State-owned Nam Yue Group has taken over an idle plot in Concordia Industrial Park — once controlled by local business interests — in Coloane for developing the Nam Yue Science and Technology Park, diversifying its business portfolio and the local economy in line with the policies of Beijing and Macau
Before industrialist-now-turned-Chief-Executive Ho Iat Seng proclaimed in the recently-published Policy Address that the government will facilitate the repositioning of local industrial development and encourage the development of “Made in Macau” products, Concordia Industrial Park (CIP), one of the major industrial areas in the territory, has been given new momentum in recent times. Taking over a major idle land parcel in the industrial park, the Guangdong government-owned firm, Nam Yue (Group) Co Ltd, has given a second life to the land plot, which is now transforming into the Nam Yue Science and Technology Park to expedite the development of “Made in Macau” products.
The Nam Yue Science and Technology Park, boasting seven two-storey industrial buildings, is located at No. 267, Estrada de Seac Pai Van, sitting on the land of 27,109 square metres next to the mega high-end residential development of One Oasis, Sky Oasis and Grand Oasis in Coloane. It is part of the 118,000-square-metre Concordia Industrial Park, or the so-called Lot C1, which is overseen by Macao Industrial Parks Development Co. Ltd (MIPDC) — formerly known as Concordia Industrial Park Co. Ltd — a firm wholly owned by the Macau SAR Government.
With the purposes of upgrading and transforming the local industry, Concordia Industrial Park has been more than several decades in making. The former Portuguese administration first granted the reclaimed land parcels in 1975 to Concordia Industrial and Commercial Development Company (CICDC), with the family of late prominent local tycoon Ma Man Kei as one of the firm’s major shareholders, for the ambitious industrial development. But the former Portuguese administration and CICDC had second thoughts on the plan over the decline of the local manufacturing industry since the late 1980’s. The two sides then came to a consensus in 1993: CICDC was awarded a land size of over 55,000 square metres for home supply, which has become the high-end developments of One Oasis, Sky Oasis and Grand Oasis nowadays, while MIPDC has been set up to supervise the development of Concordia Industrial Park.
In a bid to diversify the local industrial development, MIPDC has re-granted the land plots of Concordia Industrial Park to various private companies and investors since the 1990’s for manufacturing of garments, glass fibers, cigarettes and others, as well as laundry, logistics warehousing and other usages. In additional to the investments from Hong Kong, Japan and Mainland China, local business heavyweights account for a major presence in the industrial park, including former Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac (garment factory Seng San Enterprises and laundry service Smartable Holding), tycoon Liu Chak Wan (Liu’s Commerce and Industry Ltd), entrepreneur Dominic Siu Chi Wai (logistic and warehouse service Dah Chong Hong Macau), and others.
The 27,109-square-metre Lot C1 was also originally awarded to Eastern Technology Group Co Ltd (東方科技集團有限公司) in 2004, according to official documents, which pledged to invest MOP500 million (US$62.5 million) to build the “Eastern Technology Park” for producing educational and hospital management software. Eastern Technology Group was held by a British Virgin Islands-registered firm, with local businessman and junket veteran Ng Man Sun — who controlled the now-defunct New Century Hotel and Greek Mythology Casino in Taipa — as its administrator.
But Lot C1 had remained barren for years, while the local tycoon was clouded with a flurry of bad headlines, including the fallout with his business partner Chen Meihuan, the closure of the New Century Hotel and Greek Mythology Casino, and the alleged financial difficulties. Informed sources told this magazine that Mr. Ng had once planned to convert the usage of the land plot, which is valued at over MOP1 billion in light of the high-end residential development nearby, from industrial to other purposes like private cemetery and crematoria services, but the authorities did not give their blessings to the idea.
And only with the involvement of Nam Yue Group, which has started to take over the land-holding vehicle in the mid-2010’s, have there been significant signs of development on Lot C1 in recent years. According to the local property registration documents, the plot is now upheld by Nam Yue Technology Company Ltd (南粵科技有限公司), a subsidiary of Nam Yue Group, with an occupation permit approved in 2017. This magazine paid a visit to the land parcel in mid-November, and observed that the seven two-storey industrial blocks on the site have been completed with some on-going refurbishment works.
Both Mr. Ng and Nam Yue were not immediately available for comment for this story.
Amid the take-over, the Guangdong government-owned firm had lied low about its ownership of the land. The project appeared for the first time in the official announcements and reports of the company in its 2017 Social Responsibility Report, stating the “Eastern Technology Park has smoothly acquired the occupation permit.” Repeating the same phrasing in the annual report in the following year, Nam Yue remarked in the 2019 report that it has “successfully completed the equity transfer in the Eastern Technology Park project”.
Since then the state-owned firm has been more high-profile about the project, which has been rebranded and renamed as “Nam Yue Science and Technology Park” this year. In a meeting between Zhou Xingting, chairperson of the group, and Macau Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Elsie Ao Ieong U this June, Mr. Zhou briefed Ms. Ao about the progress of the park, which he said will feature factories for traditional Chinese medicine, food products and medical equipment. “In tandem with the policy reports by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, Nam Yue Group will closely cooperate with and support the policies of the SAR Government,” a statement of the firm quotes its chairperson as saying in the meeting.
Two months later Yao Jian, deputy director of the Chinese liaison office here, visited the project site in the company of Mr. Zhou, another statement of the state-owned firm noted. The representative of Beijing in the city was quoted as saying about the project, “[The liaison office] fully supports Nam Yue Group’s business plan in expediting the development of the traditional Chinese medicine industry in Macau, and hopes Nam Yue Group will make more contributions… to the economic diversifications of Macau.”
Informed sources say the development of the technology park has made steady progress, including the establishment of Nam Yue Inspection and Testing Center this year, a medical and biological research lab that could carry out polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for diagnosis of infectious diseases and DNA analysis. But only a small portion of the park has been truly operational at the moment, with Nam Yue also in discussion with third parties for collaboration, say the sources. For instance, the state-owned firm has negotiated with Charlestrong Coffee Company Limited for partnership, which might allow the latter to occupy part of the technology park for manufacturing coffee products. Charlestrong Coffee, set up in the city in 2019 and chaired by businessman Charles Shi, now imports coffee beans from East Timor to produce coffee products branded under “Café Diliy” in an industrial unit in Areia Preta.
And it is expected the project could get more strikes in the near future in tandem with the policy initiatives and wishes of the central government and local authorities, like what the Nam Yue chairman stated in the meeting with the Macau Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture. “[The group] will strive to strengthen the traditional Chinese medicine sector [here] and develop a ‘Made in Macau’ platform for traditional Chinese medicine and healthy food products, so as to facilitate the economic diversifications of Macau,” said Mr. Zhou.
Amid the growing presence of Chinese state-owned firms in the territory in recent years, Nam Yue (Group) Co Ltd and Nam Kwong (Group) Co Ltd have long established here before the handover with businesses now covering the day-to-day life of the Macau public.
Directly under the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the Chinese State Council, Nam Kwong was first inaugurated in Macau in 1949 as a trading firm for products between the two sides. Following the development of several decades, the business scope of Nam Kwong now spreads from the supply of fresh food, oil and natural gas to hotels and travel agencies to logistics and convention and exhibition. Besides a significant stake in the city’s sole electricity supplier, CEM, the group also fully controls one of the two bus operators here, Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos de Macau, S.A (TCM).
Compared with Nam Kwong, Nam Yue — owned by the Guangdong provincial government as its gateway in Macau to deepen the cooperation between the two sides — focuses more on infrastructure and financial sectors in the territory. First incepted in 1981 and restructured in 2009, the firm has been in charge with numerous major infrastructure projects in the gambling enclave, including the public housing complex in Seac Pai Van, the Hengqin campus of the University of Macau, the soon-to-be-opening Qingmao border checkpoint in Ilha Verde, and others. As the designated supplier of fresh food products from the nearby province to Macau, Nam Yue runs the city’s sole wholesale market of fresh food, and a local major supermarket chain, Luen Fung Food Supermarket.
Besides offering security and manpower importation services, Nam Yue has advanced in the Macau financial sectors in recent times. Following the purchase of a majority stake in the Macau Chinese Bank Ltd in 2015, the Chinese state-run group set up Macau UePay Co Ltd, a local mobile and online payment provider, a year later. Nam Yue is also part of the joint venture to manage the RMB20-billion Guangdong-Macao Cooperation and Development Fund for the investments of the Macau fiscal reserve in Guangdong projects.
And the involvement in the Nam Yue Science and Technology Park in Concordia Industrial Park further diversifies the business portfolio of the group to manufacturing, particularly in healthcare and food products.