CapitaMalls Asia plans to expand Chinese projects

Updated: 2011-10-21 10:13

By Hu Yuanyuan (China Daily)

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SINGAPORE - CapitaMalls Asia Ltd, one of the largest commercial property developers in the Asian region, will open 15 new shopping malls in China by 2013, the company's top management said.

The Singapore-based company currently develops, owns and manages 96 malls in Asia, including 55 in China, 20 in Singapore, nine in India and five in Malaysia.

"China may replace Singapore as the largest revenue contributor for us next year, as we are going to open more malls on the mainland," said Lim Beng Chee, CEO of CapitaMalls Asia.

In the first half of 2011, Singapore and China each contributed around 40 percent of the company's total revenue, according to Lim.

The company plans to open three malls in China this year, six in 2012 and a further six in 2013.

Though a large number of Chinese property developers have jumped on the commercial property bandwagon in response to the government's rigorous measures to cool the residential sector, Lim said it is hard to say that there has been a bubble in the country's commercial real estate market.

"China's strong economic growth momentum and the government's determination to stimulate domestic consumption have provided many opportunities," said Lim.

According to Liew Mun Leong, chairman of CapitaMalls Asia, if China's current domestic expenditure of 33.8 percent of its nominal GDP of 39.4 trillion yuan ($6 trillion) rose to 50 percent of nominal GDP, the increase in domestic spending would be approximately 6.4 trillion yuan, indicating huge potential for retailers and commercial property developers.

Meanwhile, along with China's quickening urbanization process, city dwellers are now changing their shopping habits and purchasing their domestic necessities in malls.

"If this trend is maintained, we estimate that China alone will need some 12,000 additional shopping malls to cope with the change in shopping habits," said Liew.

The strong growth in retail property rents also provides convincing evidence of a robust market.

"Based on strong demand, the average rent in Beijing's retail market grew steadily, and in the third quarter of 2011, net effective retail rents reached 679 yuan a square meter (sq m) a month, an increase of 8.8 percent year-to-date and an 11.8 percent rise year-on-year," said Jason Chang, head of Retail, North China at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Beijing.

Due to the repositioning of shopping malls and fierce competition for limited retail space, JLL predicts that monthly rents will surpass 700 a sq m in the fourth quarter, an increase of approximately 12 percent year-on-year.

CapitaMalls Asia's secondary listing in Hong Kong made its trading debut on Oct 18.