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Monday, January 28, 2008

Major projects set to push BLand ahead

BERJAYA Land Bhd (BLand), a unit of Berjaya Corp Bhd, is confident the strong performance of its local and overseas projects will propel the company into a major property force in the years to come.

Although its overseas business will contribute a large share of the company’s growth, BLand still has land bank of about 1,000 acres in Malaysia, with potential gross development value (GDV) of RM8bil over the next eight to 10 years.

According to BLand chief executive officer Datuk Francis Ng, most of the company's earnings presently were still from local operations although offshore projects had the potential to become big earnings contributor in future.

An artist’s impression of BLand’s mix development at Selangor Turf Club

“On the local front, the company has on average RM300mil worth of projects a year and we expect to see this to grow by 10% to 20% annually. Our current land bank of 1,000 acres is still bigger than most other property companies,” he told StarBiz.

Most of the projects are in the Klang Valley like Ampang, Bukit Jalil, Shah Alam and Seputeh Heights. Besides The Link at Bukit Jalil, which comprises 3 to 3 ½-storey commercial shop houses, the rest are residential developments.

Ng said besides the company's ongoing property projects, BLand was expected to launch projects worth a total GDV of RM1.2bil for the financial years ending April 30, 2008 (FY08) and FY09. Its ongoing projects with RM802mil GDV are Savanna 2 in Bukit Jalil, Berjaya Park in Shah Alam, Taman TAR in Ampang and Kuantan Perdana in Pahang.

BLand is also planning a RM4.2bil mixed development on 248 acres at the Selangor Turf Club (STC) in Jalan Sungai Besi.

The mixed development will have bungalow lots, condominiums, shop houses, office towers, serviced apartments, shopping mall and hotel. It will take 12 years to complete.

Ng said the possible conversion of the STC land title to freehold from its current leasehold status was expected to increase the land value by 30% to 50%, which would potentially increase the project's GDV to RM6.2bil from RM4.2bil originally planned.

The company is also expecting good response for its soon-to-be-launched high-end bungalow project in Seputeh Heights – Vasana 25 @ Seputeh Heights. “The RM109mil gated project will be launch around June and the 3-storey houses will cost between RM3mil and RM5mil.

“Our target buyers are the home up-graders. Some of the units will come with lifts to cater to the future needs of these buyers,” Ng said.

Sited on a freehold 4.93-acre land, the project comprises 22 link bungalows and three bungalows. With land area of between 5,000 and 7,000 sq ft and built-up of 4,000 to 5,000 sq ft, the houses will have individual pools. It will take two years to complete.

On the remaining freehold 400-acre Bukit Jalil development, the company will be launching by April the Savanna 2 @ Bukit Jalil that comprises a block of 4-storey walk-up condo villas on 1.2 acres. The project, with GDV of RM22mil, will have 32 units of 3+1 bedroom units.

With average built-up of 1,615 sq ft, each unit comes with two parking bays while several units on the top level come with private gardens and a rumpus area.

Plans are also afoot to launch a 20-storey condominium on 2.91 acres next to Savanna 2 by April. With a GDV of RM125.7mil, the project offers 308 units of 3+1 bedroom residence with built-up of 1,278 to 1,404 sq ft.

BLand had last year signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korea's Hanju I&D Co Ltd for the sale of the entire 20-storey condominium block for RM126mil. It had earlier sold a block of 204 condominium units in its two blocks of development for RM64mil.

At Taman TAR, the project's remaining GDV of close to RM400mil is expected to increase by more than 15% once BLand resumes selling the land parcels over the next few months. BLand had earlier sold its bungalow plots in The Peak at Taman TAR at prices that were 81% to 127% higher than other residential sites in the area.

By The Star - The CEO Interview (by Angie Ng)

Group has projects worth RM60bil in Asia-Pacific

BERJAYA Land Bhd is going full swing to internationalise its property development activities.

It has been aggressively expanding to other countries in the region over the past year, including to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea, with property projects worth a combined gross development value (GDV) of over RM60bil.

Chief executive officer Datuk Francis Ng said going overseas was not new for BLand as the company already owned hotels in London, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Singapore, and had property projects in China and Bangkok.

BLand’s Sai Dong project in Vietnam

“We are always open for good investment opportunities, both in emerging markets as well as developed ones. If there is an opening and it can create added value to our shareholders, we will consider the option.

“The company's offshore operations are expected to contribute at least 50% or more to total earnings from 2010 onwards,” Ng said, adding that this was assuming that it received all the investment certificates for its Vietnam projects by the end of this year.

The company's mammoth property projects in Vietnam will keep it busy for the next eight to 10 years.

BLand has six projects in Vietnam – two in Hanoi and four in Ho Chi Minh City. It expects the more than RM40bil worth of mixed development projects there to contribute to its future growth. The projects will spread from 2009 to 2019.

BLand has a high probability of securing these projects, as most of the company's land bank in Vietnam are unoccupied.

“We have entered into several memorandum of understanding (MoU) and memorandum of agreement (MoA) in Vietnam. The GDV of our Vietnam projects is estimated to be in excess of RM40bil,” Ng added.

The Thach Ban New City project in Hanoi, with RM1.73bil GDV, has just commenced earthwork and the project will be launched in the first quarter this year.

BLand received the investment licence for the project within two months of the MoU signing sometime last year. It will take five years to be completed. The project will start contributing to the company's bottomline during these two financial years.

In Ho Chi Minh City, its Vietnam Financial Centre (VFC) project has an estimated GDV of RM4.17bil while the Vietnam International University Township (VIUT) is worth some RM25.7bil.

“We believe we should be given the investment licence for the VFC project by the first quarter. It will start contributing to our earnings in 2012 if we assume the lease for the entire project. However, if we decide to sell some portions of the development, the contribution could come in earlier,” Ng said.

Meanwhile, the VIUT project is expected to kick off next year and start contributing in 2010.

BLand has another project in Bien Hoa, near Ho Chi Minh City, with a GDV of RM340mil. It is expected to commence this year and start contributing to earnings in 2009.

The latest two projects signed recently are in Sai Dong A, Long Bien District in Hanoi and in Nhon Trach New City, Dong Nai Province in Ho Chi Minh City. They are planned for launch in the next one year and will take six to eight years to complete.

The GDV for the 405ha-Sai Dong project is estimated at US$2.5bil and will include townhouses, villas, low and high-rise apartments, schools, shop offices, business park, shopping mall, industrial park, as well as medical centres.

The Nhon Trach project on 600ha will have residential, commercial, financial and administrative facilities.

In South Korea, BLand has teamed up with South Korea's Jeju Free International City Development Centre (JDC) to undertake a resort-type residential and commercial complex on Jeju island. The initial investment cost for the project is expected to be US$500mil.

The proposed development will include casino hotels and residences, a spa village health care centre, town houses and villas, condominiums and apartments, and retail space and theme parks.

BLand's unit Berjaya Leisure (Cayman) Ltd (BCayman) has signed a conditional MoA with JDC for the proposed development. Both parties will set up Jeju Casino Spa Resort Ltd (JCSR), in which BCayman will hold 81% stake with JDC owning the rest. The joint-venture agreement will be inked by March.

Ng said the initial paid-up capital of JCSR would not be less than US$30mil. “We are talking to a few parties on the management of the facilities. There is a high probability that we will be working with branded international chains to promote the casinos and hotels,” Ng said.

By The Star

Eco-friendly industrial property from Tangkas Arena

PETALING JAYA: Eco-friendly, energy conservation and cost savings — these are the key elements behind Tangkas Properties Sdn Bhd’s (TPSB) freehold, lightindustrial park dubbed Tangkas Arena in Subang Jaya’s UEP Industrial Park.

Comprising 17 uniquely-designed factory units over four acres, Tangkas Arena is set to stand out as one of the Klang Valley’s more innovative light industrial developments, with photovoltaic cells for solar power, thermal insulation systems and rainwater harvesting tanks.

An architectural model of Tangkas Arena

Tangkas Properties is the property development arm of Mudahjuta Industries Sdn Bhd, an insulation specialists and fabric manufacturer. Tangkas Arena is the company’s maiden effort in property development.

TPSB managing director Yogi Wong (pix) said, solar power generated from the photovoltaic cells on the roof of each unit would be fed back into the country’s national electricity supply grid for a nett deduction on monthly electricity bills.

“This is through participation in the Malaysia Building Integrated Photovoltaic (MBIPV) programme promoted by Pusat Tenaga Malaysia and supported by the United Nations Development Programme,” said Wong.

“By moving into our units, companies will be able to save tremendously on their electricity bills,”
she added.

“The next unique feature is the rainwater harvesting system, where rainwater harvesting tanks will collect and purify rain water for everyday use, thus allowing companies to save considerably on water charges,” said Wong.

Besides this, the units will also be equipped with Dow Styrofoam insulation to reduce the heat entering the building thus reducing energy consumption for cooling purposes such as air-conditioning systems.

“Increasing global concerns over the environment led us to embark on this project that not only helps us to utilise what is readily available, but also to offer cost advantages for companies that operate from our units,” Wong offered.

Tangkas Arena units are priced from RM2.88 million to RM3.3 million, with 11,000 sq ft of built-up space. With a gross development value (GDV) of RM45 million, the project is expected to be completed within the next three years.

The 3-storey units will offer two production levels with high floorto- floor clearance and connected by a twotonne cargo lift.

All three floors will be constructed using solid C30 grade concrete with enhanced resistance to abrasion.

While the first two floors cater for production, the third floor is designed to be versatile so that it can serve as a corporate office or to house support activities.

Tangkas Arena units said Wong, would suit a wide range of industries such as food and beverage, preparation/distribution, printing, studio/ production houses or research laboratories.

The industrial park is accessible via the Elite, Kesas, Pantai and North-South expressways.

By theSun (by Tim Leonard)

Platinum Park to push TTDI into big league

World-class development will help brighten local property sector

TTDI Development Sdn Bhd's newly launched Platinum Park, a world-class RM3.5bil high-end integrated residential and commercial development in Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle, has catapulted the company into the big league of property development.

The sale of the 50-storey Menara Felda, the tallest of seven iconic towers in Platinum Park, to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) for RM640.7mil last week is a major achievement, not only for the company but also for the whole industry that needs this kind of “fireworks” to brighten the “gloom and doom” of a US and possibly global recession.

With the launch of Platinum Park, about 700 metres from the Petronas Twin Towers and Suria KLCC shopping centre, TTDI is poised to regain its former glory not only as an industry leader but also as a major player to be reckoned with.

TTDI group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin said Platinum Park would be a world-class product and one of the most exciting developments that Malaysia had ever seen.

Datuk Johan Ariffin

“It will be a must-see destination for tourists like Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Xin Tian Ti in Shanghai and Knightsbridge in London. If you are a tourist and you have not visited Platinum Park, then you have not been to Kuala Lumpur.”

“What Hyde Park is to London park-front apartments and Central Park is to New York condominiums, so it shall be with our Platinum Park properties. This is an investment grade property. The potential is tremendous,” he told StarBiz in an interview.

Designed by RSP Architects, this “haven within a city” development will be the latest project by the renowned architectural firm responsible for a number of other landmark works including the KL Hilton and Le Meridien hotels, Great Eastern Office and GE Mall. It will be the biggest luxury development to be undertaken by a bumiputra company in the vicinity of the KLCC.

It will comprise of three high-end condominiums (287 units) called Platinum Residences; three Grade A office towers and a five-star, 452-unit, 30-storey serviced apartment tower called Platinum Concierge Suites, designed to give the best view of the Petronas Twin Towers, the Melawati Hills and the Royal Selangor Golf Course.

The super condominiums will be priced from about RM2,000 to RM2,500 per sq ft with size of 2,200 to 3,500 sq ft, 4,500 to 5,500 sq ft and penthouses of 8,000 to 13,000 sq ft. Of the three condominium towers, one will be a 30-storey block with 123 units and two, 42-storey tower with a total of 164 units. The first condominium block would be launched later this year or early next year.

The proposed Platinum Residences 2 condominium

While the condominiums are targeted at owner-occupiers, the serviced apartment with size of 450, 675, 900 and 1,500 sq ft will be targeted at discerning investors.

Besides the very prime location, Platinum Park's other unique selling points are its size and concept.

Johan said apart from KLCC, there were no other developments that had the size of Platinum Park in the immediate neighbourhood.

“The 9.1 acres gives us the opportunity to create something different and iconic. We are able to create a seamlessly integrated development of seven towers with top of the line security and ICT.

“We found that every development in the neighbourhood is of one or two blocks and three towers at the most. Ours is the only one that has seven towers.”

Johan said there would be 80,000 sq ft of lifestyle retail space spread over the edge of the park and the towers. There will also be three levels of auto showrooms.

This “necklace” of niche retail offerings will complement this one-of-its kind development in the capital. These outlets will feature international products and services never seen before in Kuala Lumpur.

The retail units will not be sold but kept for rental income. They will also serve residents in about a dozen new condominiums in the immediate vicinity.

An artist’s impression of Menara Felda

Menara Felda's 50 floors will reflect Felda's 50 years of successful history. It will have a net lettable area of 689,000 sq ft and a floor plate of 15,000 sq ft. It will have, among other things, a large banquet hall that can seat 1,500 people at the basement level, double volume ceiling, pre-function lobby and two basements and a podium for parking.

The three office towers will be of 33, 38 and 50 stories. The indicative prices of the office lots will be around RM1,200 to RM1,500 per sq ft, depending on size and the market. The remaining two office towers called Platinum 1 and 2 business suites might be launched later this year or early 2009.

Platinum Park will be developed in five phases over the next eight years and is expected to contribute significantly to TTDI's bottom line.

By The Star (by S.C. Cheah)

More projects ahead of listing

TTDI Development Sdn Bhd (TTDI) is all set to launch several projects this year in its run-up to its proposed listing on Bursa Malaysia, expected to be one of the largest property initial public offerings (IPO) slated for 2008.

The upcoming developments include the newly launched Platinum Park and at least four more: TTDI Alam Impian, TTDI Kajang, The Valley in Ampang and Laman Seri Business Park in Shah Alam.

TTDI Alam Impian, a 200-acre mixed development of 1,600 residential units in Alam Impian, Shah Alam, would be launched later this year. The houses would be priced between RM300,000 andRM500,000 for corner units.

TTDI Kajang, a 113-acre freehold residential development comprising terraced and semi-detached houses would also be launched later this year.

The Laman Seri gated and guarded community project in Shah Alam

The 35-acre The Valley is a 143-unit upmarket gated and guarded bungalow project in Bukit Indah, Ampang. The semi-detached houses called linked villas would be priced from RM2.5mil while the bungalows would be priced from RM3mil to RM4.5mil.

The company has also soft-launched the leasehold Laman Seri Business Park, comprising 46 units of four and five-storey shop offices in Section 13, Shah Alam. It has sold 26 of the 46 four and five-storey shop offices priced from RM2.6mil.

TTDI group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin is proud of the newly completed 21-acre Laman Seri, as the gated and guarded community has enhanced the image of Shah Alam.

“We believe that we must do better than the previous project, as a developer is as good as its last project. If it does not keep on improving, then it is going to fall by the wayside.” he said.

A recent visit showed nice, three-storey bungalows and semi-detached houses with 14-ft high ceilings that make all the rooms look very spacious. There are electronically synchronised fountains with natural stones for the boundary walls at the main entrance, three playgrounds and three-tier security at the entrance, perimeter and home alarm system.

Phase 1 and 2 comprising 129 bungalows and 70 semi-detached houses have been completed and CF would be issued soon. About half of the 33 bungalows under Phase 3 have been sold during a recent soft launch.

TTDI Development is well known for the development of the prestigious Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur with sales value of over RM1.4bil. The award-winning township set new industry benchmarks when it commenced in 1973.

This affluent township comprising condominiums, houses and commercial centres is regarded as one of the best residential developments in the country. It has won the FIABCI Award of Distinction for Residential Property in 1993 and the TBR Excellence Award for Township Development in 2007.

The Residence condominiums at Taman Tun Dr Ismail also won the Malaysian Construction Industry Excellence Awards in 2006. TTDI also made it into the Enterprise 50 Awards List for 2007 which recognises Malaysian companies poised for success.

TTDI is a member of the Naza Group, helmed by well-known auto entrepreneur, Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin S.M. Amin.

The company has actively increased its land bank in recent years. Its projects span over 500 acres and are expected to sustain the company's performance over the next eight to 10 years.

Its past projects include IBM Tower, Desa Pandan, Desa Bakti Selayang, TTDI Residence, TTDI Plaza condominiums and TTDI Plaza shop offices.

The company also did several projects in Shah Alam – Giant hypermarket, Taman TTDI Jaya, Section 13, Jayamas, Malawati Indoor Stadium and Laman Seri.

By The Star

Project surprises industry

“THEY have really done a good job!” These words came from the CEO of a major property development group while we were having lunch at the KL Hilton, the day before the official launch and groundbreaking ceremony of the Platinum Park by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Jan 22.

The CEO was surprised when I answered his question that the 50-storey office tower that would be sold en bloc as mentioned in my column on Jan 21, is in Platinum Park and that the developer TTDI Development Sdn Bhd (TTDI) is selling it to Felda for RM640.7mil, or about RM930 per sq ft.

This is indeed a major coup and many industry players did not know about the sale or details of the Platinum Park development. It was the best-kept secret. The TTDI management has for the past four to five years worked hard to amalgamate the bungalow lots and came out with a winning concept. It has kept quiet until it was time to blow the trumpets with fanfare.

About 1,000 people were invited for lunch and to witness the signing of the agreement to purchase Menara Felda and launch under a big tent at the project site at the corner of Jalan Kuda and Jalan Stonor. The night before the launch, more than 50 members of the media came for a preview-cum-dinner at the site show room.

From left: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, TTDI Development chairman Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin S.M. Amin, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yusof Noor and Deputy Regional Development Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop looking at the model of Platinum Park.

Did TTDI come in too late into KLCC?

Group managing director Datuk Johan Ariffin does not think so. “I don't think we missed the boat but instead, we have caught the market on an upswing. “The earlier condos were priced around RM650 per sq ft but now they have shot past RM2,000. The secondary market in One KL is reselling at RM2,500 per sq ft,” he said.

“We've taken a good amount of time to carefully plan and conceptualise this project. We haven't finished on the retail planning,” he said, adding that he was unperturbed with talks of a glut of high-end condos in the KLCC area. We don't have that many units and it is less than 5% of the total supply in the area. We are targeting a niche upper band, a very select group,” he said.

In fact, at RM2,000 to RM2,500 per sq ft as the indicative price for Platinum Park's luxury condominiums, it will help to pull up the price structure of similar high-end developments in the periphery of KLCC and those further away.

There is an upcoming RM3.6bil to over RM4bil mega development in Kampung Abdullah Hukum at Jalan Bangsar that may also benefit from any spill over demand from the KLCC.

If the condominiums or offices in this project that is adjacent to the Mid Valley City, were to be priced at around RM600 per sq ft, it would be an attractive proposition, as Bangsar is also a prime area but the price would be a mere quarter of the top end of KLCC prices.

What makes Platinum Park exciting is that it will have a RM20mil, 1.5-acre private park and cobblestone walkways that will give residents, office workers as well as visitors to its retail outlets a “back to nature” feel. For the residents, it will be an exclusive domain to live, work and play.

As RSP principal Hud Abu Bakar said, there would be lots of lush landscape and water features as well as state-of-the-art CCTV surveillance and sophisticated fibre optic lighting, some of them set in glass structures. It will be an exciting, uplifting and happening place.

He explained that the instead of having sharp edges, there would be curved buildings that maximises on the view, ventilation and is harmonious with the surroundings.

“It also minimises reflection from the sun and deflects the wind more evenly. Our inspiration is also taken from the form and function of a car that has character, is dynamic and progressive,” Hud said, adding that Platinum Park would be the “climax of the Jalan Stonor development”.

In designing Menara Felda, he said its oblong shape is derived from the shape of the palm seed while the top of the building resembles a leaf that symbolises Felda as an agriculture body.

“When this tower is lit up at night, it takes on a very nice shape. When you come out of the KLCC, you can see straight at this tower,” he added.

Platinum Park will have six ingresses and egresses. From the North, one can drive into the development from Jalan Ampang and Jalan Binjai; from the East its from Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Kuda, from the West it is from Jalan Stonor and from the South one can come in from Jalan Kia Peng and Lorong Stonor.

The neighbours are also all first class projects. Just across Jalan Stonor is the newly completed Binjai twin-block condominiums and the existing Stonor Park. The proposed Suria Stonor condominium is next door while Magna Prima's Avare, another high-end condominium is under construction at the rear. Across the road at Jalan Kuda are The Oval condominiums, also being built.

By The Star

Mah Sing project draws foreign interest

MAH Sing Group Bhd, which is actively involved in commercial developments, is in talks with three potential foreign buyers for en bloc sale of two of the five blocks in its Southgate Commercial Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Andy Chua with an artist's impression of the Southgate Commercial Centre

It has begun talks early this month with buyers from London, Singapore and the Middle East, who are keen to purchase the seven-storey 900,000 sq ft Apex Block.

The company has also started to approach buyers for the en bloc sale of the main block called Corporate Building, an eight-storey building with 218,000 sq ft built-up area. It fronts Jalan Tun Razak/Jalan Sungei Besi.

The Corporate Building and Apex have a floor plate of about 26,000 sq ft and 16,000 sq ft respectively

The freehold development's five blocks are called Corporate Building, Apex, Vox, Vivo and Verves.

Deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua said the company had yet to decide who would be the buyer.

“Talks are still going on. We will accept the best terms. We are not in a hurry to close the deal, as we are still fine-tuning.

“We hope to firm up the development plans, layout, concept and specification of the project by Chinese New Year,” he told StarBiz.

Chua said there were many corporate investors, including REIT funds and financial institutions, who had shown interest in the Corporate Building.

He said the company had not firmed up the selling price for both blocks but the Corporate Building might be selling at RM700-RM750 per sq ft while Apex at RM600-RM650 per sq ft.

The Corporate Building and Apex block have a floor plate of about 26,000sq ft and 16,000 sq ft respectively.

Its other three blocks has a total of 226 office suites with built-up area from 592 to 1,704 sq ft and 63 retail lots with built-up area of 535 to 2,095 sq ft. The office suites are priced from RM430 per sq ft while the retail lots are from RM800 per sq ft.

Chua said a selling point of the project was that it would be an eye-catching building and that a company could put up its corporate name in front.

Southgate was opened for registration for a month from mid-January and would be launched in March.

Chua said Southgate would be ideal for smaller companies that did not need big office space. Hence its office suites are targeted at companies like consultancy, architectural and advertising firms.

“Previously, small and medium-sized companies could only lease a property in the city centre because all buildings are office towers and they could not afford to buy office towers,” he said, adding that it was better to own an office instead of renting and be subjected to fluctuations in rental rates.

“Rental rates will go up very high if the leasing market is good. This would cause problems when a company is forced to move its office elsewhere that has cheaper rental,” he added.

The 4.76-acre Southgate, with a gross development value of RM256mil, was inspired by the Xintiandi development in Shanghai. It is conceptualised as an integrated commercial and leisure hub, incorporating creative workspaces, food and beverage, and retail lots.

The first and second floor of Southgate commercial blocks will be the retail lot and the third to fifth floors are office suites. The last two levels are duplex suites.

Chua said the modular layout enabled buyers to buy more than a unit and mix and match them to suit their office needs. Besides ample parking bays at two basement levels, there is also parking at the ground level.

Mah Sing is confident that its lifestyle product differentiation for Southgate would ensure good sales and rejuvenates the surrounding areas.

By The Star (by Rachael Kam)

Aussie builder eyes Malaysian buyer

WEST Homes Australia Pty Ltd is offering Malaysian buyers and investors an opportunity to purchase homes in its latest housing project in Melbourne, Australia.

The homes are part of the Australian builder’s long-term Pentridge Village project being marketed through its local marketing arm – Asia Pacific Assets (KL) Sdn Bhd.

West Homes Australia director Leigh Chiavaroli was in Malaysia recently to promote the launch of Pentridge Village Centrale, its current project, as part of its plan to focus on the Asian market.

“I think you should see the homes and feel it. It's one thing to talk about the homes, but it’s a significant thing to actually come down and look at it,” added Chiavaroli.

Some of the completed houses at Pentridge Village.

Chiavaroli said Centrales strategic location was one of the reasons why it would appeal to local buyers and investors.

“Pentridge Village is only 7km from Melbourne's central business district. You have trams, trains and busses practically at your doorstep.

“It's also close to Melbourne and La Trobe University, which is great for Asians who wish to live ant study there,” Chiavaroli said.

The Pentridge Village Centrale project comprises of apartment suites, multi-level terraces (with private lifts) and house with land packages. The prices of these residential properties range from A$364,000 to A$1.5mil.

By The Star

Mah Sing: All components in Southgate for sale

PROPERTY developer Mah Sing Group Bhd says all components of its RM256 million Southgate Commercial Centre on Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, are for sale.

Mah Sing will continue to sell its developments and only retain properties for investment when it decides to set up a real-estate investment trust, said deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua.

He said the group has received enquiries from buyers in Singapore, the Middle East and the UK for en bloc sales of the main corporate building and Apex block under its Southgate development.

"The price range for the corporate building varies from RM700 to RM750 per sq ft with lettable area of 218,000 sq ft," he told Business Times in an interview.

The Apex block will be priced between RM600 and RM650 per sq ft for lettable area of 90,000 sq ft.

The three remaining blocks of the development, namely Vox, Vivo, and Verve, will offer 226 office suites and 63 retail lots.

Prices for office suites (range from 592 to 1704 sq) start at RM430 per sq ft, while prices for retail lots (535 to 2095 sq ft) begin from RM800 per sq ft.

The group, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Jastamax Sdn Bhd, bought two freehold parcels with a combined area of 2ha opposite Wisma Mah Sing from Nichii Fashion Sdn Bhd for RM52 million last July.

Inspired by Xintiandi in Shanghai, Southgate is an integrated commercial and leisure hub that will commence development next month and will be completed 36 months thereafter.

Southgate is Mah Sing's third commercial development in Kuala Lumpur and expected to rejuvenate the surrounding areas including Pudu, Sungei Besi and Loke Yew.

"We will have exciting gourmet restaurants and alfresco cafes to create that ambience of sitting down and having a drink under the stars," said Chua.

By New Straits Times (by Jeeva Arulapalam)

Developer counts on Southgate

This is in view of supply shortage and high demand for commercial properties in Kuala Lumpur

MAH SING Group Bhd foresees good response for its contemporary European-designed Southgate commercial properties in view of the high demand and short supply of commercial properties in Kuala Lumpur.

Deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua said the commercial market is facing a shortage of supply and the demand for good office space, especially in Kuala Lumpur, was “very high”.

An artist’s impression of Mah Sing’s contemporary architecture for the Southgate Commercial Centre

“This is because ultimately for a business, people still prefer to set up offices in the city centre,” he told StarBiz, adding that new office buildings in Kuala Lumpur were fetching very high prices.

For example, he said, Menara YNH was sold for RM1,230 per sq ft, Glomac tower for RM1,120 per sq ft and Bumiputra Commerce building for over RM700 per sq ft.

“All these commercial properties were sold very fast through en bloc sales,” Chua said, adding that Mah Sing saw a lot of potential for purchasers to buy Southgate units at a reasonable price from RM430 per sq ft for an office suite.

The company is confident that purchasers would enjoy good appreciation when Southgate is completed in about three years.

“We are looking at yields of 8% and above,” he said.

Mah Sing, Chua said, could no longer benchmark itself locally but internationally as many foreign investors were coming to Malaysia.

“The architecture or properties that we offer to foreigners must be of international standard,” he said, adding that it would focus more on contemporary and cutting-edge architecture, which would add value to its commercial properties.

Besides Europe, the company also does research and gets ideas from countries like South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Chua said commercial properties were going to be a competitive market as there were many developers like Glomac, Bandar Raya Development and Malton who were also getting into this segment.

The commercial properties in Kuala Lumpur were beginning to look good because the prices still lacked behind residential properties, he said, adding that prices of residential properties in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) had hit more than RM2,000 per sq ft.

He said many developers were looking for commercial land in good locations thus mixing up their traditional portfolio of residential properties.

“Our business model has always been in fast turnaround. We only acquire land in strategic locations,” he said.

He added that the company did not mind paying a premium for these land because it wanted good sales and to launch a project within the shortest time possible, normally within six months.

On its plans moving forward, Chua said Mah Sing targeted its commercial projects to contribute 50% of its revenue by 2009.

The commercial contribution would come from projects in Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Middle East and China.

“We are actively sourcing for development land in these countries. There are talks going on now for some joint ventures, outright purchase and mergers with our local partners in Vietnam, India and the Middle East.

“We hope to secure some projects by the first half of this year,” he said.

By The Star

Project to be 'Mid Valley of Petaling Jaya'

PJCC Development Sdn Bhd has sold RM50 million of properties under the first phase of its Petaling Jaya Commercial City (PJCC) development project.

The first phase, which is only 45 per cent complete, comprises the retail city precinct that offers three-, five- and eight-storey shop-lots.

The book value of the retail city is RM80 million, while the gross development value of the whole project is RM500 million.

PJCC Development sales and marketing manager Vincent Tai said the project will be mostly self-funded.

The overall development, scheduled for completion in 2014, houses four precincts over 13ha and will be developed in three phases.

Tai said that its location between the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur and the Sunway Pyramid in Petaling Jaya, as well as its relatively cheaper pricing, made it an attractive proposition for investors and businessmen.

"We want it to be the Mid Valley of Petaling Jaya," he told Business Times in an interview.

The development will also have serviced apartments, a hotel, an automotive city complex, a lake city complex, a shopping mall, a bazaar retail lot and a full-fledged college campus.

"We are planning to get a college to set up an on-site campus here, extending the college belt in Bandar Sunway and Subang Jaya. I think it will complement the development very well," Tai said.

PJCC Development is the owner and developer of the PJCC project.

The owners of PJCC Development are also shareholders of the Novotel Hotel in Kuala Lumpur and the Pulai Springs Resorts in Johor, which include Mah Siew Chean.

Tai also said that the company has received approval to build an ingress from the New Pantai Expressway (NPE) to the development.

He said the deal was for PJCC Development to maintain the ingress for 30 years for an disclosed sum.

"Accessibility to the development will not be a problem as, once the ingress is completed in a month's time, PJCC will be connected to the NPE as well as two other major highways."

By New Straits Times (by Presenna Nambiar)

KLCC properties a mouse click away

PETALING JAYA: Those interested in finding out more on KLCC properties, especially when it concerns investing there, can now obtain all the necessary information with just a simple mouse click.

Zerin Properties Sdn Bhd, a Klang Valley-based real estate consultancy recently launched a property portal called www. to provide a comprehensive guide to properties in the KLCC area.

“Its not only a guide for KLCC properties, but a guide for the entire KLCC area as well,” said Terence Yap, assistant head of agency at Zerin Properties.

“The website contains an interactive map of KLCC where users can simply click on a property they wish to view and find out all important details regarding the property, from its size, price, facilities offered and so forth.” Yap added that the website also carries details on eateries, international schools, hospitals, entertainment outlets, embassies and other places in the KLCC belt.

“There are more than 25 luxury high-rise projects in the KLCC area and we have listed all the developments in our site, including the upcoming projects” he said.

“A high number of those interested to invest in KLCC are foreigners and with the website, they can now log on from their respective countries to make a virtual visit to KLCC.”

He said the idea for the website was mooted after Zerin Properties received numerous calls from locals and foreigners interested in investing in and living in the KLCC area.

“KLCC has emerged as the most sought after address in the country and based on feedback from our business space and expatriate leasing divisions, we can conclude that most business people, new start-ups and home buyers want to be as close as possible to KLCC,” said Yap.

“This has led to a surge in demand for residential properties in the KLCC area and prices are simply going up with a basic, 1,000-over sq ft condo going for more than RM1.5 million while some penthouses are being sold at a whopping RM12 million.

“So for those who wish to be part of the KLCC action and don't know how to get started, just log on to our website. We have also included details on the Malaysia My Second Home programme for expatriates wishing to live in Malaysia,” added Yap.

By theSun (by Tim Leonard)

Buyers snap up Gaya Bangsar units

NATIONAL property development agency UDA Holdings Bhd has sold 95 per cent of Gaya Bangsar, its latest high-end development in Kuala Lumpur, within a week of the pre-launch.

Gaya Bangsar is a 34-storey full-service luxury condominium tower that comprises 285 residential units ranging in size from 671 sq ft to 1,610 sq ft.

LUXURY LIVING: A model of Gaya Bangsar

The units are priced between RM350,000 and RM900,000 each.

Managing director Datuk Jaafar Abu Hassan said at a briefing last Friday that UDA was looking at a gross development value (GDV) of RM157 million from the development, which it hopes to complete by 2011.

Jaafar said the units were mostly bought by locals, while expatriates living in the country bought less than 10 per cent.

"We have also achieved the Bumiputera sales quota of 40 per cent. This is a positive indicator and an encouraging development in Bumiputera ownership in real estate properties," he said.

UDA expects to begin construction on the 0.5ha site next to Dataran Maybank in July.

"The market rate for such units in this area is currently averaging around RM550 per sq ft. We expect prices to appreciate by 20 to 30 per cent in three to four years," Jaafar later told Business Times.

Gaya Bangsar is the second of a series of high-end condominiums that UDA will develop in Kuala Lumpur over the next five years.

Its maiden project was Sinaran TTDI in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, the units of which were sold within six months of its launch.

The project, which achieved sales of around RM175 million, is due for completion in 2010.

In the pipeline is a residential and commercial development on 1.8ha near the Sheraton Imperial Hotel.

The project, comprising a condominium block, two office towers and retail outlets, will have a GDV exceeding RM300 million.

"We have not given the project a name. We hope to launch it by the third quarter of this year," Jaafar said.

UDA also plans to build shophouses in Jalan Pantai and a four-star hotel in Jalan Petaling on land it owns.

"As we move forward, we will develop more high-end properties," Jaafar said.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

AP Land to launch China project soon

Changshu development will have GDV of RM420mil

ASIA Pacific Land Bhd (AP Land), which is diversifying its revenue sources by acquiring oil palm plantation land and a college, will be launching a development in Changshu, 100km northwest of Shanghai, by the middle of the year.

This is in addition to the launches of MyHabitat Tower 2 in Kuala Lumpur comprising 150 units of serviced apartments with a gross development value (GDV) of RM120mil and 80 high-end villas in Bandar Tasik Puteri near Rawang with RM40mil GDV, this year.

The Changshu development would comprise serviced apartments and 3-storey shop houses with a GDV of RM420mil that would take three years to complete. It is on a 16.16-acre plot the company acquired late last year from China's National Land Resources Bureau for RM46mil.

AP Land joint managing director Low Su Ming said if everything went according to plan, the development would be launched by the middle of the year. Details are still on the drawing board.

Low Su Ming

“We like this city because unlike the larger cities on the coast, it is still liveable and it has a number of large multinationals from Taiwan and Japan that have part of their operations here,” she told StarBiz.

Low said judging by the number of multinationals that have located their operations in Changshu, demand for housing and commercial space would be even higher by the time the development was completed in three years.

She said it was AP Land's strategy to diversify its revenue stream from property development by venturing abroad.

“Changshu is the first step. The confidence level has to be established first,” Low said, adding that venturing abroad was a necessity rather than a choice.

“This way, we can broaden our earnings from property development. We'll have another source of revenue if the property sector is on a down cycle in Malaysia,” she added.

She said the company was looking at other overseas projects and there might be another in hand by the time the Changshu development was launched.

“Two months ago, we were offered another deal,” Low said, adding that the company might conclude another land acquisition deal in the Klang Valley before the year is out.

Property development would continue to be the core business despite the acquisition of 20,000ha of oil palm plantation in eastern Kalimantan, Indonesia, and the acquisition of Victoria International College, which has a campus in Klang, she said.

The company announced the acquisition of the college from Dynamic Master (M) Sdn Bhd for RM2.5mil recently while the oil palm plantation was acquired for RM15.88mil late last year.

“The college was acquired with a view of transferring the campus from Klang to our Bandar Tasik Puteri where we're in the process of building more amenities,” Low said. The township still has 1,500 acres undeveloped.

Low said AP Land planned to have property management services with property development for future projects.

She said the company would be managing the serviced apartments in Changshu, just like what it would be doing for MyHabitat where Tower 2 would have a serviced hotel residence.

“We're building a management team for the serviced apartments in tandem with the developments,” Low said.

AP Land is no stranger to the hospitality industry. It has a hospitality division that manages the 5-star Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur.

Low said the venture into the agriculture sector was part of the company's strategy to diversify its earnings.

“Our objective is to build a strong division. There'll be further announcements in March,” she said.

This is a strategic decision, keeping in mind the price of crude palm oil, which has breached RM3,200 a tonne in recent times, Low said. “The plantation sector is not new to us, we've done this before,” she added.

AP Land used to own oil palm plantations in Sabah until it was disposed to rationalise and improve returns for the company.

Low said with the conclusion of the sale of City Square Centre to Australia's Macquarie Global Property Advisors in the middle of last year and the settlement of RM350mil debts, the company could look forward to further acquisitions since it was in a stronger financial position.

Macquarie acquired the properties for RM680mil.

“We've allocated two-thirds of the proceeds from the sale after paying off the debt for property development while the rest will be going to plantations,” she said.

AP Land is going regional and China is the first step, Low said.

By the Star (by Fintan Ng)

Corporate makeover continues

News from the US and Europe was negative last week and is expected to remain depressing, but companies in Malaysia are making efforts and progress in conditions within their control.

MALAYSIAN corporates are making steady progress in transforming their business models to fit the changes of recent years in business conditions and competition. This will pay dividends for investors in the long run even though the rolling stock markets are distracting them, or are disrupting their plans.

The Teluk Ramunia yard in Johor. Ramunia is to be a Petronas stock

Investors have started to reap the financial rewards from the transformation efforts although much of those gains were erased in panic selling early last week.

Several factors calmed the markets in the later part of the week, including latest views that Asian economies, while not fully decoupled from the US, have partially decoupled. It is perceived that China, for instance, would not feel the full impact of a US recession, as its own personal consumption and construction would still spur economic growth.

While news from the west will continue to be focused on losses in the financial sector, domestic developments, at this point, remain invigorating.

Ramunia Holdings Bhd agreed to a reverse takeover offer from the MISC Bhd group for the purchase of the latter's Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd (MMHE) for RM3.2bil via a share swap.

This combines the sprawling fabrication facilities of both companies, and transform Ramunia into an indirect subsidiary of Petronas, the parent company of MISC. This will bring a Petronas premium to Ramunia.

Petronas' member companies are known for their good corporate governance and financial results. In addition, both Petronas and MISC could award fabrication jobs to the remade Ramunia, as they have done for MMHE. This could be similar to the relationship of VADS Bhd to Telekom Malaysia Bhd which awarded IT outsourcing contracts to the former, its associate company.

Besides having a far larger order book than Ramunia, MMHE also achieved higher net profit margins of 12.5% against Ramunia's 3.4% last year.

An alliance is also being formed between DiGi.Com Bhd and Time dotCom Bhd which will transfer its third generation (3G) spectrum to the former for shares in DiGi worth about RM640mil. This will produce a huge gain for Time dotCom as its cost of investment in the spectrum was just RM67.8mil.

Proton Holdings Bhd is said to be recovering, as bookings for its new Saga were brisk since its launch a week ago. This followed the strong sales of its Persona in the second half of last year. It is rebuilding value in the medium term as it seeks a global strategic partner for the long term.

Sime Darby Bhd is also making progress in an important division where yields at its plantations in Indonesia are understood to be improving substantially. This will bring its yield closer to those of IOI Corp Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.

In the banking sector, Public Bank Bhd has surprised so often in its results that it's no longer a surprise. It continues to display high growth in earnings, loans and deposits, coupled remarkably with reportedly the lowest level of non-performing loans in the industry.

It made a pre-tax profit of over RM430mil from overseas for the year ended Dec 31, 2007 and this is targeted for cautious expansion.

It is noted that when Public Bank announced its results last week, it was the first bank, and among the first batch of listed companies, to do so in the current reporting season. It could report well within one month of the end of its latest quarter in spite of being so large, encompassing overseas operations, and subject to tight regulatory scrutiny.

There is no reason for other listed companies to need two months to issue their results, and perhaps Bursa Malaysia should consider shortening the reporting deadline to one month, as in certain developed markets.

Construction groups Crest Builder Holdings Bhd and Hock Seng Lee Bhd disclosed sizeable new contracts last week.

It is hoped the Government will accelerate the award of contracts under its various plans, as expansion of the construction sector would help to partially offset lacklustre exports from the manufacturing sector.

An impact from the economic slowdown or recession from the US cannot be avoided but a strengthening of the domestic economy and corporations would alleviate a sombre situation.

Income for citizens

The Government said last week it sought to reduce the number of foreign workers in this country by more than 200,000 this year. This would compel employers to hire local workers at “reasonable” salaries, according to a Government official.

This is a refreshing statement because for many years, foreign workers have driven down wages, and in certain industries, displacing Malaysian workers from their jobs.

The official said the Government would be strict with the service sector such as hotels and restaurants. This should bring about higher, or at least adequate, service levels because hotels and restaurants have been deploying foreign workers as waiters, who do not speak local languages, to serve customers.

It is surprising, however, that three industries – construction, manufacturing and plantations – would be exempted from the strict measures. It has often been said that locals did not want to work in these industries.

It should be expected, in fact, that Malaysians do not want jobs where wages are priced to levels in Indonesia or Bangladesh.

Employers will argue that they can't afford to pay higher wages but in fact, they have been enjoying super profits by paying low wages to foreign workers but not lowering their prices.

In western countries and Australia, waiters are Caucasians, which means such jobs must be paid far more than that offered to locals here. Jobs there are priced to attract their own citizens.

The mines, construction and even the manufacturing sector there employ “white people” who work in such jobs because they are adequately paid.

It is sometimes said that the semiconductor sector retains little of its revenue here because of high import content, and that income in the plantation sector is almost entirely retained in the country. This is not true because foreign workers, who displaced locals in the plantation sector, repatriate their wages to their home countries.

Furthermore, plantation companies employ far fewer Malaysians than they should because they naturally prefer to hire cheap foreign labour. Taken to extremes, every job in the country can conceivably be taken over by foreigners at a lower salary.

Economic growth should filter through to benefit everyone, even the unskilled or less skilled, and not make fortunes for employers at the expense of the Malaysian worker.

By The Star (by C.S.Tan)