I would like to wish all of you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
2013 was an exciting year for us. We started the year by realigning and simplifying our organisation into four core businesses – CapitaLand Singapore, CapitaLand China, CapitaMalls Asia and Ascott. We also realigned the Chinese name of CapitaLand in both Singapore and China into 凯德 for greater clarity and consistency.
In July, we completed the strategic review of CapitaLand’s businesses. Besides the four core businesses, we will continue to nurture and grow our three key investments namely Australand, Vietnam and StorHub, as well as our REIT and fund platform. In our core markets of Singapore and China, we will focus on six city clusters. They are Singapore, Beijing/Tianjin, Shanghai/Hangzhou/Suzhou/Ningbo, Guangzhou/Shenzhen, Chengdu/Chongqing, and Wuhan. These changes put us in an even stronger position to seize opportunities as a Group, reap more economies of scale and invest in product innovation. The growing market trend towards larger integrated developments is an opportunity for us to harness synergies across our various competencies. We will also continue to deepen our strengths in our shopping mall and serviced residence businesses internationally.
In Singapore, we welcomed the much anticipated opening of Bedok Mall and Westgate. We also partnered Changi Airport Group to jointly develop and own Project Jewel, which will be an iconic development at Changi Airport. Sky Vue, which complements Sky Habitat in Bishan, was launched to warm response from homebuyers. 410 of the 505 units launched were sold on its first day of sale and it was the best selling project in September. We also held the first ever TOP party to celebrate the completion of the iconic The Interlace condominium.
In China, we opened two malls last year – CapitaMall Meilicheng and CapitaMall Jinniu (Phase II) in Chengdu. We also acquired Han Zhong Lu project in Shanghai, CapitaMall Grand Canyon Mall in Beijing, Baiyun Greenland Centre mall in Guangzhou and the Gutian site in Wuhan. In total, we now have 62 malls in operation and under development across 37 cities. We have also integrated our value housing and Surbana’s township business into CapitaLand China and fine-tuned its strategy to focus on mass market, first-time homebuyers, upgraders and larger scale projects. As at September 2013, we have handed over nearly 1,600 units mainly from four residential projects - The Paragon and The Pinnacle in Shanghai, Beaufort in Beijing and The Loft in Chengdu.
Last year, Ascott added 22 properties with more than 3,700 apartment units to its global portfolio. In China, it crossed its milestone of 10,000 apartment units, cementing its leadership position as the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in the country with 56 properties across 20 cities. Ascott also began operations at Raffles City Chengdu. In recognition of Ascott’s efforts in product and service excellence, it was awarded the prestigious World's Leading Serviced Apartment Brand at the 2013 World Travel Awards.
While we work hard to satisfy our stakeholders and generate returns for our shareholders, we are mindful of the less privileged among us. CapitaLand is a company with a soul and we continue to live out our core values through various corporate social responsibility initiatives in Singapore and overseas. In November, we organised our first CapitaLand Volunteer Day in Singapore where 200 staff took time off to help 20 underprivileged families refurbish their homes and create study corners for their children. In the same month, 80 CapitaLand staff and community volunteers joined our effort in the Sichuan Post-earthquake Rebuilding Project.
Moving on to something equally close to your hearts, we have announced that CapitaLand will soon be housed under one roof at Capital Tower progressively from this month. CapitaHub, our new office in Singapore, is designed to allow you to work, live and play in a single centralised location. I believe that by co-locating within the same building, it will instill in us a greater sense of belonging and enable us to network and collaborate better, as well as work closer as a team across the Group.
I would like to thank the Board, management team and staff for the support and encouragement given to me in my first year as President & Group CEO of CapitaLand. Thank you for being a part of the journey to make CapitaLand a pre-eminent and leading real estate company in Asia.
We have started the journey to transform CapitaLand last year. Looking ahead, we have to constantly remind ourselves that the market place is changing very fast and we have to stay ahead of our competition by remaining competitive and relevant. We must continue our effort to transform CapitaLand in 2014.
The US Federal Reserve has started “tapering” by reducing bond purchases. China has restarted its economic reform where the market will now play a “decisive” role. At the same time, Singapore has announced its latest masterplan providing us with an exciting glimpses of Singapore in 2030. With a streamlined organisation, a clear strategic direction and continued focus on strengthening as well as harnessing synergies in our core businesses, I believe we are well positioned to seize the opportunities for sustainable growth.
Have an exciting and a great 2014!
Lim Ming Yan