CapitaMalls may seek venture in Vietnam

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CapitaMalls Asia Ltd, the retail property unit of Southeast Asia's biggest developer, may seek shopping-center ventures in Vietnam after expanding in markets including China and India.

Singapore-based CapitaMalls may collaborate with its parent company CapitaLand Ltd to explore "interesting opportunities" in Vietnam, Chief Executive Officer Lim Beng Chee said.

CapitaLand, which is building homes in the nation, said this year it expects properties in Vietnam to make up 10 percent of its assets in three to five years from about 1.5 percent now.

"If they come across something interesting that we could look at for a shopping mall, we can tap on their expertise to go into the market," Lim said in an interview in Singapore late Tuesday.

CapitaMalls is seeking retail projects in Vietnam as the economy expanded 6.4 percent in the three months through June, compared with 5.8 percent in the first quarter. The company also plans to invest S$800 million (US$592 million) to S$1 billion ($739 million) in the second half in Singapore, Malaysia and China, it said Tuesday.

The retail property operator will also open three more malls in China by the end of the year in addition to the four properties it recently acquired, Lim said.

"There is definitely a positive outlook on retail in the region," said Ong Choon Fah, head of research at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung in Singapore, a real-estate consulting group. Lifestyle changes in the region "will support retail, but it's very competitive. There will be some that do exceedingly well, and there will be some that fall by the wayside."

CapitaMalls said Tuesday its second-quarter profit fell 24 percent to S$113.1 million as it booked a smaller gain from the increase in value of its properties. Without the onetime changes, earnings would have increased six times, it said.

In Singapore, CapitaMalls plans to eventually offer its ION mall development along the Orchard Road shopping belt to CapitaMall Trust, the island state's biggest real-estate investment trust, which it manages. The sale will only be considered when the property is "stabilized," Lim said.

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