Billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s CDL Sees Hotel Bookings, Revenue Rise As Pandemic Restrictions Ease

City Developments Ltd. (CDL)—controlled by billionaire Kwek Leng Beng—said bookings and revenue of its hotels jumped in the first quarter as the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions around the world released pent-up travel demand.

With the gradual lifting of pandemic travel restrictions and increasing rollout of vaccines globally, occupancy levels at CDL hotels rose to 52% in the three months ended March 31 from 36.8% a year ago, and revenue per available room doubled, the company said in a regulatory filing late Tuesday. While bookings in the group’s hotels—which include the Millennium Hilton New York and St. Regis in Singapore—in most parts of Asia, Europe and the US improved, the recovery in North Asia was weighed down by a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

“The group is optimistic about the outlook for its core business segments for the rest of 2022, with more residential launched planned in Singapore and overseas while saying its commercial and hospitality portfolio continues to ramp up on the back of strong global demand,” CDL .

Despite a 41% decline in home sales in Singapore in the first quarter to 188 units, valued at S$477.9 million ($348 million), the real estate giant plans to ramp up launch of its residential development projects for the rest of the year as it the impact of the property cooling measures introduced in December is temporary.

“While transaction volume is temporarily affected, the group expects the property market to remain resilient and housing prices to hold firm due to moderate supply and strong fundamentals,” CDL said. “Market activities are expected to improve with new launch coming on stream.”

Earlier this month, CDL and its partner Hongkong Land unit MCL Land sold 77% of the 407-unit Piccadilly Grand on Northumberland Road, about four kilometers east of the central business district. In the second half of the year, the developer plans to launch a 639-unit condominium at Tengah Garden Walk in the western part of Singapore. The company will also start marketing the 256 prime residential units at the former site of Fuji Xerox office tower in Tanjong Pagar on the edge of the Raffles Place CBD, it said.

City Developments has been stepping up its residential developments to tap rising housing demand in Singapore. Robust home sales, along with the recovery in the group’s hotel operations, helped City Developments return to the black last year with a net profit of S$97.7 million, compared with a record loss of S$1.9 billion in 2020 when the company wrote off its investment in financial trouble Chinese subsidiary Sincere Property Group.

Kwek Leng Beng is the chairman of CDL and Singapore’s Hong Leong Group, which was founded by his father in 1941. His cousin Quek Leng Chan, also a billionaire, runs a separate group in Malaysia, also called Hong Leong. With a net worth of $8.5 billion that he shares with his family, Kwek, 81, was ranked No. 8 on the list of Singapore’s 50 Richest that was published in August.

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