also seeking opportunities overseas. To this end, the company said last month it’s in talks to buy the historic St Katharine Docks residential and commercial complex in London from U.S. private equity giant Blackstone.
City Developments has in recent years been stepping up its investments in the U.K. where it owns a portfolio of commercial properties including an office building housing HSBC’s headquarters in London. It had planned to inject the assets into a real estate investment trust that was supposed to list in Singapore, but the IPO was delayed amid heightened market volatility and macroeconomic headwinds.
Kwek is the chairman of CDL and 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 $9.3 billion that he shares with his family, Kwek, 81, was ranked No. 5 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published in September.