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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mah Sing eyes Vietnam as possible first overseas venture

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Mah Sing Group Bhd will make Vietnam its first destination if it decides to venture overseas, its group managing director Datuk Seri Leong Hoy Kum says.

“Our first preference will still be Vietnam because of its compelling growth story,” he told The Edge Financial Daily recently.

Leong said he liked Vietnam as the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the past three years had averaged an impressive 8.1% annually, while investment grew even faster at 18.6% and export at 25.4%.

“The strong economic growth rates and continuing inflow of investments into the country are expected to support the underlying property demand,” he said.

On the kind of property project Mah Sing would prefer to embark on overseas, Leong said its property ventures overseas would likely replicate the success of its lifestyle medium to high-end residential projects and Grade A office and retail spaces in the commercial segment.

“We will bring with us our premium products which are of a global standard, lifestyle elements and designs, and efficient operations and best practices that will allow a quick turnaround,” he added.

Nonetheless, he said Mah Sing would conduct a thorough study of the property market in the host country to ensure the right product offerings.

“Should we venture overseas, it is likely we will do it via a joint venture with an established local party as we need minimum capital outlay,” he said.

He noted that Mah Sing would only choose a JV partner that is reputable and have extensive knowledge of the local market. “If we can have that in place, we can concentrate on what we do best, introducing our lifestyle concepts and our branding in their market.”

Leong also said Mah Sing is less keen on China due to the tightening measures to cool the country’s overheated economy. “We are not in a hurry to venture into China, unless a good investment which meets the company’s investment evaluation comes along.”

However, sources said the property firm had begun preliminary talks with the authorities in China to develop a high-end real estate and hotel development in Haining city, Zhejiang Province.

According to the sources, Mah Sing officials had already visited the city several times to study the viability of the venture.

The property firm recently attained global recognition when its Damansara Lagenda development in Petaling Jaya won the “Best Development Malaysia” award at the CNBC-associated International Property Awards 2007.

The gated-and-guarded project, consisting of 116 semi-detached units and bungalows, was launched in 2004 and completed last year with a gross development value of RM192 million.


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