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Yanlord Land maintains overall sector win; Ho Bee tops returns for shareholders; Bukit Sembawang picks up the rest

The Edge Singapore
The Edge Singapore • 5 min read
Yanlord Land maintains overall sector win; Ho Bee tops returns for shareholders; Bukit Sembawang picks up the rest
Founder and executive chairman Zhong Shengjian started property development in China in 1993 / Photo: Albert Chua
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The winners of the real estate sector share something else besides size and scale: they are all very well-established companies with decades of operating history and have gone through multiple economic cycles, emerging from each, stronger and more resilient than before.

The company with the highest returns to shareholders, Ho Bee Land, was founded in 1987 by executive chairman Chua Thian Poh. Ho Bee recorded a CAGR of 5% over the three years while most of its peers were negative at the CAGR level.

Over the years, Ho Bee has chalked up milestones including listing on the mainboard in 1999. At home, the company is best known for being the pioneer developer of luxury homes in the exclusive residential enclave of Sentosa Cove. It has steadily expanded its portfolio to include The Metropolis at one-north, the largest Grade A office development outside the Central Business District to date, and Elementum, a biomedical sciences development slated for completion by the end of 2023.

Over the years, Ho Bee has built up an international portfolio in markets including Australia, China and Germany. Ho Bee is also best known for acquiring an iconic London property, The Scalpel, for GBP718 million ($1.14 billion), adding to its investment portfolio that includes Ropemaker Place and 1 St Martin’s Le Grand.

Bukit Sembawang Estates, on the other hand, garnered the fastest growth in PAT with a CAGR of 55.2% over three years and a weighted ROE of 10.07% respectively. The company can trace its roots to a rubber company as far back as 1911 before it pivoted into property development in the 1950s. Bukit Sembawang Estates, as a company, was incorporated back in 1967 and listed the following year.

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For more than five decades, the company has built a reputation as a leading developer of landed residential homes, including more than 4,600 landed homes in Seletar Hills, Sembawang Hills, Luxus Hills and more than 1,800 residences units in Singapore’s prime Districts 9 and 10.

Yanlord Land Group did not win any of the three category awards. However, based on its all-round performance based on various financial parameters, the China-based but Singapore-listed company has been named the overall sector winner for real estate companies.

The company, under founder and executive chairman Zhong Shengjian, started property development in China in 1993. It was listed back in 2006 — amid the strong wave of S-chips here. As most investors with longer memories would recall, the S-chip landscape is littered with many failures but Yanlord stands out for not just its consistent performance but also for paying out a constant dividend to shareholders year after year, amid business cycles and shifting market conditions.

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Over the years, Yanlord has become known for its focus on developing high-end fully-fitted residential, commercial and integrated property projects in strategically selected key and high-growth cities in China. To date, it has projects in 20 key high-growth cities within the six major economic regions of China, namely: the Yangtze River Delta; Western China; Bohai Rim; Greater Bay Area; Hainan and Central China.

In recent years, Yanlord has become more active in Singapore too, especially after the acquisition of United Engineers, which has interests in property development and a portfolio of investment properties including UE BizHub City (including Park Avenue Clemenceau), UE BizHub Tower, UE BizHub West, Rochester Mall and Park Avenue Rochester and Park Avenue Robertson. These properties help generate a steady income stream. In addition, Yanlord now has two residential projects under development, Leedon Green and Dairy Farm Residences.


Real estate agency leader PropNex makes clean sweep of awards in Centurion debut

PropNex, led by founder and executive chairman Ismail Gafoor, made a clean sweep of the three categories / Photo: Samuel Isaac Chua

Leading real estate agency PropNex has vaulted over many other companies in the real estate industry to be the undisputed winner in the Centurion category. The company, led by founder and executive chairman Ismail Gafoor, made a clean sweep of the three categories: 46.7% CAGR in returns to shareholders; 45.7% CAGR growth in PAT and 48.17% in weighted ROE. It is therefore the overall sector winner too and the overall winner among all Centurion Club companies.

Under the judging criteria, companies require a three-year track record as a listed company to qualify. PropNex was listed in 2018 and following a relatively slow start, its business has been growing at an accelerated pace in subsequent years.

The company was founded in 2000 with the merger of two entities Prulink and Nooris, with around 3,000 salespersons. Over the years, this already significant number grew further. In 2019, the company had a total of 7,400 salespersons. This number increased rapidly to 10,796 in 2021, making it the first real estate agency here to have more than 10,000 salespersons.

With this large number of salespersons, PropNex can benefit from economies of scale in its operations, offering better returns for its shareholders and benefits to its customers.

Of course, the large salesforce has given PropNex leading market shares in the various property transaction segments. In 2021, PropNex claimed to have a market share of 43.9% for private residential new launches; 51.5% share of private residential resale and 57.9% for HDB resale.

While Singapore is its home market, PropNex has expanded steadily into overseas markets. In 2021, the company expanded into its fourth overseas market — Cambodia. This follows Indonesia in 2016, Malaysia in 2017 and Vietnam in 2018.

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