CapitaLand talks about IR tactics, tech developments and political policy

Dec 19, 2013
<p>A Q&amp;A with Harold Woo, the award-winning head of IR at CapitaLand</p>

Ahead of this year’s IR Magazine Awards – South East Asia, IR Magazine spoke to Harold Woo, head of IR at CapitaLand, about his approach to investor relations. The Singapore-based property company has performed admirably in recent years, holding onto a slew of IR Magazine Awards and ranking among the top three companies in the region in 2011 and 2012. The head of a five-person IR team, Woo has also won the IR Magazine Award for best investor relations officer on two previous occasions, in 2011 and 2009.

Harold Woo, head of IR at CapitaLand
‘There is no better way to communicate real estate competency than seeing the projects up close’ – Harold Woo

What do you think sets CapitaLand’s IR apart from the competition?
At CapitaLand, our senior management recognizes the strategic value of IR and provides good access to meetings with investors. We maintain regular contact with investors through conference calls, non-deal roadshows, conferences, email, and so on. It is not only the CEO, CFO or head of IR investors get to meet, however: we also try to involve our business heads to give updates on the environment or markets they operate in. Whenever possible, the heads of the business will join in quarterly post-results briefings.

For 2013 we organized two investor days, one in China and one in Singapore. On each occasion, our four business heads provided business updates. In addition, we have conducted a debt investors’ day targeted at fixed income, convertible bond investors and bankers. These events include a property tour where we create opportunities for investors to see our businesses up close as we believe there is absolutely no better way to communicate real estate competency than seeing the projects up close.

What does your typical investor profile look like?
Government-owned Temasek is our strategic shareholder and it holds about 40 percent of our total outstanding shares. Of the remaining free float, about 60 percent is in the hands of institutions while corporate stakeholders and large private investors hold about 16 percent. The remainder – 24 percent – is held by retail investors. In terms of geography, the top five countries our investors are based in are North America (19.5 percent), Singapore (18.5 percent), other Asian countries (11.5 percent), the UK (8.4 percent) and other European countries (5.8 percent).

Arranged by style, our institutional investors are mostly concerned with value – 13.8 percent of them, to be exact. Beyond that, 13.2 percent are multi-style-inclined, and the same proportion describe themselves as index-based. Just under one tenth (9.5 percent) maintain a core or neutral style, while 6 percent are focused on growth.

What are the biggest challenges the real estate industry in Singapore has faced this year?
The real estate market in Singapore has faced government policy headwinds in 2013. The cumulative impact of various property-cooling measures will continue to moderate the private residential market we are in. With a resilient Singaporean economy and government policies to support population growth, however, we believe demand for new homes and offices over the long term will remain positive. We will continue to invest in well-located sites to build up our pipeline of residential and commercial developments.

What technological changes to your investor relations program do you feel have made the greatest difference?
Obviously the use of social media is getting pervasive, though we are still monitoring the effectiveness of this communications channel. In the meantime we think maintaining a content-rich and user-friendly website is a very effective way to communicate with our stakeholders. For 2014 we are planning to have our annual report available as a stand-alone app, so that iPad and tablet users can readily view it.

How many meetings and roadshows did you organize this year? Which were particularly important or had the most impact?
Year to date we have had 307 meetings with investors and participated in 17 roadshows. Generally, we prepare pretty comprehensive slide decks for our meetings but we hardly ever go through them entirely. As soon as we start a meeting, we like to go straight into the Q&A rather than dive into the slides – the meetings with the greatest impact are those where there is a healthy two-way discussion.

How do you make sure sustainability is a top priority in your IR program?
At CapitaLand, environment, health and safety (EHS) is of the utmost importance; we even have an EHS department dedicated to these values, guided by a belief that reducing the environmental footprint of our buildings and having an emphasis on occupational health and safety creates value for our stakeholders and is beneficial to the community at large. After all, CapitaLand’s stakeholders include employees, tenants, contractors, suppliers and users of its properties.

In 2012 we also became the first and largest real estate company in Asia to receive ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification covering 15 countries. And our EHS department produces an annual sustainability report, which IR helps to publicize to CapitaLand’s investors.

What have investors or analysts been most concerned about over the past year?
The biggest concern has been the impact of the policies and restrictions directed at the residential property markets in Singapore and China, both of which are core markets for us.

How much is your chief financial officer, Arthur Lang, involved in your IR program?
Arthur is actively involved in our investor relations program, besides overseeing the IR department’s functions. He participates in most of the major conferences and non-deal roadshows. And whenever his schedule permits, we arrange for him to have one-on-one meetings with our larger investors.

Arthur personally likes to engage with the analysts to gather their views. They usually see many companies and have many sources of information, so it can be valuable to hear their take on what is happening in the broader markets. Such interactions usually bring new insights to both parties.

CapitaLand at a glance

Headquarters: Singapore

Sector: Real estate

Listing: Singapore Exchange

Listed entities: Australand, CapitaMalls Asia, CapitaMall Trust, CapitaCommercial Trust, Ascott Residence Trust, CapitaRetail China Trust, CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust, Quill Capita Trust
Source: CapitaLand

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