Keppel Land’s growth over three decades in Vietnam

08:00 | 07/08/2020

Keppel Land, a multi-faceted property company and the property arm of Keppel Corporation, provides innovative real estate solutions and has a sterling portfolio of award-winning residential developments, investment-grade commercial properties, and integrated townships. Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam), talked with VIR’s Bich Ngoc about Keppel Land’s pioneering journey to become one of the largest foreign real estate investors in Vietnam today.

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Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam)

Keppel Land has been in Vietnam since the early 1990s and has grown to become one of the most established foreign property companies in Vietnam. What have been some of the company’s milestones over the years?

We first entered the country in 1991 after Vietnam opened its doors to international investors. We developed the International Centre into the first international-grade office building in Hanoi which even today is still the preferred business address of many multinational corporations.

Some other projects that followed include the Vietcombank Tower in Hanoi and the PetroVietnam Towers in Vung Tau, which were developed by Keppel Land in collaboration with other partners.

In 1996, we shifted our focus to Ho Chi Minh City. We started with the development of the first phase of Saigon Centre, which has since become a landmark in District 1, and went on to develop luxury riverfront developments, Villa Riviera and Riviera Cove. Our first high-rise condominium project, The Estella, became the first development in Vietnam to obtain the Green Mark Gold Award from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. The project is still today considered the benchmark for high-quality residential developments in Ho Chi Minh City.

Today, Keppel Land has over 20 licensed projects in Vietnam, with a total registered investment capital of more than $3 billion. Our staff strength has also grown from just eight in the early 1990s to more than 600 now.

Our quality portfolio is located mainly in Ho Chi Minh City and comprises Grade A offices, residential properties, retail malls, and integrated townships as well as award-winning serviced apartments.

Some of our ongoing projects in Ho Chi Minh City include Saigon Sports City, a 64-hectare smart and integrated township developed in collaboration with Keppel Urban Solutions in District 2; Empire City in Thu Thiem New Urban Area; the next phase of the Saigon Centre mixed-use development; the Palm City integrated waterfront development in District 2; and Riviera Point in District 7.

In addition, we are also developing Celesta in Nha Be district in the south of the city.

Looking ahead, we continue to be positive about Vietnam’s property market, which is underpinned by healthy economic growth, increased foreign investment, high urbanisation rate, and a growing middle class. We look forward to continuing building on the strong relationships and networks that we have established over close to three decades and contribute to Vietnam’s next phase of growth.

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Keppel Land and Keppel Urban Solutions are collaborating to develop Saigon Sports City in District 2

Apart from its property business, what other business does Keppel carry out in Vietnam?

Keppel is a provider of solutions for sustainable urbanisation, focusing on four key areas comprising energy and environment, urban development, connectivity, and asset management.

Leveraging Keppel’s track record in large-scale urban developments, Keppel Land is collaborating with Keppel Urban Solutions on the development of Saigon Sports City. The project broke ground in November 2019 and is expected to be another iconic Keppel landmark in Ho Chi Minh City when completed.

Keppel Urban Solutions is an end-to-end master developer of urban developments, leveraging the Keppel Group’s more than two decades of experience and strong track record in the planning and development of large-scale projects in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Keppel Logistics has partnered with Indo-Trans Logistics, an established Vietnamese logistics services provider, to provide complete third-party logistics solutions.

The joint venture company Indo-Trans Keppel Logistics Vietnam operates approximately 600,000 square feet of warehouse space in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi and has a wide distribution network, spanning over 60 cities and provinces. Through UrbanFox, Keppel Logistics is providing brands with multi-channel commerce and e-fulfilment solutions, enabling customers to scale up their business online while providing seamless integration with their warehouse management platform.

In addition, Keppel Offshore & Marine has been actively involved in Vietnam since the 1980s and has delivered a range of products and services for the oil and gas business in Vietnam, including rig building and production or storage vessel conversions and repairs.

The Keppel Group will continue to contribute to Vietnam’s growth with its suite of sustainable urbanisation solutions.

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Saigon Centre is strategically located in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City

Industry 4.0 is seeing the rapid development of smart home trends. In what way can Keppel contribute to this growth area in Vietnam?

Smart technologies and innovations are revolutionising the way cities are planned and built. We expect the trend of smart homes and cities to gain further momentum over the next few years as consumers become more affluent and discerning and seek more value-added services and offerings.

The Vietnamese government has also unveiled plans to develop Ho Chi Minh City into a smart city.

At Keppel, we are capturing opportunities presented by the mega trends of rapid urbanisation and the increasing global focus on sustainability. Keppel Urban Solutions brings together the capabilities of the group to create highly liveable and digitally-connected communities.

The aforementioned Saigon Sports City project will include the introduction of urban solutions and sustainable features relevant to the broader Ho Chi Minh City environment and customised for the project.

When completed, Saigon Sports City will feature about 4,300 premium homes as well as Vietnam’s one-stop sports, entertainment, and lifestyle hub. Biophilic design principles will be adopted, including natural cross-ventilation throughout the development, generous space between buildings for natural light, a contiguous fitness circuit, lush landscaping with locally-sourced flora, and picturesque water features with natural filtration, to create a green and beautiful environment.

Keppel will also work with best-in-class local and international partners to offer innovative urban solutions including smart security, smart mobility, and environmental infrastructure solutions, among other things.

We have received the master plan approval for Saigon Sports City and are currently working with the architects on the retail and commercial zones. There are some very interesting concepts that we are currently exploring, including hybrid malls, attractive sporting and wellness concepts, and designs for solutions through the Internet of Things. We hope to unveil these plans soon. We are confident that Saigon Sports City will complement Ho Chi Minh City’s plans and contribute to the achievement of its smart city goals.

Keppel Land was recently named one of Vietnam’s best companies to work for at the 2020 HR Asia Awards. How was this achieved?

At Keppel Land, we recognise that people are our greatest asset. As a pioneer and one of the largest foreign real estate investors in Vietnam, we are committed to nurturing a diverse, nimble, and dedicated talent pool that will create value and drive further growth for the company.

We also aim to create a vibrant and inclusive workplace where employees can achieve their career aspirations. We are happy that our efforts have been recognised, and are honoured that Keppel Land has been named one of Vietnam’s best companies to work for.

Bich Ngoc

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