SM Prime in talks for 5 China properties

Posted at 05/02/12 7:45 AM

MANILA, Philippines - SM Prime Holdings Inc., the country’s biggest mall developer and operator, is eyeing as many as five additional properties in China as possible expansion sites in line with efforts to widen its presence in the world’s second-biggest economy.

In a chance interview, SM Prime Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Lim said the company is in talks for the properties, which range from five hectares to six hectares each.

He said most of the properties are in Fujian province, where SM Prime already operates SM Xiamen, its first mall in China, as well as SM Jinjiang.

“It’s still under negotiations. But Fujian will be the priority,” Lim said, referring to the company’s land acquisition efforts in that province.

The new locations would add to the company’s growing mall operations in China. Apart from Xiamen and Jinjiang, SM Prime also operates in two other China locations, Chengdu and Suzhou, taking in a total gross floor area (GFA) of 645,172 square meters (sq.m) in that country.

This year, it plans to open a shopping mall in Chongqing, with a GFA of 147,446 sq.m. This will be followed in 2014 by SM Zibo with 154,000 sq.m, and its largest shopping center yet, SM Tianjin, with 540,000 sq.m.

Lim said the builder’s earlier announced expansion into Xinxiang City, in Henan province, may proceed within the year.

The expansion projects are part of the company’s strategy to list its China assets either in Hong Kong or Singapore by 2015 in a public offering valued at about $500 million, Lim said.

SM Prime’s four malls in China booked a 34-percent increase in revenues to P620 million, accounting for 9 percent of the company’s revenues in the first quarter of 2012. Net income rose 44 percent to P140 million, or 5 percent of SM Prime’s profit during the period.

SM Prime, which expects to have 46 malls in the country and five in China by the end of 2012, ended Monday flat at P16.70 each, giving it a market value of P232.11 billion.