2018 has been a turmoil year for world economy. Global trade tensions, interest-rate rise cycle, recession in emerging markets, decline of investor’s confidence, all of the above factors lead to a slowdown in economic growth and trade growth. In this regard, the Group actively adjusted its strategies to continuously optimize the asset structure and explored business opportunities, in order to create value for the shareholders of the Company and facilitate the Group’s development.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE IN 2018
The Group’s revenue for 2018 increased significantly to HK$71,383,936,000, and it generated loss attributable to shareholders with an amount of HK$557,289,000, which is greater than the number in 2017.
COMPLETION OF MATERIAL DISPOSAL
In July, the Group completed the disposal of equity interest in its real estate property management subsidiary and associated company, and derived a gain of HK$286,603,000. In September, the Group completed the sale and leaseback of 5 warehouses in Singapore, and reported a gain on disposal of HK$65,646,000 (included the deferred gain of HK$49,293,000 to be recognised to profit or loss over the next 6 years). These transactions enabled to the Group to generate cash to reduce the debt level of the Group.
ONGOING INTEGRATION WITH CWT SG
We will keep exploring the potential synergies with CWT Pte. Limited (“CWT SG”), by continuously revising our management strategies and seeking opportunities to complement our existing business. In the next years, we will continue to focus on the opportunities in Greater China Market, especially those could benefit from “Belt and Road Initiative” and the open-up of China Free Trade Zone.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2019 AND OUR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES
The pace of economic expansion across the world is expected to ease from 2018. International trade and investment have softened, trade tensions remain elevated, and some large emerging market and developing economies have experienced substantial financial market pressures. Softening global trade and tighter financing conditions will result in a more challenging external environment for our business activities in the recent years.
While the downside risks have become more acute, the Singapore economy is expected to grow relatively steadily. Being a leading logistical player in the Asia Pacific region, Singapore is pursuing a further development in logistics sectors by more effective resource allocation and leveraging of technology. Despite the challenging economic environment, we will keep on exploiting opportunities and be brave to bring forth new ideas.
Commodity prices have been driven by a number of factors this year, including commodity-specific supply disruptions, rising U.S. interest rates, an appreciation of the U.S. dollar, growing trade tensions between major economies, and financial market pressures in some emerging market and developing economies. We are in view of that a more stable general trend of price will assist the overall steady of the business in the coming year. In the meanwhile, we will keep a close monitor on the situation of the metal markets as of uncertainty and intense competition.
We are aware of the difficulties in the general environment, however, we remain positive and confident in both China and Singapore markets and will keep exploiting opportunities to maximize our shareholders’ interests.
Reference is made to the announcement dated 22 April 2019, the Company failed to pay accrued interests and certain fees in the total amount of approximately HK$63 million to the lenders under a loan facility for the principal amount of HK$1,400,000,000. Lenders enforced the security provided by the Group with respect to such borrowing and obtained possession of all charged assets (which include 100% shareholding of the Group in the respective holding companies of CWT SG (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company), the investment properties held by the Group located in the United Kingdom (which is classified as non-current assets held-for-sale with a book value of approximately HK$1,200 million as at 31 December 2018) and the United States respectively, and the golf course of the Group located in China) without any further notice to the Company and appointed receivers over all of the charged assets.
The directors of the Company are actively negotiating with the Lenders and the receivers on a debt restructure plan, including the proceeds from new refinancing facility and disposal of assets of the Group.