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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Auto City seeks to become tourist landmark

Auto City plans to invest RM120 million in a bid to draw more tourists

PENANG: Auto City Group, the operator of Auto City in Juru plans to set up a hotel as well as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) facilities besides constructing a shopping mall and a family park, all on a 5.67ha site adjoining Auto City.

Its managing director Gary Teoh said this is in line with the group's plans to expand its business activities to tap into the tourism industry in the near future.

Teoh said it was keen on positioning the company to cash in on the tourism industry on the mainland, as most of the state’s tourism products were located on the island.

“We plan to invest about RM120 million to set up the infrastructure, and hopefully, the project can take off by the third quarter of the year,” he told theSun.

“We decided to venture into the tourism industry because we hold a lot of concerts, promo tours and family events at the existing Auto City, which has since attracted a lot of local and foreign tourists to the area,” he said.

He added that Auto City had been endorsed by the state government as a tourist product, aimed at boosting the tourism industry in the Seberang Perai area on the mainland.

Auto City, located along the North South Highway is the first integrated development positioned for the automobile industry, and boasts showrooms housing high-end carmakers such as Porsche, Volvo, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari.

Teoh also said it had earlier invested about RM30 million to develop a 4ha-site focused on food and beverage (F&B) as well as entertainment outlets.

He said that the concept of Auto City came about after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and after research in 2001, showed that the automobile industry was on an “up” trend.

“At that time the new concept of ‘showroom, service and spare parts centres’ (3S) was introduced to the Malaysian market and we felt that we were in a good position to capitalise on it,” Teoh said.

“However, we also wanted to include F&B outlets in Auto City to add lifestyle elements to the development,” he said, adding that the initial investment to set up its operations was RM30 million between 2003 and 2004.

To date, the entire development boasts more than 60,000sq ft of F&B outlets coupled with more than 120,000sq ft of car showroom space.

By theSun (by Jonathan Chen)

Suria Capital looks for strategic partner

PETALING JAYA: Suria Capital Holdings Bhd has mapped out plans to reap the economic benefits of the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) by expanding and developing its Sapangar Bay port into a transhipment hub for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“Part of our plan is to look for a strategic partner, preferably a foreign player who is a port and main line operator,” chief financial officer Mohamad Yasin Abdullah told StarBiz.

Suria Capital, he said, wanted to leverage on the strategic partner's strengths to grow as Sapangar Bay port did not want to rely solely on local shipments, although he expected the domestic volume to increase as the SDC was likely to spin off a hive of activities.

In addition, the expansion of palm oil downstream activities in the state would also lead to an increase in businesses.

Partnering with main line operators would help to attract more cargo to the port.

The BIMP-EAGA was a huge market for Sapangar Bay port to tap into given the region's cargo volume of about 1.5 million boxes, Yasin said.

Suria Capital's subsidiary, Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd (SPSB), operates eight ports in Sabah. Sapangar Bay Container Terminal, which started operations in July last year, is the newest port in its stable.

The throughput volume in Sapangar Bay terminal was about 280,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit) during its first six months of operation, of which 90% was local.

Yasin said the immediate task is to shift some general cargo operations to Sapangar Bay port so that it will become an integrated port. “We want to do it within two years in order to enjoy the tax break,” Yasin said.

Analysts said such a move would also streamline the group's port operations as cargo volume in the state was generally low.

SPSB has been granted investment allowance under the Approved Service Project scheme, whereby it will enjoy 100% allowance on the qualifying capital expenditure incurred with five years from the date the first capital expenditure is incurred.

The taxation refund of RM32.4mi for investment allowance has lifted Suria Capital's net profit to RM86.3mil for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2007, from RM31.9mil in the previous corresponding period.

Yasin said the Government had also earmarked areas around Sapangar Bay to develop a logistics hub and that might include free trade zone. “The development of the logistics business will help Sapangar Bay port,” he added.

On the RM1.5bil Jesselton Waterfront project comprising five- or six-star hotels, high-end condominiums, and commercial blocks, Yasin said the development, which was divided into three separate projects involving three joint venture partners, would be spread over five years. “These are equal joint ventures. So you can roughly estimate the revenue that we can earn,” he said when asked on the contribution of the project to the company's bottomline.

The company signed three memoranda of understanding on Tuesday with IJM Properties Sdn Bhd, Glomac Bhd and Kota Kinabalu Pavilion Sdn Bhd to jointly develop part of the Jesselton Waterfront project in Kota Kinabalu.

By The Star (by Kathy Fong)

MRCB in JV to buy land

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd has entered into an agreement with Quill Sentral Sdn Bhd and Kuwait Finance House (M) Bhd to set up a joint venture company to acquire a 7,503 sq m piece of land in the capital from Kuala Lumpur Sentral Sdn Bhd for RM133mil cash.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, MRCB said the freehold land had been approved by City Hall for commercial development with total gross floor area of 1.4 million sq ft. The construction of the office towers is expected to commence this year over a development period of four years.

MRCB will hold 44.5% stake in the joint venture company, Cosy Bonanza Sdn Bhd, Quill 37.5% and KFH the balance 18%. MRCB expected the joint venture to contribute positively towards its future earnings and profit.

By The Star