ASEAN urban-renewal projects a growth opportunity for Australian integrated property solutions provider
With revenue of over $16 billion (as at June 2017), Lendlease is one of Australia's iconic property and infrastructure solutions providers. Its integrated approach – covering investment management, development, construction, and asset & property management – has helped shape modern Australia, from Sydney's Opera House to the streets of Barangaroo. The company is also an international success, with approximately 12,350 employees across the world, including regional headquarters in Singapore, New York and London.
Lendlease began operations in Southeast Asia in 1973. Singapore's Housing & Development Board (HDB) had begun a vast project to provide long-lease public housing for 80 per cent of the city-state's population. It was Lendlease's first project in Asia, partnering with a local company to deliver the HDB residential blocks.
Over the following four decades, Lendlease expanded gradually across the ASEAN region. The company has over 800 employees in Southeast Asia and offices in Singapore and Malaysia. Around the world, millions of people live and work in places Lendlease has designed, built and managed – from offices, schools and shopping malls to pharmaceutical plants.
'In Southeast Asia our focus is on gateway cities such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur,' says Lendlease Chief Executive Officer Asia, Tony Lombardo. 'Singapore and Malaysia have strong fundamentals and infrastructure investment is growing in tandem with the growth in urban population.
'Malaysia has experienced rapid urbanisation over the past 30 years and we estimate 70 per cent of its population will be living in urban areas by 2020.'
Lendlease sees this trend as a great opportunity to grow its urban regeneration business. This involves transforming underutilised areas into vibrant and connected communities. The company's urban regeneration model has gained global recognition in projects such as Darling Square in Australia and Elephant Park in the United Kingdom.
The company is developing two large regeneration projects in the ASEAN region. In Singapore, Paya Lebar Quarter is a $3.0 billion, four-hectare regeneration project that will include three commercial towers, a retail centre and 429 apartments. In Kuala Lumpur, the 17-acre $2.7 billion Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) Lifestyle Quarter comprises six residential towers, a luxury hotel and a new city centre retail mall. This is part of the larger TRX urban renewal project.
Meanwhile, ever-bigger projects are emerging on Southeast Asia's horizon. The Singapore Government's new master-developer model provides enormous opportunities for developers like Lendlease. It allows them to take a much bigger, more creative role in developing whole districts – designing and executing integrated spaces.
'We will continue to explore opportunities to grow our presence in Southeast Asia through major urban regeneration projects,' says Lombardo. 'This is an area where we can demonstrate our value to clients and deliver our vision of creating the best places – ones that meet the varied, nuanced and personal needs of resident populations.'
A core challenge Australian companies face in Southeast Asia is how to differentiate their business. For Lendlease, in addition to its integrated property model, the answer lies in an industry-leading approach to occupational health and safety.
'At Lendlease, safety is our number one priority and our innovative application of market leading technology enables us to achieve great safety outcomes with enhanced productivity,' says Lombardo. 'For example, we use drones, building information modelling, facial-recognition technology and real-time position tracking systems to plan site works, track worker deployment and competencies. We work closely with the authorities such as Singapore's Workplace Safety and Health Council to operate Incident and Injury Free.'