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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gateway to 'new' Puchong

Bukit Hitam offering high-end products in flagship development after rebranding exercise

After going through a rebranding exercise, following a change in ownership, Bukit Hitam Development Sdn Bhd (Bukit Hitam) now wants to position its flagship development, Bukit Puchong, previously known as Bandar Bukit Puchong, as the "new" Puchong.

"We are at the gateway to the new Puchong," says Lim Jee Kong, general manager of Bukit Hitam. Established as a 50:50 joint venture between TAHPS Group Bhd (TAHPS) and the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) in 1992, Bukit Puchong is a 1,290-acre
freehold township project, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM3 billion.

Lim: Consumers have changed... they want new and different products

Currently 50% developed, with a total of 4,000 residential units and 350 commercial units completed and handed over, Bukit Puchong now boasts a 90% occupancy rate for its completed portions. "Our advantages are our size and location. We are one of the last freehold tracts in Puchong situated on higher ground," says Lim.

Last year, TAHPS gained full ownership of Bukit Hitam. "After the change in ownership, we began studying the change in market trends and we are now carrying out a new wave of development in Puchong," he says. "We are moving towards higher-end developments, with better quality in terms of design and environment."

Better landscaping
Since its rebranding exercise, which began early this year, Bukit Puchong has gone through several changes. Besides offering higher-end products, the developer is also upgrading its products, such as adding better landscaping. The company also sports a new logo. "We are upgrading our offices and showhouses to make them trendier than before," says Lim.

"Consumers have changed: they want new and different products. That's the reason for our rebranding," he says. "People are more affluent, more educated and more exposed. They know what they want, and we want to cater to their needs."

Their rebranding efforts can be seen in Ametis Terraces, a gated community with 120 units of 2 and 2½-storey terraced homes. About 70% sold since its launch in March, the homes come in two designs: Classic and Contempo. The former has a conventional home layout, while the latter has a reconfigured living space and a water feature added for feng shui or creative purposes.

An Ametis Terraces showhouse

Targeted at newly married couples and young families, the Ametis Terraces homes come in sizes from 20ft by 75ft onwards. Intermediate units are priced between RM355,000 and RM389,000 while corner lots go for RM587,000 and above. With a GDV of RM46 million, completion is expected in early 2009.

According to Lim, Bukit Hitam assures early delivery of its products. Its Nilam Terraces, an enclave of 2½-storey terraced homes, was completed and handed over mid-November, six months ahead of schedule. A precursor to Ametis Terraces, the 105 units come in standard lot size of 20ft by 65ft with built-ups from 2,266 sq ft. They are set within a gated community and are pegged at RM348,000 onwards.

The first phase of its latest launch — the ParkVille townhouses — has been 62% sold.
"We're expecting 90% sales by year-end, and will launch the remainder early next year," says Lim. He adds that the garden-themed homes place strong emphasis on parks and landscaping.
"Maintenance fee for ParkVille is six sen psf; it's less than RM100 per unit for security and landscape maintenance."

An artist's impression of ParkVille homes in Bukit Puchong

Set within a gated and guarded enclave, there are 400 units with standard lot size of 24ft by 60ft. Upper units with built-ups of 1,528 sq ft are priced at RM218,888 while lower units with built-ups of 1,258 sq ft (with an extra 5ft land at the rear) are going for RM223,888. There will be a 10% increase in prices for the second launch, says Lim. Construction has already begun on the RM85 million project and completion is expected by October 2010.

Value appreciation

"Next year should be good. ParkVille is doing well and the demand should continue," says Lim.
"People from other areas (besides Puchong) are buying our properties," he offers, adding that 50% of the buyers are from Puchong, with others coming from places like Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya.

"There is new interest in this township. There is good demand and we have sophisticated purchasers."

He attributes the success of the township to its location. It's accessible via Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), South Klang Valley Expressway, Kesas Highway and the KLIA-KL Expressway (scheduled to open in January next year).

"Value appreciation in Bukit Puchong is lower than in places such as Damansara Utama, but we are catching up. Our properties should see values appreciate by between 20% and 30%," says Lim.

The group also plans to add landscaping. "A police station has been set up and we plan to build a post office next year," he adds.

Next year will see the launch of another 200 ParkVille homes, as well as 50 linked bungalows and zero-lot bungalows next to Ametis Terraces. "We have also set aside 254 acres for an exclusive, gated and guarded project," says Lim. Touted to be a combination of high-end landed and strata properties, the plans are expected to be finalised early next year.

Also coming up is a 100-acre regional town centre. "There will be comprehensive retail planning to cater to residents of Puchong within a 20km radius," says Lim.

Targeted for completion in 2010 is the proposed 7.9-acre Taylor's Junior College. An agreement has already been signed. Another five acres have been set aside for a private institution, with plans for a high-end retail project on another plot.

Address of choice
Lim, who joined Bukit Hitam at end-2006, has been in the property sector for over 25 years. "I have always been in property development. It is an interesting and challenging job and the industry is getting more matured," he says.

Before Bukit Hitam, he held senior management positions in Sumur Wang, Danga Bay and the IOI Group. His mission now is to make Puchong "the address of choice" and Bukit Hitam the "developer of choice".

"Good living equals a nice house with good design, and good environment with landscaped park and facilities. We want to create a good buying experience and to provide good service," says Lim.

"Communication is also important to bring us closer to purchasers because we are building a community," he adds. At present, Bukit Puchong contributes 80% towards TAHPS's revenue. With another 600 acres left, Bukit Puchong will keep the group occupied for another seven years.

By The EDGE MALAYSIA - City and Country (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

IJM Land charts new direction

An artist's impression of The Light, one of IJM's crown jewels

Existing and future projects to keep developer busy for several years

Life is even busier for IJM Corp Bhd CEO and managing director Datuk Krishnan Tan, now that plans to rationalise the group's property development division are in place and moving on to the second stage at full speed.

"We have a lot of work to do, with projects all over the country and overseas, especially now that we have integrated two divisions (IJM Properties Sdn Bhd and RB Land Holdings Bhd) into one listed vehicle," Tan tells City and Country after unveiling The Light — IJM's ambitious, RM6.5 billion project on reclaimed land in Penang recently.

Tan: The Light will be a symbolic landmark in Penang, clearly visible from the mainland and the Penang Bridge

"The first action is over," he says, referring to the merger, which was aimed at streamlining the group's property development business.

"Now, we need to execute the second stage, which is the rebranding exercise of our property development division, to be known as IJM Land Bhd.

"IJM Land is poised to be a core division of our group as real estate development is expected to contribute significantly to our profits," he adds.

Property development contributed 24% or RM77.1 million to IJM Corp's pre-tax profit of RM318.9 million on revenue of RM463.8 million for FY2007, ended March 31.

During the brief interview that his tight schedule could permit, Tan talks about the group's penetration of India, the contingency plans in view of rising construction and material costs, and The Light.

When asked how IJM Land will position itself on the country's property scene, he says with over 9,000 acres in its landbank, IJM Land is set to be among the top property developers in the country.

"Our existing and future projects will keep us busy for several years and essentially make us one of the top developers in the country," says Tan.

Among the then IJM Properties' notable projects are the PJ8 Tower in Petaling Jaya, Ampersand@Kia Peng, which is a high-end condominium project in the KLCC vicinity, mixed residential projects in Saujana Puchong, Ukay Green in Ulu Kelang and Riana Green East in Wangsa Maju.

In Sandakan, Sabah, IJM is involved in a 320-acre housing project.

RB Land, on the other hand, is credited with building the booming townships of Seremban 2 and Shah Alam 2.

The enlarged company's (IJM Land) landbank in the Klang Valley, Penang, Negri Sembilan, Johor and Sabah is expected to translate into a gross development value (GDV) of more than RM15 billion.

On IJM's overseas ventures, Tan says: "IJM will stick to the same strategy as in the past, which is to go into any country as a contractor first and then finding opportunities to develop properties there.

"Our move into India was carried out using the same approach, where we went in as a contractor and then started developing land."

According to Tan, IJM has three key development projects under construction in India, and it is in talks with several landowners in India on future projects.

"In Hyderabad, we are undertaking a residential and commercial project on an 80-acre tract and in Nagpur, we are working on a residential project on 35 acres.

"In Vijayawada, which is a third-tier city, we are undertaking the development of 119 acres of low and high-rise residential units," he offers. The GDV of the projects in India, he adds, is in the region of RM3.5 billion.

IJM's vehicle in India is known as IJM (India) Infrastructure Ltd. Among its notable projects is the Raintree Park, an integrated township in Hyderabad.

Hyderabad is the capital city of Andhra Pradesh province, with a population of 6.1 million. Vijayawada is the third largest city in the province, while Nagpur is one of the largest cities in central India, with a population of 2.1 million.

When asked if IJM plans to launch projects in any other country, especially the Middle East, where it has a strong presence as a contractor, Tan says: "We are looking around but there's nothing at the moment."

He is optimistic IJM will remain profitable in times to come despite rising construction and material costs.
"Profit margins will continue to erode with escalating costs as this is a reality in property development, but we are going for cost compression.

"The key issue is to do more, which is to carry out more projects and hedge where we can and bring in savings in other forms.

"Since these (costs) are mostly driven by external factors, we will carry out significant market research to stay profitable," he says.

Future landmark: Visitors viewing a model of the Light project

The Light

Tan singled out The Light as one of IJM's crown jewels. "The Light is a spectacular project that will bring pride to the people of Penang as not only will it showcase the island's biggest waterfront development, it will also be on a par with renowned properties such as Canary Wharf in London, Melbourne's Docklands and Queens Quay of Toronto.

"It will be a symbolic landmark in Penang, clearly visible from the mainland and the Penang Bridge," he says.

The Light will be built over the next 10 years over 152 acres in three phases by Jelutong Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of IJM Land.

It is located on the eastern coastline of Penang in Gelugor, along Jalan Udini heading towards Bayan Lepas, where the Penang government has given IJM the right to reclaim 338 acres in exchange for constructing the Jelutong Expressway.

What The Light's high-end waterfront homes will look like

Land reclamation works are currently underway and construction is expected to start before the end of 2008.
The Light will feature 1,186 units of high-end waterfront condominiums, office towers, four hotels, a family mall, an IT mall, a fashion mall, dining and entertainment facilities and a seafront park.

Under phase one, covering 17ha, six parcels of high-end waterfront residences, comprising 1,186 units, will be developed. Under phase two, a commercial and retail city, comprising the Gateway Towers, hotels, signature offices, showrooms, banquet and conference facilities, cultural hall, visitor centre and waterfront amphitheatre, will be built on 41.7ha.

A unique feature of The Light is a floating stage and a floating restaurant, with the entire development interconnected by water taxis. Tan says The Light will also boast a seafront park with 2km set aside for greenery.
The prices of the residential and commercial units at The Light are expected to be in the region of RM350 to RM650 psf.

With the launch of The Light, Tan believes IJM Land has made an impact as a trusted developer building quality properties besides creating new townships and opportunities.

By The EDGE MALAYSIA - City and Country (by Tim Leonard)

Shareholder seeks removal of entire GPlus board

PETALING JAYA: Indian Corridor Sdn Bhd, Golden Plus Holdings Bhd's new major shareholder with an 11.8% equity interest, will seek the removal of the Bursa Malaysia-listed company's entire board at an EGM to be convened on Jan 26.

In a statement to Bursa, GPlus said it had on Thursday received notice from Indian Corridor and Pembangunan Qualicare Sdn Bhd (PQ) proposing to remove chairman Datuk Abdul Halim, executive directors Low Thiam Hoe and Goh Sin Tien, and independent non-executive directors Tan Sri Lamin Mohd Yunus, Jeyaraj V. Ratnaswamy and Yeoh Hor San.

It is not known how big a stake PQ has in the property developer.

The major shareholders have also proposed to appoint Tan Sri Mohd Jamil Johari, Datuk Sharir Abdul Jalil, Mohamad Zekri Ibrahim, Datuk Ooi Kee Liang and Loh Chye Teik as directors of GPlus.

StarBiz understands that the hostility arose as a result of unhappiness over the management agreement GPlus subsidiary Yanfull Investments Ltd (YIL) signed with China Idea Development Ltd (CID) on July 25.

Indian Corridor, which emerged as the single largest shareholder on Dec 19, considered the agreement “unjustifiable” for GPlus, a source told StarBiz.

The agreement is to engage Hong Kong-based CID to provide services in relation to the management and day-to-day operations of YIL unit, Yanfull (Shanghai) Co Ltd (YS), which is involved in a high-end property development project in Shanghai, China.

The Chinese project is seen as GPlus's core income-generating asset.

Under the agreement, CID was required to reimburse YIL a sum of RM650 per sq m (psm) from sales of the properties. The payments start after CID achieves 40% of the gross saleable area based on each of the four phases.

It is believed that Indian Corridor is against the agreement because the reimbursement rate is too low versus the market price, which is said to be about 15,000 yuan (RM6,832) psm, or more than 10 times the agreed amount.

After incurring losses for the past seven consecutive quarters, GPlus turned profitable in the quarter ended Sept 30, posting a net profit of RM21.5mil on higher revenue of RM136.2mil.

The board attributed the improvement to contributions from phase two of the Royal Garden development project in Shanghai.

The source said GPlus' earnings would have been much higher if the sales revenue it was collecting from Shanghai was more in line with the market price.

The share price of hardly traded GPlus has been soaring since September.

The stock hit a high of RM2.21 in September from under 60 sen in August. It closed five sen lower at RM1.72 yesterday.

By The Star (by Kathy Fong)