CapitaLand to Exit U.K., India Projects, Reassess Australand

CapitaLand Ltd., the Southeast Asia developer that is reorganizing into four main units to help focus on its key markets, said it will look to exit some projects in the U.K., India and the Middle East, and reassess its investment in Australia’s Australand Property Group.

The Singapore-based developer, Southeast Asia’s biggest, will exit commercial and residential investments in the U.K., India and Gulf Cooperation Council nations, Chief Executive Officer Lim Ming Yan told reporters in Singapore today. It also is re-examining its 59 percent in Sydney-based Australand. The exits planned in India, U.K. and the Middle East won’t include the company’s serviced residence and malls businesses, Lim said.

CapitaLand, which in the past year announced top management changes and the retirement of its founder, is focusing on China and Singapore, and seeking to exit businesses where it doesn’t have a significant presence. The group will be realigned into four divisions: CapitaLand Singapore, CapitaLand China, CapitaMalls Asia and The Ascott Ltd., the developer said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange today.

“We are realigning our core businesses along geographic lines, Singapore and China,” Lim said at a briefing. “We will do a strategic review for our position in Australand and a review on the rest of the investments we have in the region.”

CapitaLand has an investment in an office and information technology park project in the suburbs of Mumbai and an office building in London, according to its 2011 annual report.

It didn’t make sense for the developer to “fully engage” in India at this time and it will get out of one “small” project there as well as an office building in London, Lim said without identifying the developments.

New Roles

The company’s shares gained 2.1 percent to S$3.84 at the close of trading in Singapore, while CapitaMalls Asia Ltd. rose

3.5 percent to S$2.06, its biggest gain since Nov. 22.

CapitaLand named Lim as president and chief executive officer of the group after Liew Mun Leong retired last year from the company he helped create almost 12 years ago. Lim, 49, who was the chief operating officer at CapitaLand, started in his new role on Jan. 1. Lim was the CEO of CapitaLand China Holdings for nine years until 2009, where he helped build the developer’s China unit, which contributes more than a third to the developer’s assets. Lim returned to Singapore to helm The Ascott, CapitaLand’s serviced residence business.

CapitaLand Singapore, which will include the group’s residential and commercial business in the island-state, will be helmed by Wen Khai Meng, while Jason Leow will be responsible for the group’s China business, the developer said.

Australand rejected an offer from Sydney-based GPT Group last month. Mirvac Group, a property trust also located in Sydney, said it was considering making a takeover offer for Australand, two people with knowledge of the matter said Dec. 18.