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Interview : Chiwayland Group’s Executive Chairman and CEO, Mr Qian Jianrong

Asean Equities Review had the opportunity to catch up with Mr Qian Jianrong. Mr Qian is the Executive Chairman and CEO of Chiwayland Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd. The Chiwayland Group is currently in the process of a reverse takeover of RH Energy Limited. This transaction is expected to complete in Jul 2014.

AER : Mr Qian, could you tell us about your property business? What is the niche of the Chiwayland Group in the property space in China.

QJR : The Chiwayland Group is among the top 100 property developments in China. It does mainly residential development around the Shanghai and Suzhou area. About 70% of our developments are in the heart of this Yangtze River Delta area. We have been in the business since 2002 and to date we have successfully completed 9 property projects. This translates into a total floor area developed of about 4 million sqm.

AER : How did your Group start out in the property business?

QJR : I worked in the Hainan Nanyang Development Group in 1992. This gave me a good insight to the ups and downs of the property market in Hainan as well as first-hand exposure to the property business. But before we started our property business, our Group was strong in the education business. Because of this market position, we were invited to plan and build a University City in Jiangsu. This was a massive project of about 3.5 million sqm of land. This is almost like planning a township. It gave us our first track record in the property development space and helped to build up the property development expertise in our Group. We continue to like such education-related projects. This is because buyers are willing to pay more to be near good schools. Also different considerations are given to the land costs for education-related projects.

AER : Why does the RTO only include the property business?

QJR : We felt that we wanted the listed company to be more focused. We believe that more focused companies will be better rewarded by stock market valuations. The focus will also ensure that the company grows clearly in its line of business. The education business is doing well and at the right time we will consider listing in separately. Maybe in Singapore as well if we have the right opportunity.

AER : Why did you choose Singapore as the place to do your RTO?

QJR : The listing of property companies in China has come to a halt for a few years now. So we had to consider the alternatives. This included Singapore and Hong Kong. We had an opportunity to list in Singapore and so we took it. I myself have been in and out of Singapore for the last ten years. I would like to think that I know Singapore well, its systems, how to work with Singaporeans and how to put Singaporeans at ease. This ties in with my own personal philosophy of hard work and working the right way. In that regard, I feel comfortable in Singapore.

AER : How has Singapore been treating you in these ten years that you have been here?

QJR : I am proud to say that I have lots of good friends here. We have even worked together on some business ventures. In China, we have collaborations with EtonHouse in the education space. In 2010, I also acquired a school in Singapore, the Nanyang Institute of Management. We have also explored the property development space in Singapore.

AER : How has your acquisition in Nanyang Institute of Management worked out?

QJR : When we took over, Singapore was in the midst of implementing EduTrust certification. Our school did not have it and so we really needed to apply for it. This was critical to the business in Singapore. Thankfully we were awarded EduTrust and since then we have been doing well. The business and enrolment are growing and now I am proud to say that we are doing well financially. I think this is one good insight into how to do business in Singapore and understand how Singaporeans like to do business.

Chiwayland Shanghai Royal Palace 2
Chiwayland Shanghai Royal Palace 2

AER : Give us an interesting insight into your business philosophy.

QJR : In my businesses, I like to have an international team. I hire Singaporeans, Malaysians and wherever I find the right people. While there are lots of good people in China, I think the diversity of the team helps to generate more awareness of the environment. This is another aspect of business that I think is very important. We must be constantly aware of our environment in order to succeed. I also believe in quality products and quality service in our business. A person’s home is probably his biggest investment in his life. It is thus important that we are able to meet his expectations and give him his dream home.

AER : Finally, back to the property market in China. Are you optimistic going forward and where would Chiwayland Group focus its efforts?

QJR : We have always operated in the Suzhou Shanghai Nanjing area in terms of property development. This is where the people can afford to pay for good quality housing. Affordability is one important consideration for us when it comes to where to develop our properties or where to acquire our land for development. Slowly, the manufacturing activity is moving away from the greater Shanghai area. We will go where the manufacturing activity goes. There will also be increased urbanisation in China with more big cities rather than just one or two mega cities like Shanghai or Beijing. We will also evaluate property development opportunities in the Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities with at least 1 million population.

GET TO THE POINT : It is indeed interesting to get to know someone born and bred in China who has firsthand experience of how things work in the Singapore business arena. And furthermore someone who appreciates how the Singapore system of certification, corporate governance as well as transparency plays a part in enhancing businesses.

(Pictures from Chiwayland Group, Mr Qian Jianrong & Shanghai Royal Palace Development)

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