Mainland projects will become main profit driver after 2008 Pacific Century Premium Developments (PCPD), the property arm of PCCW, plans to transform itself into a mainland property play despite official measures to restrict investment in the overheated sector. Once the remaining profits are booked from its Hong Kong luxury project Residence Bel-Air by 2008, the mainland will become the company's principal earnings driver, PCPD chief executive Robert Lee Chi-hong said after the firm's annual general meeting yesterday. 'Unless there is a major acquisition [in Hong Kong] made in the coming three years, our key cash generator should be our mainland projects,' Mr Lee said. He added that the firm had no plans to acquire sites in Hong Kong through the application list system. The company has so far announced only one mainland project - the redevelopment of a telephone exchange building in Beijing belonging to China Network Communications Group (Netcom), a joint-venture partner of PCCW. Construction work on the 200,000-square-foot project, which will comprise luxury residential and office space, is scheduled to begin next year. The PCCW-Netcom venture calls for PCPD to spearhead development of the mainland telecommunications carrier's massive property portfolio. PCPD chief operating officer Benjamin Lam Yu-yee said Netcom had a mainland land bank of about 280 million sq ft. Mr Lam said PCPD was conducting a feasibility study on the development potential of Netcom's land holdings. PCPD was also planning to obtain its own mainland development sites for luxury residential projects independent of Netcom, Mr Lee said. 'We are in discussions over possible acquisition of at least three development sites at the moment,' said Mr Lee, who would not name the cities but said he had so far visited about 30 potential development sites in six cities. The development of Netcom's property portfolio and PCPD's own acquisitions in the mainland would work as a 'twin engine' to drive the firm's profit growth, he said. Residence Bel-Air, part of the Cyberport development in Pokfulam, collected $18.76 billion last year from the sale of 1,760 units. Revenues from the sale of at least 660 flats and 13 houses would be booked in this financial year. The company's only other Hong Kong project is the conversion of a PCCW telephone exchange building in Sheung Wan into a 150-unit residential project, due for completion in 2006. 'We are studying the feasibility of converting other telephone exchange buildings into residential projects, but we have not sought planning approval for any of them yet,' PCPD sales and marketing director Wendy Gan Kim-see said. Mr Lee said the firm was considering converting up to four telephone exchanges. Commenting on recent measures adopted to cool the mainland property market, he said: 'We are holding a long-term view. There are always up-and-down cycles in a property market.'