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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Auto City seeks to become tourist landmark

Auto City plans to invest RM120 million in a bid to draw more tourists

PENANG: Auto City Group, the operator of Auto City in Juru plans to set up a hotel as well as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) facilities besides constructing a shopping mall and a family park, all on a 5.67ha site adjoining Auto City.

Its managing director Gary Teoh said this is in line with the group's plans to expand its business activities to tap into the tourism industry in the near future.

Teoh said it was keen on positioning the company to cash in on the tourism industry on the mainland, as most of the state’s tourism products were located on the island.

“We plan to invest about RM120 million to set up the infrastructure, and hopefully, the project can take off by the third quarter of the year,” he told theSun.

“We decided to venture into the tourism industry because we hold a lot of concerts, promo tours and family events at the existing Auto City, which has since attracted a lot of local and foreign tourists to the area,” he said.

He added that Auto City had been endorsed by the state government as a tourist product, aimed at boosting the tourism industry in the Seberang Perai area on the mainland.

Auto City, located along the North South Highway is the first integrated development positioned for the automobile industry, and boasts showrooms housing high-end carmakers such as Porsche, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari.

Teoh also said it had earlier invested about RM30 million to develop a 4ha-site focused on food and beverage (F&B) as well as entertainment outlets.

He said that the concept of Auto City came about after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and after research in 2001, showed that the automobile industry was on an “up” trend.

“At that time the new concept of ‘showroom, service and spare parts centres’ (3S) was introduced to the Malaysian market and we felt that we were in a good position to capitalise on it,” Teoh said.

“However, we also wanted to include F&B outlets in Auto City to add lifestyle elements to the development,” he said, adding that the initial investment to set up its operations was RM30 million between 2003 and 2004.

To date, the entire development boasts more than 60,000sq ft of F&B outlets coupled with more than 120,000sq ft of car showroom space.

By theSun (by Jonathan Chen)

Suria Capital looks for strategic partner

PETALING JAYA: Suria Capital Holdings Bhd has mapped out plans to reap the economic benefits of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) by expanding and developing its Sapangar Bay port into a transhipment hub for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“Part of our plan is to look for a strategic partner, preferably a foreign player who is a port and main line operator,” chief financial officer Mohamad Yasin Abdullah told StarBiz.

Suria Capital, he said, wanted to leverage on the strategic partner's strengths to grow as Sapangar Bay port did not want to rely solely on local shipments, although he expected the domestic volume to increase as the SDC was likely to spin off a hive of activities.

In addition, the expansion of palm oil downstream activities in the state would also lead to an increase in businesses.

Partnering with main line operators would help to attract more cargo to the port.

The BIMP-EAGA was a huge market for Sapangar Bay port to tap into given the region's cargo volume of about 1.5 million boxes, Yasin said.

Suria Capital's subsidiary, Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd (SPSB), operates eight ports in Sabah. Sapangar Bay Container Terminal, which started operations in July last year, is the newest port in its stable.

The throughput volume in Sapangar Bay terminal was about 280,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit) during its first six months of operation, of which 90% was local.

Yasin said the immediate task is to shift some general cargo operations to Sapangar Bay port so that it will become an integrated port. “We want to do it within two years in order to enjoy the tax break,” Yasin said.

Analysts said such a move would also streamline the group's port operations as cargo volume in the state was generally low.

SPSB has been granted investment allowance under the Approved Service Project scheme, whereby it will enjoy 100% allowance on the qualifying capital expenditure incurred with five years from the date the first capital expenditure is incurred.

The taxation refund of RM32.4mi for investment allowance has lifted Suria Capital's net profit to RM86.3mil for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2007, from RM31.9mil in the previous corresponding period.

Yasin said the Government had also earmarked areas around Sapangar Bay to develop a logistics hub and that might include free trade zone. “The development of the logistics business will help Sapangar Bay port,” he added.

On the RM1.5bil Jesselton Waterfront project comprising five- or six-star hotels, high-end condominiums, and commercial blocks, Yasin said the development, which was divided into three separate projects involving three joint venture partners, would be spread over five years. “These are equal joint ventures. So you can roughly estimate the revenue that we can earn,” he said when asked on the contribution of the project to the company's bottomline.

The company signed three memoranda of understanding on Tuesday with IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, Glomac Bhd and Kota Kinabalu Pavilion Sdn Bhd to jointly develop part of the Jesselton Waterfront project in Kota Kinabalu.

By The Star (by Kathy Fong)

MRCB in JV to buy land

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd has entered into an agreement with Quill Sentral Sdn Bhd and Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd to set up a joint venture company to acquire a 7,503 sq m piece of land in the capital from Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd for RM133mil cash.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, MRCB said the freehold land had been approved by City Hall for commercial development with total gross floor area of 1.4 million sq ft. The construction of the office towers is expected to commence this year over a development period of four years.

MRCB will hold 44.5% stake in the joint venture company, Cosy Bonanza Sdn Bhd, Quill 37.5% and KFH the balance 18%. MRCB expected the joint venture to contribute positively towards its future earnings and profit.

By The Star

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Exciting times ahead for tourism sector


SABAH’S tourism industry, which has been identified as the key driver for the state’s development, can look forward to exciting times.

In line with the state government’s aim to make every year a “Visit Sabah Year”, the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) masterplan has incorporated three developmental phases, designed to transform Sabah into one of the most liveable places in Asia by 2025.

In Phase One, the blueprint will focus on addressing the basics to support tourism development and lay foundations for its future growth. Phase Two will see Sabah strengthen its position as a premier eco-adventure destination via conservation and sustainable development of new tourism products, which will be anchored by signature resorts. Lastly, Phase Three will turn Sabah into a bustling metropolis within a tropical paradise.

Tourism is currently the third highest contributor to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), after agriculture and manufacturing. During the Eighth Malaysia Plan (8MP), the sector’s contribution to Sabah’s GDP was 7.4%, and this is expected to grow to 10% in the 9MP period.

Prime tourist attractions including Mount Kinabalu and Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary and Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan have consistently drawn many tourists and adventure-seekers to Sabah. But the SDC blueprint will also seek to promote lesser known natural landscapes such as the Maliau Basin and Darvel Bay as Sabah’s “gems”.

As home to one of Malaysia’s only two United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco)-conferred World Heritage Site status, that is, Kinabalu Park (the other being Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak), Sabah is actively pursuing the same status for a few more sites. Sites that are listed for consideration are Sipadan Island, Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the Maliau Basin.

If successful, the listings would not just boost the popularity of these sites but make them important for environmental conservation purposes among the international community.

However, these lesser-known sites lack accessibility, mainly due to Sabah’s rugged terrain and poor road system. Such sites are also precious research areas, and have fragile ecological systems that are vulnerable to pollution and damage by swarms of tourists.

Hence, the SDC blueprint will explore various opportunities to improve Sabah’s current infrastructure and networks to boost tourism, but with sustainability in mind.

Taking the leap with eco-tourism
Increasing environmental concerns have changed the pattern of tourism globally. According to The International Ecotourism Society, eco-tourism is estimated to grow 20% annually, compared with just 7% in overall tourism, making it the fastest-growing segment of the industry.

However, as the eco-tourism industry in Sabah is largely driven by the private sector, the industry faces a shortage of utility services such as water supply, electricity and waste disposal.

Responding to the demand, the SDC masterplan will look into providing infrastructure- supporting services to attract and facilitate private sector investment.

But to keep the delicate balance between developing the industry and preserving and conserving Sabah’s natural landscapes, the blueprint will develop the Sabah Eco-Certifi cation Programme (SECP) to assist travel operators in measuring and managing the impact of their operations on the environment.

The demand for more personalised travel is set to overtake the conventional beach-based, mass tourism destinations. As such, the SDC blueprint will seek to attract renowned signature resorts such as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Bvlgari to anchor new, luxurious tourism products, including wellness spas in the highlands such as Kundasang, or Sabah’s islands.

Under the SDC implementation, Sabah will also be marketed to high-end investors that are seeking to own private villas which overlook virgin rainforests and untouched beaches. In view of this, the blueprint is also looking at the possibility of granting high net-worth individuals long-term social visit visas, which will encourage these individuals to make Sabah their second home.

‘One district one product’ programme
Among the many players that will benefi t from Sabah’s strong tourism drive is its local people. Under the programme “One District One Product” (ODOP), local communities will be able to earn higher income by producing handicrafts and food products distinctive to their cultures.

ODOP will be spearheaded by Kraftangan Malaysia and Yayasan Sabah, along with various ministries, including the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. The task force will identify potential products, besides providing advice to local communities on quality control and attractive designs and packaging for domestic and export markets.

The branding for authentically “Made in Sabah” products will ensure that rural communities receive a sustainable income. Startup grants will also be provided for entrepreneurs interested in ODOP production full-time.

Additionally, the Keningau Handicraft Production Village which will function as ODOP’s primary training centre will also aim to preserve the diverse handicrafts of Sabah’s natives and traditional production methods, through research and documentation.

Another feature of ODOP is its homestay programmes, whereby villages that are located near major tourist attractions or have distinct lifestyles and activities, will be selected to pilot the programmes.

A Visitors Centre will be set up in each of the selected villages to manage the homestay programme and act as an information centre as well as to provide training to villagers to learn basic courtesy, language skills and tour and activity-guiding.

An example of this initiative is the Rungus Longhouse at Bavanggazo Village, Matunggong, which gives tourists opportunities to experience tranquil, rural life and to participate in the daily activities of the longhouse, including clothweaving and accessories-making from colourful beads. In line with this, some villages have been identifi ed as high potential areas, including Kampung Air in Semporna, Mengkabong Water Village in Tuaran, and other interior villages in Kudat and Tenom.

With more than 32 different indigenous groups, Sabah is wellplaced to become a key destination
offering diverse experiences for the culture-seeking traveller.

Appealing to the international community
Sabah has the potential to tap the 34.5 million international visitor arrivals at the region’s major
aviation hubs of Kuala Lumpur, Hongkong, Singapore and Bangkok.

To do so, it is poised to recreate its landscape to appeal to the international community. In the pipeline is the Kinabalu Harbour Front that will stretch from Tanjung Aru to One Borneo, modelled after Australia’s renowned Sydney Harbour waterfront. A Waterfront Development Masterplan will be commissioned to coordinate the development of this world-class waterfront city.

The Kinabalu Harbour Front will be anchored by key projects including the RM2-billion Jesselton Waterfront and Kinabalu Integrated Convention Centre (KICC). These projects are also expected to spur the development of water taxis and buses that will ply the harbour, jetty points, various hotels, as well as a maritime museum and ferry and cruise terminal.

Adding to its international appeal is a performing arts centre, which will nurture Sabah’s creative
industries and artistes. The SDC blueprint will also set aside RM250 million for its Arts and Culture Development Fund to support budding creative talents such as playwrights, choreographers and composers, and emerging arts organisations specialising in indigenous art preservation.

Meeting increasing demands
Major hotels enjoy an average 80% occupancy rate during peak seasons between July and August and December and January. An increase in tourism numbers may lead to a shortage of rooms, especially during peak holiday periods.

The Sabah Tourism Board says to counter the problem, about 4,000 to 5,000 new hotel rooms are expected to be completed by 2010.

Among hotel operators planning to increase hotel rooms is the Sutera Harbour Resort. Its chief operating offi cer Ravindran Kathiravelu says the hotel group is developing two luxury service condominium development projects on its 384-acre property.

“ ‘The Vista at Sutera Harbour’ and ‘The Point at Sutera Harbour’ will each comprise over 400 units of two to three-bedroom confi gurations.

“The construction for ‘The Vista at Sutera Harbour’ is set to commence in the middle of this year and is targeted to be completed within 36 months from the date of construction, (which) is our commitment in line with the expected growth of tourist arrivals to Sabah in the future,” he says.

Malaysian Hotel Association Sabah Chapter chairman Alex Cham says resorts are popular among foreign tourists, but local tourists prefer to stay in city hotels.

Cham says Sabah is currently lacking beach resorts, but expects the situation to change in the next two or three years.

“A lot of investors are looking at setting up beach resorts, especially along the east coast of the city, where it is less congested and has beautiful beaches,” he says, adding that the demand for backpacking lodges is also encouraging.

By theSun (by Yong Yen Nie) - Sabah Development Corridor: A Special Report- pt.2

SP Setia in maiden Sabah venture

Malaysia's most valuable property company, SP Setia Bhd, has unveiled plans for its first venture in Sabah, a RM1 billion mixed development project in Tanjung Aru.

The project is a major bet on the economy of Sabah, which is set to benefit from an 18-year development plan, estimated to attract investments of more than RM100 billion.

SP Setia group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said the project will see the state become a springboard for its stable of brands and enable the company to capitalise fully on the anticipated economic boom there.

"The expansion into East Malaysia is in line with the group's aim to diversify its geographical concentration to other high-growth states as well as international markets.

"This will be our first showcase project in Sabah to establish our credentials and earn the trust of the property-buying public in the state," Liew said in a statement released yesterday in Kuala Lumpur.

Industry executives said that Sabah would pose a major challenge because of the low purchasing power of its people and the soft property demand compared to that in Peninsular Malaysia.

"SP Setia has to come up with innovative and quality products, which can start a property trend," Irhamy and Co property valuer Sharizal Supian said.

SP Setia subsidiary Aeropod Sdn Bhd signed the deal with the Sabah state government yesterday, witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Under the agreement, SP Setia will build a transport terminal and new headquarters and ancillary buildings of Jabatan Keretapi Negeri Sabah on part of 24 hectares near the Tanjung Aru township and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

In return, it will have the rights to develop the balance of 17ha into a mixed residential and commercial project, named Aeropod @ Tg Aru.

The project will have a shopping mall, a five-star as well as a three-star hotel, and residential condominiums, among other developments.

Aeropod @ Tg Aru will be modelled after the creative hybrid commercial projects that SP Setia has launched, such as Setia Walk and Setia Nexus 1 in the Klang Valley.

By New Straits Times (by Zaidi Isham Ismail)

SP Setia gets over RM1bil jobs

It will develop project, transport hub in Sabah corridor

PETALING JAYA: SP Setia Bhd is moving into Sabah where it will develop a RM1bil property project, known as Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru, and a transportation hub as part of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi launched the SDC yesterday and witnessed the signing of the development agreement between SP Setia subsidiary Aeropod Sdn Bhd and the Sabah government.

Under the agreement, Aeropod would build the transportation hub in return for the state government procuring the alienation of three parcels of land measuring 59.21 acres and valued at RM110mil. The hub will comprise a transport terminal, new headquarters for Jabatan Keretapi Negri Sabah and ancillary buildings.

The land is sited 5km southwest of the Kota Kinabalu town centre and 2km northeast of Tanjung Aru. It is is near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and the Low Cost Carrier Terminal 2.

In a statement, SP Setia group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said the project was a crucial stepping stone for the company into the state and that it aimed to capitalise on Sabah's anticipated economic boom.

He said the expansion into Sabah was in line with the group's goal of diversifying into other high-growth states in Malaysia as well as overseas. It currently has projects in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Vietnam.

A shopping mall, a 3-star and a 5-star hotel, condominiums and small office home office units have been planned as part of the Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru.

An SP Setia spokesman told StarBiz that the company would start construction of the transportation hub as soon as possible. She said the hub would not cost more than the agreed RM110mil.

“Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru can only be realistically launched around the end of next year or the beginning of 2010,'' she said.

An analyst said that Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru would most likely cater to tourists since Tanjung Aru was in the tourist belt of Kota Kinabalu.

He noted that the company's first integrated commercial project, Setia Walk in Puchong, had done well with almost all units sold. However, the analyst cautioned that a comparison between Sabah and the Klang Valley could not be made based solely on the size of the population.

He said this was due to the state having a blueprint for development under the SDC in which the agricultural, manufacturing and services sectors would figure prominently over the next 18 years.

“Developers can tap into this for more synergies,” he said.

By The Star

Suria signs MoUs for KK development

PETALING JAYA: Suria Capital Holdings Bhd has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Kota Kinabalu Pavilion Sdn Bhd, IJM Properties Sdn Bhd and Glomac Bhd for the development of certain specified precincts of the Jesselton Waterfront Project.

Suria group managing director Datuk Abu Bakar Abas said on Tuesday that the MoUs were signed for the purpose of combining the resources and expertise of the various parties in the development of the project. He said the development would be undertaken via individual joint ventures with the three companies concerned in which Suria's subsidiary, Suria Bumiria Sdn Bhd, would hold 50% of the equity, with the rest to be held by the individual companies.

The MoUs called for the development of 5- and 10-storey luxury condominiums called Suria Avenue, and 3- and 4-storey shopoffices called Suria Boulevard with Glomac, a 5- or 6-star boutique hotel and 16-storey condominium with 200 units called Suria Vista with IJM, and 3- and 10-storey commercial and office buildings with Kota Kinabalu Pavilion.

By The Star

Boustead exercising option on two estates

PETALING JAYA: Boustead Holdings Bhd is exercising its first call option to buy back two oil palm estates totalling 3,771ha located in Tasek Glugor, Penang, and Pekan, Pahang, from Golden Crop Returns Bhd (GCRB) for at least RM110mil.

In a statement yesterday, Boustead said its subsidiaries Boustead Rimba Nilai Sdn Bhd and Boustead Eldred Sdn Bhd had served a notice of exercise pursuant to the call option agreement entered into by Boustead with GCRB in November 2005.

The two estates were part of a sale and leaseback agreement between Boustead and GCRB in which the former had sold and subsequently leased back the estates for up to three, five and seven years. The exercise was to facilitate the securitisation transaction involving the issuance of RM442mil Sukuk al-Ijarah by GCRB and an RM300mil Musyarakah facility obtained from Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera.

Boustead said it would accept the sale of the plantation assets from GCRB upon payment of the aggregate exercise price of no less than RM110mil on or before Oct 22 as well as the servicing agent's fee.

It added that after completion of the proposed exercise of first call option, the company might explore the possibility of disposing the plantation assets to Al-Hadharah Boustead Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit).

“Further information on this matter shall be announced once the terms of the transaction, if any, are finalised,” Boustead said.

In a separate announcement, the manager of Al-Hadharah Boustead Reit said the fund would consider the acquisition of the estates if such an opportunity arose.

The Al-Hadharah Boustead Reit announced that in its maiden year, it registered a net profit of RM49.8mil.

To improve the performance of the fund, chairman of Boustead REIT Managers Sdn Bhd Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin said in a statement a combination of strategies - existing plantations to be managed for maximum returns and selected plantation assets will be acquired - would be adopted.

By The Star

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Morubina pushes Kinta Riverfront to Chinese real estate investors

HEFEI: Developer Morubina Sdn Bhd is looking to China to attract investors for its latest project, Kinta Riverfront.

Group managing director Ting Sing Yew said buyers from China formed a substantial number of investors in its earlier project, Ipoh Kiara

Ting Seng Yew (right) briefing Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim (left) on the Kinta Riverfront project.

“Our confidence was further boosted when we managed to sell 10 units in Kinta Riverfront during the Fourth International Small and Medium Enterprise exhibition held at Guangzhao last October,” he said in Hefei, China

Speaking to reporters after the project launch for Chinese buyers by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim at a hotel here recently, Ting said the group planned to visit more cities in China this year to further promote the project.

“We are confident that as the Chinese's purchasing power increases, Kinta Riverfront will be an attractive project for them,” he added.

On the Kinta Riverfront project, Ting said sales had been swift with some 60% snapped up, valued at a total RM45.5mil.

Work on the project had been completed 30% and was due for completion by 2009.

The RM80mil 20-storey Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Service Suites project offers 239 units priced between RM199,999 and RM2.9mil each.

Ting also said the Kinta Riverfront project also received positive response from potential buyers in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Lim in his speech said the launch in China augured well for the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

By The Star (by Sylvia Looi)

Mah Sing giving Sungei Besi a new face

Once upon a time, the Chan Sow Lin area in Kuala Lumpur was known for industrial activities, particularly automotive repair and metal works.

Landmarked by buildings such as the former British American Tobacco (BAT) factory along the Jalan Sungei Besi main road which connects the KL-Seremban highway with Jalan Tun Razak, this fringe city location is now poised to be transformed into a vibrant commercial hub.

Among the agents of change is Southgate, an integrated commercial-cumleisure project that will take shape on 4.76 acres of land previously occupied by BAT.

Situated opposite the headquarters of its developer, Mah Sing Properties Sdn Bhd (MSP), Southgate will, said MSP deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua, be "just minutes away from KL’s business hub" and offer owner-occupiers and investors attractive propositions.

Consisting of five blocks, two have been earmarked for en-bloc sale while the other three – called Vox, Vivo and Verve – are now open for sale on a stratified basis.

"The three blocks will be linked by an atrium boulevard that will offer a unique retail experience," said Chua, elaborating that "Southgate takes its inspiration from the popular Xintiandi area in Shanghai and will offer a similarly relaxing ambience with alfresco cafes, boutiques andother lifestyle features".

With some 500,000 vehicles plying the Jalan Sungei Besi route daily, he said Southgate’s occupants can be assured of a high level of visibility.

"They’ll just need to put up signages to derive the benefits owing to the location."

Within the buildings that will be designed with clean, contemporary European lines will be 63 retail units of 535sq ft to 2,095sq ft and 226 office suites of 592sq ft to 1,704sq ft.

The layout of the office suites will be modular, meaning that buyers can combine contiguous suites should they require larger sizes.

Chua said the retail units are priced from RM800psf and the offices, from RM430psf.

Given the keen investment climate for office space in KL city, response to Southgate’s units has been highly favourable.

"The price of our office suites is comparably low considering the going rate for commercial space in the city," said Chua.

"However, this is only available for the early birds and clearly, it won’t last for much longer."

Construction of Southgate is expected to begin after Chinese New Year.

By New Straits Times (by P. Rajan)

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REITs on the rise in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Although it is a standard practice in certain countries for property developers to become Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) promoters and to inject their own projects into the trust, Malaysians are still skeptical and considers it an “asset dumping” exercise by the companies, said Asia Pacific International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Regional Secretariat secretary general Kumar Tharmalingam (pix).

“However, the Securities Commission has clear guidelines as to the value that can be put (into the REIT) and the returns to the investors [have to be acceptable],” he said after presenting his paper titled 2008 Outlook for REITs in Malaysia/Asia: Opportunities and Trends at the Property Outlook for 2008 & Emerging Trends in Malaysian Real Estate seminar yesterday.

Several developers that have plans to enter the REIT market this year include TA Properties Sdn Bhd, Bandar Raya Development Berhad, UEM Land Sdn Bhd and Sunway City Bhd.

“There will be more listings in the REIT market this year as compared to last year but steps must be taken to improve the tax treatment and increase the attractiveness of the regulations compared to Singapore and Hong Kong,” he added.

According to him, besides Axis REIT, which purchases real estate from third parties for injection into a REIT, the current and upcoming REITs have their own supply chain to place existing and future commercial assets into their respective trusts.

Nevertheless, he hopes to see REITs writing put options and agreed values on the assets before construction even begins.

“This will make it easy for developers to get financing for the project,” he said, adding that the resultant recycling of capital would ensure faster returns and turnaround time.

“The sale of Glomac Tower and Menara YNH to Kuwait Finance House for RM1,140 psf and RM1,250 psf respectively are classic examples,” he said.

He added that although there are risks in fixing a selling price on a building before its completion, the quality of the trust managers would offset the problem.

“In Malaysia, there are very few highquality trust managers like those found in established REIT markets like Australia.

Hence, we should allow those experienced trust managers to come in and have 100% ownership,” he said, adding that this would raise competition among the local companies.

Budget 2008 proposed an increase in foreign ownership on REITs management companies to 70% from 49%, with the bumiputera-ownership requirement remaining at 30%.

Kumar said Islamic REITs have huge potential due to the tax incentives provided as Malaysia strive to become the global market leader. “It is a blue ocean area that we can compete in as we
have relationships with Middle Eastern countries with lots of cash,” he said.

He added that other factors integral to the success of REITs include a cultural advantage, a strong tourism industry and a local Islamic population that wants to invest in Syariah-compliant investments.

He foresees more Islamic REITs coming into the market in the future, including Middle Eastern funds setting up here.

Other speakers at the one-day event included Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd managing director Allan Soo, Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners Sdn Bhd’s Michael Geh and Ho Chin Soon, director of Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

Head-turning terraced house

The owner of a double-storey terraced house shows what can be done to overcome common limitations to create a comfortable home.

Double-storey terraced houses in housing estates start off as a row of look-alikes. Gradually, each takes on its own look, and some can really turn heads. Those contemplating updating their little corner of the planet can do much to ensure their house gets a second look.

Standing out in a row of look-alikes.

When civil engineer Ong Ghee Poh first came upon a 20-year-old double-storey terraced house in 2004, his project work influenced him in his home renovation concept.

“The projects that I was involved in had a bearing on the renovation concept. The tropical concept with plenty of roof ‘cleavage’, usage of natural material (namely, timber and stones) and greenery was the recipe of the day.

“Looking at the current trend, a contemporary home concept (i.e. with sharp roof structure, flat slabs and plenty of glass panels, etc.) would have been preferred, although it might not blend in with the environment.”

Settling for the tropical look, he went about renovating. The work took about seven months, and cost about RM240,000. He does not consider this to be extravagant.

He explains: “In renovations, consideration for future sale plays an important, if not the most important factor. The frequency of shifting house has increased tremendously. An average person is said to live in at least four places in his lifetime. One should not be too extravagant on renovation as the re-sale value after renovation would normally result in financial losses.

“Renovations have to be kept simple and pleasing for the ease of finding a potential buyer when the need arises,” says Ong.

“The modifications to the facade, though extensive, do not contrast with the surrounding back-drop; in fact, they complement and complete it with some exquisite touches.

“Careful thought had been put into the removal of existing columns and its effect on the elevation and structural integrity of the shared car-porch,” he says.

“The original porte-cochere (extended roof or covered entrance) was certainly not wide enough to accommodate two cars parked side-by-side, hence, the enlargement became necessary.

a full view of the porch

“In addition, the simplified pitched roof via the removal of a central flat roof meant an overall higher roof that provides for better ventilation. A simple pitched roof also reduces the chance of rain water leakage.”

Ong’s house is an end-lot and he has turned the extra land, normally used as a covered terrace, or a side garden, into a liveable section. (See pic A.)

Pic A. The relaxation area running down the side of the house.

Says Ong: “It is a statutory requirement to truncate linked houses that run continuously for more than 100m. This truncation comes in the form of an end-lot that acts as a fire buffer to prevent or delay the progression of fire.

“Hence, this fire buffer could not be built upon and under such circumstances the space could only be utilised for some soft-scape (planting) and relaxation related hard-scape (timber floor-boards, swing, water feature, etc.).

According to Ong, “Most Chinese have a tendency to maximise the utilisation of space, and in this case, it was carried out within the confines of statutory requirements.

“Having the mentality that covered spaces would ultimately be utilised, the land size of only 245sq m (2,720sq ft) does not permit an extravagant allocation for green spaces.”

The 20-year-old windows benefitted from an extensive make-over, rendering them charming and modern. Says Ong: “The original timber plane windows are difficult to maintain as they do not function efficiently after some time, being continuously subjected to weathering forces.

“The best alternative would be to use powder-coated aluminium windows or UPVC windows. The former was chosen due to cost considerations.

“If not for security and safety reasons in the Klang Valley, I would prefer not to have mild steel grilles on windows and door openings.”

Ong did not have to do too much to ensure his house is cool, as “the advantages of an end-lot are obvious in terms of lighting and ventilation.

“Having many windows on the exposed side would certainly enhance ventilation and in effect cooling the house.

“On the common boundary, an air-well was introduced for the same purpose.”

To the casual observer, Ong’s house is located at a T-junction, which many Malaysian house-buyers consider a position best avoided.

But this did not deter him. “As a Christian, I do not subscribe to superstitious beliefs. As a matter of fact, the house is only slightly within a T-junction (say about 20%). The length of the side lane which makes up the T-junction is only 55m (185ft) ( relatively short), serves only a small catchment area, and is definitely not a thoroughfare.

“After some observation, the daily traffic volume on this side lane is estimated to be below 100 PCU (passenger car unit).”

Ong has stayed here for two-and-a-half years, and as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, he now admits to a few regrets.

“Power and lighthing points were missed out at some critical locations. The persistent problem of rising damp causing wall paint to peel should have been addressed at the outset. Darker colours should have been used for the porte cochere slab for easier maintenance and better blending.

“The entrance should have been made on the other half of the front elevation to improve the internal circulation and increase the efficiency of space utilisation.”

Regrets notwithstanding, Ong seem to have done a good renovation job. Passers-by often linger with admiring looks and drivers sometimes slow down to take a closer look at the house.

Ong can be reached at

Article post by The Star (by Photographs by Samuel Ong)

BLand ratings unaffected by move to drop Viet project

BERJAYA Land Bhd's decision to drop a planned transportation infrastructure job in Vietnam last week did not stir concerns among analysts, who believe that the firm will be better off picking jobs that are more financially viable.

The group is already occupied with five property development projects in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and they are not too worried about a single infrastructure job that did not pan out well.

"We understand that cessation of the proposed project would have minimum impact on the group's venture in Vietnam," a SJ Securities analyst who tracks the stock wrote in a report yesterday. The broker kept its "overweight" call on BLand stock, which ended flat yesterday at RM5.80.

BLand last Friday said that it will not proceed with a plan with Tin Nghia Co Ltd, a state-owned company from the southern Dong Nai Province, on the overall development of Nhon Trach District that included its transportation network.

The companies have decided to let the memorandum of understanding signed in late 2006 lapse, after a 12-month extended feasibility study done by BLand.

"I think it is all right for them to pick and choose projects that are economically feasible," the head of research at Kenanga Investment Bank, Yeonzon Yeow said.

"This is one of the earlier joint ventures that they did not announce. The firm already has its hands full in Vietnam and we don't mind that this is not working out," he added.

Both BLand and the Viet- nam partner have decided to focus instead on specific developments within the district, which involves a bridge that links the area to Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the recently announced plan to develop a 600ha in Nhon Trach New City.

The bridge is part of the initial overall plan that was scrapped.

On top of that, BLand still has other projects in that country, including Thanc Ban New City mixed development, Hanoi Electronics joint venture, Vietnam Financial Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.

By New Straits Times (by Chong Pooi Koon)

LBI to launch RM70m project in Puchong

LBI Capital Bhd expects to launch a 14.4ha industrial park in Puchong Perdana, this year, a project with a potential gross development value (GDV) of up to RM70 million.

Its managing director Datuk Ng Chin Heng said the the new industrial area will cater for the needs of various industries especially those from the small- and medium-sized sector.

"We see high demand for industrial areas due to the growing number of SMEs in the country and we expect to start seeing some revenue from the project by 2009 onwards," he said.

The company also hopes to attract freight forwarding companies as part of efforts to turn the area into a logistics hub.

LBI, which jumped into the property development business in 2004 with its first project in Ara Damansara, has since turned to the sector as its main revenue contributor.

"The property development business contributes more than 95 per cent of our earnings while our manufacturing business of rubber mats and outer shoe soles makes up the balances," he said.

The firm was also previously the supplier of air-conditioners to carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd but exited the business due to stiff competition.

Ng said LBI is currently banking on four property projects with total GDV RM230 million - three in the Klang Valley and one in Johor Baru - to drive profits for the group until 2010.

Its project in Taman Putera near Seri Kembangan with a GDV of RM73 million will be the main revenue contributor this year.

"The project comprises 100 units of two- to three-storey shoplots with 83 per cent of it already sold," he said.

Ng said the firm's other projects such as the Semi-D terraced houses in Taman Sri Gombak, bungalows in Seri Kembangan and a mixed development project in Johor Baru, are due to start contributing revenue next year.

"We will continue to look for land preferably in the Klang Valley and develop high-end properties to sustain growth," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Azlan Abu Bakar)

Sri Kembangan project to drive LBI Capital

SHAH ALAM: LBI Capital expects its commercial development in Sri Kembangan to be its main revenue contributor for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2008.

Managing director Datuk Jeffrey Ng Chin Heng expressed confidence in the project comprising 100 units of two- and three- storey shoplots in Taman Pinggiran Putra in Sri Kembangan, which have a gross development value (GDV) of RM80mil.

“This project has been well received and has achieved 85% take-up since it was launched at the end of last year,” he said after the company EGM yesterday.

Ng said the company planned to launch by year-end an industrial park on 36 acres in Puchong Perdana with a potential GDV of RM70mil.

“This project would cater to small and medium industries such as freight forwarders looking for semi-detached industrial lots of about 5,000 sq ft each,” Ng said.

The company is also involved in three projects launched last year. One is a mixed development project in Taman Mewah, Johor Baru.

“The first phase, which consists of shop apartments launched six months ago, is 50% sold,” Ng said, adding that the project also offered two-storey shop offices and terrace houses. Other noted developments are the 65 bungalows in Sri Kembangan with a GDV of RM55mil and 75 terrace houses in Sri Gombak with a GDV of RM23mil.

Ng said the company targeted to grow its landbank in Selangor and would like to be involved in high-end projects such as luxury homes as part of its portfolio.

“In view of rising building material costs, low-medium and medium-cost projects do not provide attractive profit margins compared with luxury developments,” he said.

Property development contributes 95% to revenue for LBI Capital, which is also involved in manufacturing rubber products and trading.

“Rubber manufacturing has become less lucrative over the years due to competition from bigger markets like China and increased manufacturing costs locally,” Ng said, adding that the company would consider divesting this division if there were offers.

By The Star

Mydin proposes to build country’s biggest hypermarket in Kelantan

KOTA BARU: MydinWholesale Emporium Sdn Bhd plans to establish the biggest hypermarket in Malaysia at the New Tunjong Township here.

The proposed RM100mil facility would sit on 7.2ha with a floor space of 650,000 sq ft and generating about 3,000 of direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Earthworks on the latest outlet should begin by July and operations commence within a year, said managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin yesterday after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Mydin and Tunjong Development Corp Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Mentri Besar Inc, for the hypermarket project.

“It is a fast-track project and the construction of a hypermarket is not an arduous feat in terms of building and infrastructure. We are confident of unveiling it next year,” Ameer said.

Since Mydin started and grew in Kelantan, it was only appropriate for the supermarket and hypermarket chain to invest in the east coast state, he added.

The biggest hypermarket in the country currently is also owned by Mydin, which also operates 24 emporiums and another hypermarket.

The Subang Jaya, Selangor, facility has a built-up area of 500,000 sq ft.

Mydin is also embarking on an expansion exercise which would see it operating six more hypermarkets including the one in Tunjong by next year.

At the same event, an MoU was inked between Kelantan Utilities Mubaarakan Holdings Sdn Bhd, Perak-based Kinson Manufacturing Sdn Bhd and Kelantan Handicraft Foundation for the formation of a joint venture company called Masna Pipes Industries Sdn Bhd.

Masna will make and supply asbestos cement water pipes for the east coast market.

Kelantan Utilities is the parent company of state water utility Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd.

By The Star (by Ian Mcintyre)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Major projects set to push BLand ahead

BERJAYA Land Bhd (BLand), a unit of Berjaya Corp Bhd, is confident the strong performance of its local and overseas projects will propel the company into a major property force in the years to come.

Although its overseas business will contribute a large share of the company’s growth, BLand still has land bank of about 1,000 acres in Malaysia, with potential gross development value (GDV) of RM8bil over the next eight to 10 years.

According to BLand chief executive officer Datuk Francis Ng, most of the company's earnings presently were still from local operations although offshore projects had the potential to become big earnings contributor in future.

An artist’s impression of BLand’s mix development at Selangor Turf Club

“On the local front, the company has on average RM300mil worth of projects a year and we expect to see this to grow by 10% to 20% annually. Our current land bank of 1,000 acres is still bigger than most other property companies,” he told StarBiz.

Most of the projects are in the Klang Valley like Ampang, Bukit Jalil, Shah Alam and Seputeh Heights. Besides The Link at Bukit Jalil, which comprises 3 to 3 ½-storey commercial shop houses, the rest are residential developments.

Ng said besides the company's ongoing property projects, BLand was expected to launch projects worth a total GDV of RM1.2bil for the financial years ending April 30, 2008 (FY08) and FY09. Its ongoing projects with RM802mil GDV are Savanna 2 in Bukit Jalil, Berjaya Park in Shah Alam, Taman TAR in Ampang and Kuantan Perdana in Pahang.

BLand is also planning a RM4.2bil mixed development on 248 acres at the Selangor Turf Club (STC) in Jalan Sungai Besi.

The mixed development will have bungalow lots, condominiums, shop houses, office towers, serviced apartments, shopping mall and hotel. It will take 12 years to complete.

Ng said the possible conversion of the STC land title to freehold from its current leasehold status was expected to increase the land value by 30% to 50%, which would potentially increase the project's GDV to RM6.2bil from RM4.2bil originally planned.

The company is also expecting good response for its soon-to-be-launched high-end bungalow project in Seputeh Heights – Vasana 25 @ Seputeh Heights. “The RM109mil gated project will be launch around June and the 3-storey houses will cost between RM3mil and RM5mil.

“Our target buyers are the home up-graders. Some of the units will come with lifts to cater to the future needs of these buyers,” Ng said.

Sited on a freehold 4.93-acre land, the project comprises 22 link bungalows and three bungalows. With land area of between 5,000 and 7,000 sq ft and built-up of 4,000 to 5,000 sq ft, the houses will have individual pools. It will take two years to complete.

On the remaining freehold 400-acre Bukit Jalil development, the company will be launching by April the Savanna 2 @ Bukit Jalil that comprises a block of 4-storey walk-up condo villas on 1.2 acres. The project, with GDV of RM22mil, will have 32 units of 3+1 bedroom units.

With average built-up of 1,615 sq ft, each unit comes with two parking bays while several units on the top level come with private gardens and a rumpus area.

Plans are also afoot to launch a 20-storey condominium on 2.91 acres next to Savanna 2 by April. With a GDV of RM125.7mil, the project offers 308 units of 3+1 bedroom residence with built-up of 1,278 to 1,404 sq ft.

BLand had last year signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea's Hanju I&D Co Ltd for the sale of the entire 20-storey condominium block for RM126mil. It had earlier sold a block of 204 condominium units in its two blocks of development for RM64mil.

At Taman TAR, the project's remaining GDV of close to RM400mil is expected to increase by more than 15% once BLand resumes selling the land parcels over the next few months. BLand had earlier sold its bungalow plots in The Peak at Taman TAR at prices that were 81% to 127% higher than other residential sites in the area.

By The Star - The CEO Interview (by Angie Ng)

Group has projects worth RM60bil in Asia-Pacific

BERJAYA Land Bhd is going full swing to internationalise its property development activities.

It has been aggressively expanding to other countries in the region over the past year, including to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea, with property projects worth a combined gross development value (GDV) of over RM60bil.

Chief executive officer Datuk Francis Ng said going overseas was not new for BLand as the company already owned hotels in London, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Singapore, and had property projects in China and Bangkok.

BLand’s Sai Dong project in Vietnam

“We are always open for good investment opportunities, both in emerging markets as well as developed ones. If there is an opening and it can create added value to our shareholders, we will consider the option.

“The company's offshore operations are expected to contribute at least 50% or more to total earnings from 2010 onwards,” Ng said, adding that this was assuming that it received all the investment certificates for its Vietnam projects by the end of this year.

The company's mammoth property projects in Vietnam will keep it busy for the next eight to 10 years.

BLand has six projects in Vietnam – two in Hanoi and four in Ho Chi Minh City. It expects the more than RM40bil worth of mixed development projects there to contribute to its future growth. The projects will spread from 2009 to 2019.

BLand has a high probability of securing these projects, as most of the company's land bank in Vietnam are unoccupied.

“We have entered into several memorandum of understanding (MoU) and memorandum of agreement (MoA) in Vietnam. The GDV of our Vietnam projects is estimated to be in excess of RM40bil,” Ng added.

The Thach Ban New City project in Hanoi, with RM1.73bil GDV, has just commenced earthwork and the project will be launched in the first quarter this year.

BLand received the investment licence for the project within two months of the MoU signing sometime last year. It will take five years to be completed. The project will start contributing to the company's bottomline during these two financial years.

In Ho Chi Minh City, its Vietnam Financial Centre (VFC) project has an estimated GDV of RM4.17bil while the Vietnam International University Township (VIUT) is worth some RM25.7bil.

“We believe we should be given the investment licence for the VFC project by the first quarter. It will start contributing to our earnings in 2012 if we assume the lease for the entire project. However, if we decide to sell some portions of the development, the contribution could come in earlier,” Ng said.

Meanwhile, the VIUT project is expected to kick off next year and start contributing in 2010.

BLand has another project in Bien Hoa, near Ho Chi Minh City, with a GDV of RM340mil. It is expected to commence this year and start contributing to earnings in 2009.

The latest two projects signed recently are in Sai Dong A, Long Bien District in Hanoi and in Nhon Trach New City, Dong Nai Province in Ho Chi Minh City. They are planned for launch in the next one year and will take six to eight years to complete.

The GDV for the 405ha-Sai Dong project is estimated at US$2.5bil and will include townhouses, villas, low and high-rise apartments, schools, shop offices, business park, shopping mall, industrial park, as well as medical centres.

The Nhon Trach project on 600ha will have residential, commercial, financial and administrative facilities.

In South Korea, BLand has teamed up with South Korea's Jeju Free International City Development Centre (JDC) to undertake a resort-type residential and commercial complex on Jeju island. The initial investment cost for the project is expected to be US$500mil.

The proposed development will include casino hotels and residences, a spa village health care centre, town houses and villas, condominiums and apartments, and retail space and theme parks.

BLand's unit Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd (BCayman) has signed a conditional MoA with JDC for the proposed development. Both parties will set up Jeju Casino Spa Resort Ltd (JCSR), in which BCayman will hold 81% stake with JDC owning the rest. The joint-venture agreement will be inked by March.

Ng said the initial paid-up capital of JCSR would not be less than US$30mil. “We are talking to a few parties on the management of the facilities. There is a high probability that we will be working with branded international chains to promote the casinos and hotels,” Ng said.

By The Star

Eco-friendly industrial property from Tangkas Arena

PETALING JAYA: Eco-friendly, energy conservation and cost savings — these are the key elements behind Tangkas Properties Sdn Bhd’s (TPSB) freehold, lightindustrial park dubbed Tangkas Arena in Subang Jaya’s UEP Industrial Park.

Comprising 17 uniquely-designed factory units over four acres, Tangkas Arena is set to stand out as one of the Klang Valley’s more innovative light industrial developments, with photovoltaic cells for solar power, thermal insulation systems and rainwater harvesting tanks.

An architectural model of Tangkas Arena

Tangkas Properties is the property development arm of Mudahjuta Industries Sdn Bhd, an insulation specialists and fabric manufacturer. Tangkas Arena is the company’s maiden effort in property development.

TPSB managing director Yogi Wong (pix) said, solar power generated from the photovoltaic cells on the roof of each unit would be fed back into the country’s national electricity supply grid for a nett deduction on monthly electricity bills.

“This is through participation in the Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic (MBIPV) programme promoted by Pusat Tenaga Malaysia and supported by the United Nations Development Programme,” said Wong.

“By moving into our units, companies will be able to save tremendously on their electricity bills,”
she added.

“The next unique feature is the rainwater harvesting system, where rainwater harvesting tanks will collect and purify rain water for everyday use, thus allowing companies to save considerably on water charges,” said Wong.

Besides this, the units will also be equipped with Dow Styrofoam insulation to reduce the heat entering the building thus reducing energy consumption for cooling purposes such as air-conditioning systems.

“Increasing global concerns over the environment led us to embark on this project that not only helps us to utilise what is readily available, but also to offer cost advantages for companies that operate from our units,” Wong offered.

Tangkas Arena units are priced from RM2.88 million to RM3.3 million, with 11,000 sq ft of built-up space. With a gross development value (GDV) of RM45 million, the project is expected to be completed within the next three years.

The 3-storey units will offer two production levels with high floorto- floor clearance and connected by a twotonne cargo lift.

All three floors will be constructed using solid C30 grade concrete with enhanced resistance to abrasion.

While the first two floors cater for production, the third floor is designed to be versatile so that it can serve as a corporate office or to house support activities.

Tangkas Arena units said Wong, would suit a wide range of industries such as food and beverage, preparation/distribution, printing, studio/ production houses or research laboratories.

The industrial park is accessible via the Elite, Kesas, Pantai and North-South expressways.

By theSun (by Tim Leonard)

Platinum Park to push TTDI into big league

World-class development will help brighten local property sector

TTDI Development Sdn Bhd's newly launched Platinum Park, a world-class RM3.5bil high-end integrated residential and commercial development in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle, has catapulted the company into the big league of property development.

The sale of the 50-storey Menara Felda, the tallest of seven iconic towers in Platinum Park, to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) for RM640.7mil last week is a major achievement, not only for the company but also for the whole industry that needs this kind of “fireworks” to brighten the “gloom and doom” of a US and possibly global recession.

With the launch of Platinum Park, about 700 metres from the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC shopping centre, TTDI is poised to regain its former glory not only as an industry leader but also as a major player to be reckoned with.

TTDI group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin said Platinum Park would be a world-class product and one of the most exciting developments that Malaysia had ever seen.

Datuk Johan Ariffin

“It will be a must-see destination for tourists like Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Xin Tian Ti in Shanghai and Knightsbridge in London. If you are a tourist and you have not visited Platinum Park, then you have not been to Kuala Lumpur.”

“What Hyde Park is to London park-front apartments and Central Park is to New York condominiums, so it shall be with our Platinum Park properties. This is an investment grade property. The potential is tremendous,” he told StarBiz in an interview.

Designed by RSP Architects, this “haven within a city” development will be the latest project by the renowned architectural firm responsible for a number of other landmark works including the KL Hilton and Le Meridien hotels, Great Eastern Office and GE Mall. It will be the biggest luxury development to be undertaken by a bumiputra company in the vicinity of the KLCC.

It will comprise of three high-end condominiums (287 units) called Platinum Residences; three Grade A office towers and a five-star, 452-unit, 30-storey serviced apartment tower called Platinum Concierge Suites, designed to give the best view of the Petronas Twin Towers, the Melawati Hills and the Royal Selangor Golf Course.

The super condominiums will be priced from about RM2,000 to RM2,500 per sq ft with size of 2,200 to 3,500 sq ft, 4,500 to 5,500 sq ft and penthouses of 8,000 to 13,000 sq ft. Of the three condominium towers, one will be a 30-storey block with 123 units and two, 42-storey tower with a total of 164 units. The first condominium block would be launched later this year or early next year.

The proposed Platinum Residences 2 condominium

While the condominiums are targeted at owner-occupiers, the serviced apartment with size of 450, 675, 900 and 1,500 sq ft will be targeted at discerning investors.

Besides the very prime location, Platinum Park's other unique selling points are its size and concept.

Johan said apart from KLCC, there were no other developments that had the size of Platinum Park in the immediate neighbourhood.

“The 9.1 acres gives us the opportunity to create something different and iconic. We are able to create a seamlessly integrated development of seven towers with top of the line security and ICT.

“We found that every development in the neighbourhood is of one or two blocks and three towers at the most. Ours is the only one that has seven towers.”

Johan said there would be 80,000 sq ft of lifestyle retail space spread over the edge of the park and the towers. There will also be three levels of auto showrooms.

This “necklace” of niche retail offerings will complement this one-of-its kind development in the capital. These outlets will feature international products and services never seen before in Kuala Lumpur.

The retail units will not be sold but kept for rental income. They will also serve residents in about a dozen new condominiums in the immediate vicinity.

An artist’s impression of Menara Felda

Menara Felda's 50 floors will reflect Felda's 50 years of successful history. It will have a net lettable area of 689,000 sq ft and a floor plate of 15,000 sq ft. It will have, among other things, a large banquet hall that can seat 1,500 people at the basement level, double volume ceiling, pre-function lobby and two basements and a podium for parking.

The three office towers will be of 33, 38 and 50 stories. The indicative prices of the office lots will be around RM1,200 to RM1,500 per sq ft, depending on size and the market. The remaining two office towers called Platinum 1 and 2 business suites might be launched later this year or early 2009.

Platinum Park will be developed in five phases over the next eight years and is expected to contribute significantly to TTDI's bottom line.

By The Star (by S.C. Cheah)

More projects ahead of listing

TTDI Development Sdn Bhd (TTDI) is all set to launch several projects this year in its run-up to its proposed listing on Bursa Malaysia, expected to be one of the largest property initial public offerings (IPO) slated for 2008.

The upcoming developments include the newly launched Platinum Park and at least four more: TTDI Alam Impian, TTDI Kajang, The Valley in Ampang and Laman Seri Business Park in Shah Alam.

TTDI Alam Impian, a 200-acre mixed development of 1,600 residential units in Alam Impian, Shah Alam, would be launched later this year. The houses would be priced between RM300,000 andRM500,000 for corner units.

TTDI Kajang, a 113-acre freehold residential development comprising terraced and semi-detached houses would also be launched later this year.

The Laman Seri gated and guarded community project in Shah Alam

The 35-acre The Valley is a 143-unit upmarket gated and guarded bungalow project in Bukit Indah, Ampang. The semi-detached houses called linked villas would be priced from RM2.5mil while the bungalows would be priced from RM3mil to RM4.5mil.

The company has also soft-launched the leasehold Laman Seri Business Park, comprising 46 units of four and five-storey shop offices in Section 13, Shah Alam. It has sold 26 of the 46 four and five-storey shop offices priced from RM2.6mil.

TTDI group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin is proud of the newly completed 21-acre Laman Seri, as the gated and guarded community has enhanced the image of Shah Alam.

“We believe that we must do better than the previous project, as a developer is as good as its last project. If it does not keep on improving, then it is going to fall by the wayside.” he said.

A recent visit showed nice, three-storey bungalows and semi-detached houses with 14-ft high ceilings that make all the rooms look very spacious. There are electronically synchronised fountains with natural stones for the boundary walls at the main entrance, three playgrounds and three-tier security at the entrance, perimeter and home alarm system.

Phase 1 and 2 comprising 129 bungalows and 70 semi-detached houses have been completed and CF would be issued soon. About half of the 33 bungalows under Phase 3 have been sold during a recent soft launch.

TTDI Development is well known for the development of the prestigious Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur with sales value of over RM1.4bil. The award-winning township set new industry benchmarks when it commenced in 1973.

This affluent township comprising condominiums, houses and commercial centres is regarded as one of the best residential developments in the country. It has won the FIABCI Award of Distinction for Residential Property in 1993 and the TBR Excellence Award for Township Development in 2007.

The Residence condominiums at Taman Tun Dr Ismail also won the Malaysian Construction Industry Excellence Awards in 2006. TTDI also made it into the Enterprise 50 Awards List for 2007 which recognises Malaysian companies poised for success.

TTDI is a member of the Naza Group, helmed by well-known auto entrepreneur, Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin S.M. Amin.

The company has actively increased its land bank in recent years. Its projects span over 500 acres and are expected to sustain the company's performance over the next eight to 10 years.

Its past projects include IBM Tower, Desa Pandan, Desa Bakti Selayang, TTDI Residence, TTDI Plaza condominiums and TTDI Plaza shop offices.

The company also did several projects in Shah Alam – Giant hypermarket, Taman TTDI Jaya, Section 13, Jayamas, Malawati Indoor Stadium and Laman Seri.

By The Star

Project surprises industry

“THEY have really done a good job!” These words came from the CEO of a major property development group while we were having lunch at the KL Hilton, the day before the official launch and groundbreaking ceremony of the Platinum Park by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Jan 22.

The CEO was surprised when I answered his question that the 50-storey office tower that would be sold en bloc as mentioned in my column on Jan 21, is in Platinum Park and that the developer TTDI Development Sdn Bhd (TTDI) is selling it to Felda for RM640.7mil, or about RM930 per sq ft.

This is indeed a major coup and many industry players did not know about the sale or details of the Platinum Park development. It was the best-kept secret. The TTDI management has for the past four to five years worked hard to amalgamate the bungalow lots and came out with a winning concept. It has kept quiet until it was time to blow the trumpets with fanfare.

About 1,000 people were invited for lunch and to witness the signing of the agreement to purchase Menara Felda and launch under a big tent at the project site at the corner of Jalan Kuda and Jalan Stonor. The night before the launch, more than 50 members of the media came for a preview-cum-dinner at the site show room.

From left: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, TTDI Development chairman Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin S.M. Amin, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yusof Noor and Deputy Regional Development Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop looking at the model of Platinum Park.

Did TTDI come in too late into KLCC?

Group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin does not think so. “I don't think we missed the boat but instead, we have caught the market on an upswing. “The earlier condos were priced around RM650 per sq ft but now they have shot past RM2,000. The secondary market in One KL is reselling at RM2,500 per sq ft,” he said.

“We've taken a good amount of time to carefully plan and conceptualise this project. We haven't finished on the retail planning,” he said, adding that he was unperturbed with talks of a glut of high-end condos in the KLCC area. We don't have that many units and it is less than 5% of the total supply in the area. We are targeting a niche upper band, a very select group,” he said.

In fact, at RM2,000 to RM2,500 per sq ft as the indicative price for Platinum Park's luxury condominiums, it will help to pull up the price structure of similar high-end developments in the periphery of KLCC and those further away.

There is an upcoming RM3.6bil to over RM4bil mega development in Kampung Abdullah Hukum at Jalan Bangsar that may also benefit from any spill over demand from the KLCC.

If the condominiums or offices in this project that is adjacent to the Mid Valley City, were to be priced at around RM600 per sq ft, it would be an attractive proposition, as Bangsar is also a prime area but the price would be a mere quarter of the top end of KLCC prices.

What makes Platinum Park exciting is that it will have a RM20mil, 1.5-acre private park and cobblestone walkways that will give residents, office workers as well as visitors to its retail outlets a “back to nature” feel. For the residents, it will be an exclusive domain to live, work and play.

As RSP principal Hud Abu Bakar said, there would be lots of lush landscape and water features as well as state-of-the-art CCTV surveillance and sophisticated fibre optic lighting, some of them set in glass structures. It will be an exciting, uplifting and happening place.

He explained that the instead of having sharp edges, there would be curved buildings that maximises on the view, ventilation and is harmonious with the surroundings.

“It also minimises reflection from the sun and deflects the wind more evenly. Our inspiration is also taken from the form and function of a car that has character, is dynamic and progressive,” Hud said, adding that Platinum Park would be the “climax of the Jalan Stonor development”.

In designing Menara Felda, he said its oblong shape is derived from the shape of the palm seed while the top of the building resembles a leaf that symbolises Felda as an agriculture body.

“When this tower is lit up at night, it takes on a very nice shape. When you come out of the KLCC, you can see straight at this tower,” he added.

Platinum Park will have six ingresses and egresses. From the North, one can drive into the development from Jalan Ampang and Jalan Binjai; from the East its from Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Kuda, from the West it is from Jalan Stonor and from the South one can come in from Jalan Kia Peng and Lorong Stonor.

The neighbours are also all first class projects. Just across Jalan Stonor is the newly completed Binjai twin-block condominiums and the existing Stonor Park. The proposed Suria Stonor condominium is next door while Magna Prima's Avare, another high-end condominium is under construction at the rear. Across the road at Jalan Kuda are The Oval condominiums, also being built.

By The Star

Mah Sing project draws foreign interest

MAH Sing Group Bhd, which is actively involved in commercial developments, is in talks with three potential foreign buyers for en bloc sale of two of the five blocks in its Southgate Commercial Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Andy Chua with an artist's impression of the Southgate Commercial Centre

It has begun talks early this month with buyers from London, Singapore and the Middle East, who are keen to purchase the seven-storey 900,000 sq ft Apex Block.

The company has also started to approach buyers for the en bloc sale of the main block called Corporate Building, an eight-storey building with 218,000 sq ft built-up area. It fronts Jalan Tun Razak/Jalan Sungei Besi.

The Corporate Building and Apex have a floor plate of about 26,000 sq ft and 16,000 sq ft respectively

The freehold development's five blocks are called Corporate Building, Apex, Vox, Vivo and Verves.

Deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua said the company had yet to decide who would be the buyer.

“Talks are still going on. We will accept the best terms. We are not in a hurry to close the deal, as we are still fine-tuning.

“We hope to firm up the development plans, layout, concept and specification of the project by Chinese New Year,” he told StarBiz.

Chua said there were many corporate investors, including REIT funds and financial institutions, who had shown interest in the Corporate Building.

He said the company had not firmed up the selling price for both blocks but the Corporate Building might be selling at RM700-RM750 per sq ft while Apex at RM600-RM650 per sq ft.

The Corporate Building and Apex block have a floor plate of about 26,000sq ft and 16,000 sq ft respectively.

Its other three blocks has a total of 226 office suites with built-up area from 592 to 1,704 sq ft and 63 retail lots with built-up area of 535 to 2,095 sq ft. The office suites are priced from RM430 per sq ft while the retail lots are from RM800 per sq ft.

Chua said a selling point of the project was that it would be an eye-catching building and that a company could put up its corporate name in front.

Southgate was opened for registration for a month from mid-January and would be launched in March.

Chua said Southgate would be ideal for smaller companies that did not need big office space. Hence its office suites are targeted at companies like consultancy, architectural and advertising firms.

“Previously, small and medium-sized companies could only lease a property in the city centre because all buildings are office towers and they could not afford to buy office towers,” he said, adding that it was better to own an office instead of renting and be subjected to fluctuations in rental rates.

“Rental rates will go up very high if the leasing market is good. This would cause problems when a company is forced to move its office elsewhere that has cheaper rental,” he added.

The 4.76-acre Southgate, with a gross development value of RM256mil, was inspired by the Xintiandi development in Shanghai. It is conceptualised as an integrated commercial and leisure hub, incorporating creative workspaces, food and beverage, and retail lots.

The first and second floor of Southgate commercial blocks will be the retail lot and the third to fifth floors are office suites. The last two levels are duplex suites.

Chua said the modular layout enabled buyers to buy more than a unit and mix and match them to suit their office needs. Besides ample parking bays at two basement levels, there is also parking at the ground level.

Mah Sing is confident that its lifestyle product differentiation for Southgate would ensure good sales and rejuvenates the surrounding areas.

By The Star (by Rachael Kam)

Aussie builder eyes Malaysian buyer

WEST Homes Australia Pty Ltd is offering Malaysian buyers and investors an opportunity to purchase homes in its latest housing project in Melbourne, Australia.

The homes are part of the Australian builder’s long-term Pentridge Village project being marketed through its local marketing arm – Asia Pacific Assets (KL) Sdn Bhd.

West Homes Australia director Leigh Chiavaroli was in Malaysia recently to promote the launch of Pentridge Village Centrale, its current project, as part of its plan to focus on the Asian market.

“I think you should see the homes and feel it. It's one thing to talk about the homes, but it’s a significant thing to actually come down and look at it,” added Chiavaroli.

Some of the completed houses at Pentridge Village.

Chiavaroli said Centrales strategic location was one of the reasons why it would appeal to local buyers and investors.

“Pentridge Village is only 7km from Melbourne's central business district. You have trams, trains and busses practically at your doorstep.

“It's also close to Melbourne and La Trobe University, which is great for Asians who wish to live ant study there,” Chiavaroli said.

The Pentridge Village Centrale project comprises of apartment suites, multi-level terraces (with private lifts) and house with land packages. The prices of these residential properties range from A$364,000 to A$1.5mil.

By The Star

Mah Sing: All components in Southgate for sale

PROPERTY developer Mah Sing Group Bhd says all components of its RM256 million Southgate Commercial Centre on Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, are for sale.

Mah Sing will continue to sell its developments and only retain properties for investment when it decides to set up a real-estate investment trust, said deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua.

He said the group has received enquiries from buyers in Singapore, the Middle East and the UK for en bloc sales of the main corporate building and Apex block under its Southgate development.

"The price range for the corporate building varies from RM700 to RM750 per sq ft with lettable area of 218,000 sq ft," he told Business Times in an interview.

The Apex block will be priced between RM600 and RM650 per sq ft for lettable area of 90,000 sq ft.

The three remaining blocks of the development, namely Vox, Vivo, and Verve, will offer 226 office suites and 63 retail lots.

Prices for office suites (range from 592 to 1704 sq) start at RM430 per sq ft, while prices for retail lots (535 to 2095 sq ft) begin from RM800 per sq ft.

The group, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Jastamax Sdn Bhd, bought two freehold parcels with a combined area of 2ha opposite Wisma Mah Sing from Nichii Fashion Sdn Bhd for RM52 million last July.

Inspired by Xintiandi in Shanghai, Southgate is an integrated commercial and leisure hub that will commence development next month and will be completed 36 months thereafter.

Southgate is Mah Sing's third commercial development in Kuala Lumpur and expected to rejuvenate the surrounding areas including Pudu, Sungei Besi and Loke Yew.

"We will have exciting gourmet restaurants and alfresco cafes to create that ambience of sitting down and having a drink under the stars," said Chua.

By New Straits Times (by Jeeva Arulapalam)