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Monday, May 12, 2008

Zerin excels in being lean and mean

Previndran Singhe showing the Four Seasons hotel room key to commemorate the sale of the resort to Kingdom Hotels Investments.

ZERIN Properties aims to establish a niche as a boutique real estate agency in the hospitality segment, corporate offices, malls, development land, industrial facilities, office leasing and high net worth residential market.

Each year the company chalks up transactions worth about RM400mil and the 19-member team is happy to keep it that way.

“As a boutique real estate agency, we do not go for numbers. Our philosophy is that being small is beautiful,” chief executive officer Previndran Singhe told StarBiz.

“We are keen on building personal relationship with our clients and being able to deliver the results. As such, we are able to focus on our clients. Our value system is very simple – honesty, which is very important in this business, integrity and to deliver.”

Two years after its incorporation in 2002, Zerin established offices in Singapore and Sydney. It also has an affiliate office in New Delhi.

“We are also eager to move into South America and Eastern Europe, especially to tap the bustling hospitality business. The tourism business is booming there, with tourist arrival growth in excess of 10% per annum,” Previndran said.

Among the notable transactions undertaken by Zerin to-date include the asset disposal programme for Faber Hotel chain, sale of Grand Centrepoint Hotel to Tune Hotels, a 4-acre land transaction deal in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, and recently, two hotel deals in Vietnam.

“We are also prominent deal makers in the residential high net worth market, notably in the Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) area. Our dedicated website for KLCC residences ( has recorded close to 500,000 hits since its launch in February,” he added.

In the next two years, the company is targeting to secure four local and two international hotel deals, as well as deals involving at least two office buildings, two malls and at least five development land deals.

He said the office market in the KL Golden Triangle area was set to scale new heights in terms of rental rates as the supply of Grade A office space runs thin.

“We do see rentals touching RM9-RM11per sq ft, and capital values reaching RM1,300 to RM1,500 per sq ft.”

On the general property market, he said there was still a shortage of good landed developments.

“Also, I think we need some radical and iconic residential designs in the KLCC and Mont'Kiara vicinities.”

For the high-end residential sector, he said prices of landed properties in traditional locations such as Damansara Heights and Bangsar would continue to rise, while the performance of high-rise development was dependent on product quality and management.

“In the KLCC area, we still see strong growth for selected good developments.”

Previndran said there was good growth potential in the country's hospitality industry and in other parts of the world.

“Hotel investments among local and foreign investors will see an upswing, especially after the sterling performance in the country's tourism sector. For the next year or so, it will be mainly Asia-based funds as the Anglo-Saxon funds are feeling the pinch of the sub-prime crisis. More such investments can be expected from Singapore, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, and the rest of Asia,” he added.

There is still a shortage of five-star and limited service hotels in various parts of the country. Average room rates for five-star hotels in the city are hitting close to US$200 a night while the limited service hotels are charging between RM80 and RM150.

In terms of occupancy rate, Previndran said the three- to five-star hotels in Kuala Lumpur were hitting close to 80%, while the budget and limited service hotels were more than 80% occupied.

On new hotel developments in the next two years, he said the industry could look forward to the Four Seasons hotel in the KLCC, Park Hyatt in Kuala Lumpur and The Regent in K Avenue.

“I also see a strong entry of limited service hotels like Tune Hotels. There is talk of a branded boutique hotel –the like of Bulgari Hotel – opening, but we heard it's still in very early stages.

“In Langkawi, we hope to see the Ritz Carlton coming soon. With rising energy and labour costs, we do see a pinch on profitability but this will be eased with better technology and higher room rates,” he said.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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