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Friday, February 29, 2008

Lebar Daun brings affordable space to Shah Alam

An artist's impression of the Commerce Galleries at 121 D’Kayangan

The 4- and 5-storey Grade A Commerce Galleries at 121 D’Kayangan in Section 13, Shah Alam, offers space at affordable prices. The project is by Lebar Daun Development Sdn Bhd, which is also the developer of Bukit Bandaraya in Shah Alam, Taman Pahlawan in Telok Panglima Garang, and Taman Dato Demang in Puchong.

Its marketing manager, Arman Putera Asmuni, said the first phase of the development has four blocks totaling 38 strata-titled units with enbloc built-ups of between 7,800 sq ft and 14,000 sq ft. Prices range from RM209,999 for a studio unit to RM4.1 million for a corner unit.

“The average rental rate for a 1,000 sq ft office space is about RM1,000 a month. The studio units in our project can be purchased with almost the same installments,” he told theSun, adding that about 20% to 30% of the units had been sold prior to the official launch.

He said the studio units are targeted at professional firms, while the larger units are suitable for financial institutions, telco centres, and car showrooms. “Due to their huge size, a car showroom would be able to fit in access of 20 cars, while a banking hall could have more than 20 counters in the larger units” he offered.

The development is located within the D’Kayangan township, which is just five minutes away from Shah Alam’s city centre and the Federal Highway, and enjoys good visibility from Tesco, Shah Alam Stadium and Kelab Shah Alam. The two future phases are set for launch in the middle and end of this year respectively. The project has a gross development value (GDV) of RM110 million.

Arman said the 165-acre leasehold township consists of mid- to high-end residential properties including semidee villas, cluster semidees and superlink houses. It will be fully completed in the next 10 years with a GDV of RM1.6 billion.

“We will make studies and launch our products according to the market,” he said.

He added that properties in Shah Alam attract Malays and non-Malays alike with the former purchasing for owneroccupancy and the latter buying for investment. “Properties in D’Kayangan have been experiencing capital appreciation of about 10% per annum. For instance, the subsale price of a 2- storey semidee is RM575,000 from RM500,000 two years ago,” he said.

Meanwhile, the group’s 300-acre Bukit Bandaraya township in Section 8, is currently 20% to 30% complete and handed over. Its latest launch of superlink houses, priced from RM295,000, has experienced a good take-up to date.

The group aims to launch its latest commercial project in Section 14, the Shah Alam Triple Tower, by the end of this year. It will comprise three office towers, a 5-storey shopping complex with a net lettable area of 500,000 sq ft and 2,300 parking bays. “The development is going to be a new landmark in Shah Alam and with a GDV of RM600 million, it is going to be the biggest commercial development in the area,” Arman said, adding that details such as the price and size of the office units are still being finalised.

By theSun

Fiamma Holdings’ maiden property venture

FIAMMA Holdings Bhd (Fiamma) will soon start work on its first property venture, a serviced apartment and SoHo project located on Jalan TAR, Kuala Lumpur.

“We’re working on the development order and we aim to get the order this year,” said Jimmy Lim, group chief executive officer and managing director of Fiamma. According to Lim, the project is expected to have a gross development value (GDV) of between RM150 million and RM170 million.

“There will be one block and we’re looking at 30 storeys, subject to approvals,” said Lim after the company’s AGM held yesterday. The 1.06-acre freehold tract was acquired by its unit Fiamma Development Sdn Bhd last year for a total of RM16.5 million and the transaction was completed in November last year.

Fiamma had also entered into a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) to acquire land in KLCC, on which it would develop an office and serviced apartment. According to Lim, the SPA is pending completion. “We hope to launch it immediately after the SPA is completed,” he said.

The company’s foray into property development is due to a decision to diversify its earnings base. Lim revealed that the company would eventually have two core businesses — trading and property development. “We expect property to contribute to our earnings by 2009 onwards,” he added.

For the financial year ended Sept 30, 2007, Fiamma recorded an increase of more than 200% in pre-tax profit at RM12.6 million, up from RM4.1 million in the previous financial year.

By theSun (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

UM Land set to launch three high-end condos in 2008

This year is expected to be a positive one for United Malayan Land Bhd (UM Land) as the developer will be launching three high-end condominium projects with a gross development value of over RM1 billion by end-2008 said its CEO Anthony Yap (pix).

“It will be challenging in view of the rising costs of doing business, but the group is well positioned to withstand any negative impact brought about by these economic uncertainties,” he said in a press release announcing the group’s results for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2007.

For the first quarter of the year, UM Land will be launching its RM 175 million Suasana Bangsar in Bangsar.

“It consists of a single luxury residential tower housing 190 condo units with sizes from 1,112 to 4,800 sq ft. We are confident of the success of this freehold project based on the high level of interest gathered from the early registrants,” he said.

In the second half of 2008, UM Land’s 310 units of serviced residences in the enclave of Bukit Ceylon will be launched. “Given the attractive location and development potential of this project, it is expected to contribute positively to future earnings of the group,” Yap added. Meanwhile, a third condo project located along Jalan Mayang, off Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is scheduled for launch by the fourth quarter of the year.

Yap also said that the group would remain focused on its two-pronged growth strategy through its township and niche development divisions. It is currently pursuing several land acquisitions and joint venture development opportunities in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in line with this strategy.

UM Land is the developer of the integrated townships in Bandar Seri Alam, Seri Austin and Bandar Seri Putra in Johor and Selangor. Its niche projects include Suasana Sentral Loft in KL Sentral and Seri Bukit Ceylon, a freehold, serviced residences development managed by the Ascott International Management Group.

The group recorded a 16% growth in profit after tax of RM46.6 million for FY07, up from FY06’s RM40 million. UM Land is listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia and its major shareholders include Perangsang Mewah Sdn Bhd, CapitaLand Ltd, Tradewinds Corp Bhd and Chee Tat Holdings Pte Ltd.

By theSun (by Allison Lee)

Tourism, office and retail properties look good for 2008

REAL estate consultants believe that the local hospitality market will continue to enjoy more upside driven largely by the tourism market growth and foreign investments.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe said the country’s hotels and resorts will soon be experiencing new trends that have been taking place on the international front.

Previndran: Hotels and resorts will soon be experiencing new trends

“For example, limited service and branded budget hotels [like the Tune brand] are very popular overseas and these are managed by well-known hotel brands including Holiday Inn and Marriott.

Serviced apartments are also another type of limited-service offering,” he stated. Previndran was presenting his paper on the hotel and resort market performance for 2007 and the outlook for 2008 at the recently concluded First Malaysian Property Summit 2008 in Kuala Lumpur.

Other trends that would benefit the local hospitality sector include spa resorts and Syariah compliant hotels. “Foreigners will enjoy the spa-themed resorts, which are considerably more affordable here.

There is also a big market for ethnic-based hotels with Islamic architecture here and in the Middle East, there are about 26 Syariah compliant hotels,” he added. According to data from Zerin Properties, foreign investments in hotels grew by 64% to RM878 million in 2006, while the total investments by locals only amounted to RM153 million. Last year, 62% of the total value of hotel transactions, which amounted to RM756 million, was by foreigners.

Hotel funds as well as foreign investment funds, said Previndran, are the main drivers of demand for properties here. “While Malaysia is still perceived as a value-for-money destination, the growth in our tourism market is also driven by low-cost carriers like AirAsia. So allowing the open-sky policy will actually be beneficial to us.”

Some 20.7 million tourist arrivals were recorded in 2007 and tourism receipts amounted to RM45.7 billion, which is the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country.

The property summit was organised by the Association of Valuers & Property Consultants in Private Practice Malaysia and more than 100 participants attended the one-day seminar.

On the office market segment, CH Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd managing director Goh Tian Sui said that the segment’s benchmark selling price would be boosted to a new level above that
of RM1,230 psf recorded by the upcoming Menara YNH along Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Goh: The benchmark selling price would be boosted to a new level

In his paper on the office market’s performance for 2007 and outlook for 2008, Goh said capital values would be “quite bullish” and foreign buyers’ enthusiasm in Malaysia in the sector would continue to grow.

“Interest from foreign investors and institutions continue to remain strong… it depends on how much yield they can accept. But we are facing more competition from Singapore, Australia and the Middle East,” said Goh.

For the investment and retail market’s performance for 2007 and outlook for 2008, executive chairman of Regroup Associates Christopher Boyd feels confident that the rental rates in shopping centers in the Klang Valley have the potential to reach RM100 psf.

Boyd: Klang Valley shopping centers rental rates could reach RM100 psf

“This is likely to happen over the next three years because of the continuous growth of new retail space in the market.
Top rentals in the Klang Valley are about RM80 psf at Suria KLCC while the recently opened Pavilion KL is already charging as much as RM45 psf and has the potential of catching up quickly,” said Boyd.

On retail space transactions, Boyd expects that prices will surpass the RM1,500 psf mark from the current RM1,100 psf following growing demand from foreign buyers.

“Buyers outnumber sellers here by a very large margin and in the last two years, we have experienced investor interest from Europe, Australia, Singapore. Hong Kong and the Middle East,” he added.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

E&O plans luxury homes in IDR

It's finalising joint venture details with KFH

PETALING JAYA: Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) is exploring the possibility of a high-end residential property development in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).

The company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH) for the development of a 195-acre in the IDR in mid-February.

E&O managing director Datuk Tham Ka Hon in an e-mail reply to StarBiz said details were being finalised for the proposed joint-venture development with KFH.

“The MoU provides for a six-month period for both parties to sign the joint-venture agreement,” he said.

E&O signed an MoU with Cultural Cluster Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of KFH, in mid-February to jointly develop the parcel, which is designated as the Heritage District within the 624-acre Cultural Cluster of Node 1.

KFH - together with Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Jumeirah Capital - were awarded a 99-year leasehold concession last August to develop the Cultural Cluster.

Tham said the development would be in line with the group's strategy of developing premium properties with unique concepts to meet the needs of the discerning segment of the market.

He said the group was in a stronger cash position following the sale of its 50.6% stake in Putrajaya Perdana Bhd for RM199mil.

“Assets amounting to RM1bil have been identified within the group that will be maintained as investments from which we'll be able to enjoy recurring income as well as capital appreciation,” Tham said.

He added that these included retail and office properties in the Klang Valley and Penang.

The group also plans to expand its hospitality and lifestyle division in Penang with the addition of 150 rooms to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel and 50 rooms to the Lone Pine hotels while 60 serviced apartments from the Suites at Waterside project in Seri Tanjung Pinang would be eventually managed by the E&O Hotel, he said.

Meanwhile, E&O's results for its third quarter ended Dec 31 saw the company posting a net profit of RM89.63mil.

This is largely due to a one-off gain from the disposal of the Putrajaya Perdana stake. Revenue was at RM86.61mil.

It also announced a special dividend less 26% income tax.

Analysts said the group's outlook remained bright although there was a 49% fall in its third-quarter revenue compared with the second quarter because new projects were not launched.

For the nine months ended Dec 31, there was a decline in revenue largely due to the absence of revenue from Putrajaya Perdana.

Hwang-DBS Vickers Research Sdn Bhd analyst Tan Siang Hing said in a research note that “the strategy of focusing on property investment allows the group to generate recurring income that should improve its earning quality.”

In another research note, Kenanga Research said despite a drop in revenue there was a 12% growth in sales in the nine months to Dec 31.

This was partly driven by a 53% increase in revenue from the hospitality business and increased take-up rates and more launches from Seri Tanjung Pinang.

It said estimated net profit for the financial year ending March 31 (FY08) would be revised down by 23% to RM140mil to account for the third-quarter result, which was below market expectations.

The outlook for the fourth quarter would be much stronger due to RM217mil in unbilled sales.

By The Star (by Fintan Ng)

KFH in talks on projects in Sabah Development Corridor

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH) is in talks with 10 to 12 companies eyeing projects in the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).

Managing director Datuk K. Salman Younis said it was talking to the companies about different financing opportunities.

“It is an ongoing process, and hopefully before year-end, the deals will start happening,” he told reporters after KFH signed a master terms of reference agreement with Calyon London to conclude an Ijarah Rental Swap-i (IRS-i) transaction yesterday.

Datuk Salman Younis (left) exchanging document with Calyon London director Mr Collin Willis (right). With them is Securities Commision executive director of strategy and development Goh Ching Yin

Salman said the companies were interested to get financing for projects such as logging, deforestation, real estate and infrastructure.

The IRS-i would enable clients to hedge their market risk exposure through employing a fully syariah-compliant structure. It is designed to the unique needs of the client, with tenures varying in accordance to the preference of the client.

“The KFH IRS-i will enable our customers to effectively hedge against the risk market rate exposure.

“Companies can convert either their fixed or floating rate cash flow commitments into more manageable rate exposure suitable with their risk appetite, which will help mitigate the occurrence of any negative impact to volatility and uncertainty in the movement of market rates,” he said.

By The Star

Sunrise MD to step down

PETALING JAYA: Sunrise Bhd managing director Datuk Michael Yam will be stepping down on March 20 after helming the company for 11 years but will remain on its board as a non-executive director.

Sunrise told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that Yam, 55, would be ending his three-year contract with the company.

Commending Yam for having made significant contribution to the growth and reputation of Sunrise, the board said it looked forward to receiving his advice and opinion during its deliberations.

Datuk Michael Yam

In a phone interview with StarBiz, Yam said his re-designation would pave the way for the younger breed of management executives to move up in the company.

“I look forward to spending more quality time with my family and improve on my golf handicap.

“If I get bored, I may consider taking up some advisory roles, including acting as a consultant to companies, as long as they are not in conflict with Sunrise's business.”

Yam, who holds a 1.5% stake, or 6.8 million shares, in Sunrise, said he might also venture into one or two small niche developments, including building his own dream home “to keep abreast with the latest technical know-how and keep my passion of building quality residences alive.”

Since taking over the top post at Sunrise in March 1997, Yam had been instrumental in bringing the company to its present leadership position in the high-end condominium market in the Mont'Kiara enclave.

In the latest quarter ended Dec 31, Sunrise recorded unbilled sales of more than RM1.2bil which would be recognised in the next two to three years.

AmResearch, in a research note yesterday, said Sunrise would be able to record higher revenue of close to RM700mil for the financial year ending June 30 (FY08) compared with RM558mil a year earlier.

This year, the company plans to launch RM1.5bil worth of projects.

Summing up his tenure at Sunrise, Yam said: “A decade after the regional financial crisis hit the country in 1997, I stand back with much pride and contentment that this company can only go from strength to strength on a firm platform under the current leadership.”

After Yam's departure as managing director, executive chairman Tong Kooi Ong will also assume the position of chief executive.

By The Star - StarBiz (by Angie Ng)

Singapore’s CityDev 2007 profit doubles

SINGAPORE: City Development, South-East Asia’s second largest property developer, yesterday beat market forecasts by more than doubling its 2007 profit on home sales and hotel revenues, and said it was upbeat despite the credit crisis.

“Property development will continue to make significant contribution with locked-in profits yet to be recognised from pre-sold residential projects,” CityDev executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng said in a statement.

CityDev reported record full-year net profit of S$725mil, against S$351.7mil a year earlier, beating an average forecast of S$625.4mil by Reuters Estimates.

The company did not report separate fourth-quarter earnings, which jumped 72% to S$235mil, compared with S$137mil a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations.

“The results came in above everyone’s expectations,” said CIMB analyst Donald Chua. Analysts had expected a slide in fourth-quarter earnings due to the absence of one-time gains.

CityDev’s full-year results did not take into account revaluation gains on its investment properties, which would have boosted full-year earnings to S$2.8bil, the company said.

Its accounting differed from CapitaLand, South-East Asia’s biggest developer, which last week reported revaluation gains of S$136.8mil on its assets for the final quarter of 2007.

Private home prices in Singapore jumped 31.2% last year, boosting CityDev and its Singapore rivals CapitaLand and Keppel Land.

By Reuters

Wellness Zone boost for tourism industry

TOURISM Malaysia has initiated a Wellness Zone project in Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan, to attract foreign tourists and further grow this tourism segment.

Deputy secretary general of Tourism Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said the Wellness Zone, initiated in 2007, will kick off within the next one to two years.

HEALTHY DISCUSSION: (From Left) Ong, Datuk Dr Chan Kok Ewe from Island Hospital and Woodman

The project covers a 61km zone from Lukut to Pasir Panjang, Port Dickson.

"It will be an integrated area offering medical, wellness and spa facilities," Ong told Business Times when met at the Medical Travel World Congress 2008 on Tuesday.

He said a pilot project will be set up at Palm Springs Resort City.

The resort's master developer is Tanco Holdings Bhd while the Genium group will be involved with the Wellness Zone within the resort. Genium will both develop and manage this segment.

Among the treatments that will be offered in the zone are medical, aesthetic, cosmetic surgery, dental services, wellness treatment and traditional medicine.

Ong said that businesses in the zone will be given tax incentives which include 70 per cent of income generated by companies through services rendered to foreign citizens be tax-exempted for 10 years.

Machines and equipment will also be given tax exemption, he said.

On why Port Dickson was chosen, Ong said: "It is close to Kuala Lumpur and is associated with relaxation."

Wellness tourism is a component of health tourism but is distinguished from medical tourism.

At the conference meanwhile, "Patients Beyond Borders" author Josef Woodman said there are between two million and three million medical travellers worldwide, with a bulk of them going to Southeast Asia, North Asia and India.

Woodman estimates the growth of this industry at 20-34 per cent annually, and that by 2010, the global market for this business will be at US$40 billion (RM128.8 billion).

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

Mah Sing Q4 net up 18pc

MAH SING Group Bhd, a property developer, said its fourth quarter net profit rose 18 per cent to RM20.4 million due to better sales from new projects.

The company, whose shares are a favourite with investors, plans to pay 45 per cent of its 2007 net profit as dividends.

"We believe 2008 will be another good year for the group and we should be able to perform and achieve another good year," Group managing director and chief executive Datuk Seri Leong Hoy Kum said in a statement.

This year, its performance will be driven by some RM1 billion of sales that have yet to be booked into its accounts.

The company also plans to develop properties worth some RM3.2 billion over the coming years.

Mah Sing made a net profit of RM81.1 million in the financial year ended December 31 2007, a 24 per cent increase. Revenue was up 16 per cent to RM573.4 million.

Projects like The Icon Jalan Tun Razak (West Wing), Perdana Residence, Hijauan Residence, Kemuning Residence and Aman Perdana in the Klang Valley helped to boost profits last year.

By New Straits Times

UEM Builders in the black

UEM Builders Bhd ended its 2007 financial year with a net profit of RM157.3 million from a net loss of RM21.9 million the year before, as its infrastructure maintenance and facilities management and toll concession divisions continued to contribute consistent and positive earnings for the group.

Revenue grew 36 per cent to RM2.4 billion last year, driven by the local construction sector, namely the electrified double track project from Rawang to Ipoh and PLUS' third lane widening project from Seremban to Ayer Keroh.

In a statement, UEM Builders said revenue for 2008 can be expected from the remaining phases of the third lane widening project from Rawang to Tanjong Malim as well the the Penang Bridge widening works.

"Looking ahead, the group anticipates positive contribution from the construction work of the Penang Second Crossing Bridge. The bridge will be the longest bridge in Southeast Asia on completion in 2011, spanning 24km of which 17km will be over water. This project will contribute significant economic benefits to the country and further strengthen the group's capabilities in infrastructure development," group managing director Datuk Ridza Abdoh Salleh said.

He also expects construction works in the Johor Iskandar Development Region and other projects from the Ninth Malaysia Plan to further enhance the earnings prospects of the group.

"Taking into consideration the global economic scenario and the markets we operate in, the group expects the results for 2008 to be better than 2007," he said.

By New Straits Times

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Promising yet cautious property market for 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: The outlook for the property market this year is expected to remain promising yet cautious due rising oil prices, the possible increase of inflation rates and growing concerns in financial markets worldwide.

“The government’s move to allow EPF contributors to make monthly withdrawals from the balance in Account 2 for the financing of one house (effective 1 Jan, 2008) as well as the establishment of one-stop-centres (OSC) are expected to give a positive effect,” said Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani, directorgeneral of the Valuation and Property Services Department, Ministry of Finance.

Abdullah was presenting an overview of the Malaysian property market at the 1st Malaysian Property Summit 2008 organised by the Association of Valuers & Property Consultants in Private Practice Malaysia (PEPS) yesterday.

Other topics presented at the conference included the performance of Malaysian real estate investment trusts (REITS) and the high-end condominium market for 2007 and their outlook for 2008.

On Malaysian REITS, chartered surveyor Datuk Mani Usilappan said the market is expected to be aggressive in acquisitions this year, with additional injections of assets.

“Aside from this, some REITs have review of rents coming up this year and next year. So these REITs are expected to perform better,” he said. There are 13 REITs with a total capitalisation of RM6.5 billion as of 31 Dec, last year.

Where high-end condominiums were concerned, Knight Frank Malaysia’s managing director Eric Ooi (pix) said the completion for high-end condos in Kuala Lumpur is expected to be higher this year.

“Last year, there were 1,400 newly completed high-end condominiums and the expected completion this year is 4,370 — more than half are located in KL city. We are also expecting branded residences such as Four Seasons Place, St Regis Residences and The Binjai to set a new benchmark in pricing of RM2,000 to RM3,000 per sq ft,” Ooi said. Last year, high-end condos within the Kuala Lumpur City Centre were selling for RM1,300 to RM2,000 per sq ft.

The rental market is also expected to be competitive this year due to the higher completion of units. Rentals may increase but there would be yield compression, as the increase in prices is faster and higher than the rental increase.

“We have seen very strong foreign interest to buy properties in Malaysia, about 40% to 50% are foreign purchasers, and we expect this percentage to remain this year,” Ooi said, adding that buyers from the UK, Australia and Europe found the property prices here to be very affordable.

Ooi explained that there might be concerns of oversupply in high-end condos but it would depend on two segments – whether it is for investment purposes or owner occupation. He said there is still demand for high-end condos and among some of the key demand drivers are competitive pricing, location, quality and lifestyle.

By theSun (by Rosalynn Poh)

SP Setia sets five-year plan

KUALA LUMPUR: Renowned developer SP Setia Bhd unveiled a five-year plan with a theme “Move to Change” to firmly position itself locally and abroad. Group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin (pix) said the plan was mooted to strengthen the SP Setia brand name and move the company aggresively in the highend property market segment.

Speaking to the media after the company’s 33rd AGM at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday, Liew said the company is also geared to achieve record sales revenue of RM1.8 billion from new and existing projects this year.

“SP Setia is currently well known for its Setia Homes brand comprising terraced houses that make up 80% of our products, but by 2012, we wish to reduce it to 30% and concentrate fully on making the ‘SP Setia Eco’ brand the main driver of the company,” said Liew. Future projects are expected to be modelled after SP Setia’s award winning brand of Eco-themed developments (Eco is Setia’s corporate acronym for “environment”, “community” and “organisation”).

“We are going to concentrate on integrated development, overseas markets, bungalows and high-rise condominiums in an effort to push the Setia Eco brand,” Liew added.

He said the five-year plan also aims to make SP Setia’s international operations as big as the company’s local operations.

“We are going on an aggressive overseas expansion drive starting in Vietnam. We are also looking at other countries such as Pakistan, Cambodia, India and China, but it depends if we can get the right land at the right price.

“Although we are going out aggressively in Vietnam with our EcoLakes in MyPhuoc project, we make sure we carry out a detailed study on each piece of land before we make a purchase.

“When we went there first [Vietnam], we thought we could build a few hundred houses. But after seeing the market there, we think we should build a few thousand houses now,” said Liew.
According to him, the group is also looking for the right land at the right price in Vietnam and have scheduled projects with a gross development value of more than RM300 million there.

On another note, Liew said rising construction costs are a “headache” but the company is well prepared to face it. “We sell our products at a premium price, 20% higher than our competitors but our buyers are willing to pay the price because they know our brand name. For now, we are concentrating on higher margins, which translate to higher profits,” he said.

Liew described the financial year ended 31 Oct, 2007, as a great year. The group recorded a total sales volume of RM1.2 billion on the back of RM1.1 billion in revenue. Group profit after tax was at an all time high of RM260 million.

SP Setia has a strong local presence in the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang. It is well known for its Setia Eco Park Shah Alam, Setia Eco Gardens and Setia Tropika developments in Johor. It has a current landbank of 4,817 acres and aims to launch a RM1 billion project in Sabah within the next three to six months.

By theSun (by Tim Leonard)

SP Setia to widen revenue base

It targets commercial property, overseas projects

KUALA LUMPUR: SP Setia Bhd, which is developing townships and niche projects in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor, is aiming for a broader revenue contribution base by 2012.

Group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said the company was targeting a larger contribution from integrated commercial property projects within matured townships, high-end condominiums and overseas property projects in five years.

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin (right) and company directors at the AGM

“We’re moving away from the traditional market segment of link homes as there won’t be much growth if we just continue developing them,” he said after the company AGM yesterday.

Liew said 80% of revenue in the last financial year was contributed by this segment.

There would be more launches of “Eco” brand residential properties, high-end condominiums as well as integrated commercial properties, he added. The “Eco” brand is SP Setia’s high-end brand.

“We’re aiming for sales of RM1.8bil for the financial year ending Oct 31 (FY08), of which RM1.5bil will be in Malaysia and the remainder in Vietnam,” Liew said, adding that sales would be RM600mil higher than FY07.

SP Setia entered the regional property development scene last year when it signed a joint-venture agreement with Becamex IDC Corp of Vietnam to develop a mixed development project in My Phuoc. A second joint-venture agreement was signed recently with Saigon Hi-Tech Park Development Co for a mixed development project.

Liew said the first phase of the RM2.1bil EcoLakes project at My Phuoc to be launched in April or May, would comprise three-storey link homes.

“Property development in Vietnam will only grow over time; we may launch our other project there next year,” he said. Both projects are located near Ho Chi Minh City.

Liew said there were no plans as yet to scout for property projects in Hanoi. “We’ll invest in Hanoi only when we find a location where we’re able to implement our development concept and where the joint-venture partner sees value in having us on board.”

Apart from the Vietnam launch, Liew said the RM1bil Aeropod @ Tanjung Aru, near Kota Kinabalu, would be launched in six months after the finalisation of the development plans.

Other launches for the year include Duta Grande in June or July, comprising 15 bungalows priced at RM30mil each, and Setia Sky Residences, a RM700mil condominium project located near the National Heart Institute in downtown Kuala Lumpur that will be priced at an indicative RM750 psf.

For FY07, the company posted a net profit of RM260mil on revenue of RM1.15bil.

By The Star

Gamuda starts working on succession plan

KUALA LUMPUR: Gamuda Bhd managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling said the group has started working on a succession plan while he would continue to helm the company he founded.

Describing Gamuda’s prospects as “good”, Lin is confident the group would be able to meet all “the guidance that it had given to analysts earlier”.

He denied market talk that his share sale was due to any adverse changes on the group’s fundamentals or earnings prospects.

“I brought up the company over the past 25 years. I certainly don’t intend to have an abrupt exit ... we will ensure that over the next five years or longer, there will be a smooth transition,” Lin told StarBiz yesterday.

He said he could foresee the day Gamuda would be run by professional managers who were not shareholders.

“There are two or three names who have the potential (to take over the top executive positions),” he added.

Lin trimmed his stake to 1.7% from 5.2% last week. The shares were placed out to global institutional investors.

The share sale sparked heavy sell down on Gamuda shares amid worries that the group’s prospects would not be as rosy if Lin exited. HLG Securities anlayst Teoh Paul Keng noted that the rate Gamuda replenished its order book had decelerated. “The group has not secured anything substantial besides the double tracking project,” he said.

The group’s order book ballooned to RM11bil after it bagged the double tracking project together with MMC Corp Bhd.

The share price tumbled to a low of RM3.20 – down nearly 40% from its recent high of RM5.30. It closed at RM3.92, up six sen yesterday.

“I didn’t expect the (market) reaction to be so strong,” Lin said.

Lin noted it was “unfortunate” that investors perceived the “18-month lock-in period” for his remaining stake as a sign that he would only stay on for that period.

He pointed out that this was the fourth time he sold down his stake in Gamuda.

“Over the last 16 years, it (the selling down) hasn’t affected my commitment to grow the company and make it a success,” he said.

Lin stressed he had never been the controlling shareholder. He was holding about 16% stake when Gamuda floated its shares on Bursa Malaysia.

“There are lots of rumours flying around, such as our Vietnam project is not doing well and I have health problems.

“My plan to sell shares has nothing to do with what is being speculated. It is mainly for estate planning purposes,” said Lin, adding that the share sale was to diversify his personal wealth.

“But I suppose for the investors, there is never (a good) time for the CEO to sell shares,” he quipped.

Lin refuted market talk that he sold shares because Gamuda was under pressure from the Malay Chamber of Commerce in terms of distributing 30% of the sub-contracts to bumiputra contractors. “That issue has been resolved to our (Gamuda’s) satisfaction,” he said.

On the outlook of the construction sector, Lin said it would still be “quite good” for the next few years and there was no sign of a downturn.

But in terms of the number of jobs being dished out, Lin opined it would be the same as in the past two years.

“The slowdown in the US would trigger the need for the Government to pump prime (the economy) a bit more.

“You will have some big ticket items to be rolled out from the development of the economic corridors,” he added.

By The Star - StarBiz (by Kathy Fong)

Tesco to invest RM800m in 11 new stores

BRITISH retailer Tesco Stores (M) Sdn Bhd will invest RM800 million within the next 12 months as it opens 11 stores, bringing the total number of Tesco stores to 31 and possibly over RM3 billion in sales.

The planned expansion, growth in like-for-like sales coupled with a strong consumer friendly pricing policy, is expected to help sales for the year ending February 28 2009 grow by not less than 30 per cent.

"We are currently constructing eight stores and we have plans to develop a further three stores, hopefully within the next 12 months. We are also building a second distribution centre for our ambient products," chief executive officer Chris Bush said.

Bush said Tesco's growth in Malaysia, in terms of expansion and sales, is one of the biggest markets outside of the UK.

"We ended 2006/2007 (February 2007) with RM1.7 billion in sales. In the current year (ending February 29 2008) we expect it to be significant, at around 50 per cent ... and we will be disappointed if we do not grow by at least 30 per cent in the coming year (ending February 2009)," he said.

Tesco, which opened its first Malaysian hypermarket in 2002, will also post its maiden profit in the current year ending February 2008.

Apart from the RM800 million investment, another RM100 million will be for the opening of a distribution centre. The investments will come from its 15-year-tenure RM3.5 billion bond sale.

"RM100 million will be for the distribution centre to be located in Bukit Beruntung," Bush said.

Two of the scheduled 11 stores - in Johor Baru and Prai - are Makro outlets which are being renovated and converted into Tesco Extra outlets.

New outlets are also scheduled for Mergong, Kedah, Kampar and South Ipoh in Perak, Desa Tebrau and Setia Alam in Johor and Semenyih in Selangor.

Bush, who was speaking to reporters yesterday to announce Tesco's price commitment for the next 12 months, said it has slashed RM20 million off the price of 500 products. The price cuts range from 5-41 per cent.

Tesco, which initiated two other price cuts in 2006 and 2007, investing RM6 million and RM15 million respectively, is this time taking its pledge a little further.

It announced that 50 basic everyday staples, which are its best-selling lines across fresh and grocery including oil, sugar, flour and rice will not be beaten on price.

Tesco will refund twice the difference if any of the 50 products is found to be cheaper elsewhere.

Tesco in Malaysia, a 70-30 joint venture between Tesco Plc and Sime Darby Bhd, employs 7,000 people at its 20 outlets and is set to employ another 5,200 people in the next year as its expands.

Going forward, Bush expects Tesco to invest a further RM500 million to RM600 million for openings in the 2009/2010 financial year.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

Cepco eyeing RM200mil job for Penang Bridge

KUALA LUMPUR: Concrete Engineering Products Bhd (Cepco) is confident of securing a contract worth about RM200mil to supply marine piles for the second Penang bridge project.

Cepco’s marine piles were successfully tested for the bridge project in July 2007, managing director Leong Kway Wah said.

“However, there is no indication yet. We have yet to hear if we are going to get the contract,” he said after the company AGM yesterday.

He added that Cepco was also eyeing jobs from projects to be rolled out under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the various economic development corridors.

Leong was positive on the prospects for Cepco as the company was one of two players in the spun concrete piles market.

Cepco currently has an order book of about RM80mil that would keep the company busy for five to six months.

On new export markets, Leong said the company was in talks with parties in Canada.

“We have received enquiries from Canada on supplying materials for the construction of an indoor stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics,” he said.

He said the award of the contract would be confirmed by the end of this month.

At present, the company already exports concrete piles to Iran.

“Currently, we have an existing order to supply marine piles worth RM15mil for an ongoing project in Iran,” he said.

Leong said revenue contribution from exports contributed 15% to total group revenue.

“We would like to increase our export market share but have to consider the problem of logistics especially with the increase in the price of fuel, which has impacted transportation cost,” he said.

On the rising price of raw materials like steel and cement, Leong said that this would affect the company’s bottom line as the company was not able to transfer the cost to customers fast enough.

He said Cepco’s strategy would be to anticipate the higher prices and factor them into its prices as well as to source for cheaper raw materials from external suppliers.

By The Star

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Metro Kajang plans two new projects for 2008

An artist's impression of the Sentosa Villas link houses

KAJANG: Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd (Metro Kajang) will launch two new projects by the end of 2008, one in Desa Melawati in Kuala Lumpur and the other in Kajang’s town centre.

Chong Yong Han, group senior general manager of the Metro Kajang Group, told theSun that the Desa Melawati project would comprise 500 units of serviced apartments with a gross development value (GDV) of RM120 million. According to him, the medium high-end project would take up 2.6 freehold acres located opposite Tunku Abdul Rahman College.

“The larger units would be approximately 1,000 sq ft while the smaller units would be 800 sq ft. There will also be studio units sized at 700 sq ft,” said Chong after the company’s AGM yesterday.

Complete with full apartment facilities, the units are priced at RM250 psf and above. Due to its location, Chong expects the buyers to comprise investors as well as the people who work at the institutions nearby, which include an Islamic university located in the vicinity.

“We will also be launching commercial shoplots in Kajang’s town centre. There will be 20 units of 3-storey and 6-storey shoplots located next to the existing wet market, close to Metro Point,” said Chong. He added that the approvals for the RM40-million project are already being processed.

To be launched in two weeks’ time is Phase 1B of Sentosa Villas in Kajang, comprising terraced homes sized between 20ft by 65ft and 20ft by 80ft with an average price of RM340,000. “The show house has just been completed and we’re doing the interior designing now,” said Chong.

The entire development, which includes Phase 1A of semidees and bungalows as well as shoplots named Serba Sentosa, is approximately 30% taken up.

Meanwhile, its 700-acre ongoing township development, the freehold Bandar Teknologi Kajang, will see the launch of a new phase comprising bungalows and semidees in nine months’ time.
“The bungalows would be 6,000 sq ft and above, while the semidees would be 3,200 sq ft and above,” Chong said. Prices have yet to be confirmed.

He added that Metro Kajang’s latest commercial development, Wang Commerz@Pelangi Semenyih, has been more than 70% sold and the hypermarket Tesco is scheduled to move in at the end of 2008. The freehold project was launched last month and has a GDV of RM33 million.

The group, which has a presence in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Kajang and Semenyih, currently has 400 acres of undeveloped land to occupy them for another five years. Property development, which constitutes its core business, contributes 70% to the group’s profit. For the financial year ended Sept 30, 2007, the Group recorded a 21% increase in profit after tax to RM60.82 million from RM50.40 million in the preceding year.

By theSun (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

Melati Ehsan seeks to expand its property development

KUALA LUMPUR: Melati Ehsan Holdings Bhd, with construction as its core business and main revenue contributor, is expanding its earnings base to include more property development.

“The value in hand currently, for property, is RM500 million, whereas for our construction division, the current value is RM900 million. Our property development will continue to contribute 30% towards our group revenue for the next two years,” Melati Ehsan’s independent non-executive chairman Datuk Dr Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail.

Listed last March on the Main Board, Melati Ehsan is set to commence the development of its sole plot of land in Pandamaran, Klang in two months. The almost 100-acre tract was purchased for RM32 million, or approximately RM7.40 per sq ft.

“Our project in Pandamaran is scheduled for completion in five years, with a gross development value of RM500 million. This will provide us with a continuous source of income,” Melati Ehsan’s managing director Datuk Yap Suan Chee told reporters after its AGM yesterday. He added it is the last plot of land left in Pandamaran.

The gated development is adjacent to Bukit Tinggi and would consist of medium range residential and commercial units, with estimated selling prices from RM200,000 to RM350,000. The 2-storey link houses will have built-ups of 2,000 sq ft onwards while the commercial development will comprise 2- to 3-storey shop offices.

The developer is also currently looking for a parcel of land to build a hypermarket on. According to Yap, they are currently in talks with a few hypermarket operators but declined to disclose any further information.

“We are still sourcing for suitable land in prime areas. We prefer the Klang Valley – it is all about price and location,” Yap said when asked if there are plans to add to its landbank.

Melati Ehsan is currently developing the 300-acre Taman Ehsan Jaya, located within the Iskandar Development Region in Johor. It is currently 50% finished and set for completion within three years.

By theSun (by Rosalynn Poh)

IOI Properties to raise RM932m

PROPERTY developer IOI Properties Bhd plans to raise up to RM932 million from a rights issue to part-fund its projects in Singapore.

It will also use part of the money to refinance existing debt, it said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

IOI Properties has total debt of RM225 million.

In January, the company, a unit of IOI Corp Bhd, won a bid with its partner to buy land on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, for S$1.097 billion (RM2.5 billion).

This followed its first successful bid in March last year. Then, it won a tender to buy land on the island for RM1.1 billion.

"IOI Corp, being the controlling shareholder of IOI Properties, will give its irrevocable and unconditional written undertakings to subscribe in full for its entitlement," IOI Properties said.

IOI Corp holds 71.15 per cent of IOI Properties as at February 15, 2008.

Before the rights issue, IOI Properties will split its shares into two, to boost trading in the stock as it becomes more affordable.

As at February 15 2008, IOI Properties has a paid-up capital of RM333.52 million comprising the same number of shares. After the split, the number of shares will double to 667 million.

Then, it will offer investors one new rights share for every four existing shares held after the split. The rights are priced at RM5.50 apiece.

Shares of IOI Properties closed at RM12.70 yesterday down 40 sen from Monday's close.

By New Straits Times

Gamuda mulls share buyback as market value plummets

GAMUDA Bhd, the country's second biggest builder, may buy its own shares after the company lost nearly RM2.6 billion in market value over the past six trading days.

"We are weighing our options," a Gamuda official said in a telephone conversation recently.

Gamuda has not started buying back its shares, it said in an e-mail reply to Business Times.

Last year, Gamuda's shareholders approved a share buyback plan. It could buy up to a tenth of its shares or spend not more than its retained profits.

As at August 2006, Gamuda had retained profits of RM1.15 billion.

Gamuda closed 20 sen higher at RM3.80 yesterday after DBS Vickers changed its recommendation on the stock to "buy" from "hold".

But DBS Vickers slashed its share price target from RM5 to RM4.50.

However, the single largest shareholder continued to buy more shares.

FMR LLC & Fidelity International Ltd yesterday said it bought 40,300 Gamuda shares last week, bringing its shareholding to 11.87 per cent.

The builder has been under siege since last week, after its group managing director for the past 26 years, revealed last week that he is no longer a substantial shareholder.

Datuk Lin Yun Ling sold 70 million Gamuda shares, paring his stake in the company to 1.73 per cent from 5.23 per cent before.

Following the sale, JPMorgan which said in a report that Gamuda is "a ship without rudders", cut its share price target to RM3.3O, branding it "a top stock to avoid in 2008".

By New Straits Times (by Francis Fernandez)

Gamuda’s Lin staying on

MD assures fund managers he'll lead for at least five more years

PETALING JAYA: Gamuda Bhd managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling has given foreign fund managers an assurance that he will stay on to lead the construction group he founded for at least five more years.

StarBiz understands that Lin spoke to foreign institutional investors via teleconference on Monday and told them that his move in selling his stake was not a signal that he was exiting Gamuda.

Datuk Lin Yun Ling

He also told them that the fact that he was still heading Gamuda after trimming his equity interest in the company in April 2002 demonstrated his intention to remain in his post.

StarBiz also learned that Lin had admitted that he expected the flow of construction jobs to slow down in the near future.

Gamuda, he said, would still be able to replenish its order book, currently at a record RM11bil, but the jobs secured were unlikely to be as big as those in hand now.

The group’s earnings might not have peaked although the value of its order book might already have, he told the foreign investors.

The session was prompted by the sharp fall in Gamuda’s share price last Thursday when Lin sold 70 million shares, cutting his stake to 1.7% from 5.2%, for “estate planning purposes.”

Gamuda rebounded yesterday with a 20 sen gain to RM3.86 as the day’s most actively traded counter, on volume of 41.6 million shares.

A head of research said the heavy selldown on the construction blue chip was mainly due to the lack of details on the rationale behind Lin’s move.

“The market was left guessing what could possibly be the worst case scenario for an insider to sell the stake.

“Lin could have been more transparent on the share disposal,” he added.

Some institutional investors were upset that the group had been feeding analysts with positive news on Gamuda’s earnings prospects, which had helped push up its share price following their “buy” or “overweight” recommendations.

The stock price skidded when the market was abuzz with speculation over all the possible adverse circumstances that could affect Gamuda, one of which was that the construction industry had reached the end of the upcycle.

The group, it was felt, may experience margin squeeze given the rising price of building material costs and that being a non-bumiputra construction company, Gamuda may also face a tougher operating environment in terms of benefiting from the Government’s pump priming measures.

However, this is not the first time Lin has made such an unexpected move.

When he sold a 1.4% stake in the open market in April 2002, Gamuda’s share price nose-dived, wiping out about RM330mil in market value.

Gamuda’s order book had also swelled to a record RM3bil at that time.

In 2000, Lin took shareholders by surprise when he bought a 44% stake in polymer lithium ion rechargeable batteries maker Dyna Plastic Sdn Bhd for RM68mil cash.

Lin defended the purchase, saying that it was to give the group a more steady earnings growth given the cyclical nature of the construction industry.

The investing community, however, did not accept news of the deal well and Gamuda’s stock price was hammered.

All these happened in less than eight years. Questions are now being asked if Gamuda still deserves the higher premium it currently enjoys on its shares.

By The Star - StarBiz (by Kathy Fong)

BLand unit buys more stake in Piccolo owner

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand), via subsidiary Berjaya Vacation Club Bhd (BVC), will increase its stake in Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd to 51% from 20%. Absolute Prestige owns the Piccolo Hotel and Piccolo Galleria in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

BVC unit Sinar Merdu Sdn Bhd had recently acquired 20% of the company's stake from Piccolo Corp Sdn Bhd for RM6mil and the latest acquisition for RM9.3mil was from another shareholder of Absolute Prestige, Abdul Samad Ramli.

BLand said in a statement yesterday that both the acquisitions were subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Committee and other authorities.

“The acquisition represents an opportunity for the BLand group to add another 239 rooms in a boutique hotel in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle to its portfolio of hotels and resorts.

“It will complement our existing investments in 12 hotel properties, located in Malaysia, Seychelles, London, Sri Lanka, Singapore and, recently, in Vietnam,” it added.

Piccolo Corp director Suzianna Wong-Svrcula will remain the chief operating officer of Absolute Prestige.

“The sale provides the opportunity for the company to tap the synergy of Berjaya Land's portfolio of 12 hotels worldwide,” Wong said.

Piccolo Hotel, which was built at a cost of RM42mil, is scheduled to open by the end of next month.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Berjaya Land to build financial centre in Vietnam

An artist’s impression of the proposed Vietnam Financial Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.

BERJAYA Land Bhd will start work on the multi-billion-ringgit Vietnam Financial Centre project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, later this year, after receiving the go-ahead from the licensing authorities there.

The company said in a statement yesterday that the project, to be undertaken by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd, is scheduled for completion in stages from 2010 to 2013.

ABOVE: Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee chairman Le Hoang Quan (right) presents the investment certificate to Berjaya Land CEO Datuk Francis Ng. Looking on is the Malaysian ambassador to Vietnam Lim Kim Eng.

The company received the investment certificate from the licensing authority in Vietnam on Saturday.

The project located at Ba Thang Hai Street, District 10, will comprise three blocks of 48- storey grade “A” offi ce tower, a multi-storey high-end shopping mall, one tower of 48-storey five-star international hotel with ballroom and convention facilities and one tower of 48- storey luxury service suites.

Based on the latest development plans, the project will have an estimated total gross floor area of about 698,554 square metres with an estimated gross development value and costs of about US$1.3 billion (RM4.2 billion) and US$930 million (about RM3 billion) respectively.

The estimated total gross development site is 102,703 sq m, of which about 66,388 sq m will be developed.

The Vietnam National Pagoda, Hoa Binh Theatre, Youth Culture Centre and the proposed development of the Ky Hoa Hotel (to be undertaken by a third party) are located on the remaining development site measuring approximately 36,315 sq m.

BLCayman will also be overseeing the landscaping of the site, the statement added.

By theSun

Mayland plans Putrajaya office tower

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd (Mayland) is set to begin construction of an office tower in Putrajaya’s Precinct 3. The developer acquired the 1.56-acre tract where the commercial project will be built from landowner Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd for RM23.7 million.

Mayland’s vice chairman Tan Sri David Chiu said it plans to lease out the building for long-term investment. The office tower, with a gross floor area of 420,926 sq ft, will be developed by Mayland’s wholly owned subsidiary Bliss Avenue Property Development Sdn Bhd.

Chiu (left) and Azlan had yesterday's signing ceremony

“The construction will start as soon as possible… in three to four months’ time. With a height of between eight and 14-storeys, the office block will also have a commercial element. The rental rates here are between RM4 and RM5 psf,” Chiu told reporters at a press conference after the signing ceremony between Bliss Avenue and Putrajaya Holdings yesterday.

While expressing his confidence in the demand for such commercial properties in Putrajaya, Chiu said that it had received good leasing enquiries from both the public and private sectors for Mayland’s office tower.

On the cost of the project, Chiu said that construction costs alone amounted to some RM100 million, exluding the cost of the land. The purchase is funded by the developer’s internal funds.

On the group’s landbank, Chiu said the developer has about 500 acres in Selangor, Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur that would eventually be developed into 20,000 residential and commercial units. Chiu added that it has plans to launch properties worth some RM2.5 billion in the next 18 months.

Meanwhile, this acquisition is the third sale of commercial land in the 5,000 ha federal administrative capital. According to master developer Putrajaya Holdings, some 300 acres have been zoned as commercial land.

Putrajaya Holdings chief executive officer Azlan Abdul Karim said it has plans to sell some 10% of the commercial plots. Current market values range between RM350 psf and RM400 psf. To date, it has closed deals amounting to between RM80 million and RM90 million for about six acres of land.

“The first two commercial plots were sold to a Hong Kong international property investment group, TRW Group. They will also be offering office towers with gross built-ups of 450,000 sq ft and 600,000 sq ft respectively,” said Azlan.

According to Azlan, it is also in talks with several local and foreign parties, including from Hong Kong and the US, to sell more commercial land.

“We want to bring in the services from third-party developers to create more vibrancy and excitement in Putrajaya. Offering projects such as office towers will further boost commercial space here and attract the private sectors to set up more offices,” he said, adding that it is also open to joint ventures with the third-party developers.

To date, Putrajaya Holdings has completed 22,000 units of government quarters as well as 5,000 residential units. For the government office buildings, it has completed some gross built-up space of about 30 million sq ft as well as six commercial buildings with a gross built-up of about four million sq ft.

It is currently in talks with several local and foreign parties to sell one of these commercial buildings, the 26 Boulevard office building in Precinct 3, which has occupancy levels of about 90%.

The 12-storey building has a gross floor space of about 516,668 sq ft and is valued at more than RM200 million.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

Bliss Avenue buys Putrajaya land for RM24m

OFFICE TOWERS: Chiu (right) pointing out certain aspects of the proposed commercial office development to Azlan after signing the sales and purchase agreement for the Putrajaya land

PUTRAJAYA Holdings Sdn Bhd, the master developer of Malaysia's administrative capital, has sold a parcel of land in Putrajaya to Bliss Avenue Property Development Sdn Bhd for RM23.7 million to develop into a business, residential and office centre.

Bliss Avenue is a wholly-owned unit of Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd, which specialises in developing condominiums, service apartments and office buildings.

Malaysia Land Properties in turn is the Malaysian unit of Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed Far East Consortium, a property developer in Hong Kong and owner of the Sheraton Subang, Sheraton Labuan, Dorsett Regency Kuala Lumpur hotels and the Hartamas shopping centre.

Malaysia Land Properties vice-chairman Tan Sri David Chiu said the company will build 14-storey office towers and commercial lots on the land with construction due to begin in four months at a construction cost of RM100 million.

Tenants include government ministries and agencies as well as private companies occupying over a gross floor area of 39,105 sq m.

"The project will be financed by internally generated cash and bank borrowings and we want to keep the project for the long term by leasing it out at RM4-RM5 per sq ft," Chiu told reporters in Putrajaya yesterday after inking the deal.

Putrajaya Holdings chief executive officer Azlan Abdul Karim said the land transaction is the third commercial land sale in Putrajaya and the first sale to a local firm.

"We need to bring in private property players to build commercial units so that Putrajaya will be evenly developed and not become a purely government project," said Azlan.

Azlan said the company cannot develop the 5,000ha Putrajaya alone and need to bring in private property developers either local or foreign and forge alliances either on a joint venture basis or a straight buy and sell agreement.

"By doing so, serious buyers can come in and we have had enquiries from US investors," said Azlan.

The land measuring 6,300 sq m is located opposite the Palace of Justice and next to the city's town council, the Putrajaya Corp, in Precint 3.

Azlan said the company has identified 121ha of land in Putrajaya which can be developed into commercial projects, but it plans to sell 10 per cent of the land gradually and in small portions and has not set any time frame in doing so.

"So far we have sold 2.4ha of land worth RM90 million and construction is on-going," said Azlan.

Since its establishment in 1995, Putrajaya has developed 70 per cent of government office buildings with a gross built-up area of almost 30 million sq ft and six commercial buildings with a gross built-up area of about four million sq ft.

Putrajaya Holdings has to date built 70 per cent of the government quarters comprising 22,000 home units.

It had just started building public and commercial units with an initial launch of 25,000 units.

Azlan said the development of Putrajaya is similar to Kuala Lumpur's, where there is no time limit for it to be fully developed and is entirely dependent on market forces.

Putrajaya Holdings' shareholders are Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Kumpulan Wang Amanah Negara.

Meanwhile, Chiu said Malaysia Land Properties has 10 projects under planning and construction stages in Malaysia, worth RM2.5 billion, to be carried out over the next 18 months. This involves 20,000 units of residential and retail properties.

To date, Malaysia Land Properties has a total landbank of 202.4ha most of which are located in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru.

On another matter, Azlan said Putrajaya Holdings has not received any letter of offer from UBG Bhd which is interested to buy Putrajaya Holdings' 20 per cent-stake in Putrajaya Perdana Bhd. Putrajaya Perdana is Putrajaya Holdings' construction arm.

"We have not decided ... and any offer must first go to the board," said Azlan.

By New Straits Times (by Zaidi Isham Ismail)

Millionaire havens

A look at where the most expensive properties in the country were bought

Of the total 812 transactions done in Selangor during the 2005/2006 period, over 40 per cent were residential in nature, worth RM583.57 million

Where are the country’s most expensive deals being made? The answer is literally at your feet … if you happen to live in the rich, fully developed state of Selangor.

This is according to statistics gathered from the Ministry of Finance’s latest “Million Ringgit Property Deals” report covering the 2005/2006 period.

Prepared by the Valuation and Property Services Department (VPSD), it found out that 812 transactions, each worth at least RM1 million, were made in the state during the period to the tune of RM2.38 billion.

Given the fact that 2,023 big-time residential, commercial, industrial, development land and agricultural deals worth RM7 billion were signed during the two years, it means Selangor was responsible for 40 per cent of the transactions by volume and 34 per cent by value.

In second spot was Kuala Lumpur, with 442 deals worth RM1.97 billion, followed by Penang with 208 deals (RM897.67 million) and Johor with 163 deals (RM441.91 million).

The other states that also saw million-ringgit transactions were Sabah (72 deals, RM177.19 million), Kedah (66 deals, RM304.21 million), Perak (64 deals, RM282.92 million), Negeri Sembilan (59 deals, RM109.73 million), Malacca (49 deals, RM169.35 million), Sarawak (39 deals, RM59.97 million), Pahang (26 deals, RM176.96 million), Terengganu (18 deals, RM24.19 million) and Kelantan (five deals, RM13.87 million).

Commercial trades
In Selangor, change of ownership involving million-ringgit plus commercial real estate accounted for 164 units worth RM446.74 million.

According to the VPSD report, the state’s three- and four-storey shophouses were the most popular during the period under study.

Prices paid were RM1.05 million for a unit in SS22 Damansara Jaya, RM2 million for one in SS2 PJ, RM3.14 million for a unit in Kota Damansara and RM3.64 million for another in Dataran Sunway.

In Klang, a two-a-half-storey shop went for RM4.9 million while a shopping complex in Taman Selayang Utama, in the district of Batu, changed hands for RM120 million.

Development deals
Development land dealings also made up a sizeable chunk of the million-ringgit plus transactions.

By volume, Penang had the most trades with 85 during the period, including a residential site in Persiaran Kelicap, which changed hands for RM109.17 million; vacant plots in Jalan Kelawei in George Town for RM90.44 million; land in Batu Ferringhi for RM25.96 million; as well as in Jalan Rozhan in Seberang Prai Tengah for RM13.27 million.

However, with a total cumulative value of RM533.65 million, their value was lower than the 84 transactions done in KL for a total of RM679.12 million.

These were in the Jalan Bukit Setiawangsa area of Ulu Klang (RM58.51 million), Jalan Tun Razak (RM51 million), Jalan Kuching (RM28 million), Jalan Benteng (RM19.2 million) and Jalan Ampang (RM18 million).

In Selangor, 64 plots of development land were traded for a total of RM274.71 million.

Residential take-up
Selangor was the star-performer in this sector compared to the other states.

Of the total 812 transactions done during the 2005/2006 period, over 40 per cent (or 337) was residential in nature, worth RM583.57 million.

Of these, one-third (103) were in Sungai Buloh, the area where many highend housing enclaves are situated. Among them: Valencia, Sierramas West, Sierramas Resort Homes, Damansara Indah Resort Homes, Sunway Damansara, Sierra Damansara, D’Villa, Tropicana Golf and Country Resort, Mutiara Damansara, Damansara Utama Petaling, Aman Suria Damansara, SS22 and SS22A of Damansara Jaya, Taman Bukit Rahman Putra, Bandar Utama Damansara, Sunway Rahman Putra, SS2 Petaling Jaya, Ara Damansara, Damansara Idaman and Damansara Indah Country Resort.

The properties traded were mostly detached houses, two- and two-and-a-half-storey terraces and semi-dees as well as vacant bungalow plots.

In terms of prices paid, the VPSD report noted that it was between RM1.15 million for a semi-detached unit in Valencia to RM3.38 million for a detached house in Tropicana Golf and Country Resort.

The Damansara district also saw a significant 53 deals, with detached houses transacted at RM1.18 million in SS3 PJ, RM1.75 million in Subang Saujana, RM2.15 million in SS19 Subang Jaya and RM2.2 million in SS1 PJ.

Other districts that recorded residential deals worth at least RM1 million each were Ampang, Ulu Klang, Shah Alam, Petaling, Cheras, Batu, Putrajaya, Klang and Kajang.

In KL, detached houses in Damansara Heights were transacted at between RM3 million and RM13.96 million, while those in Pantai Hills went for between RM2.5 million and RM4.5 million.

In Ampang, the range was from RM1.6 million to RM4 million and in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, from RM1.83 million to RM2.68 million.

KL’s terrace houses also found their way into sevenfigure territory, with two- and two-and-a-half-storey types in Desa ParkCity going for between RM1 million and RM1.33 million while units in Bangsar Baru found new owners for between RM1.04 million and RM1.66 million.

In the condominium category, units in Mont’ Kiara Damai went from RM1.16 million to RM4.75 million, while in Bukit Bandar Raya’s Sri Penaga project, it was from RM1 million to RM1.65 million.

Near the Petronas Twin Towers in the city centre, units at Hampshire Park were traded at between RM1.12 million and RM1.27 million.

By New Straits Times (by Zoe Phoon)

Plenitude launches Tebrau City Residences

MIXED development firm Plenitude Bhd has launched Tebrau City Residences, the first serviced apartments project in Johor Baru, which is integrated in a "city within a city" concept at Tebrau City.

Tebrau City Residences, comprising 1,088 units, is designed for modern city living adjacent to three international retail malls - AEON Jusco mall and the upcoming Tesco and IKEA outlets.

The company said in a statement that the launch is for the first parcel with 472 units and the rental yield is projected at 8 per cent, according to executive chairman Chua Elsie.

She said it is expected to continue to increase in value due to land appreciation in the area and within the Iskandar Development Region.

By Bernama

Bio Big Valley set for second phase

RM10bil development to be ready by 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Bio Big Valley Lojing, a mega development in Gua Musang, is gearing towards its second phase, which would involve a development cost of about RM10bil.

This phase, due to be completed by 2013, will be undertaken jointly by a local consortium comprising Mofaz group of companies, Solarin Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd and Telemont Sdn Bhd.

Mofaz group president Mohamed Fauzy Abdul Hamid said the development was the first in the region to adopt the carbonless and total renewable energy concept.

Mohamed Fauzy Abdul Hamid

“We are building a green city adapting wind turbine technology, which could generate up to eight megawatts of power and supplemented by solar energy, together with high-tech waste management for zero emission,” he told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding with Solarin president and group executive chairman Datuk Naser Ismail and Telemont chief executive officer Kho Ah Tee.

Lojing, located along the Kg Raja-Gua Musang highway with altitudes ranging from 300m to 1,800m above sea level, is ideal for all kinds of hot and temperate crops, and livestock, plantation, medical services, agro- and eco-tourism related activities.

“At present, the ongoing activities are reforestation for sustainable forest development, large-scale integrated organic farming, husbandry of Dorper sheep, and planting of fruits and herbs,” Fauzy said, adding that the second phase on 1,800 acres would comprise a medical health resort, indoor winter resort, golf course, racing circuit, water sports club, residential properties and a five-star hotel.

According to Kho, the consortium would implement the same development concept in China and the Middle East by June.

“We are planning for the development to be near China’s Guangzhou, together with a Chinese partner, “ Kho told StarBiz, but declined to elaborate.

The development, which is expected to create about 150,000 jobs, would be partly funded by the United Nations’ (UN) human development division.

Naser said UN would provide the project funding of about RM2bil over the next two years but added that the funding mechanism, be it in the form of a loan or grant, was being finalised.

By The Star (by

Monday, February 25, 2008

Purcon banks on its construction experience

Tan: Our own construction arm helps keep our properties' prices lower

PETALING JAYA: With more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, Purcon Group is confident of doing well with its maiden highend project in Bukit Segambut, its general manager Angie Tan said.

“Despite it being our first such project, we have already been involved in the construction of several high-end properties, including semi-dees and bungalows in Glomac Bhd’s Aman Suria and the show unit in Changkat Kiara by Plenitude Kiara Bhd,” she told theSun.

The freehold development, known as Laman Damansari, will comprise 16 units of 3- storey semi-dees and two units of 3-storey bungalows, priced between RM1.6 million and RM3.8 million, with built-ups from 3,800 sq ft to 5,800 sq ft.

Scheduled for launching by the end of this year, the project has a gross development value (GDV) of RM40 million.

Tan said the properties would be built based on a zero-defect concept, where purchasers would require minimal renovations. “Although we aim to launch the project in November, we expect the show house to be ready for viewing in August,” she added.

The group recently completed 53 units of 3 ½-storey shop offices in Serdang Raya and is currently developing Taman Impian Putra, its flagship project in Bangi, Selangor.

The113-acre Taman Impian Putra has been receiving a good response since the leasehold township’s first phase, which consists of 1 ½- and 2-storey link houses, was first launched in 2005. Since then, the developer has also introduced 1-storey and 2-storey shop lots and recently launched 365 units of 2-storey terraces and 58 units of 2-storey semi-dees in its latest phase.

Priced at RM178,988 onwards, the terraces have built-ups from 1,658 sq ft while the semi-dees with built-ups of between 2,653 sq ft and 2,690 sq ft are priced from RM358,888. About 60% of the units have been sold to date and the developer is planning to launch low- and medium-cost apartments in future phases. The township has a GDV of some RM200 million.

Tan said the group has about 300 undeveloped acres in its landbank but is constantly on the lookout for potential tracts for development. “Being a small developer, we usually go for land the bigger players may forego. This way, we do not have too much competition in the market and can cash in and cash out quickly,” she said. Purcon has land in Sungai Petani, Kedah; Jasin, Melaka; Kuala Pilah and Gemas, Negri Sembilan; and Tangkak, Johor.

She also said that having its own construction arm benefits the group, as they would be able to save on construction costs and price their properties lower by up to 10%. “We are be able to save on building time while offering better products and maintaining quality control,” she added.

On the property outlook for this year, Tan said the demand for medium-end properties is still there but the high-end property market might be slightly slower due to economic uncertainty.
“However, it also depends on the location of the project, as highend developments located in affluent areas do well because of steady demand,” she explained.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

Malaysia's first property summit

KUALA LUMPUR: The first Malaysian Property Summit 2008, organised by the Association of Valuers & Property Consultants in Private Practice Malaysia (PEPS), will be held on Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Mutiara hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The conference will feature eight speakers from the Malaysian property industry: Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani, Datuk Mani Usilappan, Dr Ting Kien Hwa, Eric Ooi, Christopher Boyd, Allan Soo, Goh Tian Sui and Previndran Singhe.

According to Eric Ooi, managing director of Knight Frank Malaysia, a total of up to 200 registrants are expected to participate in the conference. “It has always been at the back of our minds to organise an event like this and we hope to turn it into an annual event,” said Ooi.

The conference will begin with an overview of the Malaysian property market in 2007, followed by a series of topics, including: REITS Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008, High-end Condominium Market Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008, and Investment & Retail Market Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008.

“The objective of the conference is for people who are in touch with the market to share their knowledge, opinions and views of future trends with industry players and the public. At the end of the day, it is important for everyone involved to plan for their future, and this knowledge would assist them,” said Ooi.

The participation fee is RM988 per person and RM950 per person for members of PEPS. The conference begins at 8.30am and ends at 5.30pm. For enquiries and registration, call the PEPS Secretariat at 03-2145 0952.

By theSun (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

The Paradigm to be WCT Land’s first high-rise project

An artist’s impression of The Paradigm

WCT Land Bhd ushered in the New Year with a bang: it recently gave an exclusive preview of its first high-rise development called The Paradigm, billed as “The rising icon of Petaling Jaya”.

The Paradigm, with a gross development value (GDV) of about RM1.26bil, comprises The Escalade Corporate Office Towers, The Ascent Corporate Office Suites and The Paradigm Mall.

The Escalade will have four blocks of office towers with a net lettable area of 1.4 million sq ft. It will feature column-free floor plates, full-height glass panels for natural light ventilation, energy-saving devices, quality finishes and ample parking bays.

The Ascent is a 30-storey office suite with 350,000 sq ft net lettable area while The Paradigm Mall, with 700,000 sq ft net lettable area, will showcase the latest in fashion and retail. There will be a unique shady walkway designed for alfresco dining and entertainment that are in vogue in trendy cities all over the world.

The Klang-based company has traditionally been a township developer with projects such as Bandar Bukit Tinggi 1, 2 and 3, the luxury golf-front residences of d'Banyan Residency in Kota Kinabalu and the new AEON Bukit Tinggi shopping centre, which is Malaysia's largest AEON shopping centre with about 200 tenants and over 5,000 car parking bays.

The new AEON Bukit Tinggi gives Klang Valley folk an opportunity to enjoy a one-of-its-kind, one-stop shopping and entertainment centre.

WCT Land Bhd chairman Datuk Chua Soon Poh said the company always tried to set new standards and benchmarks in all that its endeavours.

“The Paradigm is an iconic development that challenges the norm and embodies our values and spirits, giving rise to a dynamic expression of quality and spectacular architecture,” he said.

He added that the project would have multiple ingress and egress points. Several highways such as the Federal Highway, NKVE, Sprint and Penchala Link serve this development.

Chua said the current buoyant office market was witnessing a trend of businesses relocating from the city centre to Petaling Jaya. “Due to the availability of quality buildings, the occupancy rate in Petaling Jaya has increased to 89%. We believe this to be the start of a future trend.”

He said the company had a total land bank of about 1,369 acres with total GDV of RM5.2bil, of which projects worth about RM3bil in GDV had been launched. “We are looking for more land as well as joint ventures,” he added.

General manager Stewart Tew said the company was targeting public listed companies and multinational companies for its office towers. “We plan to do some road shows overseas, including in the Middle East,” he said.

The company has also successfully launched the d'Banyan @ Sutera, (within the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club) comprising 14 units of three-storey detached villas called Petrusa (five spacious bedrooms with attached bathrooms) that boast a designer swimming pool each, large double-volume living area, and formal and informal dining areas.

The bedrooms look out onto the golf course with either city or sea views. There are covered and open terraces for relaxation.

There are also 48 units of the Aurea (2½-storey semi-detached villas) and 60 units of the Citrifolia (two-storey superlink villas), both with four bedrooms with attached bathrooms, as well as designer swimming pool for selected units and large living areas.

All the houses come with the Sutera Preference Share Golf Individual Membership.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)