By Madelaine B. Miraflor
SM Prime Holdings, Inc., the real estate arm of SM Group, is still scouting for properties to acquire in some parts of Southeast Asia like Vietnam and Thailand, but the actual expansion is not going to happen very soon.
SM Prime Chairman Henry Sy Jr. said his company is still looking at Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia as the next location for SM malls and residential projects, but the company is not in a hurry the same way it is not planning to be more aggressive on its China expansion.
During the company’s annual stockholders meeting Tuesday, Sy told reporters that while the company had slowed down its expansion in China, its landbanking efforts in the world’s second largest economy as well as in other Southeast Asian countries has not stopped.
He specifically mentioned Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand as the firm’s next destination, but also noted that no actual plans have been made when it comes to expanding in these countries.
“The opportunity here in the Philippines is much more, while the competition there [in China] is so strong both for malls and residential,” Sy said. “We are still doing very well here”.
For this year, SM Prime, one of the leading integrated property companies in Southeast Asia, has set around P80 billion for its expansion plans. The allotted capital expenditure will support the Company’s landbanking efforts and various expansion plans in key cities in the Philippines.
Right now, SM Prime have 72 malls in the Philippines and seven malls in China.
Despite the slowdown in China expansion, SM Prime President Jeffrey Lim said the company is now proceeding with the development of its eight mall in the country by the end of this year.
“We’ve been quiet in China for two years now because we focused in Philippine expansion but we continue to focus on Tianjin expansion. We will also start with the construction of our mall in Yangzhou this year,” Lim said.
SM Prime’s largest mall in China is located in Tianjin, while the rest are in Chongqing, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Suzhou, Zibo, and Chengdu.
Lim said tthe updated investment for the SM Yangzhuo is P4 billion for the next two years, while the construction is set to start by the end of this year. Expansion is also set for the company’s Xiamen mall, which would require an investment of as much as P4 billion over the next two years.
Here, SM Prime is set to expand its footprint with four new malls this year. These malls will add 200,000 square meters (sqm) of gross floor area (GFA) and will be located in developing provincial cities like SM Center in Dagupan in Pangasinan, SM City Olongapo Central in Zambales, SM City Butuan in Caraga Region, and SM Mindoro and Citimall in Zamboanga.
Through the company’s primary residential business, SM Development Corporation (SMDC), SM Prime targets to launch around 15,000 to 20,000 residential units this year. These units will be composed of mixed high-rise and mid-rise buildings, as well as single-detached house and lot projects to address the growing demand among local and foreign buyers.