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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Courts Mammoth set to unveil new megastore

PETALING JAYA: Courts Mammoth Sdn Bhd is confident that its first large-format retail
store in the country, Courts Megastore Mutiara Damansara, will contribute between at least 15% and 20% to its total annual turnover.

The megastore marks the second phase of Courts' rebranding exercise

Located in the freehold Mutiara Damansara area, a stone’s throw away from home furnishing store Ikea, Courts Megastore takes up three levels of a six-storey, purposebuilt building on a 50,000 sq ft site.

Of the 100,000 sq ft total net lettable space, Courts Megastore leased 60,000 sq ft of space from land and building owner Bentley Music Sdn Bhd.

The group completed the fitting-out of the megastore in two months and has leased the
space for 10 years. The monthly rental for the first two years has been fixed at RM420,000 a

Touted as the largest consumer electronics and furniture retailer in Malaysia with over 50 stores nationwide, the group has invested up to RM10 million on a rebranding exercise since 18 months ago.

At a media and business partners’ preview of Courts Megastore yesterday, chief executive and managing director James Friel said that the megastore marks the start of the second phase of its rebranding initiative, which would take two years to complete.

“We will be reformatting at least another 11 stores for the year ahead. The location is ideal for our megastore, which is also the second worldwide, as we are targeting the urban consumers’ evolving tastes and needs,” he said. Courts first megastore is in Singapore, also located nearby Ikea.

Courts executive vicechairman Terry O’Connor explained that both retailers, in fact, complement each other and the business synergies are greater than competition.

“When you take out the furniture, electrical and bedding, our business overlap is marginal... about 5%,” O’Connor said.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

Mahajaya to launch RM440 million in products

KUALA LUMPUR: Mahajaya Bhd will be launching products with a combined gross development value of RM440 million for its 2008 financial year, said its managing director William Tan Ming Wai.

“Our focus for the next three years will be Bandar Damai Perdana in Cheras, Taman Damai Utama in Kinrara, Puchong and Taman Alam Indah in Shah Alam. We would be developing landed products in the medium-, medium-high, and high-end range,” he said after the group’s 11th annual general meeting yesterday.

For the financial year ended June 30, 2007, the group recorded a lower revenue of RM117 million compared with RM157 million in the previous year. On the group’s lower turnover, Tan said this was because there were less launches for the period.

“There were new rulings pertaining to hillside developments, thus we had to obtain approvals from the various government departments as two of our projects are hill projects,” he said, adding that the group has since obtained the necessary approvals.

The 430-acre freehold Bandar Damai Perdana comprises commercial and residential units. Its latest launch is the RM100 million Damai Gayana, which consists of 220 units of semidees and bungalows. There are two phases of 2½-storey semidees with the earlier 24 units launched last December already sold out while the second batch of 18 units, which was launched less than three months ago has achieved a takeup rate of 30%. Meanwhile, the 53 units of 2½- storey bungalows, which were also launched last December, have a take-up rate 40%.

U Centre Point, the first launch in Mahajaya’s 220-acre leasehold Taman Damai Utama in Kinrara, Puchong was unveiled three months ago. The project with 142 units of 2- and 3- storey shop offices has a take-up rate of 90%.

Upon completion in six years, Taman Damai Utama will have over 3,800 units of commercial
and residential properties.

Another project, the 115-acre leasehold Taman Alam Indah in Section 33, Shah Alam, has a take-up rate of 97% for its first phase of 50 units of 2-storey link houses sold under the build-then-sell concept.

Mahajaya has a landbank of over 1,000-acres in Tanjung Malim in Perak, Johor, Malacca and Sepang to sustain the group for the next six to seven years.

By theSun (by Allison Lee)

Kuala Lumpur City Corp’s Nomad to spend RM20mil on expansion

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur City Corporation Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Nomad Space Sdn Bhd, will spend about RM20mil on its expansion plan locally and regionally next year.

The business space outsourcing company has targeted to open eight to 10 service office centres in seven countries by the third quarter of next year, general manager of operations, Joan Lim-Choong said yesterday.

“By the first quarter, we will have four more centres in Kuala Lumpur and another two centres in Singapore while in the second quarter we will expand to Jakarta, Manila and Bangkok and by the third quarter, to Vietnam, Australia and even Shanghai,” she said.

Lim-Choong said Nomad Space’s parent company had earlier acquired a serviced office operator in Singapore as part of the plan to become a regional player.

Kuala Lumpur City is the first local public-listed company to manage serviced offices and offer business support solutions to international business travellers, multinational corporations and local enterprises.

Speaking at a media preview on its first office suites in the city centre here, Lim-Choong said the needs of today’s business professionals were speed, connectivity and flexibility.

“That is why we have come up with this concept with the right setting, environment and support services for the global nomads and small and medium entrepreneurs,” she said.

Lim-Choong said the company was seeing rapid growth for business space outsourcing in the Asia Pacific region.

This, according to her, was due to an increasing number of organisations looking to manage their business risks more effectively, maximise financial resources and increase flexibility.

Nomad Space occupies 13,259 square feet comprising office suites, meeting rooms, business lounge, virtual office and cafe.

Its support services include administration business support, translation services, video conferencing system, high-speed colour copier, printer, scanner, fax, communication system and broadband access.

By Bernama

Stronger presence for Tradewinds Corp Bhd (TWC)

KUALA LUMPUR: Tradewinds Corp Bhd (TWC) is looking to build a stronger presence in the hotel and property development markets after a proposed de-merger involving a restricted offer for sale of its 53% stake in Tradewinds (M) Bhd to TWC shareholders and an acquisition of 907 acres of prime development land in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

If approved by shareholders and the authorities, the exercise will help TWC, among others, to reduce its current debt of RM2.45bil to RM1.03bil, and give it sufficient financial resources for its hotels and to undertake major property development projects.

TWC chairman Datuk Seri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said the exercise would put the group in a much stronger financial position and pave the way for its future growth.

“At present, TWC has four major core businesses – plantations, sugar manufacturing, property investment and development, and hotels. Through the de-merger, TWC will emerge as a more focused entity.

“With greatly reduced debts, our property development and hotel businesses will become the major drivers of future group profits,'' Najmuddin told StarBiz.

TWC's chain of nine hotels stretches from Penang to Kuching and Hanoi in Vietnam. Some of its prominent hotels are Hilton Petaling Jaya, Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur and Hotel Istana.

Tradewinds Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Shaharul Farez Hassan said although occupancies and the average room rates at the group’s hotels had improved over the past few years, “the competition out there is still very tough.”

“The overall costs have gone up in tandem with room rates, and it's getting very hard to recruit good staff or keep existing experienced ones,'' Farez said..

Datuk Seri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas

TWC also owns two prime investment properties in Kuala LumpurMenara Tun Razak in Jalan Raja Laut and Kompleks Antarabangsa in Jalan Sultan Ismail. The two buildings generate over RM24mil in rental income a year.

In previous years, TWC’s property development was limited to two joint ventures with a Johor developer. Recently, the group decided to expand its property development activities to take advantage of rising income among Malaysians and the various attractive incentives offered by the Government for the property sector.

Towards this end, the group has started to build up its own capability in this area.

P.K. Poh, who retired as group managing director of Dijaya Corp Bhd early this year after 15 years, was appointed TWC adviser and director.

According to Poh, the proposed acquisition of the IDR land was only the beginning of the group’s property development journey and plans were under way to develop more projects over the next few years.

“We will also be venturing into other major and iconic projects, particularly in Kuala Lumpur. We hope to take full advantage of the IDR land, which has a potential gross development value of more than RM2bil,” he added.

Another property veteran who joined TWC recently is Cheah Wing Choong, who has been appointed its chief operating officer.

“These are interesting times for the TWC group, and I’m truly excited about the prospect of helping the management team in the proposed transformation of TWC into one of Malaysia’s blue-chip developers,” said Cheah.

Poh said the new management team was looking forward to recruiting a more capable and experienced core staff over the next few months and, together with the existing TWC staff who are looking after the investment properties and hotels.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Saudi firm to tap Islamic debts to fund US$2.9b project

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's Jabal Omar Development Co plans to tap the Islamic debt markets to help finance an 11 billion riyal, or US$2.9 billion (US$1 = RM3.35) project in Mecca that will be built by developers including Binladin Group.

Jabal Omar awarded Binladin, the country's largest contractor, and Saudi Oger, owned by the family of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the contract to build the project, the Saudi developer said in a statement on Monday.

"A portion of the sum will be raised organically, while a portion will come from Islamic finance and conventional methods," Jabal Omar said, without giving details.

Jabal Omar raised US$537 million by selling a 30 per cent stake in a November initial public offering (IPO) that valued the company at around US$1.79 billion.

The remaining 70 per cent of the company is held by the owners of a 23ha plot of land in Mecca near the Grand Mosque.

The cost of land in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, has surged, with land selling for as much US$50,000 per sq m, according to government statistics.

That compares with US$14,522 per sq m in London and US$24,900 per sq m in Monaco, according to the Global Property Guide.

Jabal Omar said it expected to complete construction of the development in three years.

In addition to a prayer area accommodating 65,000 people, the development will have 39 buildings including hotels, residences and retail facilities, it said.

More than 1.6 million pilgrims have come to Saudi Arabia from abroad for this month's haj pilgrimage, the largest regular religious gathering in the world.

Islamic law bans the receipt of interest and operates on the principle of sharing risk and reward among all those involved in a business venture.

Investing in sectors such as alcohol, pornography and gambling is prohibited.

By Reuters

NCER to get RM5b more

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will provide an additional RM5 billion in the mid-term review of the 9th Malaysia Plan (9MP) for the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi.

He said under the 9MP currently, the government had provided RM12.5 billion in financial provision for the implementation of various projects in the NCER.

“On the whole, about RM178 billion would be invested in the NCER until 2025 involving both the private and public sector,” he said in reply to points raised by MPs during their debate on the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority Bill 2007 (NCIA) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Effendi said under the 10th Malaysia Plan, RM13 billion would be allocated by the government for the NCER, with the private sector expected to invest another RM30 billion.

He said under 11th and 12th Malaysia Plan, the private sector were expected to invest another RM30 billion in the NCER.

He added a total of 179 projects would be implemented in the NCER until 2025 involving the agriculture, manufacturing and tourism economic sector. Effendi said this move would lead to the creation of 540,000 jobs.

He also said the NCIA would not usurp the powers and functions from any of the state governments or agencies which come under the corridor and this was clearly stated in the role the proposed authority would play in the corridor.

“For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act shall be construed as reducing or limiting the rights, powers and functions of the State of Perlis, Kedah, Penang or Perak or any government entity,” he said.

Earlier in tabling the bill, Effendi said the NCIA was needed to ensure systematic development in the area. He said as the coordinating agency, NCIA would ensure the development policies for the region are commercially viable. The bill was passed by the House.


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