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Friday, December 7, 2007

YTL, Lehman in Thai resort venture

MALAYSIA'S biggest builder, YTL Corp Bhd, and Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd (LBI) yesterday agreed to jointly develop a RM270 million luxury resort in Thailand's Koh Samui island.

The two may team up again for more such projects across Southeast Asia, YTL managing director Tan Sri Francis Yeoh said.

He said YTL is looking for properties in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. In Malaysia, it is keen on Sabah, Sarawak and Pahang.

Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd, meanwhile, which has a strong property portfolio in Thailand, hopes to announce some investments in Malaysia in the coming months, said Charles Rubin, Lehman Brothers' head of global real estate group in SEA.

Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd is also interested in getting into Indonesia, he added.

"We're looking forward to more joint ventures with Lehman. Independently, we're both moving in the same direction," Yeoh remarked.

He strongly believes that real estate in Asia has yet to realise its full potential.

"Whilst the Mediterranean and the Caribbean took 25 years to develop to realise their full potential - and property prices did indeed appreciate by 15,000 per cent over the period - I foresee Southeast Asia will take only 10 to 15 years to realise its potential," he told reporters after the signing the agreement with Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Yeoh expects property prices in Singapore - where it recently made its third investment, buying high-end apartments at a record price of S$435 million (RM1 billion) - to gain in the second half of 2008.

The agreement to develop the five-star deluxe hotel and residential villas in Koh Samui was inked between YTL's hospitality unit, YTL Hotels & Properties Sdn Bhd, and Lehman Brothers Investments Pte Ltd - a unit of global investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The project, located on the island's north-east coast, will comprise an 80-room hotel, 26 villas and 90 apartments.

It will be built in about three years after finalising designs and obtaining approvals, which could take about a year.

YTL Construction (Thailand) Ltd will undertake the design and construction of the project.

Aside from Malaysia, YTL has luxury hotels in regional tourist top spots such as Phuket and Bali in Thailand and Indonesia respectively.

By New Straits Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)

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