From the desk of the CEO of Keppel Land, Across Borders reproduces Mr Ang Wee Gee’s message to staff on 4 January 2016 for the New Year.
Greetings for the New Year!
2015 had been a challenging but fulfilling year for us.
Despite the difficult external environment of subdued global economic conditions and property cooling measures that were in place in our key markets, we performed creditably in 2015.
In 2015, we continued to strengthen our presence in our core markets of Singapore and China, expand in our growth markets of Vietnam and Indonesia, and seize opportunities in other emerging markets and global gateway cities.
As a Group, we sold more than 4,500 residential units and handed over almost 3,700 homes to our buyers. Around 3,300 units were sold and 2,700 handed over in China alone. In Vietnam, we acquired our partner’s stake in Estella Heights and launched the project’s sale successfully, selling 670 units in less than a year.
In Indonesia, we enlarged our land bank by acquiring a residential site at Daan Mogot in West Jakarta.
In Myanmar, we completed and soft-opened the 431-room Inya Wing at our Sedona Hotel Yangon in October. Through Alpha Investment Partners, we bought a prime office building in London, the second global gateway city that we have recently invested in.
As part of our strategy to invest in operating platforms to strengthen our capabilities, we acquired a majority stake in Array Real Estate, renamed Keppel Land Retail Management, to manage our retail assets and to grow our retail and mix-use commercial portfolio.
We also invested in Nam Long Group, a leading affordable housing developer in Ho Chi Minh City, to tap its market knowledge and project expertise in the fast growing affordable housing segment in Vietnam. As part of our plan to invest in individual projects as a strategic partner, we entered into a joint venture with Myanmar’s Shwe Taung Group to develop an international grade office tower in the heart of Yangon.
We also deepened our strategic alliance with China Vanke by forming a joint venture with them to develop a large-scale residential project in Chengdu. Likewise, our strategy to grow our fund management business through Keppel REIT and Alpha has gained traction and both entities have done well in 2015.
Over the last two years, we have monetised almost $2.4 billion worth of assets to achieve higher returns for our shareholders.
In 2015, we continued to proactively review and seek opportunities to recycle our assets. As at the end of last year, we had divested BG Junction, our shopping mall in Surabaya, Indonesia, and were in the process of divesting several other assets in the region. We expect these divestments to take place this year as a result of our focused efforts in 2015.
As an organisation that excels in quality, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, we continued to garner prestigious international awards in 2015 as recognition of our achievements in these important areas.
Our ranking at Corporate Knights’ Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World rose from 17th in 2014 to a remarkable 4th last year, topping the ranking for Asia and for real estate worldwide.
We attained top honours under the large organisation category in the Singapore Apex Corporate Social Responsibility Awards.The Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) conferred us the BCA Quality Champion Gold Award (Developer) and BCA Built Environment Leadership (Gold Class) Award.
I would like to thank you for your efforts and contributions which led to our significant achievements in 2015.
In early 2015, we refreshed our Company’s vision and mission to reinforce our aspiration to be the leading real estate company that shapes the best for future generations. To continue to perform well as an organisation and achieve our vision, we need to have the right culture, the right people and the right strategy.
Over the last few years, we have worked hard to build an open, collaborative, entrepreneurial and innovative culture at Keppel Land. I am happy to say that we are making good progress in this critical area. The commendable score in our recent mployee engagement survey is an affirmation of our efforts thus far. But building a positive culture and sustaining an engaged workforce is always work-in-progress.
There will always remain areas we need to work on. Based on the survey results, we have to find ways to hasten our pace of decision making and idea implementation throughout our organisation. We must also strengthen communication at all levels, an endeavour which I will need our managers to help me with.
Our people remain central to our ability to do well and we will spare no effort to attract, motivate, develop and retain strong talents. The outcome of our human resource emphasis in recent years on selection and recruitment, job rotation and job enlargement, localisation, performance management and manpower planning was very positive and encouraging.
Moving forward, we will continue to strengthen our bench strength through developing our internal talents, mainly through well planned job rotation and job enlargement programmes, and through hiring exceptional external talents. We will continue with our push to localise so as to strengthen our operating platforms overseas. We will also have to organise ourselves to maximise productivity, especially in this current challenging business environment.
Through forums like our senior management retreats and offsite Board meetings, we have reviewed our strategies carefully to ensure that they continue to be relevant. In this present uncertain and volatile environment, we will need to exercise strong financial discipline. We will need to watch our cashflow and debt level closely, continue to recycle our assets, and invest prudently.
Living up to our brand tagline of “Thinking Unboxed”, we have formed multi-disciplinary teams comprising staff from different business and functional units to explore a number of exciting new business and operational initiatives. Some of these initiatives may be implemented as early as this year.
With the privatisation of Keppel Land early last year, we will now collaborate more closely within the Keppel Group, leverage the Group’s diverse strengths, and synergise with the Group’s other business units to achieve superior results.
2016 will be no less challenging than 2015 as the economy and the property sector in our key markets are expected to remain subdued. We had anticipated a tough year in 2015, but we performed better than expected.
I am confident that as a team we have what it takes to surmount new challenges in 2016. Let us all stay focused and press on.
I wish all of you a happy and healthy 2016 and I look forward to working with you to achieve greater success in the New Year!