Melissa Tan | The Straits Times | Saturday, Jun 01, 2013

METRO Holdings will launch its first Singapore residential project in nearly two decades later this year and plans to further expand its footprint in China, it said yesterday.

A site at Prince Charles Crescent, which Metro is jointly developing with Wing Tai and UE E&C, will go on the market by the end of the third quarter, chairman Winston Choo said at a results briefing.

The project’s ground-breaking is scheduled for June 4 and the developers are looking to launch it at $1,500 psf at least, he said.

In China, Metro has an effective 30 per cent stake in a huge mixed development in Jiangxi province called Nanchang Fashion Mark. The development sits on a 269,455 sq m site and is expected to be completed in December 2017. The ground-breaking for the site will be around September or October this year.

This is a joint venture with Hong Kong-listed Top Spring International Holdings, a real estate developer in China. Metro has injected $48 million of equity into the project, Mr Choo said in a statement yesterday.

Director Gerald Ong also yesterday ruled out a Reit, noting that the firm was “sitting on a lot of cash” and continued to recycle cash. He said it would not consider spinning off its properties into a Reit until its balance sheet was full.

The company yesterday suffered an 81 per cent plunge in fourth-quarter net profit year-on-year to $14.9 million.

This was mainly because the bottom line in the corresponding period a year earlier was inflated by a one-off gain of $98.7 million from the sale of Metro City Beijing.

Revenue for the three months ended March 31 dipped 1.1 per cent to $47.6 million from the preceding year.

Though retail sales grew 5.8 per cent year-on-year to $32.5 million in the fourth quarter, it was outweighed by a 13.2 per cent fall in property revenue to $15.1 million.

For the full year, earnings tumbled 29.5 per cent year-on-year to $64.8 million while revenue stayed flat at $187.1 million. Higher sales from its retail stores in Singapore and Indonesia offset a decline in rental income from its property arm.

Metro said yesterday that it has no plans to add more retail outlets in Singapore but wants to expand in Indonesia.

Earnings per share for the year stood at 7.8 cents, down from 11.3 cents the preceding year. Net asset value per share was $1.383 as at March 31 this year, up slightly from $1.346 as at March 31 last year. The group declared a final dividend of two cents per share plus a special final dividend of two cents per share. Metro’s share price fell 3.5 cents to 97 cents yesterday.

melissat@sph.com.sg

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