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Sydney residential developer Crown lands in Singapore

SINGAPORE -- Crown International Holdings Group, a Sydney-based private property developer that specializes in high-end apartments, has opened a sales and marketing office in Singapore. This is the company's third such foothold in Asia, showing its determination to cater to Asian individuals who want to invest in residential properties in its home city.

     The Singapore branch will do business not only in the city-state but also Malaysia, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries. Crown also plans to open an office in China, in either Hong Kong or Shanghai. The company already has two bases in Indonesia -- one in Jakarta, opened last July, and another in Surabaja, set up in January of this year.

     Having started out with one representative in mid-May, the Singapore office will soon get another two salespeople. The company intends to expand it further down the road.

     Asian demand "has grown significantly in the last six months," said Iwan Sunito, Crown's CEO.

     Luxury apartments near central Sydney are popular among Asian buyers. Some aim to have their children study in Australia. Others are pure investors who see major appeal in Sydney's low vacancy rate of 1.7%, according to Crown. Of the buyers Crown serves, 15-30% are of Asian origin, and 60% of those are from China, Sunito said.

     Other than boosting sales, the Singapore office has another role: finding partners for future development projects. Sunito said investment funds -- Asian and non-Asian -- and Asia-based real estate developers are showing interest in tie-ups with Crown.

     As it expands its office network in Asia, Crown is also branching out from its main development playground in Sydney. It is about to enter the residential development market in Melbourne, and it plans to get into the game in Indonesia within a year.

     Crown was established in 1996 by Sunito, an architect of Chinese-Indonesian origin, and his partner. Management is thinking about a public listing, though it has not set a specific time frame. 

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