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UOL first-half profit quadruples to $371m on fair-value gains, higher revenue

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Property and hospitality group UOL Group on Friday (Aug 12) posted earnings of $371 million for the first half-year ended June, up 306 per cent from $91.3 million in the year-ago period.

The increase was spearheaded by fair-value gains of $190 million in the first half, compared with fair-value losses of $16.9 million in the corresponding period last year.

Excluding these fair-value gains and losses, earnings in the first half would have been $181.1 million, some 67 per cent higher than in the previous year.

The fair-value gains were mainly for Clifford Centre, Singapore Land Tower, Faber House and Odeon Towers. The increase in valuations determined by independent professional valuers for these properties was mainly due to ongoing or upcoming redevelopment or asset enhancement initiatives.

First-half revenue rose 36 per cent to $1.53 billion from $1.13 billion in the previous year.

UOL Group chief executive Liam Wee Sin said the strong set of results in the first half-year reflects “the healthy sales momentum of our residential inventory as well as timely refurbishment and opening of our hotels”.

Revenue from property development increased 45 per cent to $999.9 million on higher progressive recognition of revenue from Clavon in Clementi, Avenue South Residence in Silat Avenue and The Watergardens at Canberra, as well as more units handed over for The Sky Residences in London and Park Eleven in Shanghai.

Revenue from hotel operations rose 64 per cent to $206.3 million.

This was mainly due to contributions from Park Royal Collection Marina Bay in Singapore, which fully reopened in May 2021 following a major refurbishment, and Pan Pacific London, which opened in September 2021.

Revenue from property investments dipped 1 per cent to $247.9 million, with lower contributions from Singapore Land Tower in Raffles Place as a result of an ongoing asset enhancement initiative.

The group remains cautiously optimistic about the outlook amid rising inflation and the consequent tightening of monetary conditions.

Next year, Mr Liam expects the group to launch two residential projects in Singapore. One is a low-rise 205-unit freehold project comprising mostly larger units on the Watten Estate Condominium site in Shelford Road that the group clinched via a collective sale last year.

The other is a 520-unit condo on the 99-year leasehold Pine Grove (Parcel A) plot that the group was awarded at a state tender this year. Units in this development are likely to range from two- to five-bedroom apartments.

Mr Liam added that UOL will continue to be very selective in replenishing its residential land bank here amid intense competition that is driving up land prices.

“The increased supply of Government Land Sales sites in the second half of 2022 may in the longer term bring about a more sustainable market. 

“We are also seeing some developers able to satisfy their land banking via en bloc sales. There is increased activity in en bloc sales and some successes as well. So I think the market will adjust itself,” he said.