SINGAPORE, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Southeast Asia's largest property developer CapitaLand is open to the idea of a listing in China, where the firm's shopping mall unit plans on almost doubling its number of properties, Singapore's Business Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
CapitaMalls Asia (CMA), a unit of CapitaLand, hopes to have around 100 malls from 53 now in China within the next three to five years.
"It's quite an easy target," given the country's huge population, of which 400 million are in the middle class, CMA chairman and CapitaLand CEO Liew Mun Leong told a news conference on Tuesday.
Liew said it would be 'commercially logical' to list its operations in China, since much of the group's business is in the mainland and it would be able to raise funds in yuan.
"It's a question of when the Chinese authorities will open up for us," he said.
As of September last year, China accounted for 34 per cent of CMA's S$21.6 billion property value. For CapitaLand, China contributed some 18 per cent of the total revenue of S$684.6 million in the third quarter.
In 2011, CMA plans to invest S$2 billion ($1.6 billion) in new projects, a similar amount to what it spent last year.
With around $1.4 billion of cash on its books and zero net gearing, the mall developer and manager is looking for sites in Singapore, Malaysia and China, CEO Lim Beng Chee was quoted by the daily as saying.
CMA, 65.5 percent owned by CapitaLand, spent some S$2 billion on six new projects in 2010 -- one in Singapore, one in Malaysia and four in China, sending its total ownership of malls to 91 valued at $22 billion, the daily said.
CMA, which has a 50 percent stake in Singapore's Ion Orchard, may look to divest its ownership in the S$2.5 billion mall, but Lim did not say when that might happen.
CMA closed 2 percent down at S$1.87 on Tuesday, while CapitaLand closed unchanged at S$3.76. ($1 = 1.287 Singapore Dollars) (Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Lincoln Feast)
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