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Monday, February 25, 2008

Purcon banks on its construction experience

Tan: Our own construction arm helps keep our properties' prices lower

PETALING JAYA: With more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, Purcon Group is confident of doing well with its maiden highend project in Bukit Segambut, its general manager Angie Tan said.

“Despite it being our first such project, we have already been involved in the construction of several high-end properties, including semi-dees and bungalows in Glomac Bhd’s Aman Suria and the show unit in Changkat Kiara by Plenitude Kiara Bhd,” she told theSun.

The freehold development, known as Laman Damansari, will comprise 16 units of 3- storey semi-dees and two units of 3-storey bungalows, priced between RM1.6 million and RM3.8 million, with built-ups from 3,800 sq ft to 5,800 sq ft.

Scheduled for launching by the end of this year, the project has a gross development value (GDV) of RM40 million.

Tan said the properties would be built based on a zero-defect concept, where purchasers would require minimal renovations. “Although we aim to launch the project in November, we expect the show house to be ready for viewing in August,” she added.

The group recently completed 53 units of 3 ½-storey shop offices in Serdang Raya and is currently developing Taman Impian Putra, its flagship project in Bangi, Selangor.

The113-acre Taman Impian Putra has been receiving a good response since the leasehold township’s first phase, which consists of 1 ½- and 2-storey link houses, was first launched in 2005. Since then, the developer has also introduced 1-storey and 2-storey shop lots and recently launched 365 units of 2-storey terraces and 58 units of 2-storey semi-dees in its latest phase.

Priced at RM178,988 onwards, the terraces have built-ups from 1,658 sq ft while the semi-dees with built-ups of between 2,653 sq ft and 2,690 sq ft are priced from RM358,888. About 60% of the units have been sold to date and the developer is planning to launch low- and medium-cost apartments in future phases. The township has a GDV of some RM200 million.

Tan said the group has about 300 undeveloped acres in its landbank but is constantly on the lookout for potential tracts for development. “Being a small developer, we usually go for land the bigger players may forego. This way, we do not have too much competition in the market and can cash in and cash out quickly,” she said. Purcon has land in Sungai Petani, Kedah; Jasin, Melaka; Kuala Pilah and Gemas, Negri Sembilan; and Tangkak, Johor.

She also said that having its own construction arm benefits the group, as they would be able to save on construction costs and price their properties lower by up to 10%. “We are be able to save on building time while offering better products and maintaining quality control,” she added.

On the property outlook for this year, Tan said the demand for medium-end properties is still there but the high-end property market might be slightly slower due to economic uncertainty.
“However, it also depends on the location of the project, as highend developments located in affluent areas do well because of steady demand,” she explained.

By theSun (by Yap Yew Jin)

Malaysia's first property summit

KUALA LUMPUR: The first Malaysian Property Summit 2008, organised by the Association of Valuers & Property Consultants in Private Practice Malaysia (PEPS), will be held on Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Mutiara hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

The conference will feature eight speakers from the Malaysian property industry: Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani, Datuk Mani Usilappan, Dr Ting Kien Hwa, Eric Ooi, Christopher Boyd, Allan Soo, Goh Tian Sui and Previndran Singhe.

According to Eric Ooi, managing director of Knight Frank Malaysia, a total of up to 200 registrants are expected to participate in the conference. “It has always been at the back of our minds to organise an event like this and we hope to turn it into an annual event,” said Ooi.

The conference will begin with an overview of the Malaysian property market in 2007, followed by a series of topics, including: REITS Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008, High-end Condominium Market Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008, and Investment & Retail Market Performance for 2007 & Outlook for 2008.

“The objective of the conference is for people who are in touch with the market to share their knowledge, opinions and views of future trends with industry players and the public. At the end of the day, it is important for everyone involved to plan for their future, and this knowledge would assist them,” said Ooi.

The participation fee is RM988 per person and RM950 per person for members of PEPS. The conference begins at 8.30am and ends at 5.30pm. For enquiries and registration, call the PEPS Secretariat at 03-2145 0952.

By theSun (by Yeong Ee-Wah)

The Paradigm to be WCT Land’s first high-rise project

An artist’s impression of The Paradigm

WCT Land Bhd ushered in the New Year with a bang: it recently gave an exclusive preview of its first high-rise development called The Paradigm, billed as “The rising icon of Petaling Jaya”.

The Paradigm, with a gross development value (GDV) of about RM1.26bil, comprises The Escalade Corporate Office Towers, The Ascent Corporate Office Suites and The Paradigm Mall.

The Escalade will have four blocks of office towers with a net lettable area of 1.4 million sq ft. It will feature column-free floor plates, full-height glass panels for natural light ventilation, energy-saving devices, quality finishes and ample parking bays.

The Ascent is a 30-storey office suite with 350,000 sq ft net lettable area while The Paradigm Mall, with 700,000 sq ft net lettable area, will showcase the latest in fashion and retail. There will be a unique shady walkway designed for alfresco dining and entertainment that are in vogue in trendy cities all over the world.

The Klang-based company has traditionally been a township developer with projects such as Bandar Bukit Tinggi 1, 2 and 3, the luxury golf-front residences of d'Banyan Residency in Kota Kinabalu and the new AEON Bukit Tinggi shopping centre, which is Malaysia's largest AEON shopping centre with about 200 tenants and over 5,000 car parking bays.

The new AEON Bukit Tinggi gives Klang Valley folk an opportunity to enjoy a one-of-its-kind, one-stop shopping and entertainment centre.

WCT Land Bhd chairman Datuk Chua Soon Poh said the company always tried to set new standards and benchmarks in all that its endeavours.

“The Paradigm is an iconic development that challenges the norm and embodies our values and spirits, giving rise to a dynamic expression of quality and spectacular architecture,” he said.

He added that the project would have multiple ingress and egress points. Several highways such as the Federal Highway, NKVE, Sprint and Penchala Link serve this development.

Chua said the current buoyant office market was witnessing a trend of businesses relocating from the city centre to Petaling Jaya. “Due to the availability of quality buildings, the occupancy rate in Petaling Jaya has increased to 89%. We believe this to be the start of a future trend.”

He said the company had a total land bank of about 1,369 acres with total GDV of RM5.2bil, of which projects worth about RM3bil in GDV had been launched. “We are looking for more land as well as joint ventures,” he added.

General manager Stewart Tew said the company was targeting public listed companies and multinational companies for its office towers. “We plan to do some road shows overseas, including in the Middle East,” he said.

The company has also successfully launched the d'Banyan @ Sutera, (within the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club) comprising 14 units of three-storey detached villas called Petrusa (five spacious bedrooms with attached bathrooms) that boast a designer swimming pool each, large double-volume living area, and formal and informal dining areas.

The bedrooms look out onto the golf course with either city or sea views. There are covered and open terraces for relaxation.

There are also 48 units of the Aurea (2½-storey semi-detached villas) and 60 units of the Citrifolia (two-storey superlink villas), both with four bedrooms with attached bathrooms, as well as designer swimming pool for selected units and large living areas.

All the houses come with the Sutera Preference Share Golf Individual Membership.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

REITs confident of 6% growth

MOST real estate investment trust (REIT) managers are confident that the Malaysian REIT industry will remain resilient and a minimum yield of 6% is achievable this year despite a looming recession in the United States.

The REIT managers believe properties under trusts are generally more protected in terms of value compared with properties held by individual owners, as they were mostly locked-in or leased to established clients or multinationals which normally would not default on their rentals.

Axis REIT Managers Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Stewart LaBrooy said the target of 6% yield was not a problem for Axis REIT as it had a strong clientele base and that the trust was managed well.

Axis REIT, the first trust to be listed in Malaysia (in August 2005), focuses on acquiring quality office space and industrial properties.

LaBrooy said that while achieving good yield was important, it was only one measure of the performance of a REIT.

Menara Axis in Petaling Jaya - one of the stable of properties under Axis REIT

“For instance, financial backers and institutional investors view a trust favourably if it has a stable of quality properties that are in demand and consistently occupied by established tenants. There should also be a steady pipeline of properties to be placed in the REIT in the near term,” he noted.

LaBrooy said such properties not only provided good yields but also achieve attractive capital gains on their disposal.

“Undeniably, the ability of REIT managers to enhance the properties under the trust is also extremely important,” he said.

On the availability of “A grade quality office space to be placed in a REIT, LaBrooy said there were a few locations like the KL City Centre (KLCC) and KL Sentral that could be considered in this premium category.

“We have some “A” grade office space in the Klang Valley that attracts international investors, but we need more,” he said, adding that some high-end developers were aware of the shortage and were planning to build more such properties in the near future.

“We have been talking to a few developers to see if we could team up with them to enhance properties that would appeal to such investors.”

Asked if there was sufficient land in the Klang Valley and the city centre to develop such top-grade premises, he said there was still enough land, especially in the KLCC area.

LaBrooy said there were also some large properties under government-linked companies and private owners in strategic locations that could be enhanced to provide “A” grade office and commercial space.

“But we need far greater education on the benefits of properties placed under REITs, especially to local investors, the authorities as well as developers and private owners, before any action can be taken to enhance these properties,” he said.

A local REIT expert agreed with LaBrooy that some landowners were sitting on a goldmine but were not reaping the benefits via good yield and capital gain because of the lack of knowledge about REITs.

He said Malaysian commercial and residential properties, especially in the heart of the city, were still very attractive to foreigners, if packaged well.

He also agrees that the exposure of Malaysian REITs to the US downturn would be insignificant.

“We don't see a huge negative impact on the REIT industry here as the debt exposure of US investors in the local REIT is small,” he said.

He added that Malaysia's REIT industry, while attractive in valuation, had yet to attract US investors because of the size of the trusts.

He also said a yield of 6% for Malaysian REITs was “very attainable,” despite worsening economic conditions in the US.

“But it (the yield) also depends on which sector of the REIT investors park their funds. Some stocks are more risky while others are more defensive by nature,” said the expert.

He said that for instance, office and industrial REITs were generally more defensive than hotel REITs, which were prone to cyclical demand.

A foreign-based REIT consultant said that currently, Singapore and Malaysia dominated the South-East Asia REIT market with a total market capitalisation of RM72bil.

He expects the market to grow steadily over the years with more investors – local and foreign – considering REITs in their portfolio.

“There's still good potential for the growth of REITs in these two countries which are registering yields of 3% to 4% (Singapore) and 6% to 7% (Malaysia), despite the subprime and mortgage woes in the US.”

The REIT consultant said Malaysia's REIT industry was still at the early stage of development, with many issues needed to be ironed out to make it more competitive. This include legislative changes, gearing limitations, tax breaks and foreign ownership.

“But in Singapore, the REIT industry is at the start of the take-off stage in terms of growth,” he said.

He said many of the REITs in the republic had asset size worth billions of dollars, which was another plus point for the country to attract local and international investors.

Currently, the largest Malaysian REIT in asset size is Starhill REIT, whose market capitalisation broke the RM1bil mark at the time of listing in December 2005.

But SunCity’s REIT, which is yet to be named, is highly likely to surpass Starhill REIT in asset size.

The RM3bil to RM4bil REIT is slated for listing on Bursa Malaysia in the second half of this year.

An analyst with a local research house said if this happened, SunCity’s REIT could set a new record that would raise the profile of local properties under trusts, especially in the eyes of foreign institutional investors.

A local REIT adviser concurred with the foreign REIT consultant that Malaysia's REIT industry was still at the early stage of development with good upside potential in property value and yield over time.

He said based on the Macquarie's eclipse model (see chart), the country's REIT industry was at stage 2, while Singapore at stage 3, which implies strong and steady growth.

By The Star (by Danny Yap)

Gamuda Land wows visitors with Jade Hills

GAMUDA Land held a “sneak preview” of its latest high-end residential development, Jade Hills in Kajang, during the recent Chinese New Year festive period.

It was a pleasant surprise for those who attended the “Spring Festival” event on Feb 16. The renowned property developer had quietly but efficiently built four splendid show bungalows, an Oriental-style clubhouse, and big entrance statement with the usual water features.

It also put up a large air-conditioned tent to welcome prospective buyers and other visitors.

It has taken the company several months to show off its Jade Hills. Like its other signature developments (Kota Kemuning, Bandar Botanic, Ambang Botanic and Valencia), Gamuda Land took great pains to create a premier gated and guarded community with a resort-style clubhouse.

Hey, presto! Within a few months it has created a few small lakes, built a nice road and planted some trees to spruce up the rather dreary entrance to the development.

This project is tucked inside a small road whose entrance is right in front of the Silk Highway interchange to Kajang town. It is very accessible to Kuala Lumpur. In fact, it took me a mere 30 minutes to reach Jade Hills from USJ via Puchong.

Golf buggies ferried visitors from the car park at the clubhouse to the big tent where food and handicraft stalls delight families with calligraphy writing, kite making, and traditional Chinese tea-pouring and kuzheng performances. Visitors have to climb a flight of stone steps to a courtyard to view two of the four show houses. A lion and drum beating performance was held here.

The drum beating performance at Jade Hills. In the background are the bungalow.

The 258-acre freehold project will have 793 units to be built in 12 phases over eight to 10 years. The density is a low three units per acre.

The “prestigious lifestyle” development concept should appeal to people with deep pockets who yearn to live in this part of Kajang. The neighbour is the well-known high-end development Country Heights, where many corporate figures and politicians live.

With the Gamuda name, purchasers should be confident enough that the developer Jade Homes Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of Gamuda Bhd) will be able to deliver a product of top quality.

Jade Homes will have 12 theme gardens with walkways and recreational facilities at your doorstep. There will be three lakes: Misty Lake, Willow Sweeps and Water Spring – quite romantic-sounding names.

Two of the themed precincts, White Bark and Evergreen, are currently open for purchase.

The White Bark Precinct will have 50 bungalows with six distinct designs overlooking a lake, garden and the clubhouse. One of the designs, the 60ft x 125sq ft Pearl Jade (seven units of premium bungalow), has land size of 8,037 to 8,469 sq ft and 5,249 sq ft built-up area. There will be 5+1 bedrooms. The selling price is RM2.1mil to RM2.3mil.

The 55ft x 100ft White Jade (22 deluxe bungalows) has 6,485 to 11,157 sq ft land and 4,562 and 4,599 sq ft built-up areas. It will also have 5+1 bedrooms. The selling price is RM1.6mil to RM2mil.

The 50ft x 100ft Emerald Jade (21 bungalows) has land size of 5,289 to 8,268 sq ft and built-up areas of 4,165, 4,222 and 4,368 sq ft. It has 4+1 bedrooms and is priced from RM1.5mil to RM1.8mil.

Another interesting design is the Calligraphy Maze (41 units) which is a two and three-storey Garden Terrace with 4+1 bedrooms and priced from RM680,000 to RM1mil. The land areas range from 2,080 to 6,107 sq ft and built-up areas between 2,900 and 3,700 sq ft.

The unique feature is its open front lawn (no gate in front with low perimeter fencing at the back garden). Other features are a covered car porch for three cars, large living space, wet and dry kitchens, pond features for selected designs and the houses built around a cul-de-sac.

Each property comes with a free club membership worth RM10,000. Monthly club subscription fee is RM70 per membership plus government tax. The clubhouse will boast a 50m lap pool, children's wading pool, spa pool, three tennis courts, gymnasium, multi-purpose function room, steam and sauna room, games room, children's playground and even a Chinese teahouse.

The project's general manager Choong Chee Yoong said there had been “strong interest” in Jade Hills mainly because of its good accessibility and lifestyle concept.

“It is strategically located, with six to seven golf courses and several famous international schools such as the Alice Smith International School in Seri Kembangan and the Australian International School at the Mines Resort City in the vicinity,” he added.

By The Star

Nusajaya vibrant city by year 2011

BANDAR Nusajaya in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) will come alive in 2011 when the projects and activities planned for the township takes shape.

UEM Land Sdn Bhd, through its subsidiary Bandar Nusajaya Development Sdn Bhd, is the master developer of the sprawling 24,000-acre integrated urban development of Nusajaya.

With Nusajaya being one of the five key flagship zones of the IDR, UEM Land is in an advantageous position to reap the fruits of the development of IDR into a major regional economic hub under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

According to UEM Land managing director Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, the company has become more active in the last three years and implemented various changes to its plans for the township.

Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim

“We have been successful in putting Nusajaya back on the map with new activities and branding. We expect the momentum to pick up these two to three years,” he told StarBiz.

The blueprint for Nusajaya has been changed to cater to the present and future needs of the population of 500,000 when the development is completed in the next 20 to 25 years.

There are seven growth catalysts for Nusajaya – the residential component, a 2,400-acre international resort, 600-acre-EduCity, 700-acre MediCity, 688-acre Puteri Harbour waterfront development, 320-acre Johor State New Administrative Centre and 1,300-acre Southern Industrial and Logistics Cluster (SiLC).

Nusajaya will have 100,000 residential units eventually, and so far, 16,000 houses have been built and occupied, including those built by other developers.

Nusa Idaman and Horizon Hills are two residential developments launched in the last two years, the latter a joint venture with Gamuda Bhd.

The latest project launched was the East Ledang resort residential development, which comprises 861 upmarket residences including super link terrace houses, semi-detached units and bungalows. The project is expected to generate RM1bil in gross development value.

Wan Abdullah said the Puteri Harbour development would have its marina ready to receive its first boat in August, complete with a clubhouse and promenade.

An artist’s impression of Puteri Harbour

Being the “pride and joy” of Nusajaya, he said Puteri Harbour had attracted substantial interest from other parties for joint development and also from property purchasers.

The company has announced its joint venture with Limitless LLC of Dubai World to develop Residential North of Puteri Harbour with exclusive canal housing and retail facilities.

Wan Abdullah said RM60mil had been spent on the first phase infrastructure to build the inner lagoon. The second phase, expected to cost RM100mil, would complete the outer lagoon and hence establish the waterfront.

The initiatives to inject life and vibrancy of a thriving waterfront development into Puteri Harbour include the provision of retail and dining facilities, and efforts to have The School of Performing Arts and School of Culinary Arts located at the harbour front.

On the progress of the other components, Wan Abdullah said the Johor State New Administrative Centre was 97% completed and would be occupied by the state departments this year.

“EduCity will be home to international schools and universities and will elevate Nusajaya as an international education hub,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Customs Immigration Quarantine and Port Clearance Complex are slated to be ready by 2010. The scheduled opening of Singapore's two integrated resorts in 2010 will also benefit Nusajaya greatly.

“We are positioning Nusajaya to complement Singapore, especially when both offer very different environments.

“Singapore's spiralling property prices will be the push factor for a growing interest among Singaporeans for properties in Nusajaya,” Wan Abdullah said.

He said although some areas in Johor, especially the medium-cost housing market, were still facing supply overhang, demand remained strong in strategic locations such as Nusajaya.

“We expect demand to pick up further with the imminent opening and operations of Johor's new administrative centre and as more of our catalyst developments, such as the SiLC and Puteri Harbour, mature in the next few years.”

Besides Singaporeans, the company is also targeting the big expatriate population in the republic and buyers from other regional markets for its wide spread residential and commercial properties.

“Prices of properties in our development are only a fraction of that in Singapore and other cities in the region. Investors are seeing the potential value offered by Nusajaya,” Wan Abdullah said.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

UEM Land plans to enter regional market in three years

Horizon Hills is one of the components in Bandar Nusajaya

UEM Land Sdn Bhd aims to have a regional presence by 2011 when it expands its wings offshore to other emerging markets such as Vietnam, Indonesia and India.

“With our key development, Nusajaya in Johor, reaching the tipping point by that time, the company will have the capability to venture into new markets to widen its earnings base,” said managing director Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim.

“Going by our parent company UEM Group Bhd's long list of developments and track record, we have consistently delivered our projects on time and with great quality.

“The group has also established an international presence, which the company can leverage on in its offshore aspirations.”

Locally, UEM Land is looking at adding new profit centres to achieve geographical diversity in areas of focus, including several opportunities in the Klang Valley, which should be revenue-generating in 2009 if they materialise.

Meanwhile, the proposed restructuring of UEM Group involving UEM Land taking over the listing status of UEM World Bhd in September will raise the profile of UEM Land.

UEM Group has a 51.9% stake in UEM World and 28.5% in UEM Land.

The restructuring exercise, worth RM2bil to RM3bil, will set the stage for the company to emerge as a long-term property player.

“We are putting in place all the key ingredients for UEM Land to realise its vision to be a global community builder,” Wan Abdullah noted.

He said that being a key performance index-driven company, UEM Land would put in gear proactive programmes to ensure its projects were planned and delivered on time and meet the company's strategic targets.

Plans are also afoot to position UEM Land as a customer and stakeholder-centric organisation.

“We want to provide a new experience for our buyers and stakeholders, including shareholders, government officials and business associates.

“The Culture of Excellence programme that kicked off last year will spearhead this new initiative company-wide,” he said.

By The Star

UEM Land to raise RM875m

UEM Land Sdn Bhd is looking to raise RM875 million through a five-year syndicated term loan facility to finance its projects at Nusajaya in Johor, its top executive said.

The soon-to-be-listed property unit of UEM World Bhd is the master developer of Nusajaya, Malaysia's biggest property project.

"We're going to the market to seek some funding for working capital requirements," managing director Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim told Business Times in an interview.

Senior general manager of finance, Mohd Zakir Omar, said the company is in the midst of arranging a syndicated term loan from a consortium of banks.

"At the moment about six (banks) have expressed interest, most of them local. It's just a short -term financing, we're looking at a period of maximum five years," he said.

The funds would mainly be for UEM Land's projects that are already in the market and new ones that will be launched in the next one or two years, he added.

Wan Abdullah expects to be able to secure the loan "very soon".

UEM Land is working on various projects covering about 1,619ha of its landbank in Nusajaya. Some of these will take about four years to complete while the longer-term ones will take about 10 years, he said.

"There's also another 2,428ha, some of which we already have plans for, which will be put in the market over the next five to 10 years," said Mohd Zakir.

This includes the Horizon Hills project, a resort development covering 486ha which should be completed in about 10 years.

While UEM Land's focus is predominantly on Nusajaya, it is also looking to buy some properties in Selangor and Penang, possibly on a joint-venture basis with institutions that own land, said Wan Ibrahim.

The company has no immediate plans to go abroad, but is keeping a keen eye on potential projects it can undertake, especially in the Middle East.

"We have an active international business division looking for business opportunities, but I think the timing is not quite right for UEM to spend so much time out there. There is just too much at stake in Nusajaya. We have to do that well," Wan Abdullah remarked.

He said UEM Land may perhaps be able to establish a good overseas project sometime in 2010.

Meanwhile, the company is in various stages of discussion with potential joint-venture foreign partners for further development at Nusajaya. These include developers from the Middle East, Australia and East Asia.

"In terms of strategic partners, I think before the end of this year, we can see two (foreign) partners coming," he said.

The company also expects to be able to announce a tie-up with a local partner, to develop Puteri Harbour, in the second quarter of this year, he added.

UEM Land already has tie-ups with a few partners, such as Limitless LLC, a unit of Dubai World, to build waterfront homes in Puteri Harbour; and with Gamuda Bhd for development of Horizon Hills.

By New Straits Times - Business Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)

Several factors make Furniweb attractive

PETALING JAYA: Furniture-webbing manufacturer Furniweb Industrial Products Bhd is deemed attractive due to its leading position in the industry, the steady demand for its products, low gearing, stable margins and the proposed listing of its subsidiary in Vietnam.

Research house M&A Securities Sdn Bhd, in a recent report, said the impending listing of Furniweb Manufacturing (Vietnam) Co Ltd on the Ho Chi Minh City Securities Trading Centre would give the group direct access to the Vietnamese capital market to tap funds to grow and enhance its business.

Furniweb has a wide product range, including covered yarn, industrial webbing and seatbelt webbing. Its products are available in more than 40 countries.

The second board-listed company currently operates from four factories in Selangor and another four in Vietnam.

According to M&A Securities, Furniweb commands 20% to 25% share of the global market. It is the largest covered elastic yarn producer in the country.

The research outfit believes that continued investment in research and development would help Furniweb capture new markets in Malaysia and globally.

Its earnings growth has been consistent at 10% a year for the past three financial years, thanks to rising global demand from the furniture, apparel and motor vehicle sectors.

Moving forward, the company's strong distribution channel, which includes Europe, China and the United States, should help the company penetrate new markets, M&A Securities said.

The research house is forecasting Furniweb's sales to reach RM105mil in the financial year ending Dec 31.

On Friday, it reported sales of RM93.9mil for FY07. Net profit for the period stood at RM8.7mil or 9.60 sen per share against RM7.8mil or 8.72 sen per share the previous year.

Investment risks associated with the company include a lack of long-term contracts with its customers which are made up of end-users, agents, distributors and suppliers, as well as low barrier to entry into the industry.

By The Star (by Yvonne Tan)

Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa to get RM100m annexe

IMPIANA KLCC: Halim (right) Choo eagerly await the completion of the hotel's second phase of development

KLCC Property Holdings (KLCCP) Bhd, which owns Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa at Jalan Pinang in Kuala Lumpur, plans to invest around RM100 million to build a 20-storey building adjacent to the property.

"This is the hotel's second phase of development. The L-shaped building will be constructed on the rooftop of the existing carpark, starting from level six.

"We hope it will be operational by 2010," said Impiana Hotels & Resorts Management Sdn Bhd (IHRM) group general manager Mohamad Halim Merican.

IHRM, founded by Datuk Seri Ismail Farouk Abdullah of the KAB Group, is managing the four-star 335-room hotel, which opened in December 2005.

Under the development plan for the new building, KLCCP is planning to include business suites and residential-type accommodation or service apartment facilities.

It will also add an additional 180 rooms, which will be larger in size, a club floor and double volume private lounge, and a specialty roof-top restaurant.

"We will provide the technical aspects and consultancy in terms of hotel design. The construction will be undertaken by KLCCP," Halim told Business Times in an interview in Kuala Lumpur recently.

"We feel it's the right time to expand with all the construction hypes in the vicinity.

"Room sales are growing and we are looking at opening up to new markets," he said.

The bulk of Impiana KLCC's business comes from the Petronas Group, and from business and leisure travellers from the US, Europe and Malaysia.

Halim said in terms of occupancy, the hotel closed at 75 per cent in 2007 generating income of RM23 million.

There was a gross operating profit of almost 30 per cent for KLCCP from the hotel last year, he said.

"We have seen growth in our average occupancy and room rate.

"Phase two will definitely complement the existing property, and also other assets under the company," he added.

Impiana KLCC general manager Sean S.L. Choo said the hotel aims to provide five-star services on par with international standards.

In doing this, it hopes to maintain consistency in service, security, food quality and product delivery.

"Phase two will create another market for us.

"We are targeting corporate travellers, the MICE market and demand created by the KLCC convention centre," Choo said.

Choo said to move up another notch, the hotel will need to have bigger rooms and better facilities, and more meeting rooms.

IHRM provides professional management and advisory services plus technical services for upgrading of hotels, resorts and recreational facilities including spas.

It owns and operates Impiana Cherating Resort in Kuantan, Pahang, and Impiana Phuket Cabana Resort and Impiana Samui Resort in Thailand.

Besides, Impiana KLCC, the company also manages Impiana Casuarina Ipoh, Perak, for the state government, and their own brand of spa, known as Swasana Spa.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

MTD Capital units to be bought out

MALAYSIAN engineering and construction firm MTD Capital Bhd signalled today a buyout bid for its two listed property and toll-road units.

MTD Capital suspended its shares from trade, saying it would soon announce a large deal that would involve a buyout of property and infrastructure firm Metacorp Bhd and tollroad company MTD Infraperdana Bhd.

MTD Capital owns 72.3 per cent of MTD Infraperdana, the country’s second-largest toll-road concessionaire, and 75 per cent of Metacorp, which specialises in property development and waste management, according to Reuters data.

MTD Infraperdana has a market value of almost RM800 million (US$250 million), while Metacorp is valued at RM295 million. The shares in both these firms have also been suspended.

MTD Capital said today its shares would be halted from trade pending “announcement of a material transaction which involves its two public-listed subsidiaries, namely Metacorp Bhd and MTD Infraperdana Bhd, being taken private”.

By Reuters