MECHANICAL and electrical engineering company King Wan Corp has been branching out lately but is committed to its core business, a top executive said yesterday.

In January last year, King Wan acquired a 30 per cent stake in a 58,000 deadweight tonne bulk carrier, which is now being chartered. In April, it received a 3 per cent stake, or $45.4 million worth of shares in Kaset Thai International Sugar Corp (KTIS), when Thailand's third-largest sugar producer listed on the Thai bourse.

The shares were part-payment by KTIS for King Wan's shares in a paper manufacturer and an ethanol-producing company.

Last month, the company announced it has taken a 19 per cent stake in a consortium to design, develop and operate a 9,200-bed workers' dormitory in Tuas South.

The project is in the planning stages but King Wan expects to complete it by the end of next year. King Wan has various other property development investments. Still, King Wan managing director Chua Eng Eng told The Straits Times that engineering is the company's core business.

"But we went through a hard time in the early 2000s when construction wasn't doing well. We know it's difficult if the market turns against us."

About that time, King Wan made its first investments in three Thai firms, one of which was sold in 2008, and the other two sold to KTIS.

It is unclear who will undertake mechanical and electrical engineering (ME&E) works for the dormitory but King Wan has done this for its condominiums.

The company most recently fulfilled $95.4 million worth of ME&E contracts, including works on the Singapore Sports Hub. It has an ME&E order book of $153 million with projects until 2017.

"As large contractors, we also see opportunities in the integrated town hubs the Government is planning," said Ms Chua.

King Wan shares closed flat at 33.5 cents yesterday.