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Friday, November 16, 2007

Talk on NCER in Penang

Residents up north, particularly in Penang, will get to know more about the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) at a free seminar organised by Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd and Penang based HCK Technology & Information Services. The speaker will be Ho Chin Soon (pix), director of Ho Chin Soon Research.

To be held on Nov 28 at Cititel Hotel in Upper Penang Road, the talk will be beneficial to locals as well as real estate professionals including developers, property valuers, agents, town planners and architects.

Issues to be addressed include how the NCER would stake up to another government-driven
initiative in the form of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), that was launched earlier, as
well as the Klang Valley.

Launched by the Prime Minister in July, the NCER is a development initiative that is expected to draw investments worth over RM170 billion from now till 2025. It was identified as
one of the areas to generate the country’s economic growth under the Ninth Malaysia
Plan. The NCER socio-economic blueprint will cover Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak.

“The NCER is the main focus of the talk and I’m sure the locals are interested to know how such a massive development will benefit them. There are also concerns on whether the IDR will pose a competition to the NCER,” says Ho.

He cites the example of foreigners who want to invest here but are unsure which project to go for since both NCER and IDR are located within Peninsular Malaysia. Ho will also identify areas in the NCER that will be worth investing in for the real estate market during his session.

Another highlight of the seminar will be the focus on Penang island. Ho says real estate activities tend to be concentrated on the island which already has a population of more than one million people. “Projects on the island bring the highest returns including yields and capital appreciation,” he adds.

For those interested in the seminar, the closing date for registration is Nov 19. To register, email or, or fax to 04-229 0766.
For more information, call 04-229 0766.

By theSun (By Loo Pik Kwan)

Talam projects on schedule

Talam Corporation Bhd’s financial restructuring exercise over the last two years has
not affected the construction schedule of any of its projects. “In fact, we will be handing over three phases in our Taman Puncak Jalil development in the next one or two months,” said its
executive director Chua Kim Lan.

Chua told PropertyPlus after the group’s EGM yesterday that progress on its other developments is moving along well and the group will focus on completing all its projects before
looking at new launches for next year.

“Our high-rise projects are 20% to 30% completed while our landed properties are close to
60% to 90% ready,” she added.

Talam has appointed IJM Corp Bhd as the principal contractor for all the group’s projects,
including previously stalled ones. The group is also involved in two 50:50 joint ventures (JVs) projects with the latter – Serenia Gardens (formerly known as Sierra Green) and Sierra Selayang, which has a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM1.5 billion.

Artist's impression of the Serenia Gardens homes

Serenia Gardens, located on a 90-acre leasehold tract in Ulu Kelang, has sold about 70%
of its first phase, comprising 225 terraced houses priced at RM350,800 onwards, since its soft
launch in September. The official launch is targeted by end of this year.

On Sierra Selayang, Chua said the layout for the project was recently endorsed after changes
to make it more for the highend market. “We are targeting to launch the development by 2Q
next year, offering only semi-dees and bungalows, different from the previously planned rows of
terraced houses.” The 204-acre project is located at the Ulu Gombak Forest Reserve, behind
the Gombak Land Office.

She said although the group is changing its business model to more high-end projects, it would
mostly be from JVs with IJM. “The reason for JVs is because our advertising permit has been
suspended and we can’t sell any products on our own. We also need to raise funds to pay off
some of our debts,” she added.

The group is also looking to start work on its China joint venture project after winter
(April) next year. It comprises an incomplete structure of a proposed 35-storey commercial,
office and residential building, together with 2 levels of basement car park, located on
a 1.65-acre tract in the heart of Changchun, Jilin Province. The project has a GDV of more
than RMB900 million (RM408.2 million).

By theSun (By Yap Yew Jin)

Bolton to focus on high-end market

BOLTON Bhd (Bolton) will focus solely on property development in the medium to high-end market by the end of next year as it is in the midst of disposing its non-core assets and winding down its construction and engineering sector.

Azman: In the midst of disposing non-core assets

Its executive chairman, Datuk Azman Yahya, said the company has only RM150 million worth of non-core assets left, having already disposed its Hotel Midah to a private party for RM26 million. “Proceeds from the sale of our non-core assets will be used to reduce borrowings and to
buy land,” he said, adding that its Campbell Complex and Langkawi Fair are still up for sale.

Last Saturday, Bolton launched its maiden project in Penang, a RM170 million condominium project named Surin. Located on 3.4 freehold acres in Tanjung Bungah, 50% of the first block, comprising 198 units, have been sold.

“We will open the second block, which is the premium block with better views, once sales of the first block hit 80%,” said Azman. The entire project comprises two 28- storey towers with a total of 396 units.

Chan: RM2 billion worth of projects for next year

Bolton’s chief operating officer Chan Wing Kwong said the company has planned RM1.5 billion to RM2 billion worth of projects for next year. One of them is the Mayang development, a joint venture (JV) with UM Land Bhd.

“We plan to introduce it to the market in the fourth quarter of 2008,” said Chan. The 4.3-acre freehold project comprises condominiums with possible inclusion of office space. Prices have yet to be determined.

Also to be opened for sale next year is the second block of its RM80 million Tijani condominium. “We feel that the market will be stronger next year, that’s why we held back,” said Chan.

Meanwhile, its ongoing project, the 1,400-acre Bandar Amanjaya township in Sungai Petani, Kedah, has been 50% developed. It currently has 700 acres left with a gross development value (GDV) of between RM400 million to RM500 million. According to Chan, the company sells an
average of 500 to 700 units per year garnering average sales of RM30 million to RM40 million per year. It expects to complete the township within the next seven years.

“With a current land bank of 900 acres, Bolton will focus primarily in the Klang Valley and Penang. We will be accelerating our purchase of land in Penang now that we have a presence there,” he added.

By theSun (By Yeong Ee-Wah)

Themed resort for Pulau Indah

An integrated themed resort, dubbed D’Tiara Waterfront Resort, is to be developed on a 300-acre site in Klang’s Pulau Indah by oil and gas company Oilcorp Bhd through its property unit, D’Tiara Corp Sdn Bhd.

The first phase, covering 100 acres with a gross development value (GDV) of RM800 million, will include a business hotel, shopping mall, marina club, hotel suites and seafood hypermarket as well as residential villas and canal bungalows, said Oilcorp executive director Pua Yow Liang. It will be completed in four to five years’ time.

Pua: Pulau Indah ideal for resort development

“The hotel suites, priced from RM150,000 to RM300,000, will feature a sale and leaseback model while the canal bungalows will have their own waterfront where owners can leave their boats and walk directly into their homes,” added Pua.

Comprising 112 units, the 2-storey bungalows have land areas of between 6,000 and 7,000 sq ft and built-ups of 3,000 to 4,000 sq ft. Tentative prices will be between RM800,000 and RM1 million.

The leasehold project is due to be launched by the second quarter of next year. The entire development will be carried out in three phases and will take 10 years to complete.

“We already have planning approvals for the first phase. First up for launch will be the hotel suites and canal bungalows,” Pua told reporters after the sales launch of D’Tiara Amanahraya Hotel Suites yesterday. Confident of the success of the Pulau Indah project due to its ideal location, Pua is targeting not just local buyers from the Klang Valley but also foreigners including
those from the Middle East.

“The location is ideal for an integrated resort development and now, tourists tend to move away from the city centre. D’Tiara Waterfront Resort is a larger version of our resort development in Port Dickson and the size of our waterpark in Pulau Indah will be three times the size of the one in Port Dickson, up to 12.5 acres,” he adds.

The RM110 million D’Tiara Beach Resort, spread over a 23-acre tract in Port Dickson,
is a hotel-cum-serviced apartment development with 980 rooms and offers the largest man-made beach in the country.

Pua said it is also developing a leisure and health centre on a 3.5-acre freehold site in Genting Sempah comprising 36 villas.

“With a sales value of RM65 million, this project will be completed in two years. We plan to sell the entire project to a single investor or even a Real Estate Investment Trust fund,” he added.
Pua said the Pulau Indah and Genting Sempah projects form part of Oilcorp’s plans to develop the D’Tiara brand as a property player.

“We aim to have 50:50 concentration on hotel operations and property development as it will contribute recurring income as well as profit for the company,” he said.

The D'Tiara Amanahraya Hotel Suites and Corporate Offices will be completed by end 2011

On its four-star D’Tiara Amanahraya Hotel Suites in Brickfields, Pua is confident all 378 units of 1- and 2- bedroom suites will be sold out by the end of the year.

“With our competitive prices ranging from RM600 to RM700 psf, we already have confirmed bookings for 150 units. We also offer an attractive leaseback programme which guarantees a minimum 7% nett returns annually for five years,” said Pua, adding that it will be operating
the hotel and will also be absorbing the service fee.

With six designs to choose from, the hotel suites come with built-ups of between 587 and 1,032 sq ft. With a GDV of RM260 million, the 33-storey hotel will have 560 parking lots. Sited on a freehold 2.19-acre freehold site which it acquired 2½ years ago for about RM40 million, the hotel will also be adjoining the 35-storey D’Tiara Amanahraya Corporate Offices.

With a nett lettable area of 420,000 sq ft, D’Tiara sold the corporate offices to Amanah Raya Bhd for RM150 million in August. The D’Tiara Amanahraya Hotel Suites and Corporate Offices, with a total GDV of RM435 million, will start operations simultaneously upon completion by the
fourth quarter of 2011.

By theSun (By Loo Pik Kwan)

Bolton in final phase of shift to pure property play

KUALA LUMPUR: Bolton Bhd is in the final phase of restructuring with plans to dispose of RM150 million of non-core assets, the proceeds of which will be used to fund its property projects in the Klang Valley.

Its executive chairman Datuk Azman Yahya said the proposed disposal of its 20.01% stake in Symphony House Bhd could be completed by January next year while there were currently no potential buyers for Campbell Complex in Jalan Dang Wangi here.

Bolton has sold its quarry and premix businesses for RM6.5 million cash while its construction and engineering segment was being wound down and would be fully exited by the end of next year. It also wants to sell Langkawi Fair for at least RM45 million.

Speaking to reporters after its EGM here yesterday, Azman said its gearing had dropped to 0.6 times now and would go down further to 0.5 times upon the completion of the proposed disposal of Hotel Midah in Cheras for RM26 million.

Bolton has changed its focus purely on property development and it is looking for joint venture partners for more property projects.

“We will manage our risks by bringing in JV partners, by launching property products fast and by selling properties at a good margin,” Azman said.

He said Bolton’s order book currently stood at RM3 billion and 75% of that could be realised in the next 24 months. The group currently has a total land bank of 900 acres.

“The main GDV comes from the four-acre Mayang project near KLCC (with a gross development value of RM1.5 billion). Both the Mayang project and Seremban’s Jalan Bukit Ceylon project (GDV of RM100 million-120 million) will be launched by the end of next year,” he said.

Mayang’s selling price will be above RM1,000 per square feet. Its Bandar Amanjaya township in Sg Petani have a remaining 700 acres with a GDV of about RM400 million to RM500 million. It is selling at an average of RM30 million to RM40 million annually over a seven-year period.

Azman said Bolton’s property projects had profit margins of between 20% and 30%. He said Bolton planned to hit a RM5 billion GDV in the next two years through acquisition of land banks and the group planned to buy high value land banks that could be taken up quickly.

“We soft launched The Surin condominiums project (GDV of RM170 million) in Tanjung Bungah, Penang last Saturday. The official launch will be end of this year. Of the 198 units launched last week, we sold 99 units.

“Once we have sold 80% of the 198 units, we will launch another block of the 198 units condos. Selling price for these condos is between RM250,000 and RM700,000,” he added.

Bolton foresees a double digit growth in its operating profit in FY08 from sales of property, reduced borrowings and the raising of of the selling prices of its properties.

By The EDGE (By

AmInvestment lead arranger for Al-‘Aqar KPJ REIT’s Sukuk Ijarah programme

KUALA LUMPUR: AmInvestment Bank Bhd has been appointed lead arranger and principle advisor for the issuance of RM300 million in nominal value for the Al-‘Aqar KPJ REIT’s Sukuk Ijarah programme, said managing director and chief executive officer TC Kok.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the programme on Nov 16, he said: “Al-A’qar would be provided with a medium-term flexible financing platform to implement its investment and growth strategies.”

Al-‘Aqar KPJ REIT is a Malaysian-based unit trust owning and investing in Syariah-compliant real estate and assets used for commercial purposes.

Kok said that the programme would allow for funding to finance the acquisition of the five new hospitals, and others in prime areas.

“The acquisition will also enhance the overall profile of Al-A’qar’s portfolio and lower its overall funding costs to improve its distribution yield to unitholders,” he added.

The Sukuk Ijarah programme has a tenure of seven years and provides flexibility to the funding vehicle of Al-‘Aqar KPJ REIT, Al-‘Aqar Capital Sdn Bhd, to issue up to RM285 million Islamic medium term notes and up to RM15 million Islamic commercial papers.

The programme is backed by cash flows from Al-‘Aqar KPJ REIT’s existing six hospitals and five new hospitals and secured against the asset value of these 11 hospitals.

By The EDGE (By

D’Tiara eyes Mideast and Europe investors

Parent Oilcorp to remain in control after AIM listing

KUALA LUMPUR: Oilcorp Bhd property unit D’Tiara Corp Sdn Bhd is targeting investors from the Middle East and Europe for the company’s proposed listing on the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM) by the first quarter of next year.

Executive director Pua Yow Liang said the listing exercise was currently at due diligence stage.

“Oilcorp will remain a controlling shareholder in D’Tiara Corp after it is listed on the AIM ,” he said after the launch of D’Tiara AmanahRaya Hotel Suites here yesterday

According to Pua, D’Tiara Corp expects to launch next year two property projects: the D’Tiara Leisure & Health Resort in Genting Sempah and D’Tiara Waterfront Resort in Pulau Indah, Klang.

The former had a gross development value (GDV) of around RM110mil while the 300-acre waterfront resort had a GDV of about RM800mil for the first 100 acres of development, Pua said.

On the 378-unit hotel suites project, he said there were 150 confirmed bookings from local and foreign investors, translating to almost 40% pre-launch take-up rate.

“We expect the remaining units to be sold within three to six months,” he said.

Pua said D’Tiara Corp was offering an “attractive” leaseback programme, which would guarantee to pay a minimum 7% net return per annum for five years to each purchaser.

The hotel suites is part of the 8,871 sq m freehold D’Tiara AmanahRaya Office and Hotel Suites. The GDV of the whole project, located within the KL Sentral locality, is about RM435mil.

Oilcorp and AmanahRaya Bhd signed an agreement in August for the entire office block to be underwritten and jointly developed by the latter’s subsidiary AmanahRaya Development Sdn Bhd.

By The Star

Seal to build eco-industrial park

PENANG: Seal Inc Bhd, which has about RM52mil cash after the completion of its restructuring exercise, will use part of it to develop an eco-industrial park in Kelantan and complete a RM20.5mil commercial project in Permatang Pauh.

It was also identifying new business opportunities and scouting for suitable land for residential and commercial projects, group executive director Fang Siew Hong told StarBiz.

For the eco-industrial park in Kuala Krai, Seal planned next year to develop about 120 light industrial buildings on a 15-acre site.

“The buildings, with an estimated gross sales value of RM50mil, are designed for the bird’s nest cultivation business and other commercial uses,” she added.

About RM2mil would go towards setting up a veneer manufacturing plant in Kelantan, Fang said.

“The plywood produced would be for the export market. The veneer manufacturing business complements our current core business in timber logging in Kelantan and Kedah,” she said.

Fang said the two-year restructuring involved the disposal of land in Seberang Prai and a shopping mall in Selangor under a sale and lease back arrangement.

“The disposal of these properties generated about RM150mil, which was used to settle the group’s borrowings, thus reducing the gearing to less than 4% or RM5mil from 58% or RM80mil previously.

“We are left with RM52mil for working capital and security deposit,” she said.

On Seal’s timber logging business, Fang said it had the concession to log a 10,000-acre site in Kelantan and a 1,000-acre site in Kedah.

“Since January, the group has logged about 7,500 tonnes of timber, with an estimated value of about RM6mil. The timber is sold to plywood factories, sawmills and the furniture industry in the country,” she said.

By The Star (By David Tan)

IOI profit for first quarter jumps to RM451m

All major business divisions post higher revenue

KUALA LUMPUR: IOI Corp Bhd’s net profit soared almost 80% to RM451.52mil for its first quarter (Q1) ended Sept 30, from RM255.7mil in the previous corresponding period.

Revenue was 64% higher at RM3.12bil against RM1.9bil previously. Its Q1 net profit was 25% of analysts' consensus forecast of RM1.8bil for FY08.

All major business segments reported improved revenue on higher palm oil prices, increased volume for resource-based manufacturing and higher sales of properties, IOI Corp said in a statement.

“The group's pre-tax profit for Q1 is RM628.25mil, an increase of 85% compared with RM338.74mil a year ago, contributed by better performance in all major business segments,” it said. Earnings per share rose to 7.37 sen from 4.22 sen.

Year-on-year, plantation earnings were 134% higher to RM397.5mil, boosted by significantly higher crude palm oil (CPO) prices.

Average CPO prices realised in Q1 was RM2,473 per tonne compared with RM1,483 per tonne in the previous corresponding period.

Its resource-based segment reported 33% rise in operating profit to RM122.8mil with the inclusion of profit from Pan Century Group and volume growth.

Its property segment continued to perform well, with operating profit growing 37% to RM109.7mil from RM80.1mil before, driven mainly by higher demand for commercial and high-end residential properties.

“The percentage increase of the group's net earnings level is lower than the percentage at pre-tax level due mainly to higher tax expense as a result of the expiry of certain tax incentives at the end of the year ended June 30 (FY07),” IOI Corp added. It said all business segments were expected to further improve in performance for FY08. The plantation segment in particular was expected to benefit from higher trending palm oil prices.

In a separate filing with Bursa Malaysia, IOI Corp proposed for its subsidiary IOI Resources (L) Bhd to issue up to US$600mil nominal value five-year unsecured guaranteed third exchangeable bonds, which were exchangeable into new IOI Corp shares.

“The gross proceeds from the proposed bonds issue will be utilised to fund capital expenditure, investment or acquisition opportunities, working capital and to defray the estimated expenses of the bonds issue,” it said.

By The Star

Gefung moving into W. Asia, North Africa via JV

PETALING JAYA: Having established a foothold in China, Gefung Holdings Bhd is spreading its wings to West Asia and North Africa via a joint venture with major shareholder, Saudi Economic & Development Co Ltd (Sedco).

Sedco direct investment group managing director Yousuf Khayat said the venture to new markets would help diversify Gefung's income base and mitigate the fluctuations in its earnings from China.

China is a major market for Gefung, which has been riding on that country's construction boom.

However, the marble and granite product manufacturer has been hit by the Chinese government's measures to cool the property sector, which has been perceived as being overheated given the spiralling property prices.

Gefung managing director managing director Seo Aik Leong said the company's earnings had been affected by the delays in several projects worth more than 50 million yuan (RM22mil).

The company has guaranteed pre-tax profits of RM28mil and RM28.3mil for the financial years ending Dec 31, and 2008, respectively.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, Gefung posted a pre-tax profit of RM9.56mil on revenue of RM43.9mil.

Seo admitted it would be difficult for Gefung to achieve the guaranteed profits this year. “We would have been able to make that much profit if not for the delays in the projects in China,” he added.

Yesterday, Gefung signed an agreement with its 22% shareholder Sedco, whereby it will form a JV with a Sedco affiliated company TAWJEEH. Gefung will 50.01% interest in the JV.

The JV will build a marble and granite processing plant in Turkey, which would have at least double the capacity of Gefung's facilities in Shanghai, in order to serve the new markets in West Asia and North Africa.

The plant was expected to be completed by September, said Seo, who anticipates contribution from Middle East to flow in from next year. The JV firm will be incorporated in the Middle East with an initial paid-up capital of US$13.5mil.

Under the agreement, Gefung will inject its two quarries in Turkey into the JV company at a price to be determined later.

By The Star

Talam expects to send plan details to SC by end-Nov

TALAM Corp Bhd expects to submit supplementary details on its proposed regularisation plan appeal to the Securities Commission (SC) by the end of the month.

Talam executive director Chua Kim Lan said the company is meeting with bondholders to secure their approval for the proposed regularisation plan.

"The detailed framework has been given, it's just that we have to give official details for forecasts which we drew up under the framework," she told reporters after the company's shareholders meeting yesterday.

Chua said a majority of the bondholders have agreed to the conditions and company officials will meet with the remaining two bondholders by end of the month. Talam needs at least 75 per cent of the bondholders' to agree to the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Chua said all of the company's stalled projects are in various stages of completion. She said the few projects previously not taken over by IJM Corp Bhd are being finalised to be awarded to them to be completed.

IJM will develop all of Talam's stalled projects.

The fact that some of the stalled projects were not being continued by IJM had been one of the concerns highlighted by the SC.

Chua said the RM90 million adjustment required by the SC was an accounting entry adjustment, which did not have any material effect on the company's balance sheet.

The SC had directed Talam on October 3 2007 to rectify and reissue its financial statement for the year ended January 31 2006 by restating the debtors and reversing the corresponding amounts from property development cost of about RM56.8 million, other liabilities of about RM23.2 million and opening retaining profits of RM9.9 million.

Shareholders yesterday approved Talam's reissued financial statements for the financial years 2006 and 2007.

By New Straits Times (By Presenna Nambiar)

IOI Corp Q1 profit surges to RM452m

IOI Corp Bhd, Malaysia's most valuable firm, reported a 77 per cent surge in the first quarter net profit due to high palm oil price and better sales from its property and manufacturing divisions.

It also expects all of its business to show improvement for the year to June 30 2008.

IOI made a net profit of RM451.5 million for the first quarter ended September 30 2007. Revenue jumped 64 per cent to RM3.12 billion.

"All major business segments reported increase in revenue," IOI said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The group is benefiting from high crude palm oil (CPO) price which hit a record of more than RM3,000 per tonne this year. This was mainly due to the rising use of CPO as an alternative energy source.

It said that it sold CPO at an average price of RM2,473 per tonne for the quarter, compared with RM1,483 for the same quarter last year.

Plantation earnings for the quarter more than doubled to RM397.5 million.

The group's resource-based manufacturing segment, where it makes chemicals and specialty fats derived from palm oil, posted a one-third jump in operating profit to RM122.8 million.

On the property side, the division continued to perform well with an increase in operating profit by 39 per cent to RM109.7 million.

This was driven largely by higher demand for commercial and high-end residential properties.

IOI Corp executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng told reporters after its annual general meeting recently that the group is set to achieve another record high in the current fiscal year.

The group reported a 78 per cent surge in net profit to a record RM1.4 billion in the year ended June 2007, on the back of a record RM8.9 billion revenue.

IOI also said its wholly-owned subsidiary, IOI Resources (L) Bhd, is issuing up to US$600 million (RM2.02 billion) exchangeable bonds which can be exchanged into IOI Corp shares of 10 sen each.

The bonds will be issued and offered outside Malaysia to certain non-US persons.

Money from the bond issue will be used to fund capital expenditure, investment or acquisition opportunities and working capital.

By New Straits Times (By Sharen Kaur)