Malaysia Property News is a free resource website sharing Daily Property News & information about Property in Malaysia, which related to, Property Market, Property Investment, Commercial Property , Hot Properties Malaysia, Real Estate, Retail Shop, Business Park, Condominium Malaysia, Terraces & Apartment Malaysia, Houses, Residence, Resort and many more.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Limited demand for Putrajaya homes

PETALING JAYA: The lack of a privateownership option has limited the demand for homes in Putrajaya. About 70% of the properties there are made up of government housing and buildings with the majority of residential properties in the nation’s administrative centre housing top-ranking officials and government servants working there. Currently, Putrajaya has a population of about 70,000.

Although the area witnessed tremendous growth in the past, Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong (pix) said that this has slowed down of late as the government has shifted its focus to the development of the economic growth corridors including the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER) and Eastern Corridor Economic Region (ECER).

According to master developer Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd, the 12,184-acre freehold township is divided into 20 precincts, out of which 15 are residential enclaves. Catered to the mid- to high-end market, properties offered in Putrajaya include 2- and 2 ½-storey terraced, semi-dees and bungalows.

“Prices range from as low as RM280,000 to RM2 million for the bungalows located in Precinct 8 and 10,” said Putrajaya Holdings corporate communications senior executive Eddie Khalil Hasbullah. He added that some 52% of the homes in Putrajaya are allocated for government quarters with the rest for public housing.

However, See said the property prices there are higher compared to other developments in the vicinity. A 2-storey terraced house is valued at more than RM300,000 in Putrajaya, while a similar unit is going for RM290,000 in Puchong, and RM280,000 in Seri Kembangan, located 20 and 10 minutes drive away respectively.

“The prices are not market driven, but instead follow the benchmark set by the master developer (Putrajaya Holdings) that has a monopoly there.

Hence, there is little or no room for price adjustments for the other property players there, which includes SP Setia Bhd, PECD Bhd, Guocoland (M) Bhd, and E&O Property Development Bhd,” he said.

Putrajaya is well connected to the city centre and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) via an extensive network of major highways including the KL-Seremban Highway, Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), North South Central Link (Elite), and the recently opened KL-Putrajaya Highway.

See said, although the township comes with good accessibility, it will require additional basic amenities to draw people to reside there. “The residents need (more) education institutions, food outlets, shopping options and medical facilities to promote community living,” he added.

He said that there are very few units available for sale or rent in the secondary market, as the returns for the residential properties in the area are fairly low. “Price appreciation for the homes was about 2% within the last two years while fetching rental yields of only 3%,” he explained.

Click to enlarge

From data sampled in the theSun/Metro Homes Putrajaya housing price monitor for the period between November 2007 to January 2008, a 2-storey terraced house in Precinct 11 with a lot size of 22ft by 75ft and a built-up of 1,800 sq ft was priced between RM300,000 and RM320,000. Meanwhile, a 2-storey detached house in Precinct 10 with a lot size of 70ft by 92ft and a built-up of 5,000 sq ft was transacted for between RM1.5 million and RM1.6 million.

Where rentals are concerned, a 2-storey corner terraced house in Precinct 14, with a lot size of 22ft by 75ft and built-up of 1,800 sq ft can be rented out for between RM1,300 and RM1,500 a month. In Precinct 9, a 2½-storey semi-detached house with a lot size of 40ft by 80ft and built-up of 3,600 sq ft is tenanted for between RM2,000 and RM2,200 a month.

By theSun

Merchant Square office building for sale

SINGAPORE: CB Richard Ellis has launched office building Merchant Square (pix) for sale by public tender. The 99-year leasehold site, on the fringe of the CBD near the junction of Merchant Road and Clemenceau Avenue, comprises a 4-storey tower integrated with two blocks of conserved shophouses. There is a total net lettable area (NLA) of 50,262 sq ft. Land area is 28,000 sq ft. The guide price is S$73 million (RM167.6 million), or S$1,450 psf of NLA. Merchant Square is 96%-occupied with about 50% of current leases expiring over the next two years. The tender closes at 3pm on March 12.

By The Edge Singapore

Piccolo sets itself apart

An artist's impression of the Piccolo Hotel.

PICCOLO Group aims to make a difference in the hospitality sector with the scheduled opening of its maiden hotel, Piccolo Hotel, in Bintang Walk, in Kuala Lumpur, this month.

The 239-room boutique hotel, located between KL Plaza and Lot 10 in Jalan Bukit Bintang, is looking to offer a value destination for tourists and business travellers.

Director and chief operating officer Suzianna Wong-Svrcula said the hotel would leverage on its excellent location and unique ambience of a cosy and fun boutique hotel to become a favourite destination.

“There is much potential to be tapped in the hospitality business, and we are putting in all the finer details to make Piccolo Hotel a success. We will also look at expanding to other regional markets,” Wong told StarBiz.

Through its associate company Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd, Piccolo is keen to build up a chain of boutique hotels in Malaysia and other emerging markets to take advantage of the robust growth in the regional tourism business.

With a “green concept” theme, Piccolo Hotel's contemporary design concept depicts the rich marine life and eco-system in Malaysia.

The hotel's reception, hallways and rooms are adorned with canvas prints of the abundant marine life and ecology that can be found in Malaysia’s diving havens.

The photos were taken by her husband and Piccolo director Dr Kurt Svrcula, who is an accomplished diver, underwater photographer and writer with a strong leaning towards environmental issues.

Among his books are Diving in Malaysia and Layang Layang - Diving Malaysia's Last Frontier.

He has a collection of more than 20,000 pictures from his many diving outings in East Malaysia, including in Layang Layang, Sipadan and Miri.

Suzianna said: “Despite the gruelling hours and hard work of working with the consultants, contractors and interior designers, we persevered in the past two years to ensure Piccolo Hotel starts on the right footing and meet our business objectives of being a well managed and designed boutique hotel.

“The aqua-inspired hotel is built out of passion, especially my husband's love of the underwater world.”

In 2001, Absolute Prestige paid RM45mil for a 60-year lease on the 13-storey Wisma Peladang building to turn it into a boutique hotel.

“We seized the opportunity to sign up the lease for the building as we believe in its strategic location in the heart of the city's tourism belt. Our project will be a fresh addition to this bubbly area,” she said.

To make the building intelligent, Kurt said the company had invested close to RM1mil to equip Piccolo Hotel with the latest multimedia technology and dedicated high-speed Internet access, Internet protocol (IP) telephone and television, and a 32ft flat panel LCD television in every room.

By the second year of its business, Suzianna said the hotel should be able to see a growth of 75% to 80% to record annual revenue of RM20mil. Room rates start at US$100 per night.

Meanwhile, Piccolo Galleria, a lifestyle activity centre with over 30,000 sq ft of rental space, occupies the ground, first and second floors of The Piccolo building.

It leases out the space for bar, restaurants, a spa and beauty centre. Its anchor tenant is Ristorante L’Opera, the House of Italian Dining managed by Piccolo Mondo Gastro Sdn Bhd.

Suzianna said Berjaya Land Bhd's (BLand) recent acquisition of a 51% stake in Absolute Prestige for RM15.3mil was a stamp of confidence in the hotel-cum-retail building project.

Wong will remain as the company's chief operating officer and head the hotel's management team.

BLand said the acquisition represented an opportunity for the company to add a city boutique hotel to its portfolio of 12 hotels and resorts around the world.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Right timing and location pay off

When they first started out in the Italian restaurant business in 1996, Piccolo Group managing director Suzianna Wong-Svrcula and her husband, Dr Kurt-Svrcula, took the plunge by trusting their instinct that “the timing and location would be good.”

“To be honest, when we first started in the food business, we had no idea where it would take us. Trusting our instinct was the right thing to do and had been proven right as the business is still prospering today,” Suzianna said.

Suzianna Wong-Svrcula and her husband Dr Kurt Svrcula have plans to expand their business.

“The rest was hard work, good practices like providing good food and services. I believe most businesses started from that one seed. If it grows well, it would give you the confidence to grow more.”

Having built up a chain of three Piccolo Mondo eateries and one fine dining restaurant (the Ristorante L’Opera) in Kuala Lumpur, the couple are now focusing on the hospitality business.

Their maiden hotel project, Piccolo Hotel along Kuala Lumpur's Bintang Walk, will be opening for business at the end of this month.

“This time around, we have a clear vision of what we want to do. When we boldly took over the lease of the 13-storey Wisma Peladang building five years ago, our vision was to turn it into a hotel-cum-retail space complex, in line with the company’s goal to build our Piccolo brand for further growth,” she said.

The building had since been renovated at a cost of RM42mil and renamed the Piccolo.

On the lower three floors are Piccolo Galleria lifestyle activity centre, while the rest of the building will be occupied by Piccolo Hotel, a 239-room boutique hotel.

Suzianna said the new hotel venture would benefit the group’s restaurant business as Piccolo Mondo would be providing breakfast and room service to Piccolo Hotel. It will also operate a lounge bar on the ground floor of the building.

“Going forward, these new ventures are expected to raise Piccolo Mondo’s group sales by 30%.”

Not one to rest on their laurels, the Svrculas are already having a couple of other business ventures in the eco and sports tourism sector, currently at the nurturing stage.

“These projects will be in Malaysia, as we believe in building on what is probably one of the most pristine and bio-diverse eco systems in this part of the world,” Suzianna said.

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Accountants, she has came a long way since her “corporate executive” days with several multinational companies in Britain, where she spent 13 years.

Upon her return to Malaysia in 1984, she worked with several manufacturing outfits before joining the Berjaya group in 1988.

Soon she rose to become one of the 10 senior general managers and the only woman to hold a top position in the group then.

For all her achievements, she was named “Woman Manager of the Year 1996” by the Women at Work magazine.

It was not all rosy for the feisty mother of two - Nikolai and Mikhail Svrcula, who are 22 and 21 years old, respectively.

In 2003, things almost came to a standstill when she was diagnosed with brain tumour and had to undergo a five-hour long operation, which was a success.

The tumour, the size of a 20 sen coin, was removed and she has since recovered from the dizzy and fainting spells.

Today, Suzianna is trying to take things a little bit easy and, wherever possible, follow her husband, who is an avid diver and renowned underwater photographer and writer, on his live-on-board expeditions.

On the things she cherished most in the journey of managing her own business, Wong said: “There is a sense of pride to have built an organisation with committed staff and well reputed and highly regarded products and services.

“As a business owner, I think the most important achievements are having built a successful and widely recognised brand of Italian restaurants and now, an exciting new boutique hotel.”

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Brunsfield Residence set to make a big splash

Chan with the architectural model of Brunsfield Residence

THE Brunsfield Group is confident that its high-end luxury condominium Brunsfield Residence @ U Thant will sell out when it launches the low-density project in June.

Developed by its property arm Brunsfield Development Holdings Sdn Bhd, the Group is in the midst of completing a deal with a foreign company to sell half of the 93-unit Brunsfield Residence, said its executive director of property development Chan Chee Keong.

“Our units are as good as sold … the sale of the three blocks to the foreign company from the Middle East is almost a done deal,” he told PropertyPlus, adding that the developer plans to retain most of the remaining units for recurring income.

The condos are housed in six 5-storey blocks and comprise 73 typical units, seven duplexes and 13 penthouses. Priced at RM3,000 psf, the partially furnished units come with built-ups of between 3,500 sq ft and 6,000 sq ft. For the typical units, prices start from RM11 million while the penthouse units are going from RM21 million. The maintenance fee has not been determined yet.

Chan said it is in the process of submitting the building plans since it obtained the development order last year.

“We expect to get the advertising permit and developer’s license and be able to launch the project in June. When asked further about the foreign company, Chan said that it had recently bought various commercial and residential units from various developments in the Kuala Lumpur city centre.

“The foreign company is buying our units for investment purposes... our prices here are relatively cheaper than those in Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. In fact, property values in KL are still under priced and with the property market on an upswing, there is still potential for capital appreciation,” he added. However, he declined to speculate on the amount of appreciation that can be expected.

For the remaining units, the developer plans to have them furnished and leased for between RM20,000 and RM30,000 monthly. Based on the surrounding developments including Sri’Ekar and Damai Suria, which are similar developments where all the units are leased out, Chan is confident that Brunsfield Residence will be able to capture its targeted market for rentals.

“The rental market here is mostly made up of expatriates who like the close proximity to amenities and the city centre. Some of these units are leased for between RM15,000 and RM20,000 monthly. For our project, we will be able to enjoy an annual rental yield of at least 6% and although it’s considered the going rate, our rental income is higher,” he said.

Viewings for its launch in June, are by invitation only. Chan said Brunsfield is also considering releasing some of its units for sale.

“We have been inviting some high-net worth individuals from our database for a preview of Brunsfield Residence. Some have indicated their interest,” added Chan.

Brunsfield Residence, which is flanked by Jalan U Thant and Persiaran Madge, sits on a 4.52-acre leasehold tract and is touted to among the largest tracts in the U Thant/Madge area.

Having purchased the site many years ago, Chan said the developer had been waiting for the right time to develop the site. Several old government bungalows were on the site before they were demolished some time ago.

“This area is strategically located... we have been waiting for the right time to develop it. With the infrastructure in place, convenient amenities and a ready catchment of expatriates, we feel that our pricing of RM3,000 psf will be well accepted,” he explained.

Boasting a high-level three-tier security system, the development will feature a lot of dedicated landscaped areas. Every two units will be served by their own lifts and amenities include two pools and a floating gym. The units on the top floor also have their own pool.

By theSun (by Loo Pik Kwan)

Highway help

The Kemuning-Shah Alam Expressway, scheduled for completion in 2009, is expected to positively impact property prices in many Klang Valley developments

The new Kemuning-Shah Alam Expressway (LKSA) is expected to open in 2009

THE North Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), Damansara Puchong Highway (LDP), New Pantai Expressway (NPE), Shah Alam Expressway (Kesas), Sprint Highway and the Federal Highway are among an extensive network of highways creating travelling convenience for those living and working in the Klang Valley.

Besides reducing the daily traffic congestion on the Federal Highway and the Kesas Highway, the new Kemuning-Shah Alam Expressway (LKSA), which acts as a connecting link between the two, is also expected to boost the demand and value of properties located along it.

The 14.7km highway by Project Lintasan Shah Alam Sdn Bhd has a dedicated interchange to Island & Peninsular Bhd’s (I&P) Alam Impian township and passes through developments such as Gamuda Land’s Kota Kemuning and Bukit Rimau by Malton Bhd. It is expected to be fully ready by end-2009 at a development cost of some RM700 million.

I&P managing director Datuk Jamaludin Osman told Propertyplus that the targeted year-end completion of the first phase of LKSA, which links Alam Impian to the Federal Highway, would substantially increase the value of the properties in the township. “Prices of the homes there is expected to appreciate by 15% to 30% when LKSA becomes operational in November,” he said, adding that demand for the properties is also expected to rise in tandem.

About 50% of the 115 units of 2- and 2 ½-storey linked houses and 74 units of 2-storey semidees in the 1,325- acre freehold township have been taken up since its launch in December 2006. Prices range from RM325,000 to RM623,000 for the terraces with built-ups of 2,439 sq ft onwards, while the semidees, with built-ups from 3,113 sq ft, are priced between RM552,000 and RM900,900. The group plans to launch three more phases this year.

Meanwhile, Kota Kemuning is already enjoying good accessibility with a dedicated interchange from the Kesas Highway. Residents living in the 1,820-acre freehold development can head to other parts of the Klang Valley via the Federal Highway, LDP, NKVE and North-South Central Link.

The mature township is 90% developed and just three years from full completion. Its latest 2- storey townhouses with built-ups from 1,700 sq ft are priced at RM280,000 onwards, while 2-storey semidees, priced from RM800,000, have built-ups of 3,200 sq ft and above.

Malton sales and marketing director, Tracey Lai, said the LKSA would bring better appreciation to the properties in Bukit Rimau by providing improved accessibility. “Property values are expected to increase by 15% to 20% and the take-up rate should rise as well,” she said. The average price of 2-storey linked bungalows with built-ups of either 3,125 sq ft or 3,193 sq ft is RM750,000 while a 3,800 sq ft 2- storey bungalow is worth RM1.4 million in the 384-acre freehold Bukit Rimau.

“While most homeowners want greenery, peace and security, they also want facilities and amenities right at their doorsteps. Now, it would appear they have all they need with the new accessibility,” she added.

Beyond Subang
Metro Homes Sdn Bhd director See Kok Loong said developments located along the Kesas Highway, particular those beyond Subang, would benefit most from the completion of LKSA. These include Kota Kemuning, Kemuning Utama, Bukit Rimau, Bandar Puteri Klang, Berjaya Park and Bandar Botanic.

“The LKSA will provide easy access to the Federal Highway, which is a cheaper, more direct route to the city centre compared to the Kesas Highway that links to the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR2),” he said. He explained that currently, residents from those areas would have to cut through the Elite Highway from the Kesas Highway to get to the Federal Highway.

According to him, the secondary market price for 2- storey terraces in Berjaya Park and Bukit Rimau are RM220,000 and RM280,000 respectively while those Kota Kemuning and Kemuning Utam are going from RM310,000 to RM340,000. Rental rates for the houses range from RM1,000 to RM1,300 per month.

“There will not be significant changes in the [value] of the properties there in the initial stages. Nevertheless, they are expected to gradually increase with the completion of the LKSA as it will create a lot of convenience for the property buyers,” he said.

Rahim & Co (Selangor) Sdn Bhd managing director Choy Yue Kwong estimated a 10% to 20% increase in capital values for properties in the vicinity, with better appreciation in Nilai Impian, when the LKSA is completed or near completion.

“Generally, it makes sense to purchase the properties there before their completion as the values will not change significantly at this stage.

The demand and prices will only increase when the highway is completed and members of the public are able to experience its convenience,” he said, adding that developers would most likely capitalise on this factor to raise the selling price of future launches.

However, he said the ease of accessibility to a major highway alone is not enough to spell success for any housing scheme. “Bukit Beruntung too is easily accessible via the NKVE yet it is far from
being termed as successful,” he said.

He added that properties directly fronting an expressway would suffer from noise pollution, which would depress their value. “In such situations, the mitigating measure will be for the developer or concessionaire to construct a sound barrier to minimise the noise from passing traffic,” he said.

See believes Mutiara Damansara, in Petaling Jaya, is an example of a well planned development as the commercial properties there are fronting the LDP while the residential properties are located at the other end.

“Other developments doing well due to their locations near a major highway include Setia Alam, Setia Eco-Park and Alam Perdana that are connected by the Setia-Meru Link, as well as Sierramas and Valencia, which are accessible via the Sungai Buloh Interchange,” he added.

He said it is very important for any development to have a dedicated link to a highway as residents would not need to go through another development to get home. However, he added that some developers fail to deliver interchanges on time due to high commitment cost.

“If the development is not big enough, the financial burden can be very heavy and would cause problems in getting approvals from the local authority,” he said.

By theSun

Kitchen trends to watch in Asia

Erikson and the new Illuminated Induction Cooktop

Imagine your whole family spending more time in the kitchen, the children doing their homework or web surfing on the island while mom whips up a hearty meal. Your kitchen – minimalist in design, colourful with a mix of materials (stainless steel, wood, etc), coupled with just the right amount of lighting to create the perfect ambience – is the focal point where your guests are entertained.

According to Electrolux Asia Pacific director of design Lars Erikson, this is where trends are heading. “Cooking is no longer a solitary chore, but a time for sharing and interaction,” he said.
Erikson was giving a preview of Electrolux’s Illuminated Induction Cooktop (EIIC) in Petaling Jaya recently.

A survey conducted two years ago on kitchen activities globally and in Malaysia showed that out of the 2,000 people interviewed, 50% spent their time socialising with their family in the kitchen. Sweden recorded the highest percentage where 80% of the people interviewed spent time with their family in the kitchen. The survey also found that people regarded their homes as
a sanctuary and not just a place to eat and sleep. “They want to show their homes off as a reflection of their personality. Appliances are almost like pieces of jewellery for the home,” Erikson said.

Integrated kitchen design
Erikson said Asian kitchens are evolving to become places for interaction where kitchens are the heart of domestic life. The kitchen and the living area are now integrated with open-plan designs. This is evident especially in upper income groups where the perception of cooking has changed – increasingly it is seen as a creative and social act instead of work.

Professional style
There is a demand for a different style of kitchen, one that is open and accessible to the rest of the house while reflecting the appearance of professional kitchens. “The enhanced status of cooking is making the kitchen a prestige object for showing off one’s wealth or cooking professionalism”, Erikson said.
Going green
More kitchen designers are also creating eco-friendly kitchens built with environmentally safe materials, as new environmental design standards require appliances to be more energy and water efficient. Erikson said architects and consumers now have more options for products that minimise harm to the environment in its manufacturing process and offer the ability to reduce waste over a long term.
The new live-in room
He foresees an increasingly blurred line between kitchen and living rooms, and a greater connection between inside and outdoor areas. “However, in the future, I can imagine outdoor kitchens with outdoor sofas and entertainment units. That will demand a much more flexible kitchen, with appliances that are more mobile. For example, you could move your oven outdoors, or install more products such as outdoor fridges. I think there are enormous possibilities by expanding into the outdoors,” Erikson said.

Illuminating changes
Instead of the typical fluorescent lighting in most kitchens, modern kitchen lighting would “play with your emotions” – strategically placed lights would create a warm ambiance and a calming effect. Erikson said the new thinking in lighting is brought through the evolution of the kitchen. White illumination has been widely used as it fits well with most kitchen colour themes and is good for food preparation.

“Illumination in kitchens must undergo a transition from pure work light to stimulating moods especially during meals, when it is more appropriate to have a cozy and warm atmosphere,” he added.

Minimalist style
Today, the typical modern kitchen usually includes a full-height wall for storage and cooking, with an island bench that acts as a link and physical separation between the kitchen and the living space. And when it comes to appliances, they are normally picked from one range to achieve the consistent look.

Taking on a minimalist style, Electrolux recently introduced the Electrolux Illuminated Induction Cooktop where the cooking area is made from white ceramic glass and features touch controls, which become illuminated with white light strips around the cooking area. According to Erikson, the company wanted to get away from the black square in the benchtop, which has remained unchanged for the last 20 to 30 years, and create a different experience beyond functionality.

Priced at US$9,999 (approximately RM32,647), Erikson said the EIIC is the most expensive in the world and encapsulates Electrolux design values, combining great technology with great design. He added that the technology cost for induction is going down and foresees a surge in demand for induction cooktops.

The EIIC was first introduced at the end of last year in Japan and is now available in Malaysia.

Induction makes for much cooler kitchens, as no heat is lost to the air directly from the hob. The cookers are also faster, safer and more energy-efficient than traditional hobs. However, only certain pots and pans can be used on induction hobs.

By theSun (by Rosalynn Poh)

Hap Seng Land to stamp mark in Peninsular Malaysia

The property arm of Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, has completed property projects with a gross development value of RM2bil. It has about RM1bil worth of projects in the Klang Valley

TOP Sabah developer Hap Seng Land Sdn Bhd is making its presence felt in Peninsular Malaysia with about RM1bil worth of developments in the Klang Valley.

The company, the property holding and development arm of Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, recently completed a RM60mil refurbishment of its Menara Hap Seng (formerly MUI Plaza) at Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur.

Hap Seng Properties Development general manager (property development - East Malaysia) John Tan Duo Zer (right) and deputy general manager - sales Johnny Tham with the model of Kingfisher Palm Homes Sulaman.

The company will also be developing its first high-end condominium in the peninsula. The luxury condominium will be on 1.3 acres at Jalan Tun Razak (near the Royal Selangor Golf Club).

The project, with a gross development value (GDV) of RM360mil, may be launched early next year.

The 1.3-acre land is one of three parcels that the company acquired recently. The other two parcels, in the Jalan Klang Lama area in Kuala Lumpur, will be for a mixed office and retail project (2.6 acres) and a high-end apartment (1.8 acres).

Hap Seng Land chief executive (property division) Datuk Paul Ng Kee Seng told StarBiz that the company would also launch the D'Alpinia residential development in Puchong soon. This project, with RM300mil GDV, would be developed on a “build-then-sell” concept.

Datuk Paul Ng Kee Seng

Ng said this concept was good as purchasers could see the kind of value-for-money products that the company was giving them even before they bought the house. “We want to get things right from Day One. With our renovation-free concept, our buyers will not have to spend more money,” he said.

Extras will include an auto-gate system, security surveillance and alarm system, and water filtration system.

Phase 1A consisting of 154 units (88 cluster homes and 66 terrace houses) are under construction and will be completed end of the year. The 35ft x 65ft cluster homes are semi-detached houses with 2,300 sq ft built-up area while the 22ft x 75ft double-storey terrace houses have 2,200 sq ft built-up area.

The 99-year leasehold township is located at the end of the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) and is in front of the Puchong-Seri Kembangan-Puchong interchange. It is about a 10 minutes' drive or 10km from IOI Mall in Bandar Puchong Jaya.

It will have 1,164 units of terrace house, semi-detached house, bungalow, apartment, condominium, and shop office. It has four sub-phases, with each phase having its own landscaping theme: Tropical Sanctuary, Oriental Haven, Western Chic and Balinese Retreat.

Of the 88 acres, 76 acres are for mixed residential properties and 12 acres for commercial properties in an integrated business hub that will have high-rise offices, showrooms, a hypermarket, and retail shops, among others.

D'Alpinia would be completed in five to six years. D'Alpinia is the name of the largest species in the ginger plant family.

The beauty of the flower represents refinement and resilience and this is to be reflected in Hap Seng's brand name and vision as a strong and caring developer as well as the refinement of D'Alpinia township concept.

Ng said Phase 1 would have a low density of only seven units per acre as compared to the usual 11 units per acre.

“D'Alpinia is open for registration now. They will be informed when our show village at the site is ready for pre-launch and preview expected by second half of 2008,” he said, adding that registrants would enjoy special privileges such as exclusive invitation for the first preview of the show village, early bird pricing and an option to pick one's own unit before sales are opened to the general public.

Purchasers would enjoy free security services for the first two years on issuance of the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CF).

Ng said the company had about 500 acres of freehold land in Sungai Pelek, Selangor, where it planned to do mixed development. “We are looking for land, particularly in the Klang Valley, to build high quality homes catering to a niche market,” he said.

Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd, listed in August 1978, is a leading property developer in Sabah. It has diversified businesses in plantations, property holding and development, credit financing, automotive, trading, building materials and stone quarries.

Its other projects in Peninsular Malaysia include One Ampang, Hap Seng Star Autohaus in Kuala Lumpur, Hap Seng Star Service Centre in Bandar Kinrara, and Taman Anggerik in Kluang, Johor.

Its ongoing projects in Sabah include Bandar Sri Indah (Phases 3 and 4) and Taman Suria in Tawau, Astana Heights (Phases 4 and 5) and Taman Fajar Perdana (Phase 2) in Sandakan, Taman Kingfisher Sulaiman (Phases 4 and 5) in Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Sri Perdana (Phase 4A) in Lahad Datu, and Taman Miramas 2 in Semporna.

Its past and completed townships in Sabah include Friendship Garden, Plaza Kingfisher, Taman Aman and Taman Kingfisher 2 in Kota Kinabalu, Bandar Fajar, and Taman Fajar and Taman Pertama in Sandakan.

It has done seven residential projects and the Fajar Complex commercial project in Tawau. It has also developed a commercial project called Fajar Centre and two residential projects, Taman Aman and Taman Aman Jaya, in Lahad Datu.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

Menara Hap Seng latest upmarket address

An artist's impression of Menara Hap Seng.

The almost fully tenanted office tower in Menara Hap Seng is set to be the latest prestigious office address in the federal capital following an extensive makeover recently.

With about 250,000 sq ft of lettable space in the office tower and with an average rental of RM5 per sq ft (psf), the office block alone is expected to rake in RM1.25mil rental a month.

The 22-storey, office development (a 19-storey office tower atop a three-level retail podium) was bought for aboutRM166mil in 2004. It now sports a new and bold appearance, first-class facilities including airy lounges, spacious foyers and corridors, quality finishing, and modern building control system. There is also a grand lobby and a high atrium with sunlight filling the retail podium where people can mix business with leisure.

Hap Seng Land Sdn Bhd chief executive (property division) Datuk Paul Ng Kee Seng said the company had taken up five of the 19 floors in the office tower.

It will serve as the headquarters for the public-listed Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd. About 70% of the retail space on the podium level would be for food and beverage (F & B) outlets. There are also specialty stores.

Besides having a modern office in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur, tenants would also enjoy 24-hour security with CCTV in all lift lobbies and car park, central air conditioning, six high-speed passenger lifts and a service lift, functional floor layout of 13,259 sq ft and other attractive features. There are 310 car park bays with a bay for every 1,000 sq ft rented.

“I noticed that many office buildings in Malaysia do not provide full back-up services like concierge and valet services. Menara Hap Seng will have valet and concierge services and a security centre,” said Ng, adding that the official opening of the building might be in April.

The rentals of the retail lots range from about RM5 to RM15 psf with sizes of 1,000 sq ft to 6,000 sq ft. At least six tenants have taken up lots of 4,500 to 6,000 sq ft.

Among the tenants are Maybank, CIMB, Apex communications, Honeywell and Mitsui Sumitomo.

“We're confident of drawing people into Menara Hap Seng as we are offering medium to high-end range of F & B outlets with a slightly different ambience.

“We want to make it a happening place where diners as well as office workers can come at night,” he said, adding that about RM500,000 was being spent on landscaping the podium's roof top to turn it into a “little oasis.” “People can go up there for their meals and enjoy the views,” he added.

By The Star

More luxury bungalows planned in Kota Kinabalu

KINGFISHER Palm Homes Sulaman and Kingfisher Park 2 have become the preferred address for the wealthy in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, where many rich Sabahans have built their mansions here.

Those who have missed out on the earlier launches can now look forward to buying a bungalow as the developer, Hap Seng Properties Development Sdn Bhd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd), will be launching 40 boutique bungalows in Phase 5 of Kingfisher Palm Homes Sulaman, a gated and guarded community.

A detached show house at Kingfisher Palm Homes Sulaman.

To be launched in the middle of this year, each bungalow will be priced at about RM1mil.

The first four phases of this project are: 168 units of 2½-storey link house and semi-detached house under Phases 1 to 3 that have been completed with Certificate of Fitness for Occupation and 186 units of 2½-storey link houses (111 units), 2½-storey semi-detached houses (16 units), 2½-storey link bungalows (40 units) and two-storey detached houses (19 units) under Phase 4 that are due for completion early next year.

Hap Seng has also completed and sold 745 homes in Kingfisher Park 2. Both projects, along the Kota Kinabalu-Sulaman Highway, are near the upcoming 1 Borneo (the first and largest hypermall in East Malaysia), Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and the government administrative centre. This fast-growing area is about a 10 minutes' drive from Kota Kinabalu town.

Hap Seng Properties Development Sdn Bhd property division general manager for East Malaysia, John Tan Duo Zer, told StarBiz in Kota Kinabalu recently that Phase 4 houses had been selling very well.

On the Phase 5 boutique bungalows, Tan said they would have much bigger built-up areas and land than the Phase 4 link bungalows that were sold from about RM699,000. He said Phases 4 and 5 would have underground cabling.

The Kingfisher Palm Homes Sulaman will have a majestic palm tree-lined boulevard at the main entrance, nice landscapes and streetscapes, soft grassy gardens and water parks, outdoor gyms and exercise stations, pedestrian walkways, jogging tracks and playgrounds. Houses come with quality finishes.

“There's a very good demand for our houses, as we have become a household name in Sabah. We've built a reputation as a caring developer,” he said, adding that Kingfisher Palm Homes Sulaman's tagline Crafted for a deserving lifestyle reflected the group's commitment to give the best to its purchasers.

Tan noted that Hap Seng was probably the first to introduce 2½-storey link houses in Kota Kinabalu.

“We're sensitive to local needs. Hence we constantly get feedback from members of the public on what they want for we realise that people from different towns have different requirements,” he said, adding that purchasers of the Kingfisher Park 2 had seen their properties appreciate in value.

Hap Seng has also built 148 units of two and three-storey shop offices in Plaza Kingfisher.

By The Star

Company a household name in Sabah

HAP SENG is a household name in Sabah. This strong brand name in East Malaysia has reached the shores of Peninsular Malaysia where Hap Seng Land Sdn Bhd is bringing with it more than 30 years of expertise and experience in property development and holding of investment properties.

As a leading property developer in Sabah, the company has constantly set new benchmarks in areas such as quality, concept and early completion of its projects. In fact, the company was the first to introduce the gated community concept in Sabah when it developed its Taman Mosaic some 20 years ago! Today, this project of 40 boxy-style bungalows has high perimeter walls and a guardhouse.

The company has done 32 housing projects in Tawau alone since the late 1970s.

In recent years, Hap Seng has vastly improved its products, as shown by projects such as its Taman Suria in Tawau that boasts 24-hour security with CCTV cameras and infrared motion detectors at the perimeter walls. Completed with Certificate of Fitness last year, all except for two of the 30 semi-detached and detached units have been sold.

These houses have 5ft-wide staircase, plaster ceiling for the first floor, and even 6ft-high walls with ceramic tiles grilles in the wet kitchen.

The recently completed wet market at Bandar Sri Indah in Tawa.

Any doubt that I might have about this company soon vanished after a recent visit to its projects in Kota Kinabalu and Tawau.

I was most impressed with its RM2.5bil Bandar Sri Indah in Tawau, the biggest township in Sabah with 1,368 acres of Hap Seng's former oil palm estates that is set to be one of the best in Sabah.

The township, started in 2004, is moving fast into Phase 5.

Straddling both sides of Jalan Apas, it is about 16km from Tawau old town centre. Its sheer size would surprise first-time visitors who arrive at this town bordering Indonesia after a 10 to 15 minutes' drive from Tawau Airport. Bandar Sri Indah is projected to grow into the largest business and residential hub in Tawau. It is near the famous Shan Shui Golf & Country Course.

It will have 7,493 residential units (992 acres), 788 commercial units (96 acres), 527 industrial units (103 acres) and 28 acres of open space. Amenities on 149 acres will include schools, hypermarket, community hall, sports centre, religious reserve, bus/taxi terminal, market, security centre, and petrol stations.

It is about the size of UEP Subang Jaya (UEP) in Selangor and boasts an impressive and grand entrance statement with water features at a big roundabout at Jalan Apas. Security guards salute us as our 4WD cars drove in for a visit.

A modern two-storey wet market (officially opened last December) with spacious car park is near the township's main entrance. It has a nice food court on the first floor with stainless steel chairs and tables, suraus and 114 stalls at the wet market on the ground floor. A freezer will soon be added to enable the stallholders to keep their fresh foodstuff.

Facing Jalan Apas are rows of newly completed two-storey shop offices with 35ft-wide frontage and tinted glass windows. Phase 2A of the shop offices (126 units) have been fully sold while the Phase 2B shop offices (133 units) have also been selling well. Polycarbonate roofs cover the space between the rows for shoppers' convenience. A shopping centre has been proposed on a piece of land between these two phases.

Hap Seng Land plans to create an eco-park with a jungle trail in a forest reserve next to the Phase 2B shop offices. It has also built a RM240,000 imported Australian teflon tent at a landscaped Eco Park open space which can be used to host various functions and activities such as product exhibitions and special events.

“Almost the whole of Tawau town came to this site to see our fireworks display when we celebrated the township's second anniversary last September,” said the project's deputy marketing manager Conrad Paujik.

About half of the purchasers of the 677 houses in Phase 1 (it has also its own guard house) have moved into their houses. This phase has two big family parks with basketball court, children's playground, and futsal court. In the Esplanade area, gazebos and jogging tracks have been built along a stream.

Hap Seng Properties Development Sdn Bhd operations manager Willie Pang said a 3km jogging track along a stream would be built to link Phase 1 to the lake garden in Phase 3. “We even have a 24-hour mobile patrol unit,” said Pang, who also took me to the security centre where the 20 to 30 guards had to clock in and out daily by pressing their thumbs on an identification gadget.

On the other side of Jalan Apas is the BSI Industrial Park, the biggest industrial park in Tawau. Currently, three types of one and 1½-storey industrial shop offices totalling 120 units are being built for sale. They have motorised roller shutters and CCTV cameras (with digital video recording) and an alarm system which are linked to the Bandar Sri Indah 24-hour security centre.

There is a hive of activities as lorries and tractors clear the huge land to build some 2,000 units of terrace house, semi-detached house and bungalow under Phase 5 (to be launched next year), an Anglican primary and secondary school project (under construction and expected to begin operations early next year), and 306 houses for sale under Phase 3.

Surrounded by three virgin forest reserves, it is clear that one of the best selling points of Bandar Sri Indah is that residents can enjoy abundant greenery and fresh air. Besides the good security and the quality of the houses, another selling point is the affordable entry level to own a house here.

A Phase 1, 20ft x 90ft two-storey terrace house was sold at a developer's price for only RM105,000. A hallmark of Hap Seng's houses is its big lot size, generous land setback at the rear of the house which is ideal for future extensions.

The rich Tawau folks will also get to own bungalows with an eco-friendly concept when 110 bungalows and link bungalows under Phase 2C (near the shop offices) are launched next year.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

Plenitude launches Tebrau City Residences project

PROPERTY developer Plenitude Bhd has launched its Tebrau City Residences project, a first-of-its-kind serviced apartments in Johor Baru which is integrated in a "city within a city" concept.

Tebrau City Residences is designed to suit the lifestyle of modern city living and the only one to be surrounded by three international retail malls, namely the AEON Jusco mall, and the upcoming Tesco and IKEA malls.

CHUA: The location, convenience and amenities offered by Tebrau City Residences are one of its kind in Johor

The project consists of 1,088 freehold serviced apartments fronting AEON Jusco mall.

There are four designs with three- and four-bedroom apartments ranging from 1,089 sq ft to 1,882 sq ft per unit. Prices range from RM133 per sq ft to RM175 per sq ft.

"We expect the price to further appreciate upon completion of the project in June 2009 as the location, convenience and amenities offered by Tebrau City Residences are one of its kind in Johor," Plenitude executive chairman Elsie Chua said in a statement.

Tebrau City Residences will also have an in-house pool, gym, sauna and badminton courts as well as easy and secured residence access to carpark bays and other amenities. The service charge for maintenance of common areas and facilities is 14 sen per sq ft.

"Our current launch is the first parcel with 472 units, which has received good response. The rental yield at this area is projected at eight per cent and is expected to continue to increase due to land appreciation in this area and within the Iskandar Development Region," she added.

By New Straits Times

MTM sees brisk sales for project

MTM Millennium Holdings Sdn Bhd expects its maiden development project, Casa Dal-Hanaa in Cherating, Pahang, to be fully sold out by end of this year.

The freehold, gated community development comprises Mediterranean-flavoured villas (20 units) and apartment suites (49 units), with tropical landscaping. The project was expected to be completed by the end of 2009.

MTM Millennium executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad T. Al-Ozeir said sales had been satisfactory since the project was launched.

The prices range from RM550,000 for an apartment suite to RM5.8mil for a deluxe villa.

The built-up areas of the villas are from 3,675 to 6,800 sq ft, while an apartment suite has built-up area of between 1,000 and 4,200 sq ft.

Mohamad said prices were subject to change depending on currency fluctuation, cost of materials, and demand and supply.

The properties are targeted at buyers not only from this country but also from around the world who seek a luxury holiday villa fronting the sea.

By The Star

Making local furniture fashionable

Players must avoid pitfalls and market products effectively

THE furniture industry is not all that different from the fashion industry, based on what SJI Industries Sdn Bhd managing director Benny Poh said.

Furniture makers have to work a few seasons in advance like the fashion houses. And they also have to predict what will become the next big trend.

Benny Poh

“Furniture is no longer just a piece of wood. It has now become like fashion,” Poh told StarBiz. “Thus you have to be competitive and avoid pitfalls by selling at lower prices.”

According to him, players should offer higher value-added products rather than compete on pricing.

In addition, he said, they should learn how to market their products effectively.

SJI has been participating at the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) over the past few years and had managed to receive a positive response.

Poh said that MIFF had been doing a good job bringing buyers to the exhibition every year.

“We cannot be going around the world to look for buyers, and MIFF has been bringing them to our doorstep every year,” he said.

MIFF Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Tan Chin Huat urged local furniture makers to be trendsetters and penetrate the medium to high-end markets to keep up with the rapid changes in the industry.

Datuk Tan Chin Huat

“Buyers are now looking at what other extra things that we can offer to enable them to explore their business opportunities,” he said.

“Of course, there will be competition. That is why we need to find a niche for ourselves. Gone are the days where we only compete in terms of pricing. Local furniture manufacturers should not see China as a threat but as an opportunity for them,” he added.

He said local players should capitalise on their manufacturing skills and ability to deliver on time to attract more business in the international market.

Yap Fui Fook, operations manager of Samling Housing Products Sdn Bhd which will also participate at this year's MIFF, said the group was currently moving up the value chain to offer more design-oriented furniture.

“We are moving up the value chain to improve on our profit margins. We will also sell more of our products to Britain and Germany,” Yap said, adding that green consumerism was gaining popularity in Europe.

He said the group had been participating in international furniture fairs to secure more direct linkages with smaller distributors and retailers.

Meanwhile, Ascent Furniture Sdn Bhd managing director Eric Au said companies should always be prepared to weather conditions such as higher raw material costs and exchange rates.

“Malaysia definitely has its advantages, such as resources. We will stand to gain if we put in the right design and market them effectively,” he said.

He also said that MIFF was one of the most cost-effective and results-oriented tools to promote Malaysian furniture.Malaysia's total trade in furniture for the first 10 months of last year was RM9.13bil. In 2006, the full-year figure rose 7.4% to RM9.4bil. Malaysia ranked as the ninth largest exporter of furniture in the world in 2006.

MIFF 2008, organised by MIFF Sdn Bhd, will be held for five days starting today at both the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp Exhibition and Convention Centre and the Putra World Trade Centre.

Tan said about 500 exhibitors from Malaysia and other countries had confirmed participation and visitors from over 130 countries had pre-registered their attendance.

MIFF 2007 attracted 7,266 international buyers from 135 countries and a total of 19,518 visitors, generating US$667mil in sales.

“The number of participants and visitors to MIFF has been encouraging every year. In fact, the number is always increasing. Due to overwhelming response, we have to constantly expand in scale and size.

“This year, the fair will occupy a total of 80,000 sq m of exhibition space compared to 12,000 sq m in 1995, when we first started,” said Tan.

He said the bigger space and the increase in number of participants indicated that MIFF had turned into a world-class show.

By The Star - StarBiz (by Leong Hung Yee)

The allure of Melati Ehsan

RM1 BILLION ORDER BOOK: Yap (right) and Melati Project Director Mohd Zainudin Badarudin explaining a plan for a Johor project

WHEN Lembaga Tabung Haji doubled its stake in Melati Ehsan Holdings Bhd recently, one can't help but wonder: What's so sexy about Melati?

So far, two research houses have put the construction and property company under their radar. Both told clients to buy the stock, tagging a 12-month target price of between RM2.35 and RM2.50.

This would give investors a potential upside of at least 63 per cent based on Friday's close.

"Valuation is at single-digit, and it is ridiculously low at this time. It's a good value buy with limited downside," said Jeremy Goh from OSK Research Sdn Bhd.

Currently, the stock trades at a price-to-earnings multiple of around 3.6 times, versus 9-12 times for most of the other small construction companies.

Analysts are also attracted by the amount of jobs the company has.

"The main selling point is that the company has a huge order book, relative to the size of the company. Usually, for a construction company with a market cap of about RM200 million, order book is about RM800 million," said another analyst.

He declined to be named due to company policy.

Melati has an order book of over RM1 billion, which is expected to keep the company busy over the next three years. It is also bidding for RM2 billion worth of jobs.

Tabung Haji, which had about 3.94 million shares or 3.26 per cent of Melati in 2007, currently has over eight million shares or 6.7 per cent.

"There are three things Tabung Haji look at before buying stakes in a company: Sustainable earnings, solid valuation and good management team," said a Tabung Haji official who does not want to be named.

The company is 49.7 per cent held by managing director Datuk Yap Suan Chee.

Another interesting shareholder is Kuala Lumpur Kepong's Datuk Seri Lee Oi Hian. It is believed that he holds 1.67 per cent through Malay-Sino Formic Acid Sdn Bhd.

By New Straits Times

Melati eyes flood mitigation works

MELATI Ehsan Holdings Bhd, a construction and property firm, believes it has what it takes to be one of the top players in flood mitigation.

The company, which has one flood mitigation project in hand, has bid for three more deals worth RM2.1 billion collectively in the south and north of Peninsular Malaysia, managing director Datuk Yap Suan Chee said.

"We are confident about getting one of the three contracts after the mid-term review due to our financial strength and also because of what we have achieved in Kepala Batas, Penang," Yap told Business Times in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

The government has doubled its budget for projects to tackle flooding to RM4 billion under its latest five-year plan that ends in 2010.

But it will need five times more to end the problem completely. In December last year, Drainage and Irrigation Department director-general Datuk Keizrul Abdullah said that RM21 billion would be needed for such nationwide projects.

"More emphasis has been placed on flood mitigation to tackle flooding problems, especially in growth corridors," Yap said.

Melati won a RM170 million contract for works from Bertam to Kepala Batas in December 2004, which was its first flood mitigation work.

The main job, which started in February 2006 and is 40 per cent complete, includes widening and stabilising five rivers and constructing new drainage, maintenance complex and flood retention pond. Works will be done by April next year.

Melati's edge also lies in its "green products".

Project director Mohd Zainudin Badarudin explained that instead of reinforcing river banks with concrete, a common practice in the past, Melati uses "sand-filled mattress" and "turf reinforced matrix".

These use natural materials like coconut fibres or bio-degradable equivalent material, which allow and promote growth of vegetation.

"In addition, substantial savings in time can be achieved as no specialised equipment or additional machinery need to be deployed," Mohd Zainudin said.

Melati is also geared for more jobs, said Yap. It plans to submit bids for highway and building works as well as infrastructure projects in township developments.

The main board-listed group is targeting contracts worth more than RM300 million each, with the focus on those under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and Private Finance Initiatives.

"We are also looking at dam construction, which will be our first initiative. We have a good management team and strong network of sub-contractors, good cash flow and bankers' support to tackle the job. So we are confident and ready," Yap said.

Melati has RM1.7 billion worth of contracts in hand, of which RM1.4 billion is unbilled.

More than 80 per cent are government projects, from Selangor Economic Development Corp and TPPT Sdn Bhd, a unit of Bank Negara Malaysia.

Melati has contracts for the Trans Eastern Kedah Interland Highway project and a job to build a Carrefour hypermarket in Kota Damansara, Selangor.

"We have completed 60 per cent of the highway and are targeting to finish the job by year-end, five months ahead of schedule," Yap said.

Construction contributes 70 per cent of group revenue, while property development makes up the rest.

By New Straits Times - Business Times (by Sharen Kaur and Goh Thean Eu)

Muhibbah Engr expects double-digit profit growth

CONSTRUCTION and engineering firm Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd, which is in the midst of an internal restructuring, said it expects net profit and revenue growth for the 2008 financial year to be in the double digits, supported by all divisions.

"We expect 2008 to be another good year. We see growth in every single division and expect the group to post at least double-digit increases in net profit and revenue," Muhibbah Engineering managing director Mac Ngan Boon told Business Times in an interview.

The group saw its net profit for the financial year ended December 31 2007 more than double to RM70.2 million from RM33.8 million a year ago.

Revenue rose 31 per cent to RM1.4 billion from RM1.1 billion in 2006.

The construction and engineering division accounted for 52 per cent of the group's 2007 revenue, followed by its crane manufacturing business with 32 per cent and marine unit at 16 per cent.

Mac said for 2008, contributions to the group from its various business units will likely remain similar to last year.

Two major local projects that will drive revenue growth of its construction division this year will be the RM1.1 billion construction works of the South Klang Valley Expressway and the RM450 million job to build a petroleum hub and bunkering facility on a man-made island in Tanjung Bin, Johor.

"Currently, we are awaiting funding for the two projects to be put in place but we expect them to kick off this year. At the same time, we expect contribution to come from our overseas projects in Singapore, Syria, Qatar and Yemen," said Mac.

Muhibbah Engineering has an outstanding order book of RM4.6 billion and is also tendering for local and overseas projects worth about RM10 billion.

"As a company, we can never sit idle. We continue to source and look at the market. Our business development is always ongoing," Mac said.

"However, we are now much more selective in terms of the types of work that we look for. The sectors that we like include airport, port and bridge construction works.

"We want to ensure that our profit margins are protected and that we can give value to our shareholders," he added.

Meanwhile, Mac said Muhibbah Engineering is reorganising its businesses into four cores - construction and engineering, crane manufacturing, marine and concessions.

Part of the restructuring involves regrouping its oil and gas fabrication business under its marine subsidiary.

The move will boost Muhibbah Marine Engineering Sdn Bhd's revenue and put it in better stead to secure more shipbuilding and fabrication jobs in the oil and gas industry.

The company has taken steps to regroup a project it had secured in 2006 to build fabricating steel jackets for an oil and gas project in Yemen under its marine division. The project is currently placed under Muhibbah Steel Industries Sdn Bhd.

"The new structure will be reflected in this year's financials, where we expect Muhibbah Marine's net profit and revenue to grow by 20 per cent this year," said Mac.

Last year, Muhibbah Marine posted a net profit of RM18 million on a revenue of RM301 million, driven mainly by its shipbuilding activities.

By New Straits Times (by Kang Siew Li)