LPS CHINA TALKS: EPISODE 6: Mr. RAYMOND CHOONG – SINGAPORE MARKET
EPISODE 6: Mr. Raymond Choong | Group President & CEO | GuocoLand
We are glad to introduce you Mr. Raymond Choong in this episode of LPS CHINA TALKS. Mr. Raymond Choong is the Group President & CEO of GuocoLand Limited (“GuocoLand”), a premier regional property company, one of Asia’s largest real estate developers, listed on the Singapore Exchange since 1978.
GuocoLand has operations in Singapore, China, Malaysia and Vietnam and in 2017, GuocoLand expanded beyond Asia as it entered United Kingdom and Australia through a strategic partnership with Eco World Development Group Berhad in Eco World International Berhad. GuocoLand’s headquarters are located in Singapore, in the 290m-tall Guoco Tower, the tallest building in Singapore.
LPS：Dear Mr. Raymond Choong, thanks for joining this interview. You have acted as the CEO of Hong Leong Financial Group for 9 years before joining GuocoLand in 2015. Back at that time, why did you choose Guocoland?
Mr. Raymond Choong: After spending many years in banking, I was pleased to be given the opportunity to move to a different industry in which I have a strong personal interest in. Throughout my career in banking, I have always been involved in the real estate industry as a financier for both small and large developments.
I find real estate developments very interesting as one can witness the growth of thriving and vibrant communities when these developments are successfully completed. We can see families and businesses thriving in these developments and this does provide a very strong sense of accomplishment.
Both GuocoLand Limited and Hong Leong Financial Group are part of the Hong Leong Group. Further, given GuocoLand’s regional presence and pipeline of interesting projects, I saw this as a good platform for me to contribute my experience as well as to learn more about the real estate industry.
The fact that GuocoLand has been in China since 1994 is also a big attraction for me to take on this role as I have always felt that China is a very vibrant and major market for real estate. I relish the opportunity to be involved in the Chinese real estate business as it is vibrant, competitive and so much that one can learn.
LPS：You have recently announced your plans for a new development in Chongqing. How important is the China market to GuocoLand?
Mr. Raymond Choong: We currently have two projects in Chongqing. Our first project, Chongqing 18 Steps, is a mega mixed-use project comprising over 1,000 luxurious modern apartments in five high-rise residential towers and commercial developments.
Positioned as a new landmark in Chongqing’s central Yuzhong District, Chongqing 18 Stepsis one of the largest investments we have made in China in recent years. We are hoping to show case our expertise and vision with the Chongqing 18 Steps project and aim to set a new benchmark for well designed and conducive living environment in this project.
In December 2019, we were awarded a land tender for four land plots situated in Liangjiang Xinqu of Chongqing Yubei District Area for residential development. We are excited about our second major project for us in Chongqing.
China is a core market for GuocoLand. We remain positive about China’s economic prospects and will continue to seek opportunities to build scale and deepen our presence in China. China is a large market where projects have sizable gross development value, which is attractive to the Group. As we scale up in China, we expect contributions from both markets of Singapore and China to be comparable in time to come.
LPS：Over the past years, Malaysia and Singapore have attracted a growing number of Chinese property investors. Do you foresee that this trend will continue in the coming years?
Mr. Raymond Choong: China has a large population and its people are growing more affluent. For many affluent people, real estate, in particular, residential property is an attractive and important asset class to invest in.
Singapore and major Malaysian cities such as Kuala Lumpur (“KL”) have positioned themselves as attractive cities to live and invest in. Both cities have strong real estate laws which ensure that property investments are well protected.
Further, Chinese investors are comfortable visiting and living in Singapore and KL given the similarities in cultures, language, and people. Going forward, I am hopeful that Singapore and Kuala Lumpur will continue to draw their share of Chinese investments in property.
Both GuocoLand Singapore and GuocoLand Malaysia have attractive projects which are suitable for investors from China. In recent years, we have seen a higher level of interest and take-up from Chinese buyers for our developments in Singapore and Malaysia andwill continue to actively market our developments to Chinese buyers.
In Malaysia, two luxuryhigh-rise residential projects in particular have seen strong interest from Chinese buyers. These are The Oval and DC Residency which are both freehold properties. The Oval is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur city center in the vicinity of the iconic Petronas twin towers while DC Residency is located in the heart of Damansara Heights, one of the most prestigious residential neighborhoods in KL.
For investors who are considering buying a good property in Malaysia, I think now is a good time as prices are very attractive due to the current strong supply situation and favourable exchange rates.
LPS：With the of more and more luxury real estate developments in Malaysia and Singapore, is it becoming harder to think “out of the box” and deliver projects that are truly different and stand out from the competition?
Mr. Raymond Choong: Competition is keen in our key markets of Singapore, Malaysia, and China. Developers need to constantly innovate to meet rising expectations of home buyers.
In Singapore, we have a strong track record in the luxury segment where projects such asGoodwood Residence, Leedon Residence and Martin Modern, have achieved strong sales.
GuocoLand has experienced and committed teams across different geographies which constantly strive to deliver outstanding and differentiated products to meet lifestyle needs.
We are focused on delivering quality developments in strong locations and building vibrant and thriving communities in all our developments.
LPS：What is the strategy of GuocoLand for the coming 3 or 4 years?
Mr. Raymond Choong: We will continue to focus on our key markets of Singapore, China and Malaysia, scaling up our businesses in a financially disciplined and prudent manner.
Our key focus remains on residential development, even as we grow recurrent income to ensure sustainable growth. We have a pipeline of development projects which will boost GuocoLand’s recurrent income, including Guoco Midtown in Singapore and Guoco Changfeng City in Shanghai, China.
We will also continue to build the capabilities of our people so that we can constantly deliver differentiated products and our business can have a competitive edge.