S P Setia still eyeing London land

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 24): S P Setia Bhd is still keen on acquiring the Battersea Power Station after losing its earlier bid to redevelop the ageing UK power station area, said president and CEO Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin.

Last November, the property developer submitted an offer of £262 million (RM1.24 billion) to Lloyds Banking Group and Ireland's National Asset Management Agency to buy debts linked to the power station. But the property giant's offer was rejected.

Liew told reporters at S P Setia's AGM on Thursday that the group was waiting for the formal sales documents from the Battersea Power Station's administrator before submitting a fresh bid.

The sales documents for the ageing power station are due to be despatched next month via real estate agent Knight Frank with a price tag of £300 million to £400 million, according to an earlier report by Reuters.

Apart from the Battersea redevelopment project, Liew said S P Setia is still working on acquiring prime land in London to build residential properties in the UK capital.

"We want to make London a market for S P Setia," Liew said.

Apart from London, Liew said the developer is also on the lookout for prime land in Vietnam, particularly in downtown Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. S P Setia already has two projects in Vietnam, the EcoLakes township and the EcoXuan Lai Thieu township, outside Ho Chi Minh City.

"The whole property market in Vietnam has slowed down tremendously so we thought it is a good opportunity for us to acquire prime land. But so far we are still in talks (to acquire land)," Liew said.

He said S P Setia's strategy overseas is to acquire and develop properties in prime areas, a move that is different in Malaysia where it has developed sprawling townships outside city centres.

So far, its ventures abroad include projects in Singapore, Australia and Vietnam. S P Setia announced on Thursday that it recorded sales of RM933 million for 1QFY12 ended Jan 31, a 22% year-on-year increase over the RM737 million achieved in 1QFY11.

The 1QFY12 numbers formed almost a quarter of the RM4 billion sales target it had set for FY12 despite ongoing concerns that Malaysia's property market could hit a slowdown.

In the breakdown of the RM4 billion sales target, Liew said S P Setia expects to sell RM1 billion worth of properties each in Johor Baru, Shah Alam and KL Eco City. The remaining RM1 billion will come from its other ongoing projects, Liew added.

He reiterated that S P Setia is confident of achieving its sales target despite the expected slowdown in the property market this year and moves by Bank Negara Malaysia to tighten lending.

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