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CapitaLand, other S'pore firms suspend businesses in China

By The Straits Times

Property giant CapitaLand and other Singapore-listed companies announced temporary closures of businesses in China as the coronavirus continues to take its toll.

CapitaLand has closed all four of its malls in Wuhan and both in Xi'an as required by the local authorities, it said yesterday.

Its supermarkets in Wuhan and Xi'an remain open so locals can get essential supplies.

The six malls will reopen when conditions permit. The firm's other 45 malls across China continue to operate, but with shorter hours.

CapitaLand added that its lodging unit The Ascott is helping guests whose travel plans to China have been disrupted, including waiving cancellation fees.

All CapitaLand properties in China are conducting temperature checks and intensifying cleaning and disinfecting of common areas.

Its philanthropic arm, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, has set up a 10 million yuan (S$1.96 million) healthcare fund to assist China's fight against the outbreak.

The first phase of the fund will be used to procure medical supplies, protective gear and testing kits for hospitals in Wuhan.

CapitaLand said it has implemented precautionary measures here, including at building sites.

Local staff are deferring all non-critical travel, especially to China and affected countries with known or suspected cases of the virus.

Employees who have just returned from China are advised to check their temperature twice a day for 14 days. They are also urged to adopt flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting and teleconferencing during this period.

Group chief executive Lee Chee Koon said: "Operations, including in China and Singapore, remain largely stable. Our priority is to focus on ensuring the well-being of our tenants, shoppers, guests and employees."

Three other Singapore-listed firms also announced precautionary measures at their China outlets.

Straco Corporation said it has temporarily closed three attractions - Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, Underwater World Xiamen and Lixing Cable Car.

Dasin Retail Trust has reduced operating hours at five malls, except for outlets providing basic public services such as supermarkets and certain food and beverage services.

Cinemas, KTV outlets, ice-skating rings, bookstores and other crowded places within the malls have been temporarily closed.

Sasseur Real Estate Investment Trust (Sasseur Reit) has shuttered its four outlet malls in China.

Singapore-listed companies with direct ties with China were hit hard when trading resumed on Tuesday after the Chinese New Year weekend, but some regained ground yesterday.

CapitaLand shares dived 4.9 per cent to $3.70 on Tuesday and fell a further 0.27 per cent yesterday to $3.69. Straco Corp, which gets 73 per cent of its revenue from China, plunged 10.6 per cent to 55 cents on Tuesday, but recovered almost 1 per cent yesterday to 55.5 cents.

Dasin Retail Trust units slipped 0.6 per cent to 83 cents.

Sasseur Reit - down 10.3 per cent on Tuesday - added 3.2 per cent to 81 cents yesterday.

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