Sun Hung Kai Properties

Beijing curbs allow Emperor to lift land bank

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2007, 12:00am

Property developer Emperor International Holdings is seeking sites in three provincial capitals on the mainland as Beijing's macroeconomic measures improved opportunities for Hong Kong firms to acquire land.

Donald Cheung Ping-keung, executive director of Emperor International, yesterday said the company was looking for sites in Nanning in Guangxi, Wuhan in Hubei and Shenyang in Liaoning.

'Competition is not as keen as before, which makes it favourable for us to acquire development sites on the mainland,' Mr Cheung said.

Sun Hung Kai Properties won a 12.1 million square foot site in Chengdu last week with no competition. Property analysts said it showed mainland developers were no longer aggressive in land acquisitions after the government imposed new cooling measures and tightened bank loans last month.

Emperor International yesterday said the company's underlying profit, excluding property revaluation gains, climbed 40 per cent year on year to HK$140 million for the six months to September.

Turnover fell 2.85 per cent to HK$136 million, while net profit rose 162.44 per cent to HK$485 million.

The developer generated a profit of HK$575 million from the sale of a luxury residential site in Mid-Levels last month, which will be booked for the second half of the financial year.

Emperor International's Repulse Bay shopping complex is scheduled for completion next year, and the leasing campaign will begin soon. The company expects annual rental income to reach HK$80 million.

Sister firm Emperor Entertainment Hotel posted a 10.58 per cent drop in net profit to HK$97 million, while turnover rose 23 per cent to HK$653 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 48 per cent to HK$202.97 million.

But the VIP gaming average win was HK$527,000 per table per day at the end of September, a drop of 22 per cent from a year earlier.

Vanessa Fan, managing director of Emperor International, said the gaming business remained stable despite many casinos having opened this year. 'The drop is not related to the strong competition in Macau's gaming business. The performance was better in the previous year because the company put in more resources when the casino opened in 2006,' Ms Fan said.

Shares of Emperor International Holdings slipped 0.97 per cent yesterday to HK$3.07, while Emperor Entertainment Hotel dropped 3.53 per HK$1.64.