Cathay climb helps Swire earnings

Business | Avery Chen and Tereza Cai Mar 15, 2019
The earnings of Swire Pacific (0019, 0087) and subsidiary Swire Properties (1972) climbed, thanks to the turnaround of Cathay Pacific Airways (0293). The group said it is interested in investing in Hong Kong and mainland property, especially in the Greater Bay Area, and it will have no significant sale this year. Merlin Bingham Swire, chairman of Swire Pacific, Swire Properties and Cathay Pacific, and the sixth-generation scion of the Swire family, said it is difficult to say whether people from the Swire family will continue to chair the group in the future. Bingham Swire said he joined the management of the company because the family hopes to strengthen the relationship with Hong Kong, and he believes that the family business also has the advantages of sustainability and management culture. He said the family has expectations for China's growth and development opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, and it will continue to invest in Hong Kong due to confidence in the local market. When asked about Swire selling some projects last year, Bingham Swire said the group intends to use the funds for reconstruction projects, and it does not plan to sell non-core businesses this year. Guy Bradley, chief executive of Swire Properties, said the low vacancy rate and low supply of offices in the central area and the Central and Wan Chai bypass will benefit its commercial buildings in Quarry Bay. He said that given that the retail market was affected by several uncertainties, as well as the weak local retail market since the end of last year, he expected retail business to remain weak. But the mainland retail growth was good last year, Bradley added, believing the mainland market would maintain its keep good performance this year. Swire Properties' underlying net profit for 2018 rose 30 percent to HK$10.15 billion in 2018, with a second interim dividend of 57 HK cents declared. Recurring underlying profit, excluding the profit on the sale of interests in investment properties, fell 4 percent to HK$7.52 billion in 2018. Swire Pacific net profit, including the changes in the value of investment properties, fell 9 percent to HK$23.63 billion, despite the turning around of Cathay Pacific (0293). It declared second interim dividends of HK$1.8 per A share and 36 HK cents per B share. The full-year dividends amounted to HK$3 per A share and 60 HK cents per B share, up 43 percent from 2017. Underlying net profit climbed 79.7 percent to HK$8.52 billion in 2018 and, disregarding significant non-recurring items in both years, the 2018 recurring underlying profit surged 57.27 percent to HK$7.49 billion.

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May 2019