The government, through a private financing initiative, is partnering Naza TTDI KL Metropolis Bhd to build the country's largest exhibition and convention centre in Kuala Lumpur.
The RM628 million premier convention centre, which will take the shape of a rubber seed, will be known as Matrade Centre, as it will be sited next to the existing Menara Matrade on Jalan Khidmat Usaha, off Jalan Duta.
Slated for completion in 2014, the groundbreaking ceremony is expected to take place in the first quarter of next year.
A privatisation agreement was signed between the government and Naza TTDI yesterday, witnessed by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.
Mustapa said the government is providing a land swap in the project for the centre.
"It has been estimated that in 10 years, the whole project would create a GDV (gross development value) of RM15 billion," he told a media briefing after the signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He said Malaysia currently lags behind neighbouring countries in developing its meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition (MICE) industry, but as a trading nation it needs to enhance export promotion activities.
"We have been promoting MICE in the past but we were constrainted from going for large-scale conferences of 5,000 to 10,000 participants due to space limitation."
Located along Jalan Duta, the proposed 1 million sq ft centre will be linked to Menara Matrade, and will offer a suitable venue to host major heavy industries and advanced technology exhibitions.
It will fulfil demand for ongoing events such as the Defence Services Asia Exhibition and Conference, the Malaysian International Furniture Fair, the Malaysia International Halal Showcase and the International Trade Fair Malaysia.
"Built to international standards and specifications with state-of-the-art facilities, it will further strengthen Kuala Lumpur as the choice MICE destination in the region," said Mustapa.
Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd chairman SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin said several architects, including international ones, are currently bidding for the masterplan to develop the 5.24ha site, which will include hotels and shopping malls.
He said the total gross floor area of 1 million sq ft is at par with similar exhibition centres in Thailand and Singapore.
Its three floors of exhibition hall will have a column free space of 30m to 60m wide.
On financing, he said, it will be internally sourced and tapped from domestic banks.
By Business Times (by Rupa Damodaran)