Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Will CapitaLand’s focus on China work?

CapitaLand Chief Executive Officer Liew Mun Leong will take a more direct role in the company's China and residential units as Southeast Asia's largest developer focuses on those markets to bolster growth.

Lim Ming Yan, CEO of the company's China business, and Patricia Chia, head of its Singapore residential unit, will report directly to Liew from April 1, CapitaLand said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange. Lui Chong Chee, to whom Lim and Chia had reported, will become head of financial services. Lui's former position as CEO of residential is no longer needed with the “flattened organizational structure.”

CapitaLand's fourth-quarter earnings jumped 49 percent as it sold more homes in its three biggest markets -- China, Singapore and Australia. The developer, which has properties in more than 90 cities worldwide, is turning to faster-growing markets outside Singapore, where home prices may struggle to match last year's 31 percent increase.

“It's a reflection of how quickly the business of China and Singapore homes have grown and how important they have become,” Vikrant Pandey, an analyst with UOB Kay Hian in Singapore.

“I view this as a positive signal in the sense that they are putting the emphasis on fast-growing segments.”

Pua Seck Guan, CEO of the company's retail unit, will relinquish his role as co-chief of the financial services unit and focus on expanding the group's mall business in Singapore and abroad, CapitaLand said. The company expects to open 20 shopping malls in China this year and build as many as three properties in the country under its Raffles City brand.

How will the current credit crunch affect Capitaland’s plans?