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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

KFH seeks partners for IDR project

KUWAIT Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH) is looking for partners to develop the 249.6-hectare cultural and heritage zone in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in Johor.

“We are eyeing partners from Singapore, Japan, the Middle East, Australia and China, in addition to the companies in this country to develop the site which was bought for US$300 million (RM1.005 billion),” managing director Datuk K. Salman Younis told reporters after the launch of KFH’s awareness campaign in Johor Baru yesterday. Younis said although the company has yet to work out the value of the partnerships, they were expected to be worth billions of ringgit over the next 25 years.

“We will also work closely with two consortiums from the Middle East to develop the entertainment industry, and education, healthcare and financial products in the region,” he said.

Younis said the development of the zone would be the banking group’s fi rst project
in IDR before proceeding to participate in subsequent programmes.

He said details on the partnerships would be unveiled in three months.

Younis said KFH would work closely with the federal and state governments to ensure the success of IDR which would benefit the economy and the people.

On the awareness campaign, Younis said it was to introduce the bank to the people.

He said KFH would set up a branch in Johor Baru, its first outside Kuala Lumpur, by the first quarter of next year.

By Bernama

Far East expands to East Malaysia

The current Sheraton Labuan will be renamed Grand Dorsett Labuan Hotel Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Hong Kong developer Far East Consortium International Ltd (FECIL) has completed the purchase of the 5-star Sheraton Labuan last month.

FECIL’s representative in Malaysia, Eddie Tang told theSun: “We are keen to expand our hotel operations in Malaysia.”

The Dorsett Group, under FECIL, owns and manages FECIL’s hotels outside of Hong Kong and now has four hotels in Malaysia. “Through this purchase, we are also looking to expand into East Malaysia and have identified two hotels,” said Tang who is in charge of Dorsett Group’s operations. Hotels under its portfolio include the 4-star Dorsett Regency in Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Bintang, 5- star Sheraton Subang Hotel and Towers and the soonto- be-completed Maytower Hotel Serviced Apartment in Kuala Lumpur. The Dorsett Group also manages Dorsett Penang, formerly Sheraton Penang, and is building the 300- room Dorsett Johor, which is located off Pasir Gudang and is expected to be completed this year.

Sheraton Labuan will be renamed Grand Dorsett Labuan Hotel Malaysia next month, and Dorsett Group is planning an upgrading exercise costing RM20 million over a period of between six and nine months.

“If everything falls in place, the upgrading will commence in January 2008 and we also plan to increase the number of food and beverage outlets from the existing five outlets. The average occupancy levels are about 80% and on weekdays, we are running at maximum capacity,” said Tang.

FECIL purchased the 182- room, 10-year-old hotel for RM32 million from Jeram Bintang Sdn Bhd, a special purpose vehicle set up to dispose of Faber Group Bhd’s assets as part of Faber’s restructuring scheme. It also completed the purchase of Sheraton Subang from Jeram Bintang for RM120 million earlier this year.

FECIL expects to recover its total investment in Labuan between a six- and eight-year period. According to Tang, it is looking to improve the average room rate of Grand Dorsett Labuan upon the completion of the upgrading exercise. However, he declined to reveal the hotel’s current average room rate.

“With the booming oil and gas industry in Labuan, the hotel serves corporate guests more today. However, with our upgrading exercise as well as future plans for the hotel, we are targeting the tourist crowd and aim to boost weekend occupancy levels. Today, weekend occupancy is about between 40% and 50%.”

Meanwhile, Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe says, FECIL purchased the hotel at a fair price. “The deal works out to be about RM175,000 per room and I would reckon that to be below replacement costs.” He added that the Labuan hotel was valued at RM55 million.

By theSun (By Loo Pik Kwan)

Positioning Malaysia as trade centre via Intrade 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: It is time for Malaysia to leverage on its strategic location in Asia in its bid to become a major trade centre, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Noharuddin Nordin.

“We have been talking about Malaysia being strategically located within the region, the centre of Asia — connecting the east and west.

“While we have capitalised on the characteristics of Malaysia in attracting investments, we have not, in the past, leveraged on this strategic location to position Malaysia as a trade centre,” Noharuddin told a media briefing on International Trade
Malaysia Exhibition 2007 (Intrade 2007) yesterday.

“We hope that by organising Intrade we are able to position ourselves as a major trading centre. That is why we are bringing in the international buyers, and hope that in future we can attract more international exhibitors,” he added.

Intrade 2007, which would be held from Nov 12 to Nov 15 at the Matrade Exhibition & Convention Centre (MECC) at Menara Matrade, Kuala Lumpur, is an international trade fair whereby Matrade would bring in over 900 foreign buyers from 670 companies via its Incoming Buying Mission programme.

A total of 366 exhibitors are expected at the event, with local exhibitors totalling 305 and 61 foreign exhibitors. Some 49 countries would be represented at the event, including 35 international companies and 27 foreign missions/trade promotion organisations.

By The EDGE (By

Prinsiptek to build properties in Laos via JV

KUALA LUMPUR: Prinsiptek Corporation Bhd has signed a joint-venture (JV) agreement with Khamphet Vongdala, a Laotian, to build three-storey shophouses on a piece of 30,000 sq metre land in Laos.

Prinsiptek said in a statement yesterday that it would incorporate a subsidiary company in Laos for the JV. Vongdala would also grant Prinsiptek the sole and absolute right to undertake the project, which would be completed within three years with a two-year extension option.

The agreement also states that Prinsiptek would be entitled to 93.5% of sale proceeds from the project while Vongdala would get 6.5% or a minimum total return of US$1.5 million or RM5.01 million.


UOA REIT gets RM86m offer for Wisma UOA

KUALA LUMPUR: UOA Asset Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of UOA Real Estate Investment Trust (UOA REIT), has received an offer from UOA Holdings Sdn Bhd for the sale of freehold land with a five-storey building in Jalan Pantai Jaya here to UOA REIT for RM86 million cash.

In a statement yesterday, UOA Asset Management said the sale of the property — known as Wisma UOA Pantai, on the land measuring 3,883 sq m — would be undertaken by UOA Holdings’ subsidiary, Magna Tiara Development Sdn Bhd.

It said the offer followed the rights of first refusal granted by UOA Holdings to UOA REIT to acquire suitable properties from the group. UOA REIT was suspended from trading from 10.44am yesterday, pending the release of the annoucement. It will resume trading today.

Wisma UOA Pantai which was completed in the second quarter of this year, has about 157,481 sq ft of lettable areas with 272 car park bays, and had been issued a certificate of fitness for occupation on July 9, 2007.

UOA Asset Management said the acquisition price of the property was based on a willing-buyer willing-seller basis after taking into consideration the market value of RM93.1 million, as appraised by an independent registered valuer in Sept 2007.

It added that further details of the proposed acquisition would be announced at a later date upon the execution of the sale and purchase agreement.

By The EDGE ()

Mutiara in for a good year

KUALA LUMPUR: Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd expects its development projects in Seberang Prai, Gombak and Ampang to drive its revenue growth for the financial year ending April 30, 2008 (FY08).

Managing director Datuk Edmond Hoyt Yung said these projects – with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM428mil – were expected to be the main revenue contributors to the group in FY08.

“We are confident that Mutiara Upper East Ampang (294 high-end condominiums), Mutiara Gombak (residential development) and Bandar Tasek Mutiara (phases 8E and 9 of the mixed development) will perform well,” he told StarBiz after the company AGM last week.

The company expects to launch its residential development in Mutiara Suria, Cheras, with GDV of RM60mil, and its commercial development, Dataran Prima in Kelana Jaya, with a GDV of RM120mil, by next year.

As at Sept 30, Mutiara had an order book of RM156mil.

Datuk Edmond Hoyt Yung
On the group’s expansion strategy, Yung said it was looking to increase its holding of choice land bank in multiple prime locations within the Klang Valley and Seberang Prai as it had its site offices in these areas.

As part of its expansion, Mutiara, through subsidiary Jurus Positif Sdn Bhd, had recently purchased 4.71 acres in Subang Jaya for RM4mil. Jurus Positif is a 50%-owned subsidiary of Pembangunan Bandar Mutiara Sdn Bhd, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mutiara.

The land was originally approved for residential development. However, the company had agreed to apply to the relevant authorities for amendment of the development into a wholly commercial centre, comprising 35 to 40 units of four-storey shoplots with a proposed development cost of RM49mil. The project is currently at the planning stage.

Mutiara recorded an improved net profit of RM5.39mil on revenue of RM61.95mil for the first quarter ended July 31, compared with RM5.21mil and RM48.36mil respectively in the previous corresponding period.

However, earnings per share fell to 0.95 sen from 3.15 sen previously.

By The Star (By

Menara Marinara may become Islamic WTC

KUALA LUMPUR: The long vacant Menara Marinara in Jalan Tun Razak could become the Islamic World Trade Centre, should the Malaysia OIC Trade Chamber succeed in its plan.

Chamber president and founder Datuk Raja Mohamad Abdullah said that since the chamber was formed in 2004, it had been looking to acquire a commercial building to establish the proposed Islamic World Trade Centre.

Raja Mohamad said the chamber welcomed local and foreign investors to be involved in its efforts to purchase the 37-storey office/retail/serviced apartment building, which is up for sale.

“We are looking to tie up with investors as we are keen to turn the building into a one-stop trade centre for Islamic countries,” he said in an interview here.

The building is owned by Pekeliling Triangle Sdn Bhd, which is under receivership.

Datuk Raja Mohamad Abdullah

The receivers have advertised for expression of interest last week and all offers need to reach the receiver and manager by 5pm on Nov 23.

Construction of Menara Marinara on 0.82ha was completed in 1999.

Raja Mohamad said such a trade centre would also help position Malaysia as the global hub for halal food and Islamic banking and finance as envisaged by the Government.

He said it was time that Islamic countries forged greater trade among them.

Raja Mohamad added that the facility would be a one-stop centre for all OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference) countries to showcase their products and services and promote business networking.

He said the 57 OIC countries produced various world standard products from cars to leather goods.

However, the lack of exposure and one-stop facilities to showcase these products and services made it difficult for them to penetrate the markets of even fellow OIC countries.

According to Raja Mohamad, the OIC's 10-Year Programme of Action adopted at its Extraordinary Summit in Makkah Al-Mukarramah in December 2005 sets a goal to raise the level of OIC intra-trade to 20% of world trade during the decade until 2015.

Menara Marinara is owned by Pekeliling Triangle Sdn Bhd which is under receivership.

In this context, he believes the Malaysia OIC Trade Chamber and the proposed Islamic World Trade Centre could play a significant role in facilitating more trade among OIC countries.

“There is so much potential to be tapped ... trade is the only way for OIC countries to tackle challenges such as poverty, which is high in many OIC countries, and to improve their living standards,” he added.

By Bernama

UOA REIT buys property

PETALING JAYA: UOA Asset Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of UOA Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), is acquiring Wisma UOA Pantai from UOA Holdings Sdn Bhd for RM86mil.

The REIT manager said the property was located along Jalan Pantai Jaya in front of Menara TM in Kuala Lumpur.

It comprised a five-storey building with two mezzanine floors and has three basement parking levels and 272 parking bays, UOA Asset said in a statement.

The building was completed in the second quarter this year and had a net lettable area of 157,481 sq ft, it added.

By The Star

KFH in talks with foreigners to develop land in Bandar Nusajaya

JOHOR BARU: Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH) is in discussions with several foreign investors to jointly develop its land in Bandar Nusajaya near here.

Managing director Datuk Salman Younis said the investors were from Australia, China, Indonesia, Singapore and the Middle East.

He said the 624 acres worth US$300mil were located near the Johor State New Administrative Centre project, which was under construction in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

“Give us three more months before coming out with further details on the development plan and the parties involved,” Salman said.

He was speaking at a press conference at the launch of KFH’s awareness campaign for Islamic banking by Johor Economic Planning Unit director Datuk Hamsan Saringat.

The roadshow is the first in a series to be held in key market centres nationwide to highlight some of the bank’s products and services.

Some 200 participants from the state government, public and private sectors and small and medium enterprises attended the one-day event.

Salman said there was also the possibility that the bank would jointly develop the land with more than one foreign party as investors involved in the talk had shown serious commitment.

He said the land would be for a mixed residential and commercial development, adding the project would involve millions of ringgit in investment.

Salman said the bank saw many opportunities from the IDR and its main focus now was to help Johor in attracting more foreign investors and what it could offer them.

Johor's proximity to Singapore, he said, was also an added advantage in view of the republic's position as a reputable international financial centre.

“On that note, we are opening our Johor Baru branch in the first quarter of 2008 in the IDR, which is also the first outside the Klang Valley,” he added.

Salman said the bank’s long-term commitment was to have a strong presence in Southern Johor.

By The Star (By Zazali Musa)

HK property magnate key player in Land & General

HONG Kong property magnate, Tan Sri David Chiu, aims to give a lift to Malaysian property developer Land & General Bhd (L&G) in which he has emerged as a key player, executives familiar with his Malaysian flagship said yesterday.

Chiu, via his Malaysia Land (Mayland) Properties Sdn Bhd, is the single largest stakeholder in L&G, followed by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the country's largest provident fund, with a 10 per cent stake.

Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah, who founded L&G, and is seen as a friendly party to Chiu, has a six per cent stake.

Mayland, which owns 12 per cent of L&G, is believed to have won a greater say in the company after Unioncity Enterprises Ltd, a company linked to corporate raider Datuk Ishak Ismail, disposed of 60.64 million L&G shares on September 30.

Business Times understands that Mayland is considering slowly increasing its stake in L&G in future.

Mayland officials, meanwhile, declined to say whether they were the buyers of Unioncity shares in L&G.

Chiu, who has substantial interest in Tokai Kanko Ltd which is a property developer listed on the Tokyo stock exchange, has helped build Mayland into one of the biggest developers of high-end real estate.

Mayland has developments in some of Kuala Lumpur's swankiest locations such as Sri Hartamas and Damansara.

Mayland - the developer of Dorsett Regency Hotel, Menara Hartamas and Ampangpuri - has a track record of hitting 98 per cent sales of almost all its developments, information obtained from its website showed.

It has some prime plots in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.

It is believed that some of the plots and properties owned by Mayland could be transferred to L&G.

"There is no immediate plan to inject Mayland into L&G for more shares as Mayland wants to build up its shareholding in the company first before considering other options," said one executive.

The source said Mayland in the immediate term plans to develop the 1,000ha belonging to L&G in the Damansara and Bukit Beruntung area into a mixed project.

"Mayland wants to be a genuine partner before looking at other options with L&G," added the executive.

Developing land in Kuala Lumpur is a speciality of the 20-year-old Mayland, which has some RM1.5 billion of fresh property related activities in the city this year.

By New Straits Times (By Sharen Kaur)

SP Setia plans joint-venture bungalow project in Penang

SP SETIA Bhd is eyeing a joint-venture development at Sungai Ara on Penang Island.

The proposed "Setia View" project is set to comprise 102 bungalows and will carry a development value of RM300 million.

SP Setia property division (north) general manager S. Rajoo said the high-end bungalows will be priced from RM3 million upwards.

"We hope to take a 50 per cent stake in this project and our partner is likely to be a Penang-based company," he told the Business Times.

Rajoo said the proposed project, which will be sited close to SP Setia's RM880 million "Setia Pearl Island" development, is set to be launched in early 2009.

"We are also in talks with landowners in the southwest and northeast districts of Penang Island and Seberang Prai in our bid to enlarge our landbank," he added.

The Setia Pearl Island project, will have 1,200 landed homes spread over a 45ha site and will be SP Setia's maiden project in Penang.

To be developed over the next five to six years, the project comprises three-storey terraced homes, semi-detached units and commercial lots, and is located between 4km and 5km from the proposed site of the second Penang bridge at Batu Maung, 10km from the Penang Bridge and 20km from George Town.

Touted as the "Next Frontier of Modern Living", the project is marketed as "Six Islands".

Since its launch in April this year, the company has recorded RM248.8 million in sales.

Its "Isle of Life" phase which comprises 291 three-storey tropical homes are due for completion by April 2009 and all units except for Bumiputera ones have been sold.

"We are also nearly 99 per cent sold out of our 267 homes in the 'Isle of Aroma' precinct," Rajoo added.

By the first quarter of 2008, Rajoo said the company will launch its "Isle of Conifer" precinct which carries a gross development value of RM250 million.

Sited on 10.4ha of land, the 207 units comprising semi-detached, three-storey superlink and four storey villas are set to overlook a meadow of coniferous trees, pine, spruces and fir which will surround the precinct.

By New Straits Times

Kuwait Finance seeks partners for RM1b project

KUWAIT Finance House Malaysia Bhd (KFHMB) is looking for local and international partners to develop a parcel of land worth RM1 billion in the Iskandar Development Region (Iskandar) in south Johor that it recently acquired.

TOKEN OF APPRECIATION: Salman presenting a souvenir to Johor Economic Planning Unit director Datuk Hamsan Saringat (right) after officiating at Kuwait Finance House's Awareness Campaign yesterday.

The Islamic bank is in talks with investors from China, Australia, Singapore and the Middle East to develop the 252.5ha plot located in a prime area near Gelang Patah.

Plans are under way to develop it into a mix of residential and commercial structures and there are billions of ringgit worth of projects that could be derived from the venture from constructing the infrastructure to maintenance and services.

KFHMB managing director Datuk K. Salman Younis said discussions are still at the initial stage and another three months would be needed to come up with details on the mixed development plan of the land.

"We are looking for partners to develop the piece of land. We have no estimates yet, give us three months to come up with further details on the development concept and the parties involved," he said at a press conference in Johor Baru yesterday.

Salman said the bank is looking at the possibilities of developing the land with multiple investors as the prospective people who have been approached have shown keen interest in investing in Iskandar.

"Many investors are confident of making long-term commitments in Iskandar because it is strongly supported by the the federal and the state governments," he said, adding that the core value of the bank is to support the mission and vision of the country in which they operate.

Salman said the bank is serious in its commitment to invest in the IDR, which is supposed to become a metropolis in 2025, by opening its first branch outside the Klang Valley in Johor Baru within the first quarter of next year.

KFHMB has two branches in Kuala Lumpur and one in Shah Alam, Selangor.

"Through our presence in Johor, we will not only expand our network here, but continue the role of bridging the Middle East and Asian regions to promote greater economic integration," he said.

By New Straits Times (By Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi)