Keppel Land advancing together with Vietnam

18:00 | 08/12/2020
Keppel Land is part of the urban development arm of Keppel Corporation, one of Singapore’s flagship multinational companies with a global footprint in more than 20 countries. Keppel Corporation provides solutions for sustainable urbanisation, focusing on energy and environment, urban development, connectivity, and asset management. In Vietnam, Keppel Land is a pioneer and one of the largest foreign real estate investors, having established itself in the country for close to three decades. Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam), shared with Bich Ngoc about the company’s growth in the country.

Can you share some of Keppel Land’s milestones over the years since it entered the country?

keppel land advancing together with vietnam
Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam)

Keppel Land entered Vietnam in 1991 after the country opened its doors to international investors. We developed International Centre, Hanoi’s first international-standard office building, which has remained the preferred business address of many multinational corporations till today. Some other projects that followed include Vietcombank Tower in Hanoi and the PetroVietnam Tower in Vung Tau, which were developed in collaboration with other partners.

In 1996, we expanded our business to Ho Chi Minh City with the completion of first phase of Saigon Centre. The second phase of the development, completed in 2018, comprises of a Grade A office tower and a retail mall, anchored by the city’s first Takashimaya department store, as well as luxury serviced apartments. Saigon Centre has since established itself as the preferred business and residential address in the city and became a landmark in District 1.

Our luxury riverfront developments, Villa Riviera and Riviera Cove, which were completed in 2007 and 2012, were also very well-received by the market. Demonstrating our commitment to developing environmentally friendly properties, our first high-rise condominium project in Vietnam, The Estella in Ho Chi Minh City became the first development in the country to obtain the Green Mark Gold Award from the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA) in 2009. The Estella, with its comprehensive facilities and amenities, spacious apartment design and layout, as well as green features, is still considered the benchmark for high-quality residential developments in the city today and is among the preferred properties in the rental and secondary market in the city.

We currently have over 20 licensed projects in Vietnam, with the 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 today is located mainly in Ho Chi Minh City. Some of our ongoing projects 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 third phase of Saigon Centre; 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 the close to three decades and contribute to Vietnam’s continued growth.

keppel land advancing together with vietnam
Celesta Rise, one of the latest projects invested by Keppel Land in Nha Be district of Ho Chi Minh City

Saigon Sports City is expected to be a vibrant, integrated township and an iconic landmark in Ho Chi Minh City when completed. What steps are left for the project?

We broke ground for Saigon Sports City in November 2019. We have also received the 1:500 master plan approval 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 incorporate innovative urban solutions including smart security, smart mobility, and environmental infrastructure solutions.

We are currently exploring some interesting concepts for Saigon Sports City, 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 contribute to the achievement of Ho Chi Minh City's smart city goals.

keppel land advancing together with vietnam
Keppel Land is developing Empire City, a high-end riverside complex in Thu Thiem New Urban Area

Vietnam has entered into various international trade agreements such as the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement or the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership. What are the opportunities and challenges for foreign real estate developers in M&A deals in Vietnam?

While Vietnam’s economy has been impacted by COVID-19, the implementation of the trade agreements is expected to drive substantial growth in trade and investment in Vietnam and boost the country’s economy, which will in turn create more opportunities for local Vietnamese and international businesses, including those in the real estate sector.

Keppel Land has been in the Vietnamese real estate market since the early 1990s. Throughout the years, we have been able to draw from our international experience and financial strength to develop high-quality developments, delivering innovative solutions as well as exciting new concepts for the Vietnamese market.

Every project, whether it is in Vietnam or elsewhere, brings along its own set of challenges. We have been very fortunate to have had the continuous support of the authorities and thus have been able to implement our projects in Vietnam expeditiously. As Vietnam continues on its growth trajectory, we believe that there will continue to be strong demand for quality homes, commercial spaces, and integrated developments. We will continue to work with our Vietnamese partners to deliver quality and sustainable projects that contribute to meeting the urban development needs of the country.

How has M&A contributed to Keppel Land’s investment strategy?

Collaboration is an integral part of Keppel’s culture, and this extends to both internal and external stakeholders. M&A has been a key component of Keppel Land’s growth strategy in Vietnam over the years.

As a foreign real estate investor, most of our projects are developed in joint ventures with other companies, including state-owned enterprises such as Saigon Real Estate Corporation, as well as private entities such as Phu Long Real Estate Corporation. We believe that the key to the success of our projects lies in the leveraging of each other’s strengths, and these include Keppel Land’s expertise in design, planning and project management, as well as our local partners’ deep knowledge of the market and their strong networks.

By Bich Ngoc

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