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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Aeon still weighing REIT options

RETAILER Aeon Co (M) Bhd is in no rush to set up its planned real estate investment trust (REIT), comprising seven properties valued at about RM700 million, as it views the local REIT market to be still at its infancy.

"We are still watching and evaluating the industry. We are doing our own study on the REIT," an official from Aeon who declined to be named said.

He added that Aeon, which operates the Jusco department store-cum-supermarket chain, felt that since the Malaysian REIT industry was only about three years old, his company preferred to take the wait-and-see stand.

"We feel the REIT industry is still new," he said.

On whether Aeon would consider listing the trust vehicle elsewhere, the official said: "We will consider all options ... but at this stage it is still too early to say."

Last April, chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Yusof said that it was looking at the possibility of spinning a REIT because of the number of properties it has - all of which merit some attention.

Four of the properties are in the Klang Valley, namely, Alpha Angle Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Jusco Metro Prima Shopping Centre in Kepong, Aeon Cheras Selatan Shopping Centre and Bukit Raja Shopping Centre in Klang.

Two outlets are in Johor - Jusco Taman University Shopping Centre and Aeon Tebrau City Shopping Centre.

The seventh outlet is Jusco Melaka Shopping Centre.

Aeon has a total of 18 Jusco outlets throughout Peninsular Malaysia. It also runs the Max Value supermarket chain, the Jusco Home Centre and Aeon Wellness health and beauty store.

The company has announced plans to open stores in Seberang Prai, Penang, and Ampang in Kuala Lumpur this year.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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