Surbana finds good prospects in mass housing projects in Asia, Middle East

Business Times: Mon, Jan 16
(SINGAPORE) Singapore-based consultancy and township development company Surbana is gunning for a larger share of the mass market housing business in Asia and the Middle East. The firm’s top executive said in a recent interview with The Business Ti…
(SINGAPORE) Singapore-based consultancy and township development company Surbana is gunning for a larger share of the mass market housing business in Asia and the Middle East.

The firm’s top executive said in a recent interview with The Business Times that Surbana’s expertise in developing HDB flats in Singapore will put it in good stead to exploit the growing demand for affordable homes in overseas markets as well.

‘We are upbeat about prospects in the next two to three years,’ said Soh Wah Meng, chief executive of Surbana’s consultancy arm, Surbana International Consultants.

‘Surbana International Consultants’ strength as a leading expert in designing integrated townships and mass housing means that it will be well-placed to exploit the growing demand for affordable homes worldwide,’ Mr Soh added.

Surbana has two main business arms – consultancy and township development. The consultancy unit, which has created a million homes for Singaporeans over the last 50 years, is now expanding overseas.

‘Outside Singapore, we will focus on a few key markets such as China, Malaysia and Vietnam while exploring new opportunities in the Middle East and Africa where there is growing demand for well-designed mass housing,’ Mr Soh said.

His business unit recently successfully broke into the Brunei market, where it won a government contract to design 4,000 landed homes. That project is progressing well, Mr Soh said.

In addition, the firm is also pursuing a 12,000-unit housing project by the Penang state government and will continue to provide consultancy services for shareholder CapitaLand’s projects, both overseas and in Singapore.

However, Surbana, which is HDB’s former building and development unit, said that the bulk of its business will continue to come from the HDB market in Singapore as the government agency ramps up its building programme over the next two years.

‘HDB will remain our key client for two reasons. First, our core expertise is in designing well-planned townships and mass housing. Second, as one of Singapore’s largest consultancy firms, it is only natural that we target the largest developer in Singapore,’ Mr Soh said.

But since Surbana was allowed to compete for non-HDB jobs in 2008, it has widened its horizon and made inroads into the private sector in Singapore.

Notable non-HDB projects that it has secured include CleanTech One in JTC’s CleanTech Park, the Aquatic Science Centre, the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Clementi Mall, The Canopy Executive Condominium and the Nautical condominium.

‘In a short span of four years, we have built up a good order book of institutional, commercial and private residential projects,’ Mr Soh said. ‘We certainly want to do more such projects going forward.’

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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