June 24, 2007

Indon's Lippo Group sees higher S'pore property prices

INDONESIA'S Lippo Group said it plans to expand its residential property business in Singapore, where it sees scope for further price increases.

Singapore property prices have surged in the past two years, particularly at the top end of the market.

This has prompted some concern among government officials and economists that the city-state may lose its competitive advantage over rival business centre Hong Kong.

'For residential (property), there is still room to move to catch up with global levels,' James Riady, chief executive of the Lippo Group, said in a Reuters interview.

'We like the way Singapore is positioning itself to send a clear message that it is business-friendly, is going to continue to reduce taxes, is pro-growth, and is welcoming foreign investors,' he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

The Lippo Group is in the real estate, healthcare, and retailing sectors.

It has several listed companies including property developer Lippo Karawaci and retailers PT Matahari Putra Prima and Robinson & Co.

Mr Riady said he expects to see revenues at Indonesia-based Matahari increase 25 to 30 per cent a year over the next five to 10 years.

This will help fund the firm's growth by opening new stores and profit could rise at a similar pace.

However, he said there was no plan to link or merge Matahari and Robinson to form a regional retailing group. -- REUTERS