Interview

Lim Hock San

Group Managing Director of LBS Bina Group

Beyond being a builder of homes, I envision LBS to continue being a generous builder of the community, the nation and a better future for all generations in Malaysia. I have put in concrete measures to achieve this through the formation of the LBS Foundation.

Asean Business Leaders: Could you tell us more about LBS and how you became involved in the property development industry?

Tan Sri Lim: In 1982, I came back to Malaysia after my graduation from the University of Wales, where I studied in the fields of Civil Engineering. I was offered a grant to study a full PhD scholarship, however I chose to return to Malaysia upon my father’s request to assist in the family business of lorry transportation and construction works. Even back in 1978, the company was a small contractor, my father was the developer working on the Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. In 1992, we transformed our company into a property development company with some of my siblings and my father taking different roles in the company. Since the beginning, LBS has been striving to consistently deliver exceptional developments through progressive creations. LBS started from humble beginnings and has grown from strength to strength. With determination, we have emerged stronger to perform positively despite challenging market conditions. Furthermore, we have established ourselves in the property industry in Malaysia with a solid track record for over two decades.

Asean Business Leaders: In which ways would you say that LBS has contributed to the Malaysian property development landscape?

Tan Sri Lim: We started by building medium-cost units. However LBS progressed quickly to high-end property developments across Malaysia, creating a land bank that amounts to 4,030 acres as 30th November of 2018. We have developments across the Klang Valley, East Coast, Northern and Southern regions of Malaysia, and LBS has, to date, delivered over 34,000 units includes high end and medium cost. At present, LBS has 17 ongoing projects. Moreover, LBS is in the initial stages of a new overseas project, which is the transformation of the Zhuhai International Circuit in China.

Asean Business Leaders: Despite the challenging property outlook, demand is still good for land units and projects at strategic locations in Malaysia. What kind of buyers are LBS looking for?

Tan Sri Lim: LBS caters to a wide range of buyers, from affordable housing to high-end properties. In doing so, we are able to capture different income level of Malaysians. And we would like to thank our buyers for their confidence in us. We remain committed to our buyers and to enhance community living. Moving forward, we believe that we are in a good position to continue sustained growth. Leveraging our strengths, we will continue to be here and meet our targets for 2019.

Asean Business Leaders: What is the value that LBS adds to Malaysian society?

Tan Sri Lim: LBS has always supported the national agenda of helping all Malaysians own their homes. More than 25 years after its foray into the property development scene, LBS has established a reputation as a reliable and resilient property player and corporate citizen. Powered by more than 700 employees, LBS has garnered over 69 awards and accolades across property, business, digital media and social platforms. Aligned to the national agenda of housing the nation, the Group has built more than 34,000 units homes to date. Displaying consistent growth amidst challenging market sentiment, LBS has recorded approximately RM1.763 billion, approx. USD 440 million in unbilled sales as of 30th November 2018, which puts the Group on track to achieve our targets for the year.

Beyond being a builder of homes, I envision LBS to continue being a generous builder of the community, the nation and a better future for all generations in Malaysia. I have put in concrete measures to achieve this through the formation of the LBS Foundation. Guided by four key pillars, namely Education, Community, Environment and Health, the social outreach arm of the Group actively undertakes initiatives and partnerships dedicated to improving the well-being of communities.

Asean Business Leaders: Tan Sri Lim, you sit on the board of 26 charitable organisations under several roles and have become a good ambassador for Malaysia’s bilateral ties with China. Can you elaborate on this?

Tan Sri Lim: I had the distinction of being the sole representative from Malaysia among the 38 non-voting Chinese delegates from 30 countries around the world to put forth proposals at the landmark 2017 Lianghui annual event in China. The event is closely followed by global markets for indications of the direction on the world’s second-largest economy. In addition to my role in LBS, I am the founder and the re-elected president of the Malaysia-Guangdong Chamber of Investment Promotion (MGCIP). MGCIP was incorporated in 2008 as an international platform to promote and enhance bilateral trade and cooperation between Malaysian and Guangdong entrepreneurs.

Among the important projects that China have proposed and that concern Malaysia is the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, which is quite important to pursue as Malaysia is one of the countries in the Maritime Silk Road, and can expect a boost with regards to infrastructure, trading and financing projects via OBOR. Thus, China’s growing middle-class has raised demand for imported products and premium goods from Malaysia.

Asean Business Leaders: You have recently been named by the FIABCI* Malaysia Property Award the “Property Man Of The Year 2018” for your commitment to nurture an excellence of improvement for community and country. What does this recognition mean to you?

*The Malaysia Property AwardTM 2018 is organised by the FIABCI Malaysia Chapter. FIABCI is known as the International Real Estate Federation, a worldwide network of professionals in the property industry. The Malaysia Property AwardTM is a gold standard for developers in the real estate industry and has gained recognition and prestige as the “Oscar Award” in the property fraternity.

Tan Sri Lim: To be recognised on this stage is truly an honour, and I am humbled. My sincere thanks go to the esteemed members of FIABCI. I believe this award does not reflect the achievements of just one person, but the dedication of an entire team. LBS was founded by my father in the 1960s, and I am grateful for our humble beginnings, his guidance and our strong family roots. It has enabled me to carry on his legacy and lead LBS to new heights as an award-winning township developer and most importantly, a responsible corporate citizen. Our vision is to continue transforming lives and evolving landscapes through our innovative developments and community outreach efforts.

Asean Business Leaders: In today’s competitive market the need for differentiation is essential to move up the value chain of the company. What sets LBS apart from the competition?

Tan Sri Lim: With a huge population to cater to, the supply of affordable housing has always been a point of contention for large cities. In 1997, Malaysia was not spared from the effects of the Asian financial crisis. It was then that I saw the struggle of the common people, especially for those living in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur – many dreamt of owning a home, but they simply did not possess the means to realise this dream. As such, LBS’s mission is to build affordable homes for the people and my vision is to build homes for the rakyat (Malaysian citizens). Hence, based on all the awards and recognitions we have achieved throughout our existence, LBS is well-known in Malaysia as the leading player of affordable housing as well as in the property development industry in Malaysia.

Asean Business Leaders: In your opinion, what does the return of Dr. Mahathir mean for Malaysia?

Tan Sri Lim: I think the most important thing is that there’s a true love for Mahathir in Malaysia. I think that people remember that he was able to take Malaysia from where it was in the 1970s to what it became was almost three decades later. There was a huge transformation for the country under his leadership. There was tremendous growth, even through the Asian financial crisis. Along the way, Malaysia unfortunately in the last two years is seen as a place of corruption and I believe that his return shows that Malaysia will go back to the policies of transparency and good governance. However, change doesn’t happen overnight. We all hope that Malaysia will continue its progression and soon achieve high-income nation status.

Asean Business Leaders: Beyond property development, is LBS looking to expand its operations into other industries?

Tan Sri Lim: We are planning to make a bold move to diversify our business to remain relevant and expand beyond property development into hospitality, retail, insurance and tourism. However, property development still accounts for 90% of the Group’s revenue to date.