EcoWorld International president & CEO Datuk Teow Leong Seng: “Looking forward into FY2021, we believe that demand for London properties will remain strong. Property agents are expecting the acute undersupply of residential properties in London to worsen in the coming years due to reduced supply as a result of disruptions caused by Covid-19." KUALA LUMPUR: EcoWorld International Bhd recorded its strongest quarterly sales with RM448mil in the fourth quarter ended Oct 31,2020 and helped the property developer record FY20 sales of RM1.40bil. In a statement issued on Thursday, it said this was 25% higher than FY2019 despite the challenging market conditions and disruption in marketing plans for many locations due to Covid-19. “The substantially stronger sales clearly reaffirm London’s position as a major property investment destination for global property investors, ” it said. For FY20, it recorded gross profit of RM99.99mil, which was substantially higher than in the previous financial year. It attributed the stronger gross profit due to revenue and profit recognition of West Village in Australia, following completion and commencement of handover of units sold to customers. EcoWorld International recorded profit before tax (PBT) of RM113.89mil and profit after tax (PAT) of RM82.58mil in FY2020. It explained the lower PBT and PAT in FY20 -- as compared to PBT of RM190.30mil and PAT of RM190.28mil in FY2019 -- were lower due to lower share of results in joint ventures and the start of accounting impairment of goodwill. “The lower share of results in joint ventures was partly due to Covid-19 site closures and social distancing measures implemented which resulted in slower progressive build-to-rent revenue recognition and lower number of units being completed and handed over in FY2020. “As at Oct 31,31 2020, EcoWorld International’s future revenue stands at RM2.9bil whilst its gross and net gearing levels remain low at 0.45 times and 0.34 times respectively, ” it said. EcoWorld International said the handover of Wardian London commenced in 4Q 2020 and following some delays due to the “Stage 4” movement restrictions imposed in Melbourne from early August 2020 to late September 2020, Yarra One is now nearing completion and handover is on track to commence shortly. Following handovers of West Village as well as Wardian London in FY2020 and with Yarra One completion on the horizon, EcoWorld International targets to repatriate some profits from the Group’s UK and Australia projects for dividend declaration in FY2021. EcoWorld International has set a sales target of RM2.2bil for FY2021 which takes into account the expected gradual economic recovery and market sentiment in the UK and Australia. The target will be revisited if the property markets conditions change significantly, it said. Its president & CEO Datuk Teow Leong Seng said despite a turbulent year caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it had started handing over of the Wardian, London in 4Q 2020. Launched in late 2015, Wardian comprises two residential towers of 50 and 55 storeys. As at Oct 31 this year, 249 private units have been handed over to the purchasers with a balance 293 private units sold to be handed over in the next few months. “Including other projects in the Group’s portfolio, the Group has delivered more than 2,000 private units to purchasers since 2018, ” he said. “By the 1Q of FY2021, we would have commenced handover of Yarra One in Melbourne. Once that has been completed, we would have effectively delivered to purchasers the bulk of the portfolio of projects we started with when we were listed in 2017. “This will release substantial amounts of cash and following repayment of the respective project loans, we intend to repatriate some of the cash/ profits generated for dividend declaration by EcoWorld International in FY2021, ” Teow said. EcoWorld International launched The Modern, the final block of Embassy Gardens and Lily House, the third residential block in Verdo Kew Bridge in 4Q 2020. Construction of these two residential blocks are ongoing and the group expects them to start contributing significant revenue upon completion in FY2022. “We have also been making good progress on our proposed sale of Build-to-Rent (BtR) blocks in Quayside Barking (formerly known as Tesco Barking). “Major institutional investors continued to show keen interest in the asset following extensive discussions with management. “They have also given some good feedback which we are taking on board to further refine the development plans. As such the sale of Quayside Barking has been rescheduled to FY2021, ” Teow said. “Looking forward into FY2021, we believe that demand for London properties will remain strong. Property agents are expecting the acute undersupply of residential properties in London to worsen in the coming years due to reduced supply as a result of disruptions caused by Covid-19. “This will continue to provide support to London’s property prices and rental rates. More importantly, undersupply of homes will sustain the demand for rental properties and attract more investment into the UK’s BtR sector, ” Teow said. As for Australia, he said major local banks are predicting a recovery in housing sentiment on the back of improved economic conditions in 2021. A rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine may also enable cross-border travel to resume which could improve the buying interest of foreign purchasers. “Management has planned a series of marketing events for FY2021 to take advantage of the recovery in home buying interest and foreign demand for residential properties to sell the remaining units of West Village in Sydney and Yarra One in Melbourne, ” he said.
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