China New Town (1278 HK) has just announced a RMB10 billion credit financing strategy with ICBC Shanghai. This will enhance the rapid development of CNTD.
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JUL 16, 20155:50 AM
SINGAPORE-listed China New Town Development (CNTD), backed by China's largest policy bank, has lined up a strong pipeline of projects and believes a turnaround is "just around the corner" after two years of losses.
It plans to launch up to four - or even five - new town development projects in China over the next 12 months. This will provide strong earnings visibility, fuelled by a new business model that grants a steady income stream.
Also listed in Hong Kong, CNTD is a subsidiary of CDB Capital, a wholly owned investment platform of China Development Bank (CDB), which is a policy bank with a ministry status.
"The company is in a rapid stage of growth and we need a lot of funding to finance that growth, especially low-cost funding," CNTD deputy general manager Jimmy Pun told The Business Times.
The group had raised 1.3 billion yuan (S$286 million) in an offshore yuan bond in April at a coupon rate of 5.5 per cent for the notes due 2018, having obtained a credit line of up to 10 billion yuan from Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Shanghai) in January. "We are looking at a lot of public-private partnership (PPP) projects," Mr Pun said. "CDB has mandate to support PPP financing and that's a sweet spot for CNTD."
Mr Pun told BT that the group may use the PPP model to participate in various segments within the urbanisation sector. Just this month, CNTD launched its first PPP project with Danyang Investment Group and the Danyang Municipal in flood control infrastructural works in Danyang Municipal and engineering works for the Suzhou South Canal.
The strong backing of CDB, the single largest lender for urbanisation projects in China, has also enabled CNTD to shift to a new business model.
In primary land development, CNTD prepares the land before handing it over to the local government for sale. Under its old business model which applies to existing projects in Shanghai, Wuxi and Shenyang, CNTD can only receive income upon the sale of land sites by local governments - resulting in large earnings fluctuations. The projects last for a long period of 15-20 years, with the possibility of extension if the land sale is delayed.
With the new business model starting with its Nanjing Yuhuatai District Two Bridges project, CNTD is guaranteed a 17.1 per cent pre-tax annual return on its contributed capital from the local government over a defined investment period. In this way, CNTD is not susceptible to any delay in land sale and can take on multiple projects concurrently.
"The constraint from the previous model meant that we only undertook three projects in our 10 years of operations, which is unfitting for a listed company," Mr Pun said. "A portfolio of over 10 projects would be a more appropriate size to derive considerable economies of scale."
Land sale at the Shanghai Luodian project had hit a snag amid a depressed property market before it was resumed last June. The residual 800 mu or 500,000 sqm of land is expected to be sold within three years. The Shenyang Lixiang project, where there is still over 17,000 mu of land to be sold, is more challenging due to an oversupply situation in Shenyang, Mr Pun said. The group is still trying to dispose of its Wuxi project - a process that has been delayed.
Still, CNTD is confident of riding the "new urbanisation" wave as the Chinese government deepens reform of the Household Registration System or Hukou system and shores up financial support to transform shanty towns nationwide.
Mr Pun pointed out that PBOC's major capital injection into CDB to promote shanty town projects across the country has given CDB much negotiating power with the local governments and a robust projects pipeline to CDB Capital and CNTD.
Since CDB Capital acquired a controlling 54.3 per cent stake in CNTD in December 2013, CNTD's corporate activities have visibly increased.
CNTD is working with CDB Capital-founded Sino IC Capital, the sole manager of the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund Ltd, to jointly explore business opportunities. This could culminate in an industrial park project in semiconductor or integrated circuit space next year, Mr Pun said. The group also set up a 10 billion yuan fund with Bank of Communications Schroder Fund Management and CDB Capital to invest in urbanisation-related projects through debt or mezzanine financing.
But despite the surge in business activities at CNTD, investors have not warmed up to the stock.
CNTD shares went on a dive in June, triggered by news that executive director and vice-chairman Shi Jian, former controlling shareholder who still owns a 15 per cent stake in CNTD through SRE Investment Holding (SREI), was under "custody in designated residence" in China.
Mr Pun reiterated that Mr Shi is no longer responsible for day-to-day operations at CNTD since the new controlling shareholder CDB Capital came on board. SREI had last month inked a non-binding agreement with Poly Real Estate for the latter to acquire over 30 per cent in Hong-Kong listed SRE Group, currently controlled by SREI.