CapitaLand on Tuesday announced the retirement of Ng Kee Choe as chairman, effective at the close of next April’s general meeting, as Southeast Asia’s largest developer highlighted signs of recovery in its third-quarter business update.
Miguel Ko, the deputy chairman, was named as Ng’s successor. Ko will serve as non-executive, non-independent chairman, CapitaLand said in a release.
Ng joined the CapitaLand board in April 2010 and became chairman in May 2012. The group undertook numerous strategic initiatives under his chairmanship, notably the 2019 purchase of a controlling stake in fellow government-backed developer Ascendas-Singbridge for S$11 billion ($8.13 billion), a deal that catapulted Singapore-based CapitaLand into the top rank of global real estate investment managers.
Building on a Foundation
The outgoing chairman voiced confidence in CapitaLand’s continued ability to expand into new geographies and asset classes. “The strategic transformation journey of CapitaLand is well on its way,” Ng said.
For his part, Ko brings a well-rounded CV to the new role. He previously served as chairman and president of Starwood Asia Pacific Hotels & Resorts and as president for Asia Pacific at Pepsi-Cola International, where he oversaw the soft drink giant’s strategies in the emerging consumer markets of China and Vietnam.
With CapitaLand taking over Ascendas-Singbridge last year, Ko joined the merged company’s board as a non-executive, non-independent director and deputy chairman in August 2019, after previously serving as CEO at Ascendas-Singbridge. His brief tenure has given him a vantage point from which to assess the new opportunities in tech innovation and the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am confident that CapitaLand is well placed to emerge as a stronger company post COVID-19,” Ko said.
Also Tuesday, CapitaLand released a third-quarter business update in which it cautioned that its 2020 financial performance would be “materially adversely affected” by the subdued operating environment and a year-end revaluation of the group’s property portfolio. CapitaLand in August reported that first-half net profit plummeted 89 percent year-on-year to S$96.6 million.
Even so, the group said operating metrics during the period showed “encouraging signs of recovery”, including quarter-on-quarter improvements in the residential, retail and lodging segments of its portfolio as Singapore emerged from the circuit breaker which had crimped commerce, and key locations for CapitaLand, such as mainland China and Vietnam, saw their economies bounce back.
The company’s residential sales in China exceeded 1,900 units in the third quarter, up 40 percent from the previous quarter, and unit sales in Vietnam and Singapore from July through September doubled and trebled the first-half figures, respectively.
In retail, CapitaLand said almost all tenants have resumed operations. Shopper traffic and tenant sales showed the gap with pre-COVID levels narrowing, and committed occupancy rates ranged from a low of 87.9 percent in Malaysia to a high of 99.8 percent in Japan.
In the lodging segment, about 96 percent of the company’s properties were operational as of 30 September. Overall occupancy stood at roughly 50 percent, up from 40 percent in the second quarter.
CapitaLand described its financial position as resilient and predicted that diversified operating income streams would generate cash profits for the full year.