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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Morubina pushes Kinta Riverfront to Chinese real estate investors

HEFEI: Developer Morubina Sdn Bhd is looking to China to attract investors for its latest project, Kinta Riverfront.

Group managing director Ting Sing Yew said buyers from China formed a substantial number of investors in its earlier project, Ipoh Kiara

Ting Seng Yew (right) briefing Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim (left) on the Kinta Riverfront project.

“Our confidence was further boosted when we managed to sell 10 units in Kinta Riverfront during the Fourth International Small and Medium Enterprise exhibition held at Guangzhao last October,” he said in Hefei, China

Speaking to reporters after the project launch for Chinese buyers by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim at a hotel here recently, Ting said the group planned to visit more cities in China this year to further promote the project.

“We are confident that as the Chinese's purchasing power increases, Kinta Riverfront will be an attractive project for them,” he added.

On the Kinta Riverfront project, Ting said sales had been swift with some 60% snapped up, valued at a total RM45.5mil.

Work on the project had been completed 30% and was due for completion by 2009.

The RM80mil 20-storey Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Service Suites project offers 239 units priced between RM199,999 and RM2.9mil each.

Ting also said the Kinta Riverfront project also received positive response from potential buyers in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Lim in his speech said the launch in China augured well for the Malaysia My Second Home programme.

By The Star (by Sylvia Looi)

Mah Sing giving Sungei Besi a new face

Once upon a time, the Chan Sow Lin area in Kuala Lumpur was known for industrial activities, particularly automotive repair and metal works.

Landmarked by buildings such as the former British American Tobacco (BAT) factory along the Jalan Sungei Besi main road which connects the KL-Seremban highway with Jalan Tun Razak, this fringe city location is now poised to be transformed into a vibrant commercial hub.

Among the agents of change is Southgate, an integrated commercial-cumleisure project that will take shape on 4.76 acres of land previously occupied by BAT.

Situated opposite the headquarters of its developer, Mah Sing Properties Sdn Bhd (MSP), Southgate will, said MSP deputy chief operating officer Andy Chua, be "just minutes away from KL’s business hub" and offer owner-occupiers and investors attractive propositions.

Consisting of five blocks, two have been earmarked for en-bloc sale while the other three – called Vox, Vivo and Verve – are now open for sale on a stratified basis.

"The three blocks will be linked by an atrium boulevard that will offer a unique retail experience," said Chua, elaborating that "Southgate takes its inspiration from the popular Xintiandi area in Shanghai and will offer a similarly relaxing ambience with alfresco cafes, boutiques andother lifestyle features".

With some 500,000 vehicles plying the Jalan Sungei Besi route daily, he said Southgate’s occupants can be assured of a high level of visibility.

"They’ll just need to put up signages to derive the benefits owing to the location."

Within the buildings that will be designed with clean, contemporary European lines will be 63 retail units of 535sq ft to 2,095sq ft and 226 office suites of 592sq ft to 1,704sq ft.

The layout of the office suites will be modular, meaning that buyers can combine contiguous suites should they require larger sizes.

Chua said the retail units are priced from RM800psf and the offices, from RM430psf.

Given the keen investment climate for office space in KL city, response to Southgate’s units has been highly favourable.

"The price of our office suites is comparably low considering the going rate for commercial space in the city," said Chua.

"However, this is only available for the early birds and clearly, it won’t last for much longer."

Construction of Southgate is expected to begin after Chinese New Year.

By New Straits Times (by P. Rajan)

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REITs on the rise in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Although it is a standard practice in certain countries for property developers to become Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) promoters and to inject their own projects into the trust, Malaysians are still skeptical and considers it an “asset dumping” exercise by the companies, said Asia Pacific International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Regional Secretariat secretary general Kumar Tharmalingam (pix).

“However, the Securities Commission has clear guidelines as to the value that can be put (into the REIT) and the returns to the investors [have to be acceptable],” he said after presenting his paper titled 2008 Outlook for REITs in Malaysia/Asia: Opportunities and Trends at the Property Outlook for 2008 & Emerging Trends in Malaysian Real Estate seminar yesterday.

Several developers that have plans to enter the REIT market this year include TA Properties Sdn Bhd, Bandar Raya Development Berhad, UEM Land Sdn Bhd and Sunway City Bhd.

“There will be more listings in the REIT market this year as compared to last year but steps must be taken to improve the tax treatment and increase the attractiveness of the regulations compared to Singapore and Hong Kong,” he added.

According to him, besides Axis REIT, which purchases real estate from third parties for injection into a REIT, the current and upcoming REITs have their own supply chain to place existing and future commercial assets into their respective trusts.

Nevertheless, he hopes to see REITs writing put options and agreed values on the assets before construction even begins.

“This will make it easy for developers to get financing for the project,” he said, adding that the resultant recycling of capital would ensure faster returns and turnaround time.

“The sale of Glomac Tower and Menara YNH to Kuwait Finance House for RM1,140 psf and RM1,250 psf respectively are classic examples,” he said.

He added that although there are risks in fixing a selling price on a building before its completion, the quality of the trust managers would offset the problem.

“In Malaysia, there are very few highquality trust managers like those found in established REIT markets like Australia.

Hence, we should allow those experienced trust managers to come in and have 100% ownership,” he said, adding that this would raise competition among the local companies.

Budget 2008 proposed an increase in foreign ownership on REITs management companies to 70% from 49%, with the bumiputera-ownership requirement remaining at 30%.

Kumar said Islamic REITs have huge potential due to the tax incentives provided as Malaysia strive to become the global market leader. “It is a blue ocean area that we can compete in as we
have relationships with Middle Eastern countries with lots of cash,” he said.

He added that other factors integral to the success of REITs include a cultural advantage, a strong tourism industry and a local Islamic population that wants to invest in Syariah-compliant investments.

He foresees more Islamic REITs coming into the market in the future, including Middle Eastern funds setting up here.

Other speakers at the one-day event included Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd managing director Allan Soo, Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners Sdn Bhd’s Michael Geh and Ho Chin Soon, director of Ho Chin Soon Research Sdn Bhd.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

Head-turning terraced house

The owner of a double-storey terraced house shows what can be done to overcome common limitations to create a comfortable home.

Double-storey terraced houses in housing estates start off as a row of look-alikes. Gradually, each takes on its own look, and some can really turn heads. Those contemplating updating their little corner of the planet can do much to ensure their house gets a second look.

Standing out in a row of look-alikes.

When civil engineer Ong Ghee Poh first came upon a 20-year-old double-storey terraced house in 2004, his project work influenced him in his home renovation concept.

“The projects that I was involved in had a bearing on the renovation concept. The tropical concept with plenty of roof ‘cleavage’, usage of natural material (namely, timber and stones) and greenery was the recipe of the day.

“Looking at the current trend, a contemporary home concept (i.e. with sharp roof structure, flat slabs and plenty of glass panels, etc.) would have been preferred, although it might not blend in with the environment.”

Settling for the tropical look, he went about renovating. The work took about seven months, and cost about RM240,000. He does not consider this to be extravagant.

He explains: “In renovations, consideration for future sale plays an important, if not the most important factor. The frequency of shifting house has increased tremendously. An average person is said to live in at least four places in his lifetime. One should not be too extravagant on renovation as the re-sale value after renovation would normally result in financial losses.

“Renovations have to be kept simple and pleasing for the ease of finding a potential buyer when the need arises,” says Ong.

“The modifications to the facade, though extensive, do not contrast with the surrounding back-drop; in fact, they complement and complete it with some exquisite touches.

“Careful thought had been put into the removal of existing columns and its effect on the elevation and structural integrity of the shared car-porch,” he says.

“The original porte-cochere (extended roof or covered entrance) was certainly not wide enough to accommodate two cars parked side-by-side, hence, the enlargement became necessary.

a full view of the porch

“In addition, the simplified pitched roof via the removal of a central flat roof meant an overall higher roof that provides for better ventilation. A simple pitched roof also reduces the chance of rain water leakage.”

Ong’s house is an end-lot and he has turned the extra land, normally used as a covered terrace, or a side garden, into a liveable section. (See pic A.)

Pic A. The relaxation area running down the side of the house.

Says Ong: “It is a statutory requirement to truncate linked houses that run continuously for more than 100m. This truncation comes in the form of an end-lot that acts as a fire buffer to prevent or delay the progression of fire.

“Hence, this fire buffer could not be built upon and under such circumstances the space could only be utilised for some soft-scape (planting) and relaxation related hard-scape (timber floor-boards, swing, water feature, etc.).

According to Ong, “Most Chinese have a tendency to maximise the utilisation of space, and in this case, it was carried out within the confines of statutory requirements.

“Having the mentality that covered spaces would ultimately be utilised, the land size of only 245sq m (2,720sq ft) does not permit an extravagant allocation for green spaces.”

The 20-year-old windows benefitted from an extensive make-over, rendering them charming and modern. Says Ong: “The original timber plane windows are difficult to maintain as they do not function efficiently after some time, being continuously subjected to weathering forces.

“The best alternative would be to use powder-coated aluminium windows or UPVC windows. The former was chosen due to cost considerations.

“If not for security and safety reasons in the Klang Valley, I would prefer not to have mild steel grilles on windows and door openings.”

Ong did not have to do too much to ensure his house is cool, as “the advantages of an end-lot are obvious in terms of lighting and ventilation.

“Having many windows on the exposed side would certainly enhance ventilation and in effect cooling the house.

“On the common boundary, an air-well was introduced for the same purpose.”

To the casual observer, Ong’s house is located at a T-junction, which many Malaysian house-buyers consider a position best avoided.

But this did not deter him. “As a Christian, I do not subscribe to superstitious beliefs. As a matter of fact, the house is only slightly within a T-junction (say about 20%). The length of the side lane which makes up the T-junction is only 55m (185ft) ( relatively short), serves only a small catchment area, and is definitely not a thoroughfare.

“After some observation, the daily traffic volume on this side lane is estimated to be below 100 PCU (passenger car unit).”

Ong has stayed here for two-and-a-half years, and as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, he now admits to a few regrets.

“Power and lighthing points were missed out at some critical locations. The persistent problem of rising damp causing wall paint to peel should have been addressed at the outset. Darker colours should have been used for the porte cochere slab for easier maintenance and better blending.

“The entrance should have been made on the other half of the front elevation to improve the internal circulation and increase the efficiency of space utilisation.”

Regrets notwithstanding, Ong seem to have done a good renovation job. Passers-by often linger with admiring looks and drivers sometimes slow down to take a closer look at the house.

Ong can be reached at

Article post by The Star (by Photographs by Samuel Ong)

BLand ratings unaffected by move to drop Viet project

BERJAYA Land Bhd's decision to drop a planned transportation infrastructure job in Vietnam last week did not stir concerns among analysts, who believe that the firm will be better off picking jobs that are more financially viable.

The group is already occupied with five property development projects in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and they are not too worried about a single infrastructure job that did not pan out well.

"We understand that cessation of the proposed project would have minimum impact on the group's venture in Vietnam," a SJ Securities analyst who tracks the stock wrote in a report yesterday. The broker kept its "overweight" call on BLand stock, which ended flat yesterday at RM5.80.

BLand last Friday said that it will not proceed with a plan with Tin Nghia Co Ltd, a state-owned company from the southern Dong Nai Province, on the overall development of Nhon Trach District that included its transportation network.

The companies have decided to let the memorandum of understanding signed in late 2006 lapse, after a 12-month extended feasibility study done by BLand.

"I think it is all right for them to pick and choose projects that are economically feasible," the head of research at Kenanga Investment Bank, Yeonzon Yeow said.

"This is one of the earlier joint ventures that they did not announce. The firm already has its hands full in Vietnam and we don't mind that this is not working out," he added.

Both BLand and the Viet- nam partner have decided to focus instead on specific developments within the district, which involves a bridge that links the area to Ho Chi Minh City, as well as the recently announced plan to develop a 600ha in Nhon Trach New City.

The bridge is part of the initial overall plan that was scrapped.

On top of that, BLand still has other projects in that country, including Thanc Ban New City mixed development, Hanoi Electronics joint venture, Vietnam Financial Centre in Ho Chi Minh City.

By New Straits Times (by Chong Pooi Koon)

LBI to launch RM70m project in Puchong

LBI Capital Bhd expects to launch a 14.4ha industrial park in Puchong Perdana, this year, a project with a potential gross development value (GDV) of up to RM70 million.

Its managing director Datuk Ng Chin Heng said the the new industrial area will cater for the needs of various industries especially those from the small- and medium-sized sector.

"We see high demand for industrial areas due to the growing number of SMEs in the country and we expect to start seeing some revenue from the project by 2009 onwards," he said.

The company also hopes to attract freight forwarding companies as part of efforts to turn the area into a logistics hub.

LBI, which jumped into the property development business in 2004 with its first project in Ara Damansara, has since turned to the sector as its main revenue contributor.

"The property development business contributes more than 95 per cent of our earnings while our manufacturing business of rubber mats and outer shoe soles makes up the balances," he said.

The firm was also previously the supplier of air-conditioners to carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd but exited the business due to stiff competition.

Ng said LBI is currently banking on four property projects with total GDV RM230 million - three in the Klang Valley and one in Johor Baru - to drive profits for the group until 2010.

Its project in Taman Putera near Seri Kembangan with a GDV of RM73 million will be the main revenue contributor this year.

"The project comprises 100 units of two- to three-storey shoplots with 83 per cent of it already sold," he said.

Ng said the firm's other projects such as the Semi-D terraced houses in Taman Sri Gombak, bungalows in Seri Kembangan and a mixed development project in Johor Baru, are due to start contributing revenue next year.

"We will continue to look for land preferably in the Klang Valley and develop high-end properties to sustain growth," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Azlan Abu Bakar)

Sri Kembangan project to drive LBI Capital

SHAH ALAM: LBI Capital expects its commercial development in Sri Kembangan to be its main revenue contributor for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2008.

Managing director Datuk Jeffrey Ng Chin Heng expressed confidence in the project comprising 100 units of two- and three- storey shoplots in Taman Pinggiran Putra in Sri Kembangan, which have a gross development value (GDV) of RM80mil.

“This project has been well received and has achieved 85% take-up since it was launched at the end of last year,” he said after the company EGM yesterday.

Ng said the company planned to launch by year-end an industrial park on 36 acres in Puchong Perdana with a potential GDV of RM70mil.

“This project would cater to small and medium industries such as freight forwarders looking for semi-detached industrial lots of about 5,000 sq ft each,” Ng said.

The company is also involved in three projects launched last year. One is a mixed development project in Taman Mewah, Johor Baru.

“The first phase, which consists of shop apartments launched six months ago, is 50% sold,” Ng said, adding that the project also offered two-storey shop offices and terrace houses. Other noted developments are the 65 bungalows in Sri Kembangan with a GDV of RM55mil and 75 terrace houses in Sri Gombak with a GDV of RM23mil.

Ng said the company targeted to grow its landbank in Selangor and would like to be involved in high-end projects such as luxury homes as part of its portfolio.

“In view of rising building material costs, low-medium and medium-cost projects do not provide attractive profit margins compared with luxury developments,” he said.

Property development contributes 95% to revenue for LBI Capital, which is also involved in manufacturing rubber products and trading.

“Rubber manufacturing has become less lucrative over the years due to competition from bigger markets like China and increased manufacturing costs locally,” Ng said, adding that the company would consider divesting this division if there were offers.

By The Star

Mydin proposes to build country’s biggest hypermarket in Kelantan

KOTA BARU: MydinWholesale Emporium Sdn Bhd plans to establish the biggest hypermarket in Malaysia at the New Tunjong Township here.

The proposed RM100mil facility would sit on 7.2ha with a floor space of 650,000 sq ft and generating about 3,000 of direct and indirect employment opportunities.

Earthworks on the latest outlet should begin by July and operations commence within a year, said managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin yesterday after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Mydin and Tunjong Development Corp Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Mentri Besar Inc, for the hypermarket project.

“It is a fast-track project and the construction of a hypermarket is not an arduous feat in terms of building and infrastructure. We are confident of unveiling it next year,” Ameer said.

Since Mydin started and grew in Kelantan, it was only appropriate for the supermarket and hypermarket chain to invest in the east coast state, he added.

The biggest hypermarket in the country currently is also owned by Mydin, which also operates 24 emporiums and another hypermarket.

The Subang Jaya, Selangor, facility has a built-up area of 500,000 sq ft.

Mydin is also embarking on an expansion exercise which would see it operating six more hypermarkets including the one in Tunjong by next year.

At the same event, an MoU was inked between Kelantan Utilities Mubaarakan Holdings Sdn Bhd, Perak-based Kinson Manufacturing Sdn Bhd and Kelantan Handicraft Foundation for the formation of a joint venture company called Masna Pipes Industries Sdn Bhd.

Masna will make and supply asbestos cement water pipes for the east coast market.

Kelantan Utilities is the parent company of state water utility Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd.

By The Star (by Ian Mcintyre)