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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

IOI to delay project launches in Singapore

PUTRAJAYA: IOI Properties Bhd will wait for the next cycle to launch its property development projects in Singapore in view of the less-than-robust economic market, said its executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng.

However, he said construction work on the two projects — Seaview Collection and the Pinnacle Collection in Sentosa Cove — would go ahead as planned.

Speaking to reporters after the company’s EGM here yesterday, Lee said the time was not right to launch both the projects and “the next cycle will be higher than the previous cycle”.

IOI Property, through a joint venture with Ho Bee Investment Ltd, is developing the Pinnacle Collection, which comprises seven 18-storey blocks and one 20-storey block of luxurious condominiums, while Seaview is a luxury condominium development comprising two eight-storey apartment blocks.

The group has a total of 4,500 acres (1,821 hectares) of landbank in the Klang Valley and Johor. It also plans to develop 543 acres of land in Putrajaya into high-end bungalow lots and condominiums which would be launched next year.

On the issue of windfall tax which will affect IOI Corporation Bhd’s plantations division, Lee said the group was disagreeable to the tax as the industry was already paying cess to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, in addition to levies imposed in Sabah and Sarawak, apart from their subsidising of cooking oil.

“There is no country in the world where planters are subsidising manufacturers,” he added.

Last week, the government had announced the removal of the cooking oil stabilising scheme as part of the subsidy restructuring scheme and replaced with windfall tax.

According to Lee, IOI was also finalising a US$100 million (RM325 million) investment as part of its expansion plan in Rotterdam, Holland. IOI already owns a palm oil refinery of 85,000-tonne capacity and would build a 300,000-tonne capacity plant to process margarine.

On its previous proposal to buy six plantation companies in Sarawak which would have cost RM439.9 million, IOI’s group executive director Datuk Lee Yeow Chor said the deal had fallen through due to technical issues.

“It is not about the price but title. Some pre-conditions cannot be satisfied,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to say if IOI would pursue the purchase of these plantations later. The six companies have a combined plantation landholding of 44,350ha, of which 30.4% or 13,500ha were planted with oil palm.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Sharon Tan)

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