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Keppel Corp unit inks pact to develop Chinese model smart city in Wuxi

MOU signing.jpg
Keppel Urban Solutions, Envision and the Wuxi government signing a memorandum of understanding to develop Smart IoT City in Xuelang Town. The MOU was signed by Mr Zhang Lei, Founder and CEO of Envision (left), Mr Ma Liang, Deputy Secretary-General of the Wuxi Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Administrative Committee of Jiangsu Wuxi Economic Development Zone (middle), and Ms Cindy Lim, Managing Director of Keppel Urban Solutions (right).

A UNIT of Keppel Corp has inked a non-binding pact to develop a model smart city in China, in a deal announced by the Singapore government-linked conglomerate on Thursday morning.

Wholly owned Keppel Urban Solutions has agreed to work with Chinese energy company Envision and the local authorities in Wuxi, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, on an Internet of Things (IoT)-based urban development that will include a smart industry park in the Taihu New City project.

The plans for the two square kilometre smart city follow a separate memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Keppel Urban Solutions and Envision in January, to collaborate on smart energy and smart city solutions by tapping each other's expertise and resources.

Envision - which plans to set up a global innovation centre in Taihu New City, to develop an IoT platform for smart cities - is set to supply the IoT operating system for the initiative. It will work with Keppel Corp to attract global IoT businesses to a planned ecosystem focusing on artificial intelligence and the IoT.

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Li Xiaomin, secretary of the Communist Party's municipal branch in Wuxi, called the recent three-way MOU signing "a step in the right direction" with good prospects.

"I hope that the three parties can further refine the details of the cooperation, and, through sincere and practical cooperation and taking a long-term perspective, build a successful landmark project," he said, adding that the local authorities will work on providing the government services needed to support the project's development and operation.

When asked about the value of the planned smart city, as well as the terms and validity period of the latest MOU, a Keppel Corp spokesman said: "As we are finalising details with the Envision Group and the Wuxi government, we are unable to share further information at this point. A further definitive agreement among the three parties may be signed in 2019."

Zhang Lei, Envision's chief executive, said in a media statement that the smart city "will become a model for China-Singapore cooperation in the field of city-industry integration".

Meanwhile, Keppel Corp CEO Loh Chin Hua said that his group "has a strong track record in master-planning and developing large-scale urban projects" and will provide provide smart and sustainable urban solutions for the development.

Among Keppel Corp's most prominent efforts in China is the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city bilateral project, where it leads the Singapore consortium in the 50-50 master developer joint venture.

Keppel Urban Solutions is developing a similar project, Saigon Sports City, in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, which is expected to be ready by 2022. The 64 hectare urban township is expected to feature a smart security system, and remote energy and utilities monitoring and control.

Wuxi has been touted by the Chinese government as a key hotbed of IoT and digital innovation in that country. For example, Alibaba's majority-owned logistics firm Cainiao recently opened an automated warehouse in Wuxi, with plans for environmental sensors to assess everything from humidity to storage capacity in its 160,000 square metre Cainiao Future Park complex.

Keppel Corp said that the MOU is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings and net tangible asset per share for the year to Dec 31.

The counter previously closed down by S$0.10, or 1.57 per cent, at S$6.26 on Wednesday.