Ang Kah Hong, Tiong Woon Corp group chairman and managing director, commented on the results: “Despite the cost pressures from rising oil prices and price escalation of materials and wages, we have been able to remain profitable and to maintain our margins. This is the result of concerted efforts put in by my team and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we remain profitable.”

The company’s new 64-hectare fabrication yard in Bintan, acquired to support the company’s heavy lift equipment, tugs and barges, made a pre-tax loss of SGD 3.4m, but Ang said he was confident that the yard will turn around in due course. He said: “It’s a brand new venture and understandably we need to incur some start-up costs. In addition, we have to build up a track record before we can demonstrate that we have the capabilities.” The yard is 40% through its first contract from NorCE Offshore Pte Ltd to build a 146m derrick pipelay barge, gross tonnage of 25,100t, which it expects to deliver in January 2009.

The group’s Heavy Lift and Haulage Segment contributed SGD99.2 million to overall turnover, turning in a profit before tax of SGD30.6 million, an increase of 133%.

Turnover for its Trading segment saw an increase of 13% to SGD19.6 million, registering a profit before tax of SGD4.2 million due to better selling prices of brand new cranes. The group currently has a distributorship agreement with IHI Construction Machinery Limited, a Japanese manufacturer of crawler cranes and parts, with distributorship rights to Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Through its acquisition of its subsidiary Soon Douglas (Pte) Ltd, the group is the distributor of JASO tower cranes in Singapore.

In August, the Group signed an exclusive agency agreement with Shenyang DKT Cranes Co Ltd, a China-based manufacturer of tower cranes, to sell and distribute its cranes to Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippine, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos and Cambodia. Earlier this year, it also signed a distributorship agreement with Fushun Excavator Corporation Ltd, a China-based manufacturer, to sell and distribute the Fuwa brand of crawler cranes in Singapore, Thailand, Philippine, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos and Cambodia.

Ang said: “Although trading currently constitutes only 12% of our overall revenue, it is a logical extension of our business. We have an intimate knowledge of cranes and are in a good position to advise our clients who are looking to purchase these equipment .”

Despite a dip in the turnover of the Marine Transportation segment by 19% to SGD12.6 million, it contributed positively to the group, turning in a profit before tax of SGD3.8 million, up 11% from the previous year. The reason for the dip in turnover was because a number of its tugboats were under going maintenance during the last few months.

In terms of geography, Singapore remained the biggest contributor in FY2008 with a turnover of SGD100.4 million or 64% of the total revenue; compared to SGD43.8 million or 44% of FY2007 revenue. The second and third largest revenue contributors were Thailand and the Middle East, with the former contributing SGD17.3 million, or 11%, of total revenue and the latter, SGD10.9 million or 7% of total revenue.

Ang said he was cautiously optimistic in the outlook for the Oil and Gas and Petrochemical sectors in the light of the slowdown in the world economy. “All signs seem to indicate that these sectors should remain fairly strong. We will continue to be responsive to the market, expanding locally and overseas, particularly in markets such as the Middle East,” he added.

The construction sector in Singapore still looks positive, said Mr Ang, with the government continuing with a number of big public-sector projects. The construction activities on Jurong Island, and the growth in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries continue to be important elements in Singapore’s economy. “We are in a good position to ride on this growth as we are one of the few specialised contractors that support these industries,” he said.

Going forward, in addition to the robust Singapore home market, the Group plans to actively pursue business opportunities in infrastructure, power plants, petrochemicals and oil and gas projects in key markets such as China, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Middle East.

Since its success in securing an investment licence to run a 100% foreign-owned business entity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Group has set up a company in Jubail Industrial City. This move underlines its commitment to establish a permanent presence in the Middle East as it seeks to replicate its business model in that region. TWC plans to use its base there to springboard into the region.

The licence allows TWC to engage in the services of installation, lifting, maintenance services of equipment for oil, gas, petrochemicals and electrical power-related projects and marine transportation services in Saudi Arabia. To date, the company has deployed about 64 cranes there and it plans to increase the fleet size to 150 units in the Middle East over the next three years.

Going forward, Ang said the Group will continue to implement its existing five-pronged business strategy, namely:

-To actively seek business opportunities in the emerging markets for the Group’s core heavy lift and haulage segment;

-To develop its fabrication and engineering competency for marine, oil & gas projects;

-To invest in higher capacity and specialised equipment;

-To forge strategic alliances and co-operation with international and industry players to jointly participate in the bidding for projects; and

-To maintain active and tight management control of the Group’s respective business activities.