Friday, September 17, 2010

Interview: Mr. David Martin, Head of Retail, Commercial Property,Hongkong Land Ltd.

Founded in 1889, Hongkong Land has interests across the Asian region. In Hong Kong, the Group owns and manages some five million sq. ft of prime commercial space that defines the heart of the Central Business District. In Singapore, it is helping to create the city-state's new Central Business District with the expansion of its joint venture portfolio of new developments. Hongkong Land's properties in these and other Asian centres are recognised as market leaders and house the world's foremost financial, business and luxury retail names.
Hongkong Land also develops premium residential properties in a number of cities in the
region, not least in Singapore where its 77%-owned listed affiliate, MCL Land, is a
significant developer.
Hongkong Land Holdings Limited is incorporated in Bermuda. It has a premium listing on
the London Stock Exchange, and secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore. The Group's
assets and investments are managed from Hong Kong by Hongkong Land Limited. The company is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.
As noted by Mr. David Martin, Head of Retail, Commercial Property,Hongkong Land Ltd., besides Hong Kong and Singapore, the company has also subtantial interest in expanding its operations in mainland Chinsa and other parts of Southeast Asia.

“The company has a very narrow focus, being interested only in high-end retail and office sites. For this reason, while we have been looking for opportunities in Seoul which is a very interesting market. All our major tenants operate in Korea. Furthermore the luxury brands market is huge, as also the financial institutions. Hopefully, we will invest soon,he said.
Within the overall commercial property portfolio of the company, retail accounts for a 20 percent, both in value and space. Specifically in Hong Kong, the share of both the retail and office space is even, he said.
Mr. Martin noted that the retail market has a huge potential in mainland China. HLL is interested in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities, but is facing difficulty in finding key sites which are generally expensive, political and in demand.
“In Hong Kong, we are hugely helped by the massive increase in mainland visitors in the past 5 years. There is growing prosperity in China and the peoples ability to shop has increased with rising incomes. This has helped the retail business and office space. Morover, many Russian and other international companies are also investing in Hong Kong, which is a very positive development.”
Speaking on HLL's performance in the first half of this year, he noted that despite ongoing economic uncertainties, demand for office and retail space in Hong Kong's Central district in the first half of 2010 was relatively robust. In addition, the Group recognised significant profits from two of its Singapore residential projects, Marina Bay Residences and Waterfall Gardens, upon their completion.
Vacancy in the Group's office portfolio in Hong Kong stood at 4.2% at 30th June 2010.
Average rents remained stable and rent reversions were largely neutral. The retail portfolio
in the Central district was fully leased.
In Singapore, there was growing demand from financial service companies for quality office
space in Marina Bay. As a result, achieved rents were relatively firm despite the new supply
of commercial space being built. Construction of the Group's joint venture development,
Marina Bay Financial Centre, continued on schedule. The first office tower is now
completed with the second due by the year end. Both towers, which comprise a total lettable
area of 159,000 sq. m., are almost fully let. Construction of a 122,000 sq. m. third tower is
underway with completion expected in 2012, of which 55% is already committed.
Marina Bay Financial Center, Singapore's first mixed-use development that successfully integrates residential, business, retail and entertainment facilities, will be fully completed in 2012. Those in the area will not only have the convenience of having 176,000 square feet of retail space at their doorsteps, they will also enjoy MBFC's connectivity, with direct access to two MRT stations via the subterranean mall. In addition, the mall offers tenants an immediate
patronage of 64,000 residents and professionals living and working within the MBFC
The second residential tower of the Marina Bay project, Marina Bay Suites, which will be
completed in late 2013, is selling well with almost 60% of the 221 units sold.
MBFC is being developed by a joint venture Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd/Hutchison Whampoa, Hongkong Land and Keppel Land, and managed by Raffles Quay Asset Management (RQAM). The tenant-centric design of this purpose-built financial centre combines the best in form and function, making it a key draw for businesses and befitting Singapore's position as a global financial hub.
MBFC offers a breathtaking blend of three distinguished office towers with nearly 3 million sq ft of Grade A office space, two residential towers comprising 649 luxury apartments and penthouses as well as approximately 176,000 sq ft of retail space to meet the daily convenience of our business community and residents.
MBFC achieved the Green Mark Gold for its office towers 1 & 2, Marina Bay Residences and Marina Bay Suites and the Green Mark Gold Plus for its office tower 3 conferred by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. This award recognizes the efforts made by the developers to encourage sustainable design practices, and makes MBFC one of the few developments to win more than one BCA Green Mark award.
The Group's joint venture in Jakarta commenced construction of a 61,000 sq. m., 30-storey
tower within its existing office development in the city, due for completion in 2012.
He noted that the contribution from residential property was significant during the period. The launch in February of MCL Land's project, The Estuary, was well received and all 608 units have been pre-sold. During the period, MCL Land acquired an additional site for future development.
The Serenade in Hong Kong is due to complete in the second half of the year, and
approximately a third of the apartments were sold by the end of June. The profit arising on
sale of apartments in Tower 4 of the 47%-held One Central Macau will also be recognized in
the second half. The Group has announced the launch of 92 branded apartments to be sold in
One Central Macau, which will be managed by Mandarin Oriental following the opening of
its 213-room hotel in late June.
The One Central Macau, is a groundbreaking mixed-used project for the city combining luxury residential, hotel, serviced apartment and retail facilities on a sprawling waterfront site in the scenic Nape Area.
The opening launched a new era in Macau's shopping scene as international brands opened the doors to their luxury duplex and triplex shops, all of which provide discerning shoppers in Macau with the same convenience and quality they have come to expect from CENTRAL ine Hong Kong and other fashion capitals such as New York and Paris. The list of tenants at One Central Macau includes brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Cartier, Bvlgari and Burberry, among many others. Many have opened their first, largest or flagship stores in the 400,000-square-foot, three-level shopping mall. The 200,000-square-foot site is uniquely positioned in the heart of the city on Nam Van Lake.
With a full panoramic view of the waterfront, One Central Macau comprises seven residential blocks of 32 to 38 storeys each as well as an iconic tower designed by world-famous architect Kohn Pedersen Fox, which houses the Mandarin Oriental, Macau and the most unique serviced apartments in the city. In addition to the architecturally innovative mall's prime waterfront location and impeccable list of tenants, One Central Macau is also directly linked to the MGM GRAND Macau, already an award-winning lifestyle destination.
“One Central Macau will offer shoppers the ultimate retail and lifestyle experience, with access to entertainment, fine dining, upscale residential buildings, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Serviced Apartments, and leading lifestyle and gaming destination MGM GRAND Macau,he said.
Another phase of the joint venture development Bamboo Grove in Chongqing comprising
261 townhouses, all but two of which have been sold, is scheduled for completion later this
year. A further 427 units, including high rise apartments to be completed in later years, were
released to the market and 254 had been sold by the end of June. In Beijing, sales continued
at Maple Place, while development work on the Group's other projects continued. Recent
government measures to dampen the market have led to reduced sales throughout the
Mr. Martin noted that during the rest of the year, Hong Kong and Singapore commercial property markets should remain stable. The second half result will benefit from the completion of additional residential units although the contribution will be less than in the first half with no significant completions in Singapore.