Monday, 30 April 2018

Takeaways from CapitaLand AGM 2018

CapitaLand AGM 2018

Date: 30/04/2018

Duration: 10.00 am - 12.20 pm

Turnout: ~40%

Even before the AGM starts, while people are still strolling in to get seated, the screen is already playing a video presentation with catchy music on CapitaLand's (CPL) developments.

And it's my first time seeing two rows of company representatives on stage for an AGM.

First row comprises of the board members while the second row comprises of CEOs of the various CPL business units.

 No wonder they chose Stars Theatre as the venue.


You know the AGM is a serious business when it starts with a briefing on the emergency evacuation route (I thought I am back to my army days).

That is followed by a presentation on the group's overview, business updates and what's looking ahead for them.

After that comes the usual Q&A. I took the questions and replies until my pen ink ran out.

Questions from the floor

Q: Is the group going global apart from the areas they are in now?

A: Yes. Ascott is now in Europe, USA, Australia, Ghana, etc.

For the retail unit, CPL is looking at managing beyond CPL's own portfolio. In other words they are expanding to manage other companies' malls too.

Q: Is CPL's operating platform not going for acquisition?

A: The operating platform will stay asset-light. Instead they will leverage on technology to deliver what the retailers and customers want.

But for the investment platform, yes they are looking out for suitable asset classes.

Q: How did CPL achieved the 50% gross profit (G.P.) and is that sustainable?

A: Consolidation of the trusts.

At the G.P. level there are many contributions from the associates and subsidiaries.

Q: CPL is currently undervalued and its share price seems to be under performing compared to City Developments's. What is the board's take on that?

A: CPL do share buyback to enhance share holders' value.

CPL cannot be compared to City Developments as the business profile is different.

Q: Can the dividend payout ratio increase from the current 33%?

A: CPL will give dividend on a sustainable basis.

Q: How does CPL defend itself against Wechat and Alibaba in China on the online space?

A: CPL wants to stay in both online and offline spaces. Currently they have 5.8 M users on the Capita Stars platform.

CPL works with Wechat and Alibaba as well to leverage on their payment system and to provide a seamless experience.

Q: Township development by CPL.

A: CPL has been doing that in China. Other than that CPL is also into master planning.

They will continue to do that and that is one way they acquire land bank in China.

And importantly this is a way they build up reputation and network with the who's who in China.

Q: What is the impairment on page 77 of the annual report?

A: This is actually a write back related to 2 projects with previous impairments but which are not used eventually.

Q: What is the chairman's feel about Singapore's property market?

A (by the CEO): The property market is a proxy to the economy.

Basing on the Q1 preliminary data, the market looks good. And going forward the next 3, 4 quarters are optimistic too.

Comment from one of the share holders: CPL is quite well covered in many areas and in recurring income streams. Hope the board can consider a more generous dividend payout than 33%. That will give confidence to the share price too.

Another share holder concurred and commented the board should give share holders the money and they do the share buyback themselves.

A: The board will take that into consideration.

Resolutions: All passed.


CapitaLand's AGM is one of the AGMs that I was looking forward to attend this year. And it didn't disappoints ~ in another way.

Drama unfolded early into the Q&A. Better than the Taiwanese soap operas on TV. Stars Theatre indeed.

Two shouting uncles wasted time by talking about irrelevant things and asking irrelevant questions so much so that they were booed by others from the floor with shouts of "Don't waste time" and "Get out" heard from several quarters.

One of them the legendary Mr Sunny, even turned aggressive this time when the security officers came up to him. I've seen him shouting at several AGMs before but this is the first time I have seen him on the verge of turning violent.

To be fair to him, he did gave a good suggestion which is for the board to implement a 'floating system' for directors' fees. In bad times board takes a lower fee or in the form of shares and vice versa for good times.

I find that worth consideration.

Summary and my thoughts

2017 is a record year for CapitaLand in several aspects.

Its total PATMI achieved $1.55 B. The highest since 2008. It's also a record year for them in Vietnam which is a very fast growing market. Malls in China achieved 8.6% NPI growth.

I am personally very looking forward to the opening of Raffles City Chong Qing in the near future.

Ascott is also on track to achieve 80,000 serviced residence units by this year. On this front they have also made their first foray into Africa, Ghana.

CPL is gunning for $100 B AUM by 2020. This is another mile stone worth looking forward too.

Previously I have also written about CPL's online mall on Lazada and their venture into e-payment which is their StarPay platform.

On the social responsibility front, CPL donates up to 0.5% of their net profit yearly to Capital Hope Foundation to help under privileged children.

You might recall I have mentioned in other posts that one of the aspects I look out for in a company is the quality of its management.

I have always been a fan of Mr Lim Ming Yan, Group CEO and President of CapitaLand.

In CPL's board of directors, quality is in abundance as well.

Chairman Mr Ng Kee Choe is the former vice chair of DBS. Few of the other directors are chairman-calibre in their own right such as Ms Goh Swee Chen (Chairman of Shell Singapore) and Mr Stephen Lee (Chairman of SIA Engineering).

It would be too long winded to write about the other board members but you can flip the annual report or go into CPL's website to read through their extensive experience.

With $6.1 B cash, CPL has sufficient head room to grow and to grow big. This will serve them (and the share holders) well in the years to come.

Despite all the good points stated above, there are aspects that I have reservations about CPL too.

It seems like the management is very cautious about acquisitions and expansion. So much so that it seems to be the limiting factor in their growth story. I have said many times that something seems to be stopping CPL from realising its full potential. Perhaps this is the reason.

However I'm not complaining since it appeared to serve them well so far.

Another aspect is the dividend payout which definitely has room to grow. However the payout amount has been growing for the past 5 years so kudos to them too.

If you aren't a share holder of CapitaLand yet, perhaps it's time to seriously think about it now considering it is still trading below its net tangible asset value of $4.20.

In fact half way through the Q&A I was already calculating my average price if I were to add more now at a particular price and the impact to my dividend yield against cost.

Good luck and cheers always!


  1. Nice summary/notes of the AGM - I was there too! First time attending AGM and encountering all those drama (wondering if these uncles do that every year).

    I am looking to add more CL and Ascott now...

  2. Glad you like it. That Sunny uncle is quite active in attending AGMs though this year I only see him at CapitaLand's.