SM Prime acquires land in China for new mall

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez,

Posted at Mar 28 2014 03:19 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2014 02:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – SM Prime Holdings Inc. has sealed a lease deal to acquire a 10-hectare land in the Jiangsu province of China, its chief finance officer Jeffrey Lim said Thursday.

“We got one (property) December last year in Jiangsu province in the city of Yangzhou,” Lim said at the sidelines of a wealth building summit conducted by SM and COL Financial.

SM may break ground at the 10-hectare in Yangzhou, which was acquired via long-term lease from the local government, as early as next year.

“We will be planning Yangzhou (mall) for start next year, because we need to open that going into 2016,” said Lim.

The Yangzhou mall will be the eighth SM City branch in mainland China.

Five are currently in operation, the latest of which was opened in December 2012 in Chongqing. The four other malls are in Xiamen, Jinjiang, Suzhou, and Chengdu.

Lim said two other China malls are expected to open this year and in 2015, keeping in line with its one mall per year strategy.

Meanwhile, SM Prime, the Philippines's second biggest property firm by market value, plans to raise more than $740 million from the debt market this year to fund projects in the country and in China.

With volatility in the local stock market, SM Prime has shelved for now plans to tap the equity market for fundraising and is considering issuing P20 billion ($444 million) in 7-10-year bonds, Lim said.

The property firm, a unit of conglomerate SM Investments Corp owned by the country's richest man, Henry Sy Sr., is also looking to issue syndicated debt of up to $300 million in 5-7-year maturities, Lim said.

The dollar debt syndicate will be used for landbanking and mall development in China.

SM Prime, also the country's biggest mall operator and developer, will open two new malls this year in the Philippines's main Luzon island, adding close to 600,000 square meters in retail space to its current portfolio.

SM Prime shares have lost around 2 percent so far this year, underperforming the property index which has gained about 10 percent. - With Reuters