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Friday, January 11, 2008

WCT eyes more Vietnam projects

An artist's impression of the Platinum Plaza.

PETALING JAYA: WCT Engineering Bhd is planning more projects in Vietnam following the approval obtained for its first commercial landmark in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City.

Executive director Loh Siew Choh said it would still be in property development.

“We are applying for another investment certificate to develop another piece of land in Ho Chi Minh City,'' he told StarBiz in a telephone interview from Vietnam late on Wednesday.

With a population of 84 million, Vietnam offers huge potential to companies with good track record. Ho Chi Minh City alone has a population of 10 million.

“We hope this will be a new market for us,'' Loh said, adding that Ho Chi Minh City and its suburbs were the target for future projects.

Other positive factors include rising per capita and disposable incomes as well as good take-up rates for commercial space.

“Demand for grade A office space in Ho Chi Minh City is very high,'' Loh said. “Rentals in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City are going for US$40 to US$50 per sq m which is much higher than that in Kuala Lumpur.''

The company was awarded an investment certificate on Wednesday by the People's Committee Ho Chi Minh City to undertake the Platinum Plaza development project, located on 9ha in the Binh Chanh district.

The project will be undertaken by a joint-venture company, BSC-WCT Co Ltd, in which WCT will have a 67% stake. The land lease or duration of the project is 50 years.

“There is a big shortage of retail space and a need for a proper shopping mall,'' Loh said.

The Platinum Plaza represents the largest commercial development to date and is expected to be built in four years. Construction is expected to start by year's end.

The project includes a shopping mall, a four-star hotel, two office blocks of 22 storeys each and small office home office units. The total gross floor area is 671,960 sq m.

“We have to show our seriousness and establish good relationships in the country,'' Loh said.

Delivery and track record are factors closely watched by the authorities there. Within the WCT organisation, there are people who have years of experience working in Vietnam.

The group aims to build its good name in Vietnam like the way it had established itself in the Middle East.

“It (the business in the Middle East) was not created overnight,'' Loh had told StarBiz in an earlier interview. “It was a result of hard work by the business development team in the last six years, making WCT Engineering well known as well as delivering results.''

The group has its regional office in Abu Dhabi and offices in Dubai, Doha, Oman and Bahrain. Two of its biggest projects are the RM4.6bil Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and the RM1.3bil Abu Dhabi Formula One Circuit.

WCT Engineering is in 50% partnership for these projects and also has a number of jobs in Bahrain and Qatar.

By The Star (by Yap Leng Kuen)

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