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Friday, January 11, 2008

WCT considering setting up its own REIT in the future

KLANG-BASED property developer WCT Land Bhd is considering setting up a real estate investment trust (REIT) in the future, said its general manager Stewart Tew (pix).
However, he did not disclose when the group would make the move.

“We need to have sufficient properties or assets first as well as the right timing before we decide to start a REIT fund. We would also need to nurture the buildings until they have good yields,” he told PropertyPlus after a preview of its latest commercial development in Kelana Jaya, The Paradigm, recently.

WCT Land chairman Datuk Chua Sum Poo (third from left) with other board directors looking at a scale model of The Paradigm

Possible injections into the REIT include The Paradigm and the group’s other commercial developments in Klang, such as BBT One, comprising retail galleries and corporate office towers, the recently opened Aeon Bukit Tinggi shopping centre and BBT Hotel, which is scheduled for completion by 2009.

The Paradigm, which is located on a 12.37-acre leasehold tract, comprises four blocks of corporate office towers, 30 storeys of office suites and a shopping mall with a net lettable area of 700,000 sq ft. The developer plans to retain three office blocks and the shopping mall for recurring income.

“However, we are also open to the option of selling the office towers enbloc. We are actually currently in negotiations with both foreign investors and local institutions,” Tew added. According to him, the current market price for office space in Petaling Jaya ranges from RM450 psf to RM550 psf.

The project is targeted for launch in the second half of this year, with the mall scheduled for completion in 2010, while the whole development would be ready by 2013. It has a gross development value (GDV) of RM1.26 billion.

WCT Land has a total landbank of 1,369 acres in the Klang Valley and East Malaysia, with projects amounting to a GDV of RM5.2 billion of which RM2.9 billion has been launched. These include three Bandar Bukit Tinggi townships in Klang, and d’Banyan Residency in Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu.

The group is also in negotiations for its first overseas venture in Vietnam, which is expected to be finalised by the first half of this year.

Tew said the group is constantly on the lookout for additional land that may have good potential for future development. “We would also consider going into joint ventures if our partners have any good land,” he added.

On the property market for 2008, he said that the office and retail property sector in the Klang Valley would be good, which is reflected by the current occupancy rates of 85% and 84% respectively. “We also believe the upper-middle to high-end residential market will do well. The easing of foreign ownership policies and the exemption of real property gains tax would boost the market further,” he said.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

More information about The Paradigm ...

WCT eyes more Vietnam projects

An artist's impression of the Platinum Plaza.

PETALING JAYA: WCT Engineering Bhd is planning more projects in Vietnam following the approval obtained for its first commercial landmark in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City.

Executive director Loh Siew Choh said it would still be in property development.

“We are applying for another investment certificate to develop another piece of land in Ho Chi Minh City,'' he told StarBiz in a telephone interview from Vietnam late on Wednesday.

With a population of 84 million, Vietnam offers huge potential to companies with good track record. Ho Chi Minh City alone has a population of 10 million.

“We hope this will be a new market for us,'' Loh said, adding that Ho Chi Minh City and its suburbs were the target for future projects.

Other positive factors include rising per capita and disposable incomes as well as good take-up rates for commercial space.

“Demand for grade A office space in Ho Chi Minh City is very high,'' Loh said. “Rentals in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City are going for US$40 to US$50 per sq m which is much higher than that in Kuala Lumpur.''

The company was awarded an investment certificate on Wednesday by the People's Committee Ho Chi Minh City to undertake the Platinum Plaza development project, located on 9ha in the Binh Chanh district.

The project will be undertaken by a joint-venture company, BSC-WCT Co Ltd, in which WCT will have a 67% stake. The land lease or duration of the project is 50 years.

“There is a big shortage of retail space and a need for a proper shopping mall,'' Loh said.

The Platinum Plaza represents the largest commercial development to date and is expected to be built in four years. Construction is expected to start by year's end.

The project includes a shopping mall, a four-star hotel, two office blocks of 22 storeys each and small office home office units. The total gross floor area is 671,960 sq m.

“We have to show our seriousness and establish good relationships in the country,'' Loh said.

Delivery and track record are factors closely watched by the authorities there. Within the WCT organisation, there are people who have years of experience working in Vietnam.

The group aims to build its good name in Vietnam like the way it had established itself in the Middle East.

“It (the business in the Middle East) was not created overnight,'' Loh had told StarBiz in an earlier interview. “It was a result of hard work by the business development team in the last six years, making WCT Engineering well known as well as delivering results.''

The group has its regional office in Abu Dhabi and offices in Dubai, Doha, Oman and Bahrain. Two of its biggest projects are the RM4.6bil Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and the RM1.3bil Abu Dhabi Formula One Circuit.

WCT Engineering is in 50% partnership for these projects and also has a number of jobs in Bahrain and Qatar.

By The Star (by Yap Leng Kuen)

Prices of Building Materials for Government Jobs

Contractors: Allow us to make adjustments

Local contractors hope that the government will allow them to pass on increased cost of building materials for all government contracts, following a decision by the government to implement an automatic price mechanism (APM) for cement.

Currently, they are not able to adjust the prices of building materials for government contracts to reflect changes in the market.

"If the government were to implement the APM on cement as well as steel bars and billets, it is only right that contractors who take on government jobs be allowed to have the same cost pass-through mechanism," Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) deputy president Ng Kee Leen told reporters at a media luncheon recently.

WONG: Contractors still able to buy cement at RM10.70 per bag

"Right now, only the Public Works Department's Form 203 provides for price fluctuation clause. All other government jobs do not allow for cost pass-through," he added.

Nevertheless, MBAM president Patrick Wong said that although it was reported that cement price would be subjected to an APM, contractors are still able to buy cement at RM10.70 per bag.

The cement price in Pahang, Selangor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya is currently fixed at RM219 per tonne.

In Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, the price is RM217 per tonne, while in Terengganu and Kelantan cement is sold at RM233 per tonne. In Johor, cement is priced at RM224 per tonne.

The Cabinet Committee on Essential Products, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was to introduce the APM for cement from January 1 2008, but to date, it has yet to be implemented.

With the introduction of the APM, cement prices will be revised at each quarterly review period.

While steel millers have been lobbying for an automated price mechanism for steel bars, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry had, three weeks ago, informed steel millers of an approval for a 12 per cent increase in government-controlled ceiling prices of steel bars and billets.

Effective December 1 2007, the various type of billets are priced at between RM1,907 and RM2,035 per tonne, up from between RM1,703 and RM1,817 previously.

Also, the new ceiling price of steel bars is between RM2,225 and RM2,419 per tonne from between RM1,837 and RM2,010 previously. This is a 20 per cent increase, or nearly RM400 per tonne.

Ng, who is also Gamuda Bhd director, cited the RM12.5 billion project to double track 330km of the existing single railway line from Perak to Perlis.

He said one of the reasons the job was priced at that level was because it had already factored in costlier copper, cement and steel materials.

"Costlier building materials had been factored into the job value. However, if building material costs are to escalate further, it will eat into our margin," said Ng.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

Central gears up to begin work on LIDO BOULEVARD

EYE-CATCHING LANDMARK: Artist's impression of the RM2.7 billion waterfront project in Iskandar Development Region (Johor)

Central Malaysian Properties Sdn Bhd (CMP), a company linked to businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, said it is on track to begin work on the RM2.7 billion Lido Boulevard waterfront project in the Iskandar Development Region, Johor, in March.

The property developer will start mobilising construction equipment and manpower at the 49.37ha beachfront site.

The project is expected to be completed by 2016.

"The pre-qualification of contractors saw more than 130 international firms submit bids for the project. This is a clear indication that Iskandar is drawing wide attention," CMP managing director Datuk Chan Tien Ghee said in a statement yesterday.

The Lido Boulevard is one of the biggest private finance initiatives along the Lido waterfront in Johor Baru, after the Danga Bay development.

The project is a joint venture between CMP and Johor State Secretary Inc, an investment holding company of the Johor state government, which is also the landowner.

To be developed in phases, the project will stretch 2.4km along Lido Beach from the Lot 1 shopping mall to the Marine Department.

"We are ready to mobilise equipment and manpower to start physical works on-site pending certain final approvals from the authorities. We expect construction to go full swing after the Chinese New Year," Chan said.

CMP will spend RM150 million over the next two years to upgrade all existing road infrastructure at the site, he added. This includes expanding Jalan Abu Bakar (Jalan Skudai) into a dual three-lane carriageway.

"We will also build flyovers and pedestrian bridges to transform Lido Boulevard into one of the most attractive destinations in Johor Baru."

Chan said works will also involve land reclamation at Lido Beach.

Lido Boulevard has four main development components: luxury condominiums, waterfront office suites, a hotel and a shopping mall.

According to Chan, Lido Boulevard will have generous open spaces for public recreation. This includes a 2.4km-long boardwalk, 9.7ha man-made lagoon for water activities and 1.8ha public park.

The development blueprint is based on the theme of a "garden city", with landscaped gardens, water fountains and park-like facilities covering nearly a quarter of the area.

By New Straits Times

Work on Lido Boulevard to start after CNY

JOHOR BARU: Work on the RM2.7bil Lido Boulevard, the latest waterfront project within the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), is set to commence after Chinese New Year.

The developer, Central Malaysian Properties Sdn Bhd (CMP), will start mobilising construction equipment and manpower at the project site along Lido Beach here in March.

In a statement, CMP managing director Datuk Chan Tien Ghee said: “The pre-qualification of contractors saw more than 130 international firms submit bids for the project. This is a clear indication that the IDR is drawing wide attention.”

Lido Boulevard is one of the biggest private finance initiatives along the Lido waterfront after the Danga Bay development.

The project is a joint venture between CMP and Johor State Secretary Inc, an investment holding company of the Johor government that is also the land owner.

Chan said CMP would spend RM150mil over the next two years to upgrade all road infrastructure on site. This included expanding Jalan Abu Bakar (Jalan Skudai) into a dual three-lane carriageway.

Lido Boulevard will help rejuvenate Johor Baru and transform it into an exciting city with a myriad of leisure and recreational public facilities,” he said.

By The Star

RM400mil sales target for The Regalia

30% of Mayland project sold before launch

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd (Mayland) targets sales of RM400mil to RM450mil this year for The Regalia serviced apartments, its biggest project for the year.

From left: Malaysia Land Properties group project director Ho Chee Leong, Tan Sri David Chu and wife Puan Sri Nancy Chiu at the launch of The Regalia.

Marketing manager Michelle Won said 30% of the 1,033 units had been sold before the launch.

“We expect 60% to 70% to be taken up by year-end,” she said after the launch of The Regalia yesterday.

The Regalia will have a gross development value (GDV) of RM600mil with a net lettable area (NLA) of one million sq ft when completed in 2011.

Located on a 2.5-acre site, it will consist of three blocks with distinctive themes – Madison, Melrose and Milan – and strategically placed between Kenny Hills and KL City Centre.

Vice-chairman Tan Sri David Chu said: “Young adults and families can easily be targeted as we have a combination of lifestyle studios and family serviced apartments that range from 500 to 1,871 sq ft, duplexes from 2,562 to 4,124 sq ft and a 10,012 sq ft penthouse to suit their needs.”

Mayland will launch three more projects this year – 72 shops offices and 1,500 serviced apartments in Plaza Damas phase 3, 400 units of Sri Putramas 3 condominiums and a high-end condominium project in Mont’ Kiara.

“We hope to launch our Plaza Damas project in March and Sri Putramas in Jalan Kuching in May,” Won said.

The projects would have an estimated GDV of RM600mil and RM300mil respectively, she added.

Meanwhile, Mayland hopes its Mont’ Kiara project will be launched by September, pending approval from the Government, Won said.

The project, on a 1.79-acre site, would have an estimated GDV of RM550mil, she added.

Won noted that Mayland had 400 acres of land left for future projects.

Mayland owns several prime properties in KL, including ParkView, Windsor Tower, Waldorf, Sri Putramas 1 serviced apartments and condominiums, and in Johor Baru.

By The Star

HK-based tycoon bullish on property market

UPWARD PROJECTION: Chiu (second from left) being briefed on Mayland's latest luxury serviced apartment project The Regalia in Kuala Lumpur yesterday

Hong Kong-based hotelier and property tycoon Tan Sri David Chiu is bullish on Malaysia's property market, saying there is plenty of room for residential property prices to move upwards.

"People are now talking about how expensive some service apartments are in the (Kuala Lumpur) city centre, at RM2,000 per sq ft. But if you look at Shanghai, the property prices there are between RM3,000 and RM4,000 per sq ft, and I don't think the salary scale of workers in Shanghai is higher than their counterparts in Malaysia," Chiu said.

He was speaking after the launch of The Regalia, a three-block 38-storey luxury serviced apartment located off Jalan Kuching, behind The Mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Chiu expects the salary scale in Malaysia to rise further as more foreign companies set up office in the country.

"What you (Malaysia) need to do is to fully open up the local market to these foreign companies (to operate their business). There is nothing to fear, as their presence will only be good for the economy," he said.

The Regalia is one of Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd's (Mayland) most luxury serviced apartments, offering not only fee-based chauffeur-driven cars for use by its residents, but also super penthouses with private pools and jacuzzi.

The average price per sq ft for the units is RM600.

A development which Mayland claims to be one of its kind, it is expected to cost RM300 million to develop, with a gross sales value of RM600 million.

Chiu said he is cautiously optimistic that the prices of The Regalia serviced apartments will appreciate by as much as 67 per cent to RM1,000 per sq ft, considering the property's location.

Prices for The Regalia units range from as low as RM200,000 for a 500-square-foot unit to as much as RM11 million for a 10,000-square-foot unit.

By New Straits Times (by Presenna Nambiar)

LCL bidding for XL jobs in Dubai

PETALING JAYA: Interior fit-out (IFO) group LCL Corp Bhd is bidding for extra large, or XL-sized jobs, worth hundreds of millions of ringgit each in Dubai.

Its success in the tenders would take LCL to yet another level, as the company has moved up to jobs amounting to RM100mil each currently compared with contracts valued at RM20mil to RM30mil a few years ago.

LCL told Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday that LCL Interiors Contracting LLC had received a letter of award from main contractor, Arabtec Construction LLC, to carry out IFO works worth RM145mil for Tiara United Tower in Dubai.

A 49%-owned associate company, LCL Interiors is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where Arabtec, a large construction group, is also based. Arabtec, with joint-venture partners, is constructing the Burj Dubai, slated to be the tallest building in the world.

Although IFO jobs of RM100mil were considered big in South-East Asia, they were viewed as small in Dubai, LCL managing director Low Chin Meng told StarBiz in a telephone interview from Dubai on Wednesday.

LCL has submitted bids for huge IFO jobs ranging from RM400mil to RM600mil each, which the company is hopeful of securing. As IFO works typically form about 30% of a commercial building's total project cost, the jobs tendered for would involve buildings that cost about RM1.5bil to develop.

“This is a very exciting year for LCL. Management is working very hard,” Low said just before he returned to Malaysia.

On the contract announced on Wednesday, Low said the stock (market) had “expectations of new projects. We're meeting those expectations.”

In the announcement, LCL said the payment terms included “an initial advance payment of 25%,'' which works out to about RM36mil. It is expected to be paid within a month.

“It is only in this part of the world that the main contractor is willing to advance 25% to you. It's due to demand (for IFO services) being greater than supply here,” Low said.

LCL has said before that it is working towards an order book of RM1bil in the Middle East. “That's the path we're taking,” Low said, “but if we take on RM1bil of projects, we would need a few hundred million ringgit in working capital.''

“That would push our gearing to three or four times,” he added.

The company's net borrowings were about two times shareholders' funds at the end of September last year.

Hence, LCL has set a criterion that customers make a relatively high advance payment before the company would take on a job. At the same time, it also seeks faster progress payments.

“In those days, clients were given 75 days of credit after the certification of works was issued.

“Now, we're giving 45 days, sometimes even less, thus cutting the credit period by a month,” Low said.

He said the company would still have to borrow for working capital but “getting it from the client helps.” In addition to these sources, the company has proposed a rights issue to raise about RM80mil cash.

LCL is geared for strong growth. “We came here at the right time and did the right thing,” Low said.

By The Star (by C.S.Tan)

Foreigners hunting for M'sian properties go online first

There is a lot of foreign interest in Malaysian property, normally for high-end assets, and the bulk of them turn to the Internet first when starting their search.

About two-thirds of foreigners go online first when they are looking to buy property abroad, an online survey by Group revealed.

"The Internet featured prominently as the tool of choice, with 95 per cent of overseas investors using it to hunt for properties available for sale," executive chairman Patrick Grove said.

Foreigners also use the Internet to research market trends, find out more about developers and look for real estate agents.

The typical overseas property investor is a professional or a senior executive, with an annual household income of well over US$40,000 (RM130,800).

Malaysia, alongside Singapore and Thailand, features among investors' top choices for property investments, the survey showed. Group conducted an online survey of 2,066 local and overseas property buyers looking for investment opportunities in Asia, from November 15 to December 31 2007.

Dubbed "Asia Property Trends Survey 2007", the results are to be released in two parts.

By New Straits Times