Keppel sells 70% stake in Vietnam township for S$136m

Romesh NavaratnarajahJanuary 29, 2019

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Keppel Corp is focusing on the overseas market following new cooling measures in Singapore.

Through its fully-owned subsidiary Portsville, Keppel Corporation is selling a 70 percent stake in Dong Nai Waterfront City (DNWC) for approximately S$136 million to Nam Long Investment Corporation, revealed an SGX filing on Monday (28 Jan).

DNWC is a Vietnamese incorporated firm that was granted the right to develop a township in Dong Nai Province, Vietnam. Jointly owned by Keppel Corporation and another company, DNWC is presently undergoing a de-merger. Upon obtaining an Investment Registration Certificate from the relevant authorities, DNWC will become a wholly-owned unit of Portsville, with the right to develop 170 hectares of land. It also owns a 28-hectare land parcel, but this is not included in the transaction.

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“The proposed divestment is in line with Keppel’s strategy to recycle assets to seek higher returns. The funds generated from the deal will be used to pursue other opportunities in Vietnam. Following completion of the divestment, Keppel’s interest in DNWC will decrease from 100 percent to 30 percent.”

Meanwhile, OCBC Investment Research (OIR) revealed that Keppel Corporation is focusing mainly on developing properties in China, while Singapore’s private residential market is being squeezed by the government’s new property cooling measures.

“Whilst property cooling measures in China have had an impact on the market, urbanisation trends and growing income levels are projected to continue driving demand for quality housing and commercial developments in key regions,” said OIR analyst Low Pei Han as quoted by Singapore Business Review.

As testament, about 50 percent of the 4,440 residential units sold by Keppel in 2018 are located in China.

Moreover, the firm’s property development arm, Keppel Land, outperformed its other businesses. In fact, Keppel Land’s earnings jumped by 44 percent to S$938 million, which accounted for Keppel Corp’s net profit of S$944 million in FY2018.

“Keppel Land’s return on equity (ROE) was 11.4 percent in FY2018,” noted Low. The developer also recorded higher margins at its Chinese residential business as it rolled out developments in Wuhan, Xi’an, Chengdu and Kunshan, where more than 90 percent of the units were taken-up last October.

For 2019, Keppel Corporation said in its latest financial statement that it plans to focus on strengthening its footprint in its key markets such as China, Vietnam and Singapore.

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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email romesh@propertyguru.com.sg

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