Highwealth targets seniors for new housing complex

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - Page 13

Highwealth Construction Co (興富發) plans to build affordable homes for senior citizens in the coming two years to cash in on the nation’s fast-growing aging population while soaring housing prices slow transactions.

The Taipei-based developer made the statement after its annual shareholders’ meeting, which was closed to the media after company chairman Cheng Chin-tien (鄭欽天) was questioned on Monday night by prosecutors probing bribery allegations related to an affordable housing project in Taoyuan County.

The company denied any wrongdoing, but refused to talk about the investigation, citing confidentiality because the case is ongoing.

“We will introduce affordable apartments for senior citizens in New Taipei City next year or in 2016 as these products will be in demand going forward,” Highwealth spokesman Liao Chao-hsiung (廖昭雄) said.

Senior citizens are expected to constitute 14 percent of the nation’s population in 2017 after passing the 7 percent threshold in 1993, qualifying Taiwan as an aging society, government data showed.

Liao declined to reveal the exact construction site for the affordable apartments, but said they would be priced between NT$4 million and NT$6 million each and come with two or three bedrooms, allowing sons and daughters to stay if they want.

The complex will provide paid meals, recreational activities and other services, posing management challenges, he said.

The company also plans to roll out NT$45 billion (US$1.5 billion) in new housing projects in Taipei, Greater Kaohsiung and Hsinchu this year, higher than last year’s NT$40 billion, Liao said.

In the first quarter of the year, Highwealth posted a net profit of NT$652 million, or NT$1.11 per share, representing a drop of 79.67 percent from a year earlier.

Highwealth shares have risen 7.62 percent since the beginning of the year, outperforming the building materials and construction subindex — which reflects the general performance of property stocks — which declined 8.02 percent over the same period due to uncertainties over government policies ahead of the November elections.

The latest survey conducted by Taiwan Realty Co (台灣房屋) found that about 58 percent of Taiwanese are interested in buying a home in the second half of the year, down 7 percent from the first half, with about 50 percent saying they might delay the move until a clearer government policy emerges.

Shareholders yesterday also approved the company’s proposal to distribute NT$7 in dividends per share — NT$2 in cash and 50 percent in stock — based on earnings per share of NT$10.85 the company made last year.