MANILA, Philippines – SM Prime Holdings Inc., the umbrella firm for the SM Group’s property businesses, is introducing its “lifestyle cities” concept in the world’s second largest economy, China.
The company will put up residential towers adjacent to shopping malls in the medium term, its top official said.
“With the consolidated group, we can really go to China for residential projects already. Before, it’s only malls,” SM Prime president Hans Sy told reporters on the sidelines of the Philippine Stock Exchange’s Bell Awards Tuesday.
The conglomerate can now penetrate the Chinese property market as one company, Sy said.
In May, mall and banking giant SM Investments Corp., the investment vehicle of the country’s richest man Henry Sy, announced the merger of its real estate businesses, creating the most valuable property firm in Southeast Asia. It merged upscale Tagaytay Highlands developer Highlands Prime Inc., condominium builder SM Development Corp. (SMDC), private firm SM Land Inc. and mall developer SM Prime.
For its regional expansion, Sy said SM Prime will introduce in China the concept of lifestyle cities, which incorporate malls and residential condominiums.
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“We believe the Philippine formula works very well in China,” Sy said, adding that SM Prime is customer-oriented and understands its clients.
SM Prime so far has 47 shopping centers in the country and five in China: Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu, Suzhou and Chongqing. SM City Zibo will open next year. SMDC earlier identified China as a growth center but no project has been launched to date.
“In China, the whole economy may have slowed down but their slowdown is still seven percent [growth],” Sy said, adding that certain provinces like Chengdu are still picking up at double-digit pace.
The high-rise residential venture in China is in line with SM Prime’s five-year regional expansion program that will be disclosed late this year or early next year, Sy said.
“By yearend or next year, at least the plans will all get together,” he said.
The group currently has 14 ongoing condominium projects all over Metro Manila except for Wind Residences in Tagaytay.
Early this month, SM Prime announced it is spending $1.5 billion next year and another $1.9 billion in 2015 to beef up its land bank, build more shopping malls and launch more office space. SM Prime allotted $1.4 billion this year, up from $800 million in 2012.