CDL property sales hit $2.5b for first 9 months of year, more than for whole of 2020

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Property developer City Developments Ltd (CDL) has sold $2.5 billion worth of private homes in the first nine months of the year, surpassing the amount it sold for the whole of 2020, the mainboard-listed company said on Tuesday (Nov 16).

The group and its joint-venture (JV) associates sold 414 units with a total sales value of $784.4 million in the third quarter. Its operational update indicates that this brought its sales performance in the nine months ended Sept 30 to $2.5 billion with 1,382 units sold.

Its year-to-date performance represents a 30 per cent increase in units sold, as well as a 76 per cent increase in total sales value, compared with the same period last year.

In financial year 2020, the group sold 1,318 units worth $1.8 billion.

The group’s 2021 performance was largely attributed to luxury developments like Irwell Hill Residences, which is 74 per cent sold and Amber Park, which is 84 per cent sold. Its mid-market project Sengkang Grand Residences is 91 per cent sold.

The company said the highly anticipated 696-unit luxury residence CanningHill Piers – a project involving JV partner CapitaLand – has also drawn “strong interest” ahead of its sales launch on Nov 20.

Still, manpower and resource shortages due to border restrictions and supply-chain disruptions continue to have an impact on construction activities at various project sites, CDL said.

“The group diligently works with its builders and industry stakeholders to overcome these challenges and closely manage construction timelines to mitigate delays,” it added.

As for CDL’s investment properties in Singapore, its office portfolio has a committed occupancy of 91.5 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 87.1 per cent, it said.

Republic Plaza, CDL’s flagship Grade-A office building, continues to register positive rental reversion in Q3, with a committed occupancy of 94.7 per cent, it added, with demand supported by wealth management, family office, technology and fintech companies.

Meanwhile, vaccination-differentiated measures in retail malls are unlikely to adversely affect footfall and its tenants’ sales, CDL said. The committed occupancy for retail space is at 93.3 per cent as of Sep 30, above the national average of 91.1 per cent.

In Australia, CDL said Waterbrook Bowral, its 135-unit luxury retirement JV project in New South Wales, has drawn a positive response, with its 77 townhouses now fully sold.

Brickworks Park, comprising 215 apartments and townhouses in Alderley, North Brisbane, has achieved pre-sales for 70 per cent of the 151 released units, CDL said.

The group has seen increased sales enquiries for its London properties, with momentum expected to continue as travel restrictions ease.

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Marketing activities are ongoing for Teddington Riverside, its 239-unit development in Teddington; 35 per cent of the units were sold or occupied as of Q3.

In China, while office leasing is generally stable, retail malls have started to feel the impact of government clampdowns on the private-tutoring industry, with such tenants terminating their leases prematurely, CDL said.

It added that footfall has been affected as classes are not allowed during weekends and holidays, and tenants are exploring a pivot into other areas to sustain their operations.

Its HLCC Mall in Suzhou had a 94 per cent committed occupancy as at Q3, but the group said it remains cautious on the retail leasing market while it works on a transformation strategy.

Shanghai’s leasing office market shows “healthy signs of a rebound”, CDL said, driven by the technology, media and telecom, as well as professional services and finance sectors. Its Hong Leong Hongqiao Center has reached 96 per cent committed occupancy for office and retail space as at Q3.

CDL’s hotel business improved in Q3, with global occupancy rising to 55.4 per cent in Q3, compared with 36.1 per cent in the same period a year ago.

Revenue per available room jumped 117.1 per cent to $91.60 in Q3, up from $42.2 a year ago.

Singapore hotels continued to be sustained by quarantine orders and staycations, but these were affected by “heightened alert” measures from early May to mid-August.

Overall, the group’s net gearing ratio as of Sep 30 stood at 66 per cent with interest cover at 2.7 times, CDL said. It also has strong cash reserves at $2.5 billion.

CDL said it maintains a “relatively optimistic outlook” as Singapore and the rest of the world transition to an endemic Covid-19.

“While setbacks may be inevitable, global economies and communities are more equipped today to tackle the virus with less fear and anxiety. There is also a solid conviction to resume operations back to pre-Covid-19 levels,” the company said.

CDL shares closed at $7.22 on Tuesday, up two cents or 0.3 per cent.

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