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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MRCB: KL Sentral to be completed by 2015

RELAXATION CENTRE: Sooka Sentral focuses on luxurious health, beauty, wellness and dining experience

MALAYSIAN Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), a construction and property company, expects to complete the whole development of its RM8.4 billion comprehensive and integrated Kuala Lumpur Sentral development project (KL Sentral) by 2015.

Its retail asset development general manager Zulkifli Ibrahim said the company has completed more than RM2 billion worth of development, and another RM5 billion new development is under construction and progressing rapidly.

"This new development includes the construction of high-rise office buildings, a shopping mall, a five-star hotel, condominiums, luxury service apartments, and a media and education centre," he told reporters during a media tour around KL Sentral's latest edition called Sooka Sentral - a lifestyle, health and dining centre - in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Zulkifli said construction work on the new shopping mall is expected to begin by the middle of the year, with targeted completion by 2011, while the office buildings, condominiums and luxury service apartments, located opposite the National Museum, are scheduled to start by the end of the year.

KL Sentral is being developed as a futuristic self-contained city, providing the perfect living, work and play environment. Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, it is also dedicated to be the transport hub of the city.

The Sooka Sentral, meanwhile, is located directly opposite the southern entrance of the KL Sentral station. The six-storey building is managed by Sooka Sentral Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MRCB.

"It is the only and ultimate centre for relaxation within KL Sentral development that focuses on luxurious health, beauty, wellness and dining outlets," Zulkifli said, adding that Sooka Sentral has reached a 100 per cent occupancy rate.

He said the gross development value of Sooka Sentral is about RM60 million, offering some 9,290 sq m of space. It houses a fitness centre, a spa, beauty and health centre, a food court, fine dining restaurants and alfresco dining outlets.

Among its tenants include Centro, Kiliney Kopitiam, Zen, Chili Espresso,, Oriental Spoom, Sushi King, Kelantan Delights, Kabul restaurant, World of Perfume, Cuttery, Beaubelle, Equal Fitness Sports Massage, Tanamera Tropical Spa, Chiill Reflexology, The Spa, and SynarGym.

By New Straits Times (by Kamarul Yunus)

Lifestyle centres for KL Sentral

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Sentral, the integrated commercial-cum-residential development in Brickfields, will have two retail-cum-lifestyle centres offering close to one million sq ft of net lettable space.

The first, the 100,000-sq-ft Sooka Sentral Lifestyle Centre that opened last December, is now fully occupied.

Sooka Sentral Sdn Bhd general manager Zulkefli Ibrahim said the RM50mil lifestyle centre would provide wellness, health, beauty and dining facilities for residents and office workers in Kuala Lumpur Sentral and the surrounding area.

With rental rates of RM8 to RM20 per sq ft, Sooka was expected to generate an annual rental income of RM8.4mil, he said at a media tour of the new facility yesterday.

The second project will comprise a 750,000-sq-ft shopping centre to be built at a cost of RM420mil on Lot G. Construction will kick off by mid-year for completion in 2011.

Zulkefli said the new shopping centre was expected to generate annual rental income of RM60mil.

The 72-acre Kuala Lumpur Sentral development started in 1997 and is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

By The Star

Berjaya in RM11b joint venture

RESORT-LIKE: Artist’s impression of part of the Jeju project.

BERJAYA Land Bhd is partnering the Jeju Free International City Development Centre (JDC) to develop a US$3.6 billion (about RM11 billion) resort-type residential and commercial complex in South Korea.

Berjaya Jeju Resort Ltd is an 81:19 joint venture between Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd and JDC.

Berjaya Jeju will be the master developer for the development of 74.37ha in Yerae-Dong, Seogwipo-Si, Jeju.

The Yerae Resort-type Residential Complex will be developed over eight to 10 years, Berjaya Land said in a statement yesterday.

The development, costing US$2.6 billion (RM8 billion) to build, will comprise 600 mid-rise apartments, 200 villas, 500-room resort hotel and serviced residences, and a full-fledged casino with 500 rooms.

Other components include a commercial facility and shopping; indoor arena and dining amenities; a health, medical centre and spa resort; cultural village; and other recreational, private and public facilities.

The casino, a key development, will be built in the early phase of the project.

Berjaya Jeju, which will have an initial paid-up capital of US$30 million (RM95 million), will enter into a sale and purchase agreement with JDC to buy the land from JDC for 72.1 billion won (RM230 million).

Following the acquisition, JDC is required to con-tribute not less than US$4.5 million (RM14 million) worth of improvements to the land in the form of infrastructure such as roads and parks.

Berjaya Land said that the development cost of the project will be financed through equity, borrowings and proceeds from the sale of housing units developed under the project.

JDC is a statutory agency established within South Korea's Ministry of Construction and Transportation.

It oversees the development of Jeju.

By New Straits Times

BLand-S. Korean JV to build US$2.6bil resort

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) is teaming up with South Korea’s Jeju Free International City Development Centre (JDC) to build a US$2.6bil (RM8.2bil) resort-style residential and commercial complex with a full-fledged casino in Jeju province.

BLand told Bursa Malaysia yesterday its unit, Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd (BCayman), had signed an agreement to set up the joint venture, Berjaya Jeju Resort Ltd (Berjaya Jeju).

Berjaya Jeju would be the master developer for the 74.37ha site in Yerae-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju province. It will develop the project over eight to 10 years.

The development would have 600 mid-rise apartments, 200 villas, a 500-room resort hotel and serviced residences and a full-fledged casino with 500 rooms, an indoor arena, a health, medical centre and spa resort, a cultural village and other recreational, private and public facilities.

“The casino, which will be the key development, shall be constructed in the early phase of the project,” the company said.

BLand said the project would have a gross development value estimated at US$3.6bil, subject to the finalisation of the business plan.

The initial paid-in share capital of Berjaya Jeju would not be less than US$30mil, of which BCayman would subscribe for 81% and JDC the remaining 19%.

BLand said Berjaya Jeju would then enter into a sale and purchase agreement to acquire the land from JDC for 72.1 billion won (US$73mil).

After the land acquisition, JDC would contribute US$4.5mil for infrastructure such as roads and parks on the site.

In a separate statement, JDC said the JV would attract foreign tourists by developing high-end tourism products targeting Asia and the Middle East as well as South Korea by using Berjaya Group’s global marketing network.

JDC said the resort-style residential complex would make a 774.1 billion won (US$772.83mil) contribution to the Jeju economy and create 6,300 jobs.

By The Star

Status quo on mega projects in Penang

PENANG: The situation with Penang's mega projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) remains unchanged for now.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said this after meeting Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop on Monday to get a clearer picture on the status of the projects in the state, which had been included under the 9MP.

“The situation is the same for now,” he said.

On Saturday, Nor Mohamed said the mega projects under 9MP, which included the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) and the monorail, have not reached “approval stage.”

He said the government couldn’t give a commitment on the two projects as they had yet to reach the level where approval was being considered.

However, Lim, in a reaction to the issue, said it was a question of ethics and moral.

“Before the general election, the Federal and previous state government had made commitments that the mega projects had been passed and will be implemented. But their commitments changed after the people’s decision on March 8,” he said.

Lim said if the Federal Government did not intend to live up to its commitment, “it would be making a rash action as the mega projects also involved international parties.”

By The Star

Fiasco of the factories to end

Major changes are in the offing for the Illegal Factories Rehabilitation Programme introduced by the previous Selangor state government in 2006.

According to Selangor State New Village Development and Illegal Factory Task Force Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah, the policy reviews are necessary because the illegal factories legalisation programme has flaws.

“It must benefit entrepreneurs and citizens of the state which isn't the case now,” Ean Yong told the StarMetro during a recent interview at the state secretariat in Shah Alam.

“Factory owners feel that the premiums being charged for land use conversions are too high while those living near the factories are complaining about pollution, fire hazards, non-existent buffer zones and social issues,” he said.

“The process will take time because we intend to pursue this on a case-to-case basis to draw up new rules and regulations,” Ean Yong said.

By definition, factories operating without permits, business licences or certificates of completion and compliance (CCC) on land meant for residential, agricultural or commercial purposes or on government reserve land are illegal.

Responding to a question on illegal factories during The Star's Cafe Latte Chat in March, Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said: “I’m not closing them down. I’m trying to work with them, to make them follow us. The existence of illegal factories is due to corrupt practices”.

A 2006 census recorded 3,165 illegal factories in Selangor with exports worth RM4bil annually and 150,000 job opportunities for locals and foreigners.

But Selangor State Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu said the number of illegal factories was more than 4,000 because cottage industries were also involved. (See table for comprehensive data).

Under the incentive package offered, factory owners will enjoy a 50% discount on land premiums paid within three months of the conversion approval while those paying within six months are entitled to a 30% discount and 10% discount for those who pay up within nine months.

According to Balakong Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Balakong Jaya Industrial Area Land and Factory Owners Associa-tion joint chairman Lam Koong Sum, factory owners are forced to pay higher premiums due to the higher value of industrial land.

“Furthermore, light industries were told to pay premiums for medium industries and medium industries for heavy industries. This has affected the small players,” he said.

Under the incentive package, temporary operating licences and temporary building permits are issued yearly for a maximum of three years to premises located in industrial zones or areas to be rezoned for industrial use.

Owners and operators must first submit land usage conversion applications, planning permits and build ing plans to be reviewed by authorities such as the Fire and Rescue Department, Environment Depart-ment, state water supplier Syabas and Tenaga Nasional Berhad.

For premises not in industrial zones or in areas that cannot be rezoned, temporary licences and permits would still be issued on a yearly basis for a maximum of three years but operators would either have to move to an industrial zone or cease operations within the time.

The ultimate agenda should be to create a win-win situation for residents, factory owners and the state that also stands to benefit from collecting quit rent.

By The Star (by Geetha Krishnan)

Investors turn wary on construction stocks

Negative news on possible delays and revaluation hits sentiment

PETALING JAYA: After several consecutive quarters of positive growth for the construction industry, investor sentiment on the sector appears to be turning, mainly owing to negative news of possible delays or revaluation of mega projects

A case in point is the selldown on Gamuda Bhd from a 30-day high of RM3.44 on April 21 to RM3.08 yesterday.

TA Securities technical analyst Stephen Soo said news on further delays, especially in Penang where there remained disagreements, were worrying traders.

“At the same time, the market has also come off its peak since the Telekom Malaysia Bhd listing (ex-TM International Bhd),” he told StarBiz.

Soo forecasts 1,240 to 1,260 points as the immediate term support for the KL Composite Index. The benchmark index fell 11.66 points to 1,283.65 yesterday.

He said as the construction sector could be overbought, he anticipated further downside next month, which indicated its relative weakness versus the resilient oil and gas and plantation sectors.

In the medium term, Soo said the market would “try to find a bottom” at end-June.

On the other hand, Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd head of research Yeonzon Yeow does not think the outlook for the sector is bad.

“Most (construction counters) have booked in their projects for the next two years.

“Their earnings would come in within expectations, hopefully for those that were negotiated last year and this year as well,” he added.

Yeow said the contracts tendered for had built-in cost escalation and cost variation allowances so there would be little risk to margins, but before construction companies could complete negotiations, some counters might book losses.

Beyond the next two years, he said, ongoing projects were unlikely to be derailed since the state and federal governments “are both investment friendly.''

However, it would be a different story for the projects on which work has not commenced.

Yeow believes that the margins for such projects would be maintained, but “the quantum could be affected”.

He picks LCL Corp Bhd, TRC Synergy Bhd, Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd, WCT Engineering Bhd and IJM Corp Bhd as stocks that would be able to meet earnings expectation over the next two years.

Meanwhile, OSK Research has a neutral call on the sector “with a downside bias based on delay and non-commencement risk,” said its analyst Jeremy Goh.

However, Goh believes that much of the downside would have been factored into share prices by now.

Generally, he sees flat growth, or at best 1% growth this year, in contrast to the Bank Negara's official estimate of 5.5% growth, given that about 85% of the growth in the sector could be statistically attributed to government expenditure.

He attributed this to the lower government development expenditure of RM40bil this year compared with RM40.6bil last year.

Goh recommends construction players with large overseas exposure, naming WCT Engineering, which derives 67% of its order book from the Middle East.

By The Star (by Loong Tse Min)

HLA buys building from PJ City

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Assurance Bhd (HLA) has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with PJ City Development Sdn Bhd for the proposed acquisition of a six-storey commercial building for RM75.698mil.

Hong Leong Financial Group Bhd, the parent company of HLA, told Bursa Malaysia the commercial building was to be erected on leasehold land measuring about 16.6 acres in Petaling Jaya.

“The property is targeted to be fully completed by first quarter of 2009,” it said.

By Bernama

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TTDI Harta wins estate award

Datuk Johan Ariffin (second from left) with (from left) Naza TTDI senior manager of marketing and sales SM Faliq SM Nasimuddin, planning, contracts and quality assurance MD Myrzela Sabtu and finance senior MD Tan Poh Hock.

PETALING JAYA: TTDI Harta Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Naza TTDI, won the Cityscape Asia Real Estate Awards 2008 under the Future Commercial Development category for its Laman Seri Business Park, Shah Alam.

The awards ceremony in Singapore was attended by over 300 industry leaders and was held in conjunction with the Cityscape Asia exhibition at the Suntec Conference and Exhibition Centre from April 15 to 17.

A panel of international judges rated each project on its contribution to world architecture, culture invention and imagination, respect for the people and environmental awareness and appropriateness in the emerging and recently developing countries in the Asian region with winners recognised in 12 categories.

TTDI group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin said the award testified to TTDI’s goal of making the business park the best commercial development in Shah Alam.

The 8.245-acre Laman Seri Business Park has six blocks of four- and five-storey shop offices that will feature modern contemporary fa├žade, dual frontage and wide pedestrian walkways. There are 900 parking bays at basement and surface level.

There will also be a 37,000 sq ft central events piazza for alfresco dining and water features such as ponds, a creek and synchronised water fountains with fibre optic lighting.

To date, more than 30% of the 46 units had been sold.

The expected yields are around 8.3% per annum or RM18,000 per month for a four-storey shop office. Each strata floor is priced from RM403,000.

By The Star

HeiTech to sell Menara Heitech to PNB

HEITECH Padu Bhd plans to sell a piece of freehold land and office building, Menara HeiTech Village, in UEP Subang Jaya to Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) for RM65 million.

HeiTech Padu and PNB yesterday entered into a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) for the sale of the property, HeiTech said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

Concurrently, HeiTech Padu and PNB had also entered into an agreement for the leaseback by HeiTech of the property for a fixed term of 10 years from the completion date of the SPA.

The lease agreement is renewable at HeiTech Padus option at a revised monthly rental rate to be mutually agreed upon.

By Bernama

BLand gets Viet cert for project

BERJAYA Land Bhd (BLand) said yesterday that it has received the investment certificate from Vietnam's licensing authority for its Bien Hoa project.

A joint venture between BLand and Industrial Urban Development Joint Stock Company No 2 will build offices and houses, among others, under the project.

Its estimated gross development value is US$230 million (RM726.8 million) while development cost is US$180 million (RM568.8 million).

Work is due to start later this year and is scheduled for completion in stages from between 2010 and 2011, BLand told Bursa Malaysia.

By New Straits Times

Tasek to become regional player in RM751mil deal

PETALING JAYA: The Hong Leong group is restructuring its building materials division, Tasek Corp Bhd, to transform the cement producer into a regional integrated building materials supplier. It is also rewarding Tasek shareholders with a dividend of 54 sen per share totalling RM99.6mil.

In a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Tasek said it had entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Singapore-listed Hong Leong Asia Ltd (HLA) to acquire the latter’s building materials business for S$323.5mil (RM751.36mil).

To finance the acquisition, Tasek would issue 212.25 million new Tasek shares at RM3.54 each.

The board also approved the special net interim dividend of 54 sen per share, which is conditional upon completion of the proposed acquisition.

Tasek said the issue price of RM3.54 per share was based on the volume weighted average price of the shares for the five market days up to and including April 23 of RM4.08 after deducting the 54 sen dividend.

After the completion of the proposed acquisitions, HLA’s total stake in Tasek would increase to 68.34% from 31.92%.

However, HLA and its parties acting in concert are seeking the approval of the Securities Commission and other Tasek shareholders for an exemption from undertaking a mandatory offer for the remaining shares.

To facilitate the proposed acquisition, Tasek has proposed to increase its authorised share capital from RM300mil now to RM1bil.

The unaudited proforma consolidated results of HLA’s building materials business showed a net profit of S$8.77mil (RM20.37mil) on revenue of S$210.91mil for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2006. For 2007, the proforma net profit stood at S$28.90mil and revenue at S$341.68mil.

“Through the proposed acquisition, Tasek shareholders will have an opportunity to participate in the performance of the building materials business and the resultant enlarged and diversified earnings base,” the statement said.

As a regional integrated building materials player, Tasek said its scale of operations would increase in regional markets like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“The transformation is also expected to enhance the profile and market position of Tasek.

“Further, with an enlarged capital base, Tasek will be better positioned to pursue other acquisition opportunities for further growth as and when such opportunities arise,” it added.

Tasek said the board was positive about the prospects of the construction industry in Malaysia (especially in the development of Iskandar Malaysia) and Singapore due to the strong spending in private and public projects, including infrastructure.

This would translate into higher demand for building materials, it said.

By The Star

International quality homes

Westwood Green town houses start from RM3mil

About an hour's drive away from the Raffles City mall in downtown Shanghai, is CapitaLand's impressive Westwood Green Project, a gated and guarded residential development.

Located south-west of Shanghai in Huacao town in the Minhang District, the special features of Westwood Green include its location within the Jin Feng international community. In fact, it is just across the road from the Shanghai American School.

Surrounded by some of Shanghai's premium villa projects and high-end residential apartments, the existence of a multinational community is by no means due to luck.

Everything is nice about the project, from the landscaped grounds and club house facilities to the designs of the low-rise condominium units and town houses.

Apparently, American architect Benjamin Wood was hired to design these homes for contemporary living with the focus on privacy and spacious layouts.

Spacious layout and landscaped grounds offer residents a great home

According to Westwood Green Project representative Wang Yao Dong, the total development area spans 153,000sq m.

Launched in November 2005 and expected to be completed by December this year, the project comprises 280 town houses and 140 condominium units.

Built-up space of the town houses range from 235sq m to 300sq m with an extra 80sq m of basement space. Condominium units are between 140sq m and 250sq m.

The town houses cost RMB14,000 to RMB27,000 persquare metre while the condominium units cost RMB13,000 to RMB18,000 per square metre.

This means that a typical town house unit will cost RMB6mil (240sq m x RMB25,000 per sq m) or about RM3mil. But such a unit will come with furnishings.

To date, the 80% of the town houses have been sold and 50% of the condominium units have been taken up.

Due to the size of the development, the residential units are categorised under the "western" and "eastern" flanks.

Apparently, the "Western side" appeals more to foreigners who make up 90% of the purchasers while 10% are local buyers. Buyers who opt for the eastern side appear to be 50% foreigners and 50% locals.

Overseas buyers are mainly Asians from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and even Malaysia.

Ten minutes away by car from the Westwood Green Project is the Hongqiao Transportation Hub which will eventually include high-speed train service (expected to be completed within 10 years) to Beijing and metro train lines linking downtown Shanghai.

By The Star

Monday, April 28, 2008

Residential property prices and rental rising

The many developments that have sprouted in the southern corridor have given a boost to property values. These developments range from townships and niche residential enclaves in Puchong, Bandar Kinrara and Seri Kembangan to the intelligent cities of Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe said that in the past five years, prices of residential properties had appreciated by at least 30% to 40% while rental rates in Cyberjaya were more than RM4.00 per sq ft.

Previndran Singhe

With Puchong fast transforming into a robust residential and commercial address, the iconic Putrajaya and Cyberjaya cities are in line to see a boom next.

The federal administrative capital of Putrajaya with the advantage of a well thought-out master plan incorporating the best of what technology and nature have to offer has shaped up as the country's first intelligent garden city.

The city also benefits from first-class amenities such as the Garden International School, Alamanda Shopping Centre and a medical centre.

Cyberjaya is also shaping up well as a world-class intelligent city for international information and communications technology (ICT) enterprises, complete with residential and commercial enclaves.

IOI Properties Bhd director Datuk David Tan said the garden concept of Putrajaya and Cyberjaya was setting the tone for development in the other parts of the southern corridor with more inclination towards modern aesthetic buildings with lush landscaping.

IOI Properties, which is one of the pioneer property companies that have made it big in the southern corridor, notably Puchong in the early 1990s, still believes in the corridor’s potential.

According to Tan, the company's developments in the Klang Valley have been moving southwards, stretching from Taman Mayang in Petaling Jaya to Bandar Puchong Jaya and Bandar Puteri Puchong.

Having built the 926-acre Bandar Puchong Jaya and 930-acre Bandar Puteri Puchong, the company has gone on to develop the IOI Resort City on 788 acres on the fringe of Putrajaya.

More projects under way
Tan said the next project lined up would be Sierra Puteri on 550 acres at the entrance to Cyberjaya, which has direct access from the LDP-Serdang Interchange.

“Sierra Puteri has been carefully planned after taking into consideration the needs of house buyers. We have gained valuable feedback from our buyers and have new concepts and ideas on housing and environmental designs that will fulfil their more discerning expectations,” he added.

Earthworks for the new township have been completed and infrastructure work is in progress now.

Sierra Puteri will comprise terrace and semi-detached houses, bungalows and apartments as well as a town centre fronting the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).

In Puchong, IOI Properties will be launching IOI Boulevard comprising retail/office blocks with lifts and basement carparks next month.

IOI to build Puchong Financial Corporate Centre
Coming up next will be the Puchong Financial Corporate Centre (PFCC) in Bandar Puteri Puchong comprising Class A office buildings.

At the IOI Resort, which still has 540 acres available for development, plans are underway to build lake-front offices fronting the main entrance into Putrajaya; exclusive bungalows in Diamond Hill that overlook the scenic Putrajaya views; a mega shopping mall and office buildings along the SKVE; and condominiums.

At IOI Resort's Beverly Row, 80 exclusive bungalows will be built for long-term lease to corporate clientele. So far, 37 bungalows have been completed.

SP Setia group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that with the sophisticated population flocking to Puchong from all parts of the Klang Valley, “the time is ripe for more commercial action in the area.”

SP Setia Bhd's 700-acre Pusat Bandar Puchong has grown into a mature township with 8,000 units of properties and a population of some 32,000.

SetiaWalk set to be niche commercial project
“Our next challenge is to change the face of Puchong with a niche commercial project, SetiaWalk, that will revolutionise the people's lifestyle experience. The integrated residential and commercial development comprising retail blocks, offices, an entertainment complex, service apartments and residential apartments will appeal to the trend-conscious younger clientele.

The SetiaWalk in Pusat Bandar Puchong.

“SetiaWalk is set to combine all the elements of live, learn, work and play through a seamless blend of astute planning, imaginative architecture and creative landscaping,” Liew said.

In Putrajaya, SP Setia's associate Setia Putrajaya Sdn Bhd is developing Precincts 9 and 15.

Park Village - a high-end residential private condominium villa complex within a secure, gated compound – will be launched in Precinct 15 in the third quarter of this year.

The project comprising 120 luxury villas in the sky will incorporate contemporary tropical designs.

By The Star

Turnaround guru takes helm at MPC

MALAYSIA Pacific Corp Bhd (MPC) is poised for exciting times now that “turnaround guru” Bill Ch'ng is helming the public-listed company.

Bill Ch'ng and his son Charles (left), who is an MPC executive director, with a model of the Lakehill Resort City

Ch'ng, who is MPC chief executive officer, is the man behind the RM6bil Lakehill Resort City, near Pasir Gudang in Johor. This ambitious 484-acre freehold development, part of MPC's 905-acre Nusa Damai, is within Iskandar Malaysia and would have more than 60,000 people when completed in eight years.

“This piece of land was approved for medium low-cost housing and the original intention was to cut the hill and fill the lake. I have instead retained the hill and lake and changed the whole concept. I have also increased the number of mixed units from 8,000 to 12,000 commercial and housing units,” Ch'ng told StarBiz at the CityscapeAsia 2008 in Singapore recently.

Ch'ng said he had introduced some new concepts, one of which was to turn the area around a lake into a one-stop tourism hub complete with pavilions where each state's unique arts and crafts could be exhibited and visitors could also savour the various types of cuisines offered in Malaysia.

Visitors and residents could also ride 13 types of gondolas, each symbolising the 13 states' cultures in Malaysia, and they would be steered by local costumed boys.

The resort township will not only have bungalows, court-linked houses, terrace and town houses, apartments and serviced condominiums but also a host of other unique features such as a food and entertainment area known as Nusa Paradis and even a medical and healthcare specialist centre.

However, the main attraction is the Asia-Pacific Trade & Expo City (APTEC) with a planned four million sq ft built-up area on 23.5 acres. APTEC will have a permanent global “show city” of wholesale consumer products, shopping mall, a three-star hotel, office suites and two serviced apartments. It will offer business networking, family outing, merchandising, shopping and a variety of entertainment experiences.

Off-season and overrun products can be taken to the adjacent Cowboy-themed “The Factory Outlet” to be sold at a discount. “It will be the biggest factory outlet in the region where people can shop for off-season branded goods at a lower price. They can save on VAT (value added tax) here.”

Ch'ng believes that the RM1.5bil APTEC could be a catalyst for the future growth of Johor and Singapore and the Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore synergy would mirror the success of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong strategic partnership.

When he visited Shenzhen in 1984, it was a mere fishing village with a population of less than 100,000 but today it has some 12 million people and is one of the fastest growing cities in China.

“We've a neighbour (Singapore) that is rich and willing to invest here. However, how come our neighbour, which knows us so well, is not investing (much). It does not jive,” he said, adding that Malaysian companies should invest in Malaysia and not “run away.”

In order to attract investors, there must be more incentives properly packaged to woo them, he said. “It is important that we must also look at the investment models of other countries and try to do better than them,” he said, adding that state governments being the biggest land owners should unlock the value of their land.

Ch'ng envisaged that tourists to Singapore would stop over at Lakehill Resort City to enjoy its many amenities, including doing business at APTEC.

Besides helping to source for products and services initially from China, India and Asean countries, APTEC could also enable local traders to showcase their products and distribute them. Imported goods can be stored at the warehouses in the Pasir Gudang Free Trade Zone.

“We want to help the SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and create a new breed of entrepreneurs. We will have a training school to conduct a variety of courses,” he added.

By The Star - StarBiz - (by S.C.Cheah)

Gold Coast on the upswing

From left: Lim Eng Chong, Peter Malady and Andrew Bampton with a model of the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residences at a special preview in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian investors should seize the opportunity to buy properties in Australia's Gold Coast, as the property market there is poised for another upswing.

Raptis Group Ltd sales and marketing director Peter Malady said the last boom was in 2004 and, as Queensland generally had a seven-year property cycle, investors should enter the market now.

“Gold Coast is Australia's fastest growing city. With a population of more than 500,000, it is Australia's sixth largest city. Almost 18,000 people move there every year,” he told StarBiz at a preview of Raptis' two latest Gold Coast projects, the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residence and the Southport Central, in Kuala Lumpur recently. Each project has a gross development value of about A$700mil.

Malady said forecasts showed that the Gold Coast population would exceed 762,000 by 2026.

“There is a massive commitment to infrastructure development. They include a desalination plant, new Parklands Hospital, extension of the railway from Robina to Coolangatta, upgrading of the Pacific motorway and extension to the Gold Coast airport,” he added. He said Gold Coast residents were also willing to pay more for property with median housing loan repayments of A$1,480 per week, which is 12% higher than the national average.

Apartment accommodation is the second most popular type of dwelling (23%), and is 8% higher than the national average.

On the Gold Coast office vacancy rate, he said it remained at an all time low of just 4.5%, down from the 7.6% recorded at the start of 2006. “While supply additions have been significant, tenant demand remains strong, supporting the tightening market and the favourable location,” he said.

On the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Malady said it would comprise the 32-storey Boulevard Tower with 186 units of one and two-bedroom apartments and the 55-storey Orchid Tower with apartments, retail shops and offices.

The Orchid Tower will have 224 residences with over 50 floor plans as well as 170 hotel suites, managed by the Hilton group. It will be the only five-star hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise and the first hotel and residences complex in the area. It will also boast a fivestar indoor spa and five-star restaurant and bar.

Malady said with only 224 apartments and the Hilton brand name, the Orchid Tower presented a unique and “very limited” opportunity as compared to other developments in the area, such as Soul with 300 plus apartments, Q1 with over 500 units, Circle on Cavill with 550 plus units, and Chevron with over 700 units.

He said about 180 apartments of the Boulevard Tower were sold within 10 weeks of the launch recently. “In view of the good response, we have brought forward by five months the launch of the Orchid Tower. We have sold about 90 units since Easter,” he said.

Malady added that many Malaysians had sent their children to study in the Gold Coast.

“With AirAsia having direct flights to the Gold Coast, there will be more Malaysians travelling to the Gold Coast.”

Raptis sales operations manager Andrew Bampton said the Southport Central with 788 apartments in three towers and 400 offices would be the largest mixed development in Australia.

The apartments are priced from A$400,000 (86 sq m) to A$800,000 (140 sq m) Henry Butcher Malaysia president Lim Eng Chong said his company was very careful when picking projects to market. “We are helping Raptis market these two projects as we feel they offer very good investment opportunities,” he added.

The Raptis group, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 1986, has been developing in the Gold Coast for more than 30 years. Some of its notable projects are The Moroccan, Phoenician Health Spa & Resort, Marakesh, Adelphi Springs, Bel Air Resort, and Platinum on the Beach.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

TH Properties launches Bandar Enstek show village

AN EXCLUSIVE CONCEPT: Ahmad Zahid launching timur@enstek. With him is Azizan (left)

Tabung Haji property arm TH Properties Sdn Bhd yesterday launched several show houses for its RM9.2 billion flagship property project, Bandar Enstek in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.

The 2.8ha show village, which comprises seven designs and different interior decor themes, is aimed at attracting prospective home owners and investors.

TH Properties chairman Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman said the show village is an exclusive concept, the first in the local property development industry.

The company also launched the third phase of the development, called timur@enstek which will feature 12,400 residential units of link homes, town villas, apartments, link bungalows and bungalows.

Timur@enstek will cover 580ha and the overall gross development value (GDV) is estimated at RM2.7 billion and gross development cost at RM2.1 billion.

The first phase of timur@enstek will feature single storey and one-and-a-half-storey link homes and single-storey bungalows, with prices ranging from RM166,300 to RM977,519, said Azizan.

"Careful, detailed thought and craftmanship have gone into the creation of the latest phase to give residents green spaces not just within the township but also inside their homes," he said.

Bandar Enstek, which is about 10 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, is expected to be completed in 2025.

Yesterday's launch was officiated by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In his speech, he commended TH Properties for developing a project that will be an attractive global destination for foreign investors especially those involved in education and human capital development.

"One of the major components of Bandar Enstek is techpark@enstek for biotechnology clusters, edupark@enstek which has attracted investments of over RM2 billion and medicalcity@enstek, a RM1.7 billion project," said Ahmad Zahid.

By New Straits Times (by Roziana Hamsawi)

The draw of the southern corridor

An exclusive bungalow at IOI Resort Putrajaya

The Klang Valley's southern corridor is set for more activities as developers and property investors continue to see good upside potential in the bustling corridor.

Until a few years ago, it was one of the few corridors in the Klang Valley that had large tracts of estate land that were suitable for property development. But in the past decade many new townships and projects have emerged.

However, with building activities increasing in the past decade, sizeable pieces of land are not easy to come by these days. As land sizes shrank, the cost of land has escalated.

Land prices in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya have risen to between RM25 and RM100 per sq ft (psf), depending on location, from less than RM10 psf about eight years ago.

Developers who have the foresight to lock in vast tracts of land here have secured “goldmines” and went on to reap a fortune from their developments.

Key property developers in the robust southern corridor include IOI Properties Bhd, SP Setia Bhd, Island & Peninsular Bhd, Bukit Hitam Development Sdn Bhd, Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd and Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd.

According to IOI Properties director Datuk David Tan, the large land tracts have enabled the development of well planned integrated townships with good infrastructure, commercial hubs, modern amenities, employment opportunities and secure neighbourhoods in the corridor.

Datuk David Tan

“The southern corridor has proven to be a preferred choice with its high accessibility, modern infrastructure and employment opportunities,” Tan said.

The pull of the corridor has been further enhanced with the good road network including the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), North South Expressway Central Link (Elite), South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), KL-Putrajaya dedicated highway and the North-South Expressway.

Stretching from Puchong and Seri Kembangan to Sepang, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, remarkable growth in the form of new townships and infrastructure network, have spawned many new opportunities.

New centre of gravity
“The pull of Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, KL International Airport and Sepang International Circuit remains strong, and this has contributed to Klang Valley's new centre of gravity moving southwards towards Sepang.

“The northern part of Sepang that covers Cyberjaya and Putrajaya will experience a faster growth rate, especially with the completion of the SKVE project and the dedicated Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Highway that was completed last December.

“Within the next three to five years, the growth in this corridor will continue to outpace other parts of the Klang Valley,” Tan added.

SP Setia Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that based on the draft local plan, Puchong could look forward to more exciting times as an estimated RM3.1bil was expected to be pumped in for infrastructure improvement by the local council over the next 12 years.

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin

“Among the facilities and amenities that residents can expect in the near future are the proposed Puchong light rail transit station and a RM10mil international camping site at the gazetted Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve,” Liew said.

He said Puchong was at the forefront of the transformation of the southern corridor with a rapidly expanding population, which is estimated at 250,000 today.

Highways turns Puchong into a fast- growing centre
The completion of highway networks has largely elevated Puchong into one of the fast-growing centres in the corridor.

Tan said that under the Selangor Structure Plan, parts of the southern districts of Sepang and Kuala Langat had been designated as Klang Valley 2.

Klang Valley 2 encompasses the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya and the information and communications technology-centred Cyberjaya on one end, and the KLIA and Sepang F1 racing circuit on the other. It also includes the area along the coast north of Sepang GoldCoast as far as Morib.

“It is a worthwhile initiative to ensure more well-planned developments, both residential and commercial, whereby private developers will complement the efforts of the public sector to further enhance the vibrancy of the corridor.

“To ensure more quality lifestyle for the people, Klang Valley 2 should avoid the problems of the existing Klang Valley and provide the right environment for living, recreation, education and work,” Tan said.

By The Star (by Angie Ng and Shannen Wong)

UOL gets 60% take-up rate for condo project

UOL Group Ltd's freehold luxurious condominium project, Panorama, has seen a take-up rate of 60% since its launch a month ago.

The RM300mil maiden project by the Singapore-based property development and hotel group is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Located on a 1.13-acre site along Persiaran Hampshire near the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the project comprises two 33-storey towers with a total 223 units.

It is a joint venture with General Corp Bhd, a property and construction group.

Units come in one- to three-bedroom combinations and built-up areas from 592 to 1,819 sq ft. They are priced from RM750,000 to RM2.37mil.

UOL group president and chief executive officer Gwee Lian Kheng said investing in Malaysia was a natural choice.

“We already own Parkroyal KL Hotel, Parkroyal Penang Hotel and the 30-storey south tower of One Residency at Jalan Raja Chulan,” he said in a statement.

Kuala Lumpur's buoyant property scene was rapidly gaining attention among the global community as evidenced by the mushrooming of various luxury developments within the city centre, he said.

“With UOL's branding and track record, we expect Panorama will be well received by foreign buyers and funds,” he added.

Together with General Corp, UOL has also acquired for RM172.14mil freehold land totalling 3.95 acres along Jalan Conlay, near Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Bintang commercial precinct, where it plans to develop a 38-storey luxury condominium.

UOL's listed subsidiary, Hotel Plaza Ltd, is the owner of 12 hotels in the Asia-Pacific.

By The Star

Puchong developments going up-market

With property prices in the developed areas of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya having appreciated sharply, young families who are keen to own landed properties but face limited budgets are venturing into the Klang Valley's southern corridor. This is especially in the popular Puchong neighbourhood.

“From standard terrace units and high-rise apartments, Puchong folks have since graduated to high-end homes such as semi-Ds and bungalows set within themed gardens and landscaped environment as well as upmarket condominiums with all the trappings of modern luxury,” SP Setia Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said.

He said that as developments moved further away, developers were compelled to stand out from the clutter and market their offerings with value-added features and innovative designs to woo buyers who didn’t mind a slightly longer drive as long as the new development offered more enticing proposition.

Property consultants said rising land prices in central Klang Valley had spurred property buyers to look for better bargains in the southern corridor that still had relatively affordable properties to offer.

“With house prices having climbed in other areas, neighbourhoods like Puchong, Seri Kembangan and other parts of the southern corridor are becoming more popular for those looking for more affordable housing,” said PPC International Sdn Bhd executive director Thiruselvam Arumugam.

Thiruselvam Arumugam

SK Brothers Realty (M) Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng said the southern corridor was a good area for developing landed housing units such as double terrace houses, semi-detached units and bungalows for families.

Chan Ai Cheng

She said transaction prices of property had also shown steady growth over the years.

“People normally buy the properties in Southern Klang Valley for own stay,” she added.

According to Chan, there is a good mix of buyers in the area in terms of race and income.

Double-storey terrace houses in prominent existing projects such as Putra Heights, Bandar Puteri, Bandar Bukit Jalil, Taman Puncak Jalil, Bandar Kinrara and Bandar Puchong Jaya are sold from RM200,000 to RM750,000.

Thiruselvam said the rental for a standard double storey terrace house in these areas ranged from RM400 to RM2,000 per month.

He said the rental appreciated only by 2% to 3%, whereas capital appreciation for houses was good with prices rising 100% over the past decade.

According to him, Southern Klang Valley units are mainly for residence, rather than bought for speculation or investment.

Reapfield Properties Sdn Bhd president David Ong said the main draw to Southern Klang Valley was affordable house prices although factors such as value investing and property speculation could not be easily discounted.

“Prices of houses have peaked significantly in the central region of the Klang Valley, giving rise to an outward flow of the purchasing population to both the north and south of the Klang Valley,” he said.

Many buyers have sought investment opportunities by purchasing large bungalow plots, bungalows and semi-detached homes in this area on expectation that prices will increase significantly over the course of the next decade.

“While property prices can be said to be affordable or cheaper here than in the prime city areas, the high petrol prices and higher toll rates have started to cause a reverse migration effect,” Ong said.

Many buyers who bought in the fringe or secondary areas of the Klang Valley are starting to drift slowly back to the city as the benefits of lower housing instalments become significantly offset by higher price of fuel and toll rates.

“It now makes sense to some people to buy smaller apartments or flats in strong city locations rather than pay for cheaper houses outside central Klang Valley but end up bearing increased living expenses via higher fuel prices and increasing toll rates,” he said.

By The Star

High demand seen for commercial space

The Jusco Equire Park

There is robust demand for commercial space in Southern Klang Valley but inadequate supply of quality commercial space.

With the increasing land value in the central business district of the Golden Triangle, buyers are slowly moving from the KL city centre to some areas outside the city.

Reapfield Properties Sdn Bhd corporate services head David Wong said the upcoming commercial projects in Puchong included the SetiaWalk project by SP Setia Bhd, expansion of the IOI Mall by IOI Properties Bhd as well as a mixed development project that would include office towers and shophouses in Bandar Puteri near the Giant hypermarket.

SetiaWalk, located on 20.8 acres in the mature township of Pusat Bandar Puchong, is one of the main commercial projects in Puchong. At its soft launch, 57 shop office units were sold.

PPC International Sdn Bhd Thiruselvam Arumugam said Puchong was an area with limited commercial development projects.

Most of its commercial developments centre along Jalan Puchong in Bandar Puchong Jaya and focus on sundry businesses.

He said the Giant hypermarket in Bandar Kinrara, Tesco hypermarket in Pusat Bandar Puchong and IOI Mall Puchong were among the significant commercial buildings in Puchong that drew in the crowd to the area.

Shopping malls such as the Alamanda Putrajaya, Jusco Equine Park and Subang Parade have continued to receive good occupation and rental prices. In Seri Kembangan, Equine Park was the only dominant commercial project, said Wong, adding that there was no upcoming commercial development in the area.

Demand for corporate offices was lower in Seri Kembangan than for retail shops.

Developers are competing to launch high-end condominium projects in Subang on commercial-titled lands.

According to Wong, there is a trend to build commercial buildings within five km from the KL city centre.

However, there would be a limit to the supply of commercial buildings in Southern Klang Valley as there was limited demand for corporate offices beyond this five km fringe, he said.

By The Star

Peter's Holdings lines up RM1b KL projects

Property developer Peter's Holdings Sdn Bhd (PHSB) plans to launch new projects worth RM1 billion in Kuala Lumpur over the next 12 months.

Managing director Peter Loke Kwok Seong said it will launch a RM700 million project comprising medium-cost houses and a hypermarket on 12.15ha it owns on Old Klang Road by the end of this year.

LOKE: The firm is planning to launch its maiden development overseas, targeting China

"We are also negotiating with landowners to buy two plots of land in Ampang to build high-rise condominiums next year for RM300 million," he said at a media preview of Papillon Desahill Condominium in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

In addition to that, Loke said it is planning to launch its maiden development overseas, targeting China, where it has a crane-making business. "We are talking to our partners and hope to launch the development next year," he added.

PHSB's current projects are in Perak and Johor, worth RM120 million. It is also the project manager for Papillon Desahill, a new landmark project within the Taman Desa enclave worth RM180 million.

The company was awarded the job by its affiliate company ZEUS-TNB Properties, which is a 60:40 joint-venture company between Zeus Development Sdn Bhd and TNB Properties Sdn Bhd.

Papillon Desahill comprises 225 units in two 15-storey blocks, perched over 1.82ha. Construction would commence in July and completion slated by early 2011.

The units are available in four designs with built ups of 1,312 sq ft to 2,059 sq ft priced from RM480,000 to RM800,000 each or RM400 per sq ft.

The highest are the penthouses duplexes with build ups of 2,498 sq ft to 3,661 sq ft, which are priced from RM1.1 million to RM1.6 million each.

Loke said it hopes to sell up to 80 per cent of the units within the next 12 months.

Since its soft launch a month ago, up to 35 per cent of the units have been taken up, a bulk of it by locals and some by Japanese and Koreans.

PHSB is working with CIMB-Mapletree Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of CIMB-Mapletree Real Estate Fund I, for the plan and specifications of the project and in promoting the development.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

At 68, CEO is full of vitality and novel ideas

BILL Ch'ng is an indefatigable person who, at 68, still bristles with ideas and is ever ready to turn his vision into reality.

He showed his mettle when he patiently sat through nearly four hours of consecutive one-to-one interviews with four reporters at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore recently.

“It's a challenge. It is also very good for the country as well as Singapore to have such a collaborative arrangement,” he said when asked the reason for taking on so much at his age, especially in developing the Asia-Pacific Trade & Expo City (APTEC).

“The success of Iskandar Malaysia will also benefit Singapore. If there is political will, APTEC can be built in three years,” he said, adding that APTEC was not just a property development project but also a socio-economic endeavour.

Besides helping importers to source for goods from countries like China, MPC could also get Chinese manufacturers to bring in their semi-finished products to Malaysia. “If we cannot beat China, we can join them. We can always get them to finish their products here. We can then package the products, and as long as 40% of the contents are from Malaysia, we can stamp them as made in Malaysia,” he said.

Ch'ng is no stranger to the complex business of distribution trade as he helped to turn around an emporium in Singapore when it went bust in 1983. “Nobody dared to buy it, but I bought it and turned it around. I later sold it,” he recalled.

He has won two architectural awards in Malaysia and Singapore when he was an architect prior to his corporate work overseas, particularly his pioneering advisory and investment promotion work in China that began in 1984.

Ch'ng, who has three daughters and a son, was also named one of the “50 Asia's Top Corporate CEOs” by Business Weekly International magazine in 1989. He accepted the position of MPC chief executive officer as a “challenge” to nurse MPC into profitability and growth. His plan is to groom a dedicated hardworking team to take over the rein.

MPC was known as Malaysia Pacific Land Bhd when it was first listed in 1997. It assumed its current name on Jan 11, 2005.

Its core business is investment and property development.

MPC plans to venture into other lucrative businesses such as mining and plantation to generate new sources of revenue. Ch'ng's goal is to turn MPC into a conglomerate and make Lakehill Resort City a brand name and a tourist and investment destination.

By The Star

Making inroads

MTD Capital has received offers to work on other Philippine highways as the company upgrades the South Luzon Expressway in a joint venture project

30-YEAR CONCESSION: Part of the South Luzon Expressway in Manila

CONSTRUCTION-RELATED MTD Capital Bhd, now close to midway into its 11.3 billion peso (RM875 million) upgrading works on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Manila, has been invited to look at other highway projects in the Philippines.

Group managing director Datuk Azmil Khalili Khalid said MTD prefers to complete the SLEX project first before considering other jobs.

"We will only look at it once we complete this job. But we definitely want to stay in the country for the long term," he said.

Based on the 30-year concession for the SLEX project, MTD should break even within seven years, Azmil told Malaysian journalists during a tour of the project in Manila recently.

"As of today, we have completed some 40 per cent, but we want to complete the project fast. The sooner it is completed, the faster we can collect toll, which means revenue for the company.

"We also want to avoid the risk of higher costs that comes with delays. We don't know where the prices of materials are going to end in the next few years," he added.

MTD Manila Expressway has formed a joint venture with the Philippines National Construction Corp to undertake the upgrading and rehabilitation works on the 30-year-old SLEX, a 29km toll road that will eventually link Manila and Port of Batangas.

The joint-venture company, South Luzon Tollway Corp, was awarded a 30-year concession to upgrade and rehabilitate as well as operate SLEX by the Philippines government on February 3, 2006. It is one of several flagship projects that has received strong support from Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The SLEX project consists of three main sections designated as project toll roads (TRs), namely TR1, TR2 and TR3.

Azmil said the project is funded through MTD's equity (3.6 billion pesos or RM279 million), the World Bank through its private sector arm (2.5 billion pesos or RM194 million) and the balance by a consortium of banks led by Philippines' Banco de Oro-EPCI Inc.

He said the company hopes to complete TR1 and TR2 by March next year, and TR3 in the subsequent 12 months.

TR1 requires the retrofitting of viaduct foundations and columns, replacing of all concrete slabs and girders, and widening of the existing bridgedeck from six lanes to eight lanes.

TR2, meanwhile, is from the Filinvest interchange to Calamba, Laguna. Work involves rehabilitation and widening of 15.6km between Filinvest and Sta. Rosa from the current four lanes to eight lanes, and widening of the 11.7km stretch between Sta. Rosa and Calamba from four lanes to six lanes.

TR3 is a new four-lane highway that will extend from Barangay Turbina, Calamba to Sto. Tomas in Batangas where it will link with the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road.

Besides Malaysia, MTD is active overseas in Thailand, The Philippines, Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Indonesia and India.

By New Straits Times (by Kamarul Yunus)

Intrade Malaysia 2008 may rake in RM3.2b sales

International Trade Malaysia 2008 Exhibition (Intrade Malaysia 2008), to be held this November, is expected to generate more than RM3.2 billion worth of on-the-spot and negotiated sales.

This is in line with the anticipated increase in the number of exhibitors to 500 from 300 exhibitors at last year's event, according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

Foreign exhibitors are expected to account for 20 per cent of the exhibitors.

Matrade chief executive officer Datuk Noharuddin Nordin said the exhibition has received encouraging response from both local and foreign companies as well as trade promotion agencies.

NOHARUDDIN: Encouraging response from both local and foreign firms

Speaking at a media briefing before the Intrade Malaysia 2008 networking reception in Kuala Lumpur last week, Noharuddin said the good response was due to impressive results reported by exhibitors and companies participating at the business matching sessions with international buyers during the inaugural Intrade Malaysia held in November last year.

Last year, Intrade Malaysia 2007 raked in total sales of RM3.38 billion for over 1,300 Malaysian companies. They recorded on-the-spot sales worth RM469.7 million, while sales under negotiation were valued at RM2.91 billion.

The top five buying nations include the United Arab Emirates with deals worth RM1.06 billion, followed by Kazakhstan (RM598.5 million), the UK (RM433.8 million), Australia (RM385.3 million) and Nigeria (RM156.3 million).

With its theme, "Optimising Global Opportunities", Noharuddin said Intrade Malaysia 2008 is aimed at providing a platform not only for Malaysian companies, but also foreign companies to expand their businesses and access new markets.

He said as a general international trade fair, Intrade Malaysia offers a platform to exhibit a wide range of products and services from agro-based products, auto parts and accessories to building materials .

By New Straits Times

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sarawak’s first ICT mall to open soon

OneTJ ground floor unit of 735sq ft costs RM560,000. Rent at RM6psf inclusive of service charge (60 sen psf). Check out details in this portal under "Events"

OneTJ, Sarawak’s first shopping mall dedicated to ICT products and services, is set to open by the third quarter of this year.

Construction of the RM20mil mall in Jalan Stutong, Kuching, started in March last year and is expected to be completed in August.

Developed by Kenbest Sdn Bhd, the mall has a total area of 100,000 sq feet and net lettable area of 65,000 sq ft.

It comprises 80 shoplots over four floors with 20 on each floor, Kenbest managing director Stephen Long said.

“The average area for each shop on level one is 735 sq ft while the units on the upper levels are larger, averaging 850 sq ft,” he said in an interview recently.

Describing OneTJ as Kuching’s Low Yat Plaza, he said it had attracted over 40 computer and mobile phone retailers. “This mall is purpose-built for ICT products and services. At present, we have sold about 90% of the shop lots,” he said.

He added that the mall would also have a hair salon, bookshop, fashion outlets, eateries and a food court on the top floor.

The food court will provide free wi-fi service to patrons as well as blogger stations where groups of bloggers can meet.

Other noticeable features include plasma screens, which will be placed on each floor for infotainment and advertisements, 24-hour security with CCTV and subsidised bus service to nearby institutions of higher learning and surrounding areas.

Long said that OneTJ aimed to become the preferred venue for ICT-related events upon its completion.

Several activities have been lined up, including a computer game competition, technical seminar on networking security and new product launches.

For more information on the mall visit its website

By The Star on 26 April'07 (by Sharon Ling)

Tan & Tan plans RM500m condo sale

TAN & Tan Developments Bhd, the property arm of IGB Corp Bhd, is in talks for an en-bloc sale of its high-end condominium called 6 Stonor in Kuala Lumpur for RM500 million.

Tan & Tan's executive director Teh Boon Ghee said that discussions were ongoing to sell the 106 condominium units which will tentatively be launched next year.

"We are looking for en-bloc sales (for 6 Stonor) as there are many foreign investors interested in properties here today," Teh said.

The building will be on 0.58ha of freehold land and its development is currently under building plan.

In an interview with Business Times recently, Teh said that IGB's focus over the next few years will be the Klang Valley.

"Kuala Lumpur will remain the focal point of real estate development, where the rate of appreciation in capital value has been faster than most other second-tier cities in Malaysia," Teh said.

Tan & Tan, whose forte is in condominiums and gated housing, also plans to channel more resources into property development this year.

"For the past two to three years we have been concentrating on The Gardens project and lending our support to it, (so) other property development projects slowed down a little. Now that it has finished, we will furnish a larger percentage of our resources on property development," said IGB's executive director Tan Boon Lee.

"We hope to regain lost opportunity over the past year," Tan said.

IGB's revenue from property development fell 32 per cent to RM262 million in the year to December 31, 2007.

The decline was due to fewer launches as the group focused on completing The Gardens project in Mid Valley.

This year, it plans to launch properties with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM350 million and RM2.25 billion in 2009.

At the same time, it also has ongoing projects worth some RM700 million.

It has identified areas surrounding KLCC, Ampang Hilir, Wangsa Maju, Desa Pandan, Mid Valley and Sungai Buloh for projects given the infrastructure support there.

Projects planned for launch this year include 40 units of luxury condos in Ampang Hilir (GDV RM80 million), 218 units of serviced residences and 15 units of shop offices in Desa Pandan (GDV RM116 million), 66 units of Sierramas Hillside Villas (GDV92 million) and 17 units of villas in Sierramas Mews (GDV RM32 million).

Tan & Tan has some 81ha in the Klang Valley, of which 52.5ha is in Wangsa Maju. This project, with a GDV of RM1.2 billion, will be developed over seven years.

The group has over 500ha in Negri Sembilan, Pahang and in Pangkor.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

I&P wants PNB as partner for property trust

PROPERTY developer Island & Peninsular Bhd (I&P) said it will collaborate with state-owned fund manager Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) to launch a real estate investment trust (REIT).

However, no firm plans have been made as it wants to focus on its ongoing developments.

"Any REIT that we introduce will be in collaboration with PNB. We have several profitable assets that are good for a REIT, but we would like to develop them first," group managing director Datuk Jamaludin Osman told Business Times in an interview.

I&P is developing seven residential and commercial projects. It also has several assets under management, namely Plaza Damansara 1 & 2, Chef & Brew, Bangunan Setiawan and Bangunan SPPK in Damansara, the Tesco hypermarket in Kajang, Impian Morib Hotel in Morib and Putri Nursing College in Nilai.

It has a landbank of 5,670ha, which it plans to develop over time to generate higher value.

Jamaludin said I&P plans to dispose of part of its landbank to unlock value under an ongoing strategy.

"We are always working to build the company's profile through various means and by offering quality products. We do place emphasis on human capital development in meeting our objectives," he said.

The company spends some RM1 million to train and educate its staff on human capital development and corporate social responsibility.

"Our contribution to national economic development is straightforward. We turn undeveloped spaces into thriving townships and communities. We go the extra mile by providing everything that is needed for the people living in various communities," he said.

I&P, which is participating in the Minggu Saham Amanah Malaysia (MSAM) 2008 in Ayer Keroh, Malacca, is helping to improve the educational performance of children of low-income groups.

It is one of 17 government-linked companies (GLCs) participating in Pintar, a programme led by the Putrajaya Committee on GLC High Performance.

Under the programme, I&P has adopted two primary schools namely Sekolah Kebangsaan Sg Nibong and Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Gelugor in Penang, and has provided books and financial assistance for students from poor families.

In addition, I&P has extended assistance to the underprivileged through the National Cancer Council, the Malaysian Medical Relief Society and the Persatuan Orang Cacat Malaysia as well as to disaster relief efforts.

"We are participating in MSAM in tandem with our parent (PNB) to give knowledge to the public of business activities carried out by the group and exposing our development," Jamaludin said.

Themed "Human Capital Development" this year, MSAM provides a platform for visitors to get information regarding human capital development strategies and contributions implemented by PNB and its subsidiaries.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Saujana Consolidated gets takeover offer

PETALING JAYA: Peremba Panorama Sdn Bhd and parties acting in concert are proposing to acquire the entire stake of hotel and property group Saujana Consolidated Bhd.

It plans to do so upon completion of a proposed acquisition of a 29.19% stake in the company for RM32.13mil cash.

Saujana Consolidated said in a statement yesterday that Peremba Panorama had entered into an agreement with Right-Soft Resources Sdn Bhd, Nik Sufian Mohd Zain, Ekuiti Mantap Sdn Bhd and Rewardwize Sdn Bhd.

The agreement is to acquire 27.13 million shares, representing 24.65% of the issued and paid-up capital of Saujana Consolidated, for RM27.13mil.

It said Peremba Panorama had also entered into an agreement with vendors to acquire Endau Klasik Sdn Bhd's five million shares, or 4.54%, in Saujana Consolidated for RM5mil.

Saujana Consolidated said upon completion of the exercise, Peremba Panorama and parties acting in concert with it would have shareholdings, both direct and indirect, of more than 33%, thereby triggering a mandatory general offer.

The company said Peremba Panorama intended to make a takeover offer for the remaining shares in Saujana Consolidated that it and the parties acting in concert did not already own for RM1 per share.

It added that Peremba Panorama intended to make a takeover offer for Saujana Resort (M) Bhd, a 77.95% subsidiary of Saujana Consolidated.

This will be done via an offer for the remaining Class A shares in Saujana Resort at RM2,500 per share and Class B shares at RM25,500 per share it did not already own.

According to Saujana Consolidated, the shareholders of Peremba Panorama as at April 3 were Peremba Holdings Sdn Bhd, Peremba (M) Sdn Bhd, Tan Sri Mohd Razali Abdul Rahman, Datuk Hassan Abas and Datuk Abu Bakar Mohd Nor.

Mohd Razali is the chairman of Saujana Resort, according to its website. He is also executive chairman of Peremba (M) and sits on the board of PECD Bhd. Abu Bakar is Saujana Consolidated managing director.

According to the latest annual report of construction, energy and property group PECD, Peremba (M) had a 1.33% equity stake in the company, while Saujana Consolidated shareholder Rewardwize had a 1.01% stake, as at May 3 last year.

By The Star

Gefung mulls Mideast listing

SECOND Board's Gefung Holdings Bhd is thinking of a dual listing in the Middle East within the next five years, to help raise cash for its international expansion.

Chief financial officer Chan Ying Wei said this would be a strategic move for the company to capitalise on the robust economic growth taking place in the Gulf and Arab countries, which is estimated to grow 10-15 per cent annually.

He said the listing plan would also increase the company's profile and enable it to secure more projects in the Middle East and North Africa.

"These are some of the long-term plans we have in the pipeline. Nevertheless, it is still at preliminary stage. We are also looking at other options to raise cash for our future expansion, including raising capital from the debt market," he told reporters after Gefung's extraordinary general meeting in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

On current overseas ventures, chief executive officer Jeffrey Seo said Gefung is optimistic of clinching a RM50 million deal to supply marbles for a luxury property project in Abu Dhabi.

He said this is because it is the only company that can supply the type of marble required by the developer. "Unless they decide to use other types of marbles, we are confident of being able to secure the deal," he added.

Meanwhile, the company has obtained the nod from its shareholders to set up a joint-venture company in the Middle East with Saudi-based partner Tawjeeh Services and Commercial Investments Ltd.

Gefung will hold 50.01 per cent in the venture and will also buy all of Montana Madencilik Insaat Sanayi Ve Ticaret Ltd (Montana) from Syarikat Bukit Granite Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gefung.

Montana, which is based in Turkey, was bought by Gefung in July last year and it has the 30-year extraction right of a marble quarry in Turkey.

With the new joint venture, the two parties will set up another similar factory in Turkey, three times bigger on an 80ha site, with an estimated investment of between US$7 million and US$8 million ((RM22.05 million and RM25.2 million).

By New Straits Times (by Anna Maria Samsudin)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Peter’s Holdings targets medium high-cost property market

KUALA LUMPUR: Peter’s Holdings Sdn Bhd is positioning itself as a developer of medium high-cost property and is looking for land in prime and established locations in the Klang Valley.

Managing director Peter Loke Kwok Seong said while the company continued to develop its low- and medium-cost residential project in Petaling Utama, its aim was to be a player in the medium high-cost property market.

“We are sourcing for land in niche and matured areas like Taman Desa, Taman Seputeh and Ampang,” he said.

He said this at a media preview of the Papillon Desahill Condominium at the project’s site sales office-cum-show unit in Taman Desa yesterday.

The condominium, on 4.5-acre freehold land, marks the company’s foray into the medium high property sector.

“At Peter’s Holdings, we pride ourselves on having the ability to create value for our customers. We believe the viability of a property developer depends on how much value he can create.

“The more value is created, the more projects will be demanded and the more repeat buyers there will be. This is a cycle and a philosophy we hold true,” Loke added.

Papillon Desahill, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM180mil, offers 225 units in two, 15-storey wings. About 30% of the units have been sold since its soft launch a month ago.

The price range is about RM400 per sq ft. There will be four designs with 1,312 to 2,059 sq ft sizes and priced from RM480,000 to RM800,000.

The 16 penthouse duplexes with 2,498 to 3,661 sq ft are priced between RM1.1mil and RM1.6mil.

Business development manager Katrina Loke is confident that 80% of the units would be sold within a year.

“Most of our purchasers are local up-graders,” she said, adding that a 2% discount per unit was being offered for a limited period.

CIMB-Mapletree Management (which manages the CIMB-Mapletree Real Estate Fund 1) is collaborating with Peter’s Holdings to market and promote the project under a profit-sharing basis.

Loke said its ongoing and future projects had a GDV of RM1.25bil.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

Resorts World gets loan for S'pore casino project

SINGAPORE: Resorts World at Sentosa said yesterday it had obtained a S$4 billion (US$3 billion) loan to finance two-thirds of its casino project in the city-state.

Resorts World, a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Genting International, is building an integrated casino resort on Singapore’s Sentosa island estimated to cost S$6.0 billion dollars and scheduled to open in 2010.

Ten banks participated in the syndicated loan, which has a tenure extending to 2015, the company said.

It will fund two-thirds of the project’s total cost, with the remaining to be paid through equity raised from a rights issue last year by Genting, Resorts World said.

Resorts World said it obtained the credit facility in February “despite a very difficult global credit environment.” The casino resort, spanning 49 hectares (121 acres), will include Southeast Asia’s first and only Universal Studios theme park and the world’s largest oceanarium, as well as six hotels offering a total 1,800 rooms.

Las Vegas Sands is building Singapore’s other casino called Marina Bay Sands near the business district.


Landmarks to clear up casino issue 'soon'

LANDMARKS Bhd will "soon" clarify whether it can build Indonesia's first legalised casino at Bintan, an island on which it plans to develop a water resort city, a group official said.

Media reports of late have highlighted that Indonesia's strict anti-gaming laws may prohibit gaming activities from being part of the planned RM9.6 billion tourism development project on Bintan.

"We definitely want to clear the issue up. We'll inform when we're more certain," Paul J.H. Leong, deputy chief operating officer of Bintan Treasure Bay Pte Ltd (BTB), a unit of Landmarks, said yesterday after a shareholders meeting. He declined to divulge more information.

At the meeting yesterday, shareholders unanimously approved a plan for Landmarks's wholly-owned subsidiary to buy a remaining 26 per cent stake it didn't own in BTB for RM360.8 million.

BTB is the company undertaking the Bintan Treasure Bay project. It owns 338ha of leasehold land there.

Landmarks had only last year paid RM403.8 million for its 76 per cent stake in BTB. This time around, it's paying a hefty price for the rest of the shares to take into account the revised price of BTB's assets after a revaluation on January 30.

Landmarks expects to complete the acquisition in the second quarter.

Having full ownership of BTB allows the Landmarks group to have full control of the direction of the Bintan Treasure Bay project.

It also enables it to get full access to the cashflows generated from the project.

Shareholders yesterday said they raised questions on the project's funding, to which an official responded that negotiations with banks were ongoing.

The group had a cash balance of RM372.8 million as at the end of last year.

By New Straits Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)