April 13, 2007

Sime Darby keen to buy more S'pore properties

By Joyce Teo

MALAYSIAN conglomerate Sime Darby plans to keep riding the wave of Singapore's buoyant property market after the success of its developments here.

The group's property executives said they were looking to acquire sites for residential developments in prime areas, including Sentosa Cove. They are also keen on commercial or industrial projects.

Sime Darby Property's divisional director, Mr Jauhari Hamidi, said the firm expects the good times to keep rolling in Singapore's property market for the next one to two years. He was speaking at yesterday's launch of the eight-storey Sime Darby Enterprise Centre in Jalan Kilang, off Jalan Bukit Merah.

The commercial centre, which is 97 per cent let out, was redeveloped from a single-storey warehouse building at a total cost of $12.8 million.

It has a total lettable space of about 47,500 sq ft and tenants pay rents ranging from $2.50 to $3.20 per sq ft (psf).

The rental yield has climbed tenfold to about 12 per cent in the new building.

The group said its two residential projects - Orion in Orange Grove Road and Balmoral Hills - have risen in value.

The 46-unit Orion has five unsold units. One unit was recently sold at $2,500 psf, well up on the late-2005 launch price of $1,300 psf, it said.

The group expects Singapore property to contribute about 20 per cent to its real estate division. It projects profit from Singapore to rise from RM34 million (S$15 million) in 2005-2006 to as much as RM50 million in 2006-2007.

In Malaysia, Sime Darby is merging with Golden Hope Plantations and Kumpulan Guthrie to create the world's largest listed palm oil firm.

The property arm of Sime Darby and the merged entity will have one of the biggest landbanks in Malaysia, said Sime Darby group chief executive Ahmad Zubir Murshid.