Sim Lian Group Limited

205 Upper Bukit Timah Road, No. 02-01
Singapore, 588181
Singapore
Telephone: (+65) 6303-6200
Fax: (+65) 6769-6617
Web site: http://www.simlian.com.sg

Private Company
Founded:
1976
Employees: 407
Sales: SGD 1.19 billion ($885.53 million) (2015)
NAICS: 236116 New Multifamily Housing Construction (except For-Sale Builders); 237210 Land Subdivision; 541330 Engineering Services; 236220 Commercial and Institutional Building Construction; 236115 New Single-Family Housing Construction (except For-Sale Builders)

Sim Lian Group Limited is one of Singapore's leading integrated construction and property development companies in Singapore. As such, it is one of only a few companies in Singapore to span the full range of construction, property development, design, and civil engineering capabilities, which has permitted the company to become a leader in Singapore's residential Design and Build market. Sim Lian is also involved in the commercial, retail, industrial, and mixed-use property development markets in Singapore and Malaysia. The company's construction business is carried out by the subsidiary Sim Lian Construction Co.,which builds projects for Sim Lian as well as for third parties, including Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) and private companies such as Keppel Land, Wing Tai, MCL Land, Guocoland, and others. Sim Lian has also built up a strong property investment portfolio that consists of shopping malls and other commercial developments, including shopping malls in Australia, such as the Dalyellup Shopping Centre in Western Australia, 50 Margaret Street in Sydney; the Everton Woolworths Shopping Centre and the Rothwell Shopping Centre in Queensland; 59 Albany Highway in Perth; the Lake Munmorah Shopping Centre and the Jordan Springs Shopping Centre in New South Wales; and the Lara Village Shopping Centre and the Tarneit Gardens Shopping Centre in Victoria. Sim Lian also has a number of ancillary businesses, including its own metal works operated through the subsidiary Weldanpower Enterprises & Engineering Services Pte. Ltd. Formerly listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, the Sim Lian Group was taken private in 2016 by the founding Kuik family. The company is led by Kuik Ah Han, the executive chair, and his son Kuik Sin Pin, the CEO.

CONSTRUCTION START-UP

COMPANY PERSPECTIVES

Creating Space, Creating Homes

Among the companies responding to the call was the Sim Lian Construction Company (SLCC), which was founded in 1973. The SLCC quickly scored its first government contract: the Phase II Contract II section of the Bukit Batok housing project. Its contract, worth SGD 4.9 million, was specifically to build four blocks of buildings, each with 13 floors, for a total of 528 apartment units.

Construction of the site was already underway when the Kuik family, led by Kuik Thiam Huat, and the Lim family, led by Lim Ah Kie, acquired control of the SLCC in 1976. The completion of the project the following year positioned the SLCC to play a prominent role as the HDB accelerated its public housing initiatives into the next decade. By 1980 the company had completed two new public housing contracts. Also, the SLCC, which had originally been founded as a partnership, was reincorporated as a private limited company. Around this time Kuik An Han also joined the company's management and board of directors.

Various Singapore government entities provided other opportunities for the SLCC to grow. For example, in 1980 the company received a SGD 9.3 million contract from the Jurong Town Corporation to build a seven-story factory building in the Bedok Industrial Estate, marking the SLCC's entry into the industrial construction sector. That market had been growing strongly in response to Singapore's strong industrialization policies, which were eagerly adopted by the state's large and highly entrepreneurial ethnic Chinese population.

The SLCC continued to pick up new public housing contracts. It also launched an effort to diversify and develop integrated operations. In 1981 the company acquired 51 percent of Weldanpower Enterprises & Engineering Services, a company intended to produce structural steel trusses, staircase railings, balcony railings, fencing, grating, grills, gates, and other metal fittings and components for its construction projects. However, that company did not become operational until 1994. A more successful diversification effort came in 1985, when the company founded Unigrade Trading Pte. Ltd. to focus on the import and distribution of Totalbranded industrial and marine lubricants. Unitrade was initially intended to ensure a lower-cost supply of motor oil and lubricants for the SLCC's growing fleet of construction vehicles, but it soon became a major supplier in the broader Singapore market.

DESIGN AND BUILD BUILDER

The SLCC also branched out beyond public housing, adding its first private-sector contract in 1985. The SGD 6 million project was awarded by Bahagia Holdings for the construction of Parry Gardens, which consisted of three three- and four-story condominium buildings, with a total of 45 apartment units.

Nonetheless, public housing remained the core of the SLCC's business. In 1986 the company was registered with the government's CIDB Contractors Registration System and was granted the CW01 financial rating, allowing it to bid on projects with a value up to SGD 30 million. The following year the company was awarded its largest contact to date, worth SGD 23.9 million, for the Bishan West Contract 29. The project consisted of 503 apartment units grouped into seven apartment buildings that ranged in size from four to 25 stories. The company completed the project in 1988. In the meantime, through Unigrade Trading, the SLCC was also registered as a supplier of lubricants and other petroleum products for public supply contracts. This permitted it to become the exclusive supplier of Total products in Singapore in 1989.

By the beginning of the 1990s Singapore had already succeeded in transforming itself into one of the world's major financial centers. The corresponding rise in incomes and affluence in the state created a new demand for more varied housing, and especially more upscale residential developments than those completed under the HDB's public housing initiative. Therefore, in 1991 the HDB launched a new Design and Build (D&B) public housing program, which corresponded to similar D&B development projects that were already being constructed by the private sector.

KEY DATES
1973:
The Sim Lian Construction Company is founded as a construction company competing for public housing contracts.
1976:
The Kuik and Lim families acquire the company.
2000:
The company goes public as Sim Lian Limited and launches its property development business.
2016:
The Kuik family buys out the minority shareholders of the company.
2018:
The company faces a delay in its acquisition of the Tampines Court development.

PROJECT DEVELOPER

In 1994 the SLCC at last succeeded in starting up Weldanpower, a move that was designed to enhance the company's competitiveness for new D&B projects. Weldanpower got off to a strong start that year, when it won a government tender to supply SGD 100,000 of fencing and ironworks. The following year the company became one of the first of Singapore's building contractors to achieve ISO 9002 certification, four years ahead of a government-imposed deadline for certification.

The SLCC continued to add to its range of projects during the decade. In 1996 it completed two executive condominium projects: Eastvale, with 312 units, and Westmere, with 280 units, developed by Pidemco Land Limited. The following year it added another subsidiary, Porta Pumper Pte. Ltd., which specialized in providing portable toilets to construction sites and other temporary locations. In 1999 the SLCC family of businesses grew to include the distribution of Total products, through Unitrade, to a number of Australian markets, and the formation of Arteferro Singapore Pte. Ltd., a 50-50 joint venture, to supply Industria Italiana Arteferro–branded wrought iron components and accessories to the Singapore market. By that point the SLCC had succeeded in completing 25 public- and 13 privatesector residential projects, for a combined total of SGD 2.1 billion in contracts.

The SLCC began preparations for a new ambitious business expansion: entry into property investment and development. In May 1996 the Kuik and Lim families created the holding company Sim Lian Holdings for their various businesses. This was followed by a restructuring of the group's operations into Sim Lian Limited, which was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange in October 2000. The Kuik family, including Kuik Thiam Huat, Kuik An Han, and their children—Kuik Sing Beng, Kuik Sin Pin, and Diana Kuik Sin Leng—remained in control of the company, with 75 percent of its shares.

Sim Lian scored another major contract, worth SGD 56.6 million, to build an installation for the Singapore Defence Science and Technology Agency in 2001. The company had also made its move into property development by creating the subsidiary Sim Lian Land and launching in May 2001 its first project, an executive condominium complex called The Dew, located in Bukit Batok. Sales of the complex's units, which had an expected completion date of 2007, helped boost the company's revenues 60 percent over the previous year, to SGD 118.8 million. The company then launched a second development project in Bukit Batok, called The Jade, with a completion date slated for 2010.

DESIGN, BUILD, AND SELL PIONEER

Although Sim Lian remained a small player in Singapore's effervescent property development sector, it was one of only a few to boast fully integrated construction and property development operations. This feature helped Sim Lian pioneer a new class of public housing contracts, as the HDB launched its Design, Build, and Sell Scheme (DBSS). The new scheme turned over the development of public housing projects to private-sector property groups for the first time. Sim Lian acquired the first DBSS contract, to construct The Premiere@Tampines project in 2006. It received more than 6,000 applications for the project's 616 units, highlighting the strong demand for residential housing in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Sim Lian continued to compete for and win other public-sector construction contracts. These included a SGD 58.7 million ($35 million) contract to build a 576-unit apartment complex in the Jurong West neighborhood in 2005. The company added a major private-sector contract as well, from Jack Investment Pte. Ltd., to develop and build a 10-story entertainment complex in Singapore's main Victoria Street district. This contract was worth SGD 85.3 million. By that point Sim Lian's property development operations already accounted for 56 percent of the group's revenues.

Back in Singapore, Sim Lian expanded its property development operations into the industrial sector, launching its first factory complex, the UB.1, in the Ubi Industrial Estate, in 2011. Two years later the company began development of its first integrated multiuse complex, the Hillion, located in Bukit Panjang, Singapore. The company began sales of the first phase of the complex, the Hillion Residences condominium project, that same year. Another phase of the project, the Hillion Mall, was completed in 2017.

AUSTRALIAN INVESTMENTS

Sim Lian added another major piece to its operations in 2013, with the creation of a property investment arm. The new division got off to a strong start with the acquisition of its first investment property, 50 Margaret Street, located in the Central Business District of Sydney, Australia.

Sim Lian's investment property interests remained focused on the Australian market, as the company completed the purchase of five shopping centers located in eastern Australian in 2014. Thereafter, it entered the western Australian market, paying AUD 31.6 million for the Dalyellup Shopping Centre in June 2016. By 2018 Sim Lian held 10 properties in Australia.

In the meantime, Sim Lian joined a trend among Singapore's publicly listed companies. In August 2016 the Kuik family, now led by Kuik Ah Han, the executive chair, launched a buyout offer for the shares in the company it did not already own. By September 2016 the family, through the investment vehicle Coronation 3G, had succeeded in raising its stake to 90.1 percent, which triggered an unconditional buyout of the remainder of the company's shares. The company then delisted from the Singapore Stock Exchange.

The newly private company continued to build up its catalog of development projects. In 2017 it paid SGD 970 million to acquire Tampines Court, which featured 560 units across 14 apartment blocks. Sim Lian then announced plans to expand the site to as many as 2,000 residential units, both through new construction and through the downsizing of existing apartments. The Tampines location had become one of Singapore's most desirable, due to its proximity to the Changi Airport, which was undergoing its own expansion.

However, Sim Lian's plans to expand the Tampines Court complex hit a snag in 2018, as the sale of the property was postponed due to delays in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's planning permission process. The company also faced a requirement from the Land Transport Authority to build a slip road that linked to the Pan-Island Expressway to accommodate the increase in population in the area. Construction of the road was expected to take up as much as 8 percent of the Tampines property. Nonetheless, Sim Lian remained confident for the project's successful completion. The integrated construction and property development company looked forward to adding new projects to its growing list of Singapore properties.

M. L. Cohea

PRINCIPAL SUBSIDIARIES

Perumahan SLG Central Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia); Porta Pumper Pte. Ltd.; Qidong RCS Offshore Design, Engineering Co., Ltd. (China); RCS Engineering Pte. Ltd.; S&L City Builders Pte. Ltd.; Sim Lian Construction Co (Pte) Ltd.; Sim Lian Land Pte. Ltd.; SLC (M) Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia); SLG Bersatu Sdn. Bhd. (Malaysia); Unigrade Trading Pte. Ltd.; Weldanpower Enterprises & Engineering Services Pte. Ltd.

PRINCIPAL DIVISIONS

Construction; Property Development.

PRINCIPAL COMPETITORS

Chip Eng Seng Corporation Ltd.; Gammon Pte. Ltd; Greatearth Construction Pte. Ltd.; Kajima Overseas Asia Pte. Ltd.; Keong Hong Holdings Limited; Keppel Land Limited; Lum Chang Holdings Ltd.; Sembawang Engineers and Constructors Pte. Ltd.; Soilbuild Group Holdings Ltd.; Tiong Seng Holdings Ltd.; Woh Hup (Private) Limited; Yongnam Engineering & Construction Pte. Ltd.

FURTHER READING

“Consortium Led by Sim Lian Chairman Launches Cash Offer for Sim Lian Group.” Business Times (Singapore), August 8, 2016.

Lee, Marissa. “Privatisation Offer for Sim Lian Goes Unconditional.” Straits Times (Singapore), September 6, 2016.

Low, Vincent. “Ong Ye Kung's Wife Resigned from Sim Lian Group 3 Weeks after Ong Won GE2015.” Online Citizen, January 30, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018. https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/01/30/ong-ye-kungs-wife-resigned-from-sim-lian-group-3-weeks-after-ong-won-ge2015 .

“Sim Lian Founder Offers to Take over Singapore Real Estate Firm.” Reuters, August 9, 2016.

410 INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY OF COMPANY HISTORIES, VOLUME 207

“Sim Lian Plans over 2,000 Units at Tampines Site.” Business Times (Singapore), August 24, 2017.

“Singapore's Sim Lian Wins US$85.3 Mln Development Deal.” AsiaPulse News, March 19, 2007.

Yeo, Gwyneth. “Sim Lian Acquires Australian Shopping Centre for $31.7 Mil.” Edge Markets, June 30, 2016.