Mapletree's net profit hits $1b mark (The Straits Times)

Property group moves into new markets, seeks quality assets

A STRONG operating performance, new acquisitions and higher contributions saw property group Mapletree Investments end its financial year on a strong note.

Net profit for the 12 months to March 31 increased 14.3 per cent to $1 billion against the same period a year ago, it reported yesterday. Revenue rose 7.4 per cent to $1.6 billion, thanks to new income streams from acquisitions and higher contributions from Mapletree’s flagship development in Singapore, Mapletree Business City.

In the United States, the firm acquired two Silicon Valley properties – the 184-unit Oakwood Silicon Valley and the 141-unit Oakwood Redwood City – and the 232-unit Oakwood Dallas Uptown.

It also made its first acquisition in Australia last November, a A$93 million (S$98 million) freehold Grade-A office building in Brisbane.

Properties of Mapletree’s four listed real estate investment trusts also helped boost revenue, with all of them delivering “higher distributions per unit to their unitholders”.

Mr Hiew Yoon Khong, Mapletree group chief executive, said in a statement: “The group successfully completed two development projects during the year, with another five developments coming on stream over the next four years.”

Its VivoCity Nanhai mall in Foshan, China, opened to shoppers last May. It has a gross floor area of 100,000 sq m and is part of the 42ha mixed-use development Nanhai Business City.

Another mall, SC VivoCity in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, was completed late last year and opened last month.

The firm is moving into new markets and is growing its capital management platforms, which is why it launched two Japan-focused private funds in the year, said Mr Hiew.

Mapletree entered the serviced apartment and corporate lodging business in April last year through a joint venture with US-based Oakwood Worldwide.

It said: “The group is also pursuing opportunities to acquire corporate lodging or serviced apartments in markets such as Australia, Japan and Vietnam.”

It added that Mapletree has made close to $600 million in corporate lodging or serviced apartment commitments.

The firm expects to acquire an office building in the western part of London by the end of this month, which will be its first acquisition in Europe.

Mr Hiew said: “Already, we are seeing the results of the disciplined approach we take to our business.”

He said return on equity for the financial year was a strong 10.8 per cent, and it was averaging at 11.5 per cent over the past five years.

“Going forward, we will continue to seek quality assets overseas, in markets within Asia and beyond – such as the US, Europe and Australia – to diversify risks and sustain our growth and profitability,” he added.