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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

PHBB to buy land in Iskandar

DUBAI: Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera Bhd (PHBB) is in final negotiations to purchase 30 acres in the proposed financial district of Medini in Iskandar Malaysia, the state investment agency said yesterday.

“We have identified the size of the land we want - 30 acres - that we will develop in phases,” PHBB managing director Kamalul Arifin Othman told the media at Cityscape Dubai after an earlier announcement by Millenium Development International, the lead developer of the Medini financial district and one of the Middle Eastern development partners of Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB).

“We intend to be (the) first mover in the financial district,” he added.

The land acquisition will be made through a joint venture company in which PHBB will own 60% and IIB 40%.

“We have the resources to undertake the development. We had received RM2bil in seed capital from the federal government,” Kamalul said, adding that PHBB was talking to established companies to take up space in the Medini financial district.

Millenium vice chairman Oussama Kabbani said in a speech that Iskandar financial district was in the right location and right market.

The price of land there was just 10% that in Singapore even though it was just 20 minutes’ drive from the island republic, he noted.

Global Capital, the consortium that includes Millenium and IIB, would invest US$1bil to develop and sell the sites acquired within Medini, Iskandar Malaysia.

The development value in the financial district alone would exceed US$4.5bil, Oussama said, adding that Millenium was in discussion with prospective investors from the Gulf region to invest in Iskandar Malaysia.

IIB managing director Arlida Ariff said the government offered special incentives for companies to move into specific clusters in Iskandar Malaysia.

These include a 10-year tax holiday, 100% foreign ownership and flexibility in hiring foreign knowledge workers.

Companies in the Fortune 500 list and others that might want to expand from Hong Kong and Singapore were being approached by IIB as prospective tenants and investors, she added.

PHBB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yayasan Amanah Hartanah Bumiputra.

Formed two years ago, it has invested in 300 acres of commercial land in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, including the headquarters of Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd and the transport hub at Butterworth.

PHBB invests primarily in Grade A commercial properties and its aim is to eventually place them in a real estate investment trust.

By The Star (by C.S.Tan)

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