After Sincere saga, property tycoon Kwek Leng Beng visits China to talk green projects

THE chairman of Asian conglomerate Hong Leong Group recently met Shanghai mayor Gong Zheng in China, where the pair discussed business issues and potential collaboration on sustainability projects, the company said.

Kwek Leng Beng, who is also chairman of real estate group City Developments (CDL), said that he remains confident in the potential of the Chinese market and intends to expand Hong Leong’s portfolio.

Hong Leong’s portfolio company, Singapore-listed CDL, struggled with its China expansion during the pandemic as a result of a deal with Chinese developer Sincere Property Group.

The joint-venture deal, spearheaded by Kwek’s son Sherman Kwek in 2019, is said to have driven a rift within the family. It caused CDL to incur losses of S$1.78 billion in FY2020 and S$80.7 million in FY2022.

With a pipeline of 64 projects, the Sincere deal was set to be CDL’s most ambitious expansion into China yet. But the onslaught of Covid-19 and regulatory upheaval in the local real estate market soon crushed the project’s prospects.

The younger Kwek, who is CEO of CDL, has had to contend with a slew of board departures over concerns about the Sincere investment. CDL eventually sold its stake for US$1.