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Monday, April 7, 2008

JLand to build presence in Mideast

MAJOR PROJECT: Johor Land’s semi-detached units in Bandar Dato Onn, a township which will be developed over 10 to 15 years.

JOHOR Land Bhd (JLand), the property arm of Johor Corp, is keen to develop properties in the Middle East and plans to start by offering its technical expertise, its top official said.

It has been approached by a Saudi Arabian investor who have access to land bank to provide assistance in building residential properties.

The talks, if successful, could see the developer exporting its expertise as early as next year.

"We are keen to do property development in the Middle East. We would like to go as a technical partner first and later into property development if it proves to be financially viable," managing director Shafiqul Hafiz said.

"We have been approached by a Saudi Arabian company and we are in discussions for technical cooperation for residential projects," Shafiqul told Business Times.

Technical cooperation, he said, would entail consultancy ranging from planning to design and marketing.

JLand had in fact announced its move into Bangladesh to build apartments and a factory but the deal was aborted due to the economic conditions there.

Apart from projects abroad, Jland is also looking at venturing into other states in Malaysia.

"We are open about it (acquiring land in other states), but we would prefer to build properties for others who own land," he said.

JLand has some 1,215ha of land in Johor, all of which are located within the Iskandar Development Region (Iskandar).

"There have been many enquiries (to purchase our land) but we have declined as we will develop the land ourselves," he said.

"However we would consider if there is something special that a party can offer, for example, a joint venture which can add value to our Bandar Dato Onn project by bringing in foreign investors to buy our properties," he said.

Bandar Dato Onn is one of the four major property development projects that JLand is currently undertaking in Johor.

"Bandar Dato Onn covers a 607.5 area; 526.5ha in Taman Bukit Tiram, Ulu Tiram, and 162ha in Taman Bukit Dahlia, Pasir Gudang," he said.

The Bandar Dato Onn township, located 10km from Johor Baru, will be developed over 10 to 15 years on freehold land. The project has a gross development value of RM4 billion and will provide JLand with RM1.2 billion in gross profits.

Shafiqul also believes that it will benefit from the launch of Iskandar, which emphasises on growth sectors like tourism, education, healthcare, logistics, creative industries and financial services.

Meanwhile, JLand is confident that the company will perform better in the year ending December 31 2008 compared with 2007 and possibly even better than in 2006. For 2007, it registered RM63.36 million revenue, down from RM77.66 million in 2006. Net profit declined to RM6.69 million from RM17.75 million the year before.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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