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CapitaLand closes 6 malls in China; shorter hours at remaining 45

CAPITALAND has closed six malls in China - four in Wuhan and two in Xian - as required by local governments following the outbreak of the Wuhan virus, the property giant said on Wednesday.

The supermarkets in CapitaMall Westgate in Wuhan and CapitaMall Xindicheng in Xian remain open to ensure the supply of food and daily essentials to local communities, CapitaLand added in its bourse filing.

CapitaLand's remaining 45 malls in cities such as Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai, continue to operate with shorter hours.

CapitaLand said that it will continually review its properties’ operating hours in line with local conditions and regulations, and that the six closed malls "will reopen when local conditions permit".

CapitaLand’s wholly-owned lodging unit, The Ascott Limited, is proactively extending assistance to guests whose travel plans to China have been disrupted, CapitaLand said.

This includes accommodating guests who need to stay longer and waiving cancellation fees for those who have to change their travel plans.

Its office properties in places such as Shanghai, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Chongqing will be closed until Feb 9, 2020, as stipulated by local governments.

All of CapitaLand's China properties have adopted precautionary measures in accordance with guidelines from health authorities, the company said.

These include conducting temperature checks, intensifying cleaning and disinfecting common areas. CapitaLand will also conduct contact tracing and has designated premises at its properties for the isolation of people suspected to be infected with the virus.

Lee Chee Koon, CapitaLand's group chief executive officer, said: "We have set up a special task force to coordinate our response across our operations in China and in the various markets where we operate.

"To date, the group’s business 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," he added.

CapitaLand had announced previously that it had set up a 10 million yuan (S$2 million) healthcare fund to support relief efforts in China, via its philanthropic arm.

Other Singapore-listed companies with exposure to China have also been affected by the virus outbreak. Of all firms with a market cap of S$100 million and above, 45 have at least 20 per cent of annual revenues coming from China.

Of these, 36 stocks, including CapitaLand, registered declines amid the general market fall on Tuesday. Shares of CapitaLand was up four Singapore cents or 1.1 per cent to S$3.74 as at 9.20am on Wednesday.