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Friday, January 25, 2008

Platinum Park set to sparkle in KLCC area

PLATINUM Park’s Grade A office towers are expected to fill the demand for premium office spaces in the KLCC belt with its attractive pricing as a pull-factor.

This is evident with the recent enbloc purchase of its 50-storey office tower (pix) by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda).

Felda signed a sale and purchase agreement with Platinum Park’s developer TTDI Development Sdn Bhd for RM640.7 million, or an average of RM930psf.

To be named Menara Felda, the office tower will have a nett lettable area of 689,000 sq ft, a 1,500-capacity banquet hall and a variety of other facilities.

Menara Felda will be the tallest tower among Platinum Park’s seven iconic towers that essentially comprise three office towers, three high-end condo towers and a service- apartment tower.

While, at RM930 psf, TTDI Development’s deal doesn’t exactly match the RM1,120 psf benchmark deal set by Glomac Bhd, which sold its Glomac Tower to Kuwait Finance House late last year for RM577 million, the Felda deal is certainly higher than Mah Sing Bhd’s enbloc sale of East Wing of TTDI DEVELOPMENT The Icon along Jalan Tun Razak for an average of RM899 psf late last year. That sale was valued at RM237 million.

Some investors have approached Felda with an offer of RM1,250psf disclosed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after the ground breaking ceremony on Jan 22. “We have been approached with offers for RM1,250 psf and if we sold it today, we would make a profit of RM220 million,” said Najib.

Menara Felda is located in Platinum Park’s 9.1-acre tract.

When contacted, several real estate practitioners commented that the transaction was a fair deal for buyer and seller.

Zerin Properties Sdn Bhd’s CEO Previndran Singhe said: “The pricing was fair, in view of the going rates for KLCC property”. “The pricing will certainly put a premium on the KLCC-based Grade A office space,” added Previndran.

“Platinum Park would redefine the KLCC area as a prestigious address and a world-class real estate development.

“If the product is good, then its going to be a walk in the park for TTDI Development as its offerings would be snapped up by buyers,” said Previndran.

Platinum Park is the secondlargest real estate development in KLCC’s vicinity after the KLCC project with a gross development value (GDV) of RM3.5 billion.

“We are also holding strategic talks with two other parties who are keen on purchasing Platinum Park office towers enbloc,” said TTDI Development group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin.

Johan said a “necklace” of niche lifestyle retail outlets featuring products and services with international appeal never seen before in KL, would complement the development of Platinum Park.

He said the condominiums will be noted for their space, measuring between 2,200 sq ft and a whopping 13,000 sq ft, all priced from RM2,000 to RM2,500 psf onwards.

The developer claims Platinum Park, to be developed over the next eight years along the intersection of Jalan Stonor, Jalan Binjai and Lorong Kuda, will be of international standards on par with Hyde Park of London, Central Plaza in New York, Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and Tokyo’s Roppongi.

“Platinum Park will have a gross floor area of 3.5 million sq ft, and will be the most accessible in the KLCC area as there are six roads leading in and out of the development site, and we have also submitted a traffic plan for City Hall’s approval,” said Johan.

DTZ Debenham Tie Lung (M) Sdn Bhd executive director Brian Koh said there have been no new project launches in the KLCC area over the past six months and news of Platinum Park’s launch will excite market sentiment.

“Platinum Park will fill the need for Grade A offices and high-end condo demand in the KLCC area. We expect the project to augment the market demand for KLCC area properties,” said Koh.

“The enbloc sale of Menara Felda also puts the project on a firm ground,” he added.

Henry Butcher Malaysia Sdn Bhd COO Tang Chee Meng said the pricing of Platinum Park condo’s over the RM2,000 psf mark will eventually push up prices in the KLCC area to higher levels.

“Despite the economic slow down in the US, we in Malaysia are attracting lots of foreign funds, especially from Korea and the Middle East,” said Tang.

“And since Platinum Park is a notably huge project, it will set the benchmark for high-end residential prices in KLCC. It is in a favorable position in the prevailing market condition,” he added.

Another consultant, Kenrich Realty’s Alfred Chin said buyers would now have more choice and options in selecting KLCC properties.

“The more choices, the better they are for investors. And with Platinum’s launch, I believe investors, especially foreigners, will get that — choice,” said Chin.

By theSun (by Tim Leonard)

Metro Kajang expects good yields for Wang Commerz

Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd (Metro Kajang) launched Wang Commerz@Pelangi Semenyih recently and the developer expects rental yields to be as high as 9%. The project is the commercial parcel of Metro Kajang’s 294.66-acre township, Pelangi Semenyih, Selangor. “So far, we have opened six blocks of shop offices and 70% have been sold,” said Johnny Lam, marketing manager of Metro Kajang.

An artist's impression of Wang Commerz@Pelangi Semenyih

The 2- and 3-storey shop offices, sized at 22ft by 75ft are priced from RM329,000 onwards. The freehold project takes up 6.89 acres and comprises a total of 169 units spread over 14 blocks with a gross development value (GDV) of RM33 million.

Lam attributes the good response at Wang Commerz to its location, which surrounds a hypermarket. "The supply of shop offices in Semenyih is low and the existing commercial areas are pretty scattered, with no strong attraction," he said.

"The potential rental yield of this project is 9%," said Lam, adding that the average rental yield for commercial projects in Semenyih is 5%. "Commercial projects in the town centre of Semenyih are doing well with yields between 5% and 8%," he said.

Another two blocks of Wang Commerz will be launched in February, after Chinese New Year, Lam added. Construction is due to begin in approximately three months’ time and would take two years to complete.

Meanwhile, the first six phases of Pelangi Semenyih’s RM300 million residential parcel — comprising 1- and 2-storey linked homes — have been completed with Phase 6 launched early January.

Developed under the build-then-sell (BTS) scheme, Phase 6 is divided into four parcels with Phases 6A and 6B sold out.

“Twenty-two out of 88 units have been sold at Phase 6C; Phase 6D is yet to be opened,” said Lam. The 1-storey linked homes are sized at 20ft by 65ft and priced at RM132,800.

“We’re now at Phase 7, which is divided into 7A and 7B,” said Lam. The 2-storey 20ft by 70ft linked homes are priced from RM197,800 onwards.

“Out of 200 units, there are only eight corner units left in 7A. As for 7B, out of 86 units opened for sale, 36 units have been sold,” he said, adding that 7B will have a total of 256 units.

Completion of the residential parcel is expected in Dec 2009.

Metro Kajang’s other commercial development, Metro Avenue, has been more than 50% sold, said Lam. Located in Kajang, the 30 units of 3-storey shop offices are sized at 22ft by 80ft and prices range between RM838,000 and RM968,000.

To be launched in February, is Phase 1B of Sentosa Villas, located adjacent to Metro Avenue. The 2- and 3-storey terraced homes are sized between 20ft by 65ft and 20ft by 80ft with an average price of RM340,000. Out of a total 73 units, four have been sold prior to the launch.

Meanwhile, Phase 1A will comprise 46 units of semidees and 16 units of bungalows priced at RM778,000 onwards and RM1.09 million onwards respectively. The semidees will be sized at 40ft by 90ft, 45ft by 90ft and 50ft by 90ft while the bungalows will be sized at 50ft by 90ft and 60ft by 90ft. Phase 1A will be launched in 2H 2008, said Lam.

Metro Kajang also recently held a promotional event for its Pelangi Damansara Sentral residence suites. Located close to Mutiara Damansara, the RM60 million project comprises residential suites, shops and offices housed in a tower with 16 floors.

“All our 11 shops have been sold; there are only six of the 22 office units and 17 units of residences left,” said Lam. The project was launched in June last year and takes up 1.7 leasehold acres.

The 193 units of residential suites come in three designs with built-ups of 674 sq ft, 856 sq ft and 1,027 sq ft. Priced between RM168,000 and RM239,000, these suites have a maintenance fee of 20 sen psf.

According to Lam, units with the largest built-up are sold out.

The shop units have a built-up of 26ft by 70ft and priced at RM999,000. The 22 office units are sized at 26ft by 80ft and are priced from RM366,000 onwards. Lam revealed that most of the purchasers bought for investment purposes. “It is a mature area, and the potential rental yield is more than 8%,” he said. Construction will begin next month and completion is expected in 2010.

“The majority of our buyers are from Petaling Jaya but we also have buyers from other states such as Ipoh and Penang. Our other buyers are from Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Bangi, Ampang, Bukit Antarabangsa and Subang Jaya,” he said.

By theSun (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

Growing Gombak

KL's skyline as seen from Gombak

With the increasing affluence of its residents, Gombak is seeing demand for higher-end properties grow

The property landscape in Selangor's Gombak is slowly changing with demand rising for higher-end homes there. Gombak borders Kuala Lumpur to the southeast.

Already several semi-detached projects in the area have been warmly received. These developments include Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd’s Taman Mutiara Gombak and Astana Gemilang by Ekar Makmur Jaya Sdn Bhd.

Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong said there now seems to be a demand for mid- to high-end properties from the residents living there. “The preference in the past had always been for small terraced homes as residents in the area are not all well to do. But the residents here have stronger purchasing power now, so they are looking to upgrade to something more comfortable,” he told PropertyPlus.

According to See, land prices there average from RM60 to RM80 psf. He added that developers coming into this mature area would not only enjoy good infrastructure but also a strong population base, which would create a demand for new properties. “It would be difficult to start a high-end project in an area without an upgraders market readily available,” he said, adding that
Gombak is such a market.

“Developers looking at Gombak as a potential area for development will have to take into consideration that most of the land available is in small pocket-sized tracts with easy access to the main roads, suitable for high-end niche projects,” he said.

However, he added that the hilly condition of the land as well as the numerous kampungs (villages) and squatter homes in the area might deter developers, particularly inexperienced ones, to start residential projects there despite its proximity to Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. He
believes condominiums are not yet popular in Gombak.

According to the theSun/Metro Homes Gombak housing price monitor for the October 2007 to December 2007 period, a freehold 2-storey terraced house in Taman Greenwood with a lot size of 20ft by 75ft and a built-up of 1,600 sq ft was priced between RM250,000 and RM260,000.

Meanwhile, a leasehold 2-storey terraced house in Taman Pelangi Jaya with a lot size of 16ft by 65ft and a built-up of 1,200 sq ft was transacted between RM180,000 and RM200,000.

See noted that Taman Greenwood, Taman Rowther and Taman Bukit Permata are among the more popular developments in Gombak due to their strategic locations near the main access road of Jalan Gombak.

“Residents have good access to other parts of Kuala Lumpur such as Sentul as well as Setapak and Jalan Tun Razak via Jalan Setapak,” he explained.

He added that the price and rental rates of freehold and leasehold terraced houses in Gombak would remain one of the lowest among other areas close to the city centre such as Segambut and Sentul. “The price appreciation rate for properties there would average about 2% to 3% per annum, which is below the usual 5% in the neighbouring areas,” he offered, while rental yields are at 3%.

A freehold 2-storey terraced house in Taman Rowther with a lot size of 20ft by 70ft and built-up of 1,800 sq ft can be rented out for between RM1,000 and RM1,200 a month. In Taman Gemilang, a leasehold 2-storey terraced house with a lot size of 18ft by 65ft and built-up of 1,300 sq ft is tenanted for between RM700 and RM1,000 a month.

Meeting demand
Mutiara Goodyear banked on the lack of high-end properties in Gombak to launch its 32.7-acre freehold Taman Mutiara Gombak, comprising terraces, semi-dees and apartments, in October 2006.

Mutiara Gombak's residential properties have all been sold

To date, all units have been sold and are awaiting completion by the second to third quarter of this year. The group aims to launch terraced shop offices in the development this year.

Prices ranged from RM328,800 to RM360,000 for the terraces with built-ups of 1,961 sq ft onwards, while the semidees, with built-ups of between 2,977 sq ft and 4,719 sq ft, are priced from RM580,000 to more than RM1 million each. The development has a total gross development value (GDV) of RM190 million.

Its senior sales and marketing manager Irene Koh said, due to the shortage of higher-end developments in the area, the demand for such properties was evident when the group managed to sell more than 80% of the gated and guarded development within two weeks of its launch.
“People living [in Gombak] would be comfortable with the place and instead of moving elsewhere, would rather upgrade within the area,” she said.

She added that there is a scarcity of land in Gombak, most of which is Malay Reserve Land or individually owned small parcels. “Whoever is able to purchase land there would definitely go for high-end developments due to the size [of the land] and the demand for such properties,” she said.

Meanwhile, Astana Gemilang, another freehold semi-dee project in Gombak completed two years ago has also been sold out. It consists of 72 units with average built-ups of 3,200 sq ft with prices of RM700,000 onwards. Expect to hear more about properties in Gombak.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

One World Hotel to open Jan 28

Bandar Utama City Corp Sdn Bhd’s maiden hotel development, the 5-star One World Hotel, in Petaling Jaya has set a conservative occupancy forecast rate of 61% for 2008.

Its general manager Ho Hoy Sum (pix) said, the response towards the 438-room hotel has been very encouraging so far. The hotel, which will officially be opened on Monday, had started operations in the middle of last year.

One World will open a spa, long bar and more meeting rooms soon

“Though it may not have met our set expectations, the trends and results over the past seven months have certainly helped us to align our goals and strategies for this year,” Ho told PropertyPlus, adding that its targeted average occupancy rate for the year will be close to those of the chain hotels.

The owners of the locally managed hotel have set aside a substantial amount as part of its advertising and promotion fund to further promote the property in the Asia Pacific region.

“We will be putting advertisements in airline magazines and targeted international dailies. We have already identified our targeted market segments and we will continue to pursue them with greater confidence as most of our facilities are already up and running,” said Ho.

With an investment amounting to some RM240 million, the 20-storey hotel has also tied up with WorldHotels Deluxe Collections Group, a leading Europeanbased hotel group for more than 500
independent hotels and regional hotel brands, to market it overseas.

In view of the increasingly competitive local marketplace, Ho said One World still managed to obtain its fair share of the market in the vicinity through its MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Exhibitions) facilities and innovative products.

“This was achieved in light of our high average usage rate that is comparable with international hotels. With our extensive and state-of-the-art facilities, we have an edge over competitors as we are able to offer them competitive prices,” he added.

The hotel will have more facilities to offer its guests soon. Facilities that are expected to be ready by the month’s end include the Thann Sanctuary Spa, a long bar as well as three additional meeting rooms that face the gardens, said Ho. This will add to, among other facilities, its five food-andbeverage outlets and pillar-less Imperial Ballroom that can accommodate some 2,000

On the government’s Visit Malaysia Year 2007 initiative, Ho said the hotel managed to benefit from joining some of the trade shows organised by Tourism Malaysia as a platform to introduce and promote the hotel.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

Green haven set to take shape on Pulau Banding

“WOULD you like to own a piece of the forest?” asked Yusof Abu Othman senior general manager of Emkay Group of Companies when describing the stilt-like traditional homes that will be offered in the 620-acre leasehold Pulau Banding near Gerik, Perak. The island is located in Tasik Temengor near the 117,500ha Royal Belum State Park.

According to Yusof, who is also the head of the Pulau Banding development, these niche homes with land areas of between two and six acres will be developed by MKN Group Sdn Bhd, the developer of the RM600 million Pulau Banding.

The MKN Group is part of the Emkay Group, which is founded by its executive chairman Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar (pix).

“It will be a low-density development planned for 15 plots at the moment. The project is being studied and the developer will be working on a prototype unit soon,” he told PropertyPlus yesterday after the launching of the Pulau Banding Foundation and Pulau Banding Research Centre by the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid.

The launch of the project, Yusof said, would depend on Perak’s department of environment’s approvals for the environmental impact assessment (EIA).

“We are preparing to submit the EIA and expect to receive the approval by April. Even then, we will take our time to launch the project as it will also depend on the success of the resort and research centre,” he said, adding that the public needs to be educated about appreciating eco-tourism.

Among the aims of the research centre, which will be operational in March, is to introduce, inform and educate visitors and tourists on the flora and fauna of the Belum- Temengor Rainforest.

The existing jetty at Pulau Banding will be upgraded

“Today, people easily pay more than RM1,000 psf for properties in Kuala Lumpur’s city centre. Only when they learn how to appreciate the value of the forest, only then can the land values on the island be raised,” he explained while declining to reveal the prices of the homes.

Meanwhile, the 70-room Belum-Temengor Resort will also be operational in March and the average room rates will be between RM120 and RM150, said the director of Rimba Mulia Sdn Bhd, K Mohanachandran.

Rimba Mulia has been appointed the project manager of Pulau Banding.

For the resort’s first year of operations, Mohanachandran is targeting an occupancy rate of more than 40% to consider it a success.

“We will be working with local travel agents to bring in local and foreign visitors.

We also have plans at a later stage to promote the project overseas via the foreign travel marts such as those in London and Berlin,” he added.

Meanwhile, to jumpstart the first-year operations of the research centre, Yayasan Emkay donated RM1 million for the construction, maintenance and overheads of the centre that sits on a 2.19-acre site on the island, leased from the developer.

During the press conference, Mustapha Kamal also said it is targeting some RM4 million annually for the next five years to keep the research centre operational.

“We need funds to keep the research centre sustainable and we are targeting the corporate big boys to contribute to the research centre as part of their corporate social responsibility,” he said, adding that it will be inviting companies as well as the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to visit the island soon.

Pulau Banding will be developed in two phases over 10 years. The first phase will comprise hospitality and residential projects, recreational facilities and the research centre.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

A garden you can eat

Balconies and windowsills can be perfect spots for a bit of herb gardening, especially if you are short of space. Never let the lack of a “real garden” deter you from harvesting fresh herbs for your cooking. With some planning and a little bit of imagination, you will be amazed at the different herbs you can grow in a limited space.

Although most herbs need plenty of light, too much of a good thing can be bad. If your balcony receives sunlight most parts of the day, you can block it out during the hottest times with a bamboo screen, for example. Even if the balcony is not exposed to direct sunlight, the concrete walls of the house will release heat throughout the day. This means it will still be too hot for some herbs to grow, says Nicole van den Steenhoven of Bukit Kiara Properties. She suggests creating a microclimate by selecting some hardy herbs that will work as a climate adjuster for the more sensitive species. Here, she has created a sample balcony and windowsill for a better idea on how you can start off your little herb garden. The term “herbs” has been used in a wider context to include other edible plants and spices.

The balcony
You will be surprised to know that there are a variety of herbs that can be grown in pots on your balcony. These include pandan, curry leaves, lemon grass, chili, aloe vera, basil and rosemary. To take some of the heat off the concrete, try placing larger plants on the outer edge and smaller and more sensitive ones under them so that they still receive enough sunlight, but indirectly.

Larger plants that are popular include the limau kasturi, curry leaves and lemon grass. A rather new plant that is gaining popularity is the Siam cherry and Vietnamese apple.

The former bears small fruits that can be plucked almost daily while the latter has apple-like fruits that are a big hit with children.

An important thing to note when planting on the balcony is the direction it faces. Balconies facing south are exposed to direct sunlight, hence some herbs need more care when grown here. Those native to the tropics, like lemon grass, aloe vera and curry leaves will grow well anywhere.

The windowsill
You can grow several types of herbs in your house as long as the area is not air-conditioned as most herbs and plants tend to dry out in cooler temperatures. The low temperature stops the plant from absorbing water and it will eventually wilt.

You can still do a spot of gardening if you have a little space on your windowsill. Choose herbs like the basil, dill and chives. Even the basket is fi lled with several types of herbs.

Your window should get some sunlight but not full. A north-facing window is ideal but that doesn’t mean other directions are not suitable for a windowsill herb patch. You just need to be more aware of how much sun comes through the window. Creating a simple mesh that will act as a shield can reduce the effects of the sunlight. The screen can be made of wood and fine mosquito mesh.

Don’t forget to leave the window open, especially when the sun is shining through to allow any hot air trapped inside to be released.

Herbs that will do well on a window shelf include basil, dill, coriander, chili and chives. A hanging basket is another option for those who do not have much shelf space to put the potted plants.

Pots and baskets
There are no hard and fast rules on suitable containers for your herbs. You can use traditional clay pots or decorative ceramic ones. If you’re looking at lighter pots, try plastic containers.

Whatever container you choose, always make sure that it has an outlet for water to drain as most herbs are sensitive to stagnant water at the root area. Use a collecting tray underneath to keep your windowsill clean and throw out excess water frequently. You can also use crystals for some plants like the pandan, keeping them fresh in a vase. The crystals will last for about two months.

Larger plants like the Siam cherry and curry leaves protect smaller plants from direct exposure to sunlight

When it comes to the size of a container, most western herbs like basil, dill, parsley and coriander need little space as they are annuals and last only a few months. A pot of about 150mm in diameter will do. For other herbs like curry leaves, pandan and lemon grass, pots need to be bigger, preferably 250mm in diameter. If you use a smaller pot, you will need to repot these plants more often.

Potting material
In principal, most herbs thrive in well-drained mixed soil. Nicole recommends using a light and well-drained potting mix, which you can achieve by mixing an imported potting mix available at hypermarkets or nurseries with vermiculite or perlite. These can also be substituted with Styrofoam pellets. The pellets are light and will improve drainage of the potting mixture. Do not reuse this potting mixture.

This article is an excerpt from haven — a bi-monthly interior design and gardening magazine published by The Edge.

Signature on expansion drive

KUALA LUMPUR: Kitchen and wardrobe manufacturer Signature International Bhd (SIB) plans to strengthen its presence abroad given the buoyant property market overseas, managing director K.C. Tan said.

SIB had applied for a RM3mil brand promotion grant from Malaysian External Trade Development Corp that would be utilised for its overseas expansion, he said.

Tan cited China, India and the Middle East, principally Dubai, as countries that provided ample opportunities.

(From left): Signature chairman Datuk Anuar Othman, executive director Michael Chooi, managing director K.C.Tan and director Nik Mohd Iskandar Nik Hassan at the listing ceremony.

“We offer competitive pricing relative to the regional players,” he said after the company's listing on Bursa Malaysia second board yesterday.

SIB shares opened at RM1.26 for one sen premium over its initial public offering (IPO) price of RM1.25. It reached an intra-day high of RM1.26 before closing at RM1.05 yesterday, down 20 sen.

On the opening price, Tan said the company was fundamentally strong “but we would have to leave (the price) for the market to decide.”

SIB, which also offers supplementary installation services to its customers unlike its European counterparts, was currently bidding for RM100mil worth of local and overseas projects at a 50:50 ratio, said Tan.

Its current order book for local and foreign jobs totalled RM50mil and RM3mil respectively, he said, noting that SIB had a success rate of 50% in bidding for past projects.

Meanwhile, SIB planned to open five more Signature Kitchen showrooms overseas, including India and New Zealand by year-end, Tan said. The company's dealers would be investing some RM200,000 to RM500,000 in each showroom, he said. At present, SIB has 12 dealers in its seven showrooms overseas.

Moreover, SIB would capitalise on the overseas projects by its local property developer partners such as Glomac Bhd, Gamuda Bhd and IJM Corp Bhd to supply kitchen and wardrobe systems, he said.

“We are targeting the overseas market to contribute 12% to group revenue for the financial year ending June 30, 2008 from the present 8%,” he added.

Tan said the contribution of the overseas market would become more significant to SIB's bottom line in two to three years.

SIB’s IPO involved the issuance of 17.7 million new shares and an offer for sale of 2.1 million shares to approved bumiputra investors.

By The Star

KFH in talks to finance two Sabah projects

PENANG: Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd (KFH) is negotiating to finance two projects in the Sabah Development Corridor.

Managing director and chief executive officer Datuk K. Salman Younis said the projects were related to the infrastructure and real estate sectors.

“We will sign one deal on Jan 29. The other should be ready for signing soon,” he told reporters after the launch of the Islamic Banking Briefing & Roadshow in Penang.

Salman (left) shaking hands with Penang State Speaker Datuk Yahaya Hamid after the roadshow launch

“We are also making plans to finance projects in the East Coast Economic Corridor. We recently met the state authorities and the government-linked companies in Terengganu,” he said.

Salman said KFH would set up five branches in the country this year, including two in Penang. The others will be in Johor Baru, Kuching and Sabah.

“These branches will help promote our financing products for the retail sector,” he said.

Currently, KFH has one commercial banking centre and three branches in Kuala Lumpur.

Salman said KFHMB recently secured two financing deals for property projects in Penang.

“Last November, we underwrote The Sanctuary, a project within the Batu Uban growth triangle.

“And recently we provided financing to Ideal Capital Intelligence for The One, Penang Cyber City on a 13.5-acre site in Bayan Baru,” he said.

By The Star (by David Tan)

Bina Puri plans to list Thai subsidiary

SAMUT PRAKARN, Thailand: Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, which has secured another condominium project worth RM81mil in Bangkok, plans to list its subsidiary Bina Puri (Thailand) Ltd in the kingdom.

Executive chairman Datuk Mohamed Feisal Ibrahim said the company planned to engage financial advisers to look into the listing requirements, including looking into profit records and future revenue forecasts.

“If we can meet the requirements and list our subsidiary here, we can tap the capital market to facilitate our expansion, not just in the construction sector but also property development with land owners,” he said after a ceremony to hand over the first phase of the Bang Plee low-cost housing project to the National Housing Authority (NHA) yesterday.

Bina Puri, with joint-venture partner Deva Property Pcl Thailand, completed the first phase consisting of 22 blocks of 1,052 units.

The Bang Plee project, valued at RM236.88mil, involved three phases of 118 blocks (5,640 units).

Feisal said the RM1.48bil contract awarded by NHA to Bina Puri and Deva Property was for a total 37,447 units.

He said the company was confident of getting more contracts from the Thai government, which planned to build 600,000 low-cost units costing RM42,000 each by 2010.

It has 11 projects, including 7,888 units at Bangkhuntien District (RAMA II project), 6,024 units in Rom Klao, 5,784 units in Bang Pu and 272 units in Krasaebon.

Feisal said the company had also secured two private condominium projects, including the A Space in Sukhumvit 77, Bangkok, comprising eight condominium buildings.

This month, it clinched another condominium project in Sukhumvit 101, valued at RM81mil, while talks were ongoing with Deva on an apartment job in Sukhumvit 38, he said.

By Bernama

Muhibbah hogs the limelight

PETALING JAYA: Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd is one of the top picks of investors, given its fast-growing order book and strong financial performance.

Analysts said Muhibbah would clearly attract investors' interest, mainly due to its steady flow of contracts, continued capacity expansion and good earnings visibility.

“Market expectations are now more realistic. With growth slowing, expectations are increasingly becoming more realistic after the recent sharp correction and stocks like Muhibbah that generate reasonable returns are being snapped up,” an analyst said.

A star performer in terms of price among local stocks over the past year, Muhibbah was trading at about RM1 in early 2006. The stock put on more than 253% last year despite the onset of problems related to the US subprime mortgage loans, high oil prices and inflation worries.

However, its shares were not spared the recent gyrations in prices owing to the rout in world markets. The share price tumbled to RM3.20 on Tuesday from a month high of RM4.22 on Jan 11.

The counter rebounded yesterday with a 20 sen gain, or 6.25%, to RM3.40 yesterday.

Muhibbah's order book currently stands at a record RM4.45bil.

Of the total, construction – the biggest contributor – accounts for RM3.43bil, followed by crane manufacturing (RM559mil) and shipbuilding (RM467mil).

Standard & Poor's (S&P) expects growth across all of Muhibbah's divisions, with good earnings visibility over the next two to three years, underpinned by its strong order book.

The company posted an average net profit growth of 30.4% in the last four quarters, the most significant being in the first quarter of 2007 when it recorded a 67% jump in net profit to RM14.63mil from RM8.76mil in the preceding quarter.

Analysts said the mega contracts secured by Muhibbah, particularly over the past three months, had surprised investors.

Early this month, Muhibbah made two announcements that gave an indication of the extent of its overseas expansion.

The company was awarded a RM196mil contract by Syria to rehabilitate and upgrade the passenger terminal building, road, car parks and parking apron at the Damascus International Airport.

Following this new contract, ECM Libra Avenue Securities upgraded its earnings per share (EPS) estimates for Muhibbah by 5.7% for 2008 and 2.1% for 2009.

The research house said although group revenue was expected to fall by a marginal 3.5% in 2009, net EPS is forecast to grow 20% largely led by rising contribution from its associate's operations in Cambodia.

OSK Research said Muhibbah had remained resilient despite the cyclical local construction industry.

“Although the South Klang Valley Expressway is experiencing some delays in commencing and the Asian Petroleum Hub has yet to fully take off, the group has ample projects to make up for these delays.

“We understand Muhibbah continues to bid for projects worldwide totalling in excess of RM10bil. Hence, it will see more good news this year,” OSK said, adding that Muhibbah had a bright future as it continued to deliver improving results.

Muhibbah's transformation over the past two years has been remarkable.

It has not only positioned itself as a niche player in oil and gas-related jobs, it also has become a major construction and infrastructure company.

By The Star (by Leong Hung Yee)

Crest gets RM285m job

This is its biggest contract so far

KUALA LUMPUR: Crest Builder Holdings Bhd subsidiary Crest Builder Sdn Bhd has been appointed main contractor for a proposed 43-storey condominium development in Kuala Lumpur in a deal worth RM285mil.

The contract, the biggest secured by Crest Builder so far, was awarded by developer Starpuri Development Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of DNP Holdings Bhd. The latter is an outfit of Singapore's Wing Tai Asia.

Crest Builder business development director Eric S.M. Yong said with the latest contract, the company's current order book had risen to RM1.21bil.

The company has an unbilled order book of RM850mil.

Eric S.M. Yong

Based on the company's annual revenue level, its construction order book should last comfortably for the next two years.

“This is the largest (contract so far). It is a sign that we are able to do large-scale projects and it is a sign that there will be bigger projects to come,” he told StarBiz yesterday, adding that this would also boost the company's profile.

The latest contract is Crest Builder's second project with Wing Tai Asia, as it was previously the main contractor for The Meritz, also in Kuala Lumpur.

After Crest Builder takes possession of the site at Jalan Ceylon, the project will be executed in 34 months, with completion scheduled by Dec 1, 2010.

The contract was expected to contribute to Crest Builder's earnings for the financial year ending Dec 31 and onwards, the company told Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

Yong said as the company tendered for the project very recently, it had internally factored in the price escalation of raw building materials to a certain extent.

“The other standard measure will be proper management and planning of the project (to minimise the cost of the project),” he added.

Yong also felt that the company would not be very much affected by the current market meltdown because its policy had always been to work with reputable and strong developers.

The value of this contract also surpassed Crest Builder's aim to maintain an annual replenishment of RM250mil to its order book.

Moving forward, Yong expected more tenders for new projects.

“Despite the current market meltdown, the property sector is still strong and it will maintain good growth,” he said.

Late last year, Crest Builder won a RM97.2mil contract from TH Technologies Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Lembaga Tabung Haji, to build a 34-storey building along Jalan Perak, Kuala Lumpur.

By The Star (by