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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Foreign interest in Penang hotel

PENANG: A RM250mil hotel project by Ivory Properties Group has attracted the attention of overseas investors who are keen to acquire the property.

General manager Chok Keng Vui said the company was in negotiations with interested parties from the Middle East, South Africa, Singapore and Britain.

“They started negotiations with us after seeing the preliminary design of the hotel, which will fall under the five-star category,” Chok told StarBiz.

The 500-room, 30-storey hotel comes under phase four of the RM1bil Times Square mixed development project on a 4.86ha site in Georgetown.

Chok said the hotel would have a heritage theme to blend with the facade of the Times Square project.

“A podium will be constructed to link the hotel to the shopping mall.

”Our shopping mall, with a gross commercial floor space of about 1.2 million sq ft, will incorporate the features of Kuala Lumpur's Sungai Wang Plaza and Suria KLCC. We are also looking at a revolving restaurant for the hotel,” he said.

He expects the deal to acquire the hotel to be finalised next year with one of the foreign investors.

Construction works on the hotel is expected to start in 2010.

Chok said phase one of the Times Square project was scheduled for completion in October this year. Phase one comprises 180 retail lots in a gross commercial area of about 400,000 sq ft, and 414 serviced condominium units.

The retail lots are sold out while the serviced condominium units are 95% taken up.

The retail lots on the ground floor are priced from RM2,000 per sq ft.

Chok said the value of the 1,030-sq-ft serviced condominium units, now selling for about RM350,000 or RM350 per sq ft, had risen by about 30% since their launch in 2005.

“Several international brand names involved in department store and electronic consumer products will be setting up outlets in phase one,” he said.

The second phase, scheduled for completion by end-2009, comprises about 100 retail lots in a gross commercial area of 350,000 sq ft, and 370 serviced condominium units.

The retail lots are 95% sold, while 80% of the serviced condominium units have been taken up.

Work on the third phase, scheduled to start in 2010, comprises 470,000 sq ft of gross commercial space, which will include a convention and exhibition centre.

“We will lease the commercial space for this final phase and control the type of tenants taking up the commercial area,'' Chok said. “We intend to model the third phase after the Starhill Gallery in Bintang Walk.”

By The Star - StarBiz - (by David Tan)

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HK has world's highest apartment rents: Survey

SINGAPORE: Hong Kong has the world’s priciest apartment rents, with the lease for a three-bedroom unit costing more than US$9,700 on average a month, a survey released yesterday said.

Singapore, which positions itself as a Southeast Asian business hub, saw Asia’s biggest year-on-year rental increase of more than 30 per cent last year, the survey by human resources firm ECA International showed.

The survey covered 2007 and is based on lease prices for a three-bedroom apartment in popular expatriate areas, ECA International said.

Asian cities, led by Hong Kong, accounted for six out of the top 10 locations that have the world’s most expensive rentals for three-bedroom apartments, it said.

Other Asian cities in the top 10 global list are Mumbai which ranked sixth, Seoul seventh, Singapore ninth, and Ho Chi Minh City 10th.

Monthly rentals in Asia were on average US$3,820, well above the global level of US$ 2,950 dollars, said ECA International.

Globally, Moscow ranked second, followed by New York City, Tokyo, and London in fifth spot, said ECA International.

“A robust economy and increased demand for high-end accommodation have been instrumental in driving rental prices up,” said Lee Quane, ECA International’s general manager in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong apartment rents of US$9,734 were more than double Asia’s average and reflected the geographical advantage of the Chinese territory for foreign firms wanting to build a base in the region, ECA said.

“Particularly in the financial services industry, people are moving into Hong Kong so, in spite of its relative high cost, it still remains one of the prime locations for foreign companies to establish themselves,” said Quane.

A three-bedroom apartment in Singapore rented for US$4,460 a month on average last year, compared with US$3,364 in 2006, ECA said.

“The demand for high-end accommodation has risen, driving up rental prices, which can be partly explained by companies expanding their operations in Singapore together with government initiatives to attract skilled workers from overseas,” said Quane.

At the same time, a number of factors limited the supply of property available in the city-state, he said.

Mumbai, India’s financial hub, had the region’s second-highest rental rise of 21 per cent. A three-bedroom apartment there cost US$5,991 to lease, ECA said.

For other major Asian cities, Jakarta ranked 10th in Asia, Manila was 14th, Bangkok came in 15th followed by Kuala Lumpur in 16th spot.

According to the survey, Karachi is the cheapest city in the world to rent a three-bedroom apartment.

ECA says its annual survey of rentals compares lease prices in 92 global cities.


SP Setia wins best developer award

SP Setia COO Datuk Voon Tin Yow (left) receiving the award from Iebua Hotels and Resorts CEO Deepak Ohri

KUALA LUMPUR: SP Setia Bhd's eco-friendly development, Setia Eco Gardens, has won the “Best Developer Office/Commercial Project Award (Built Category)” at the Cityscape Asia Real Estate Award 2008 held in Singapore.

In a statement, SP Setia said the award was for outstanding developments such as hotels, leisure facilities, office buildings or commercial plots that showed world-class standards of designs, safety and security, energy efficiency and innovation.

“The Setia Eco Gardens sales gallery covers 2.2ha with a total built-up area of 1,900 sq m and is surrounded on all sides by water that serve as a cooling agent while beautifying the landscape,” it said.

By Bernama

Sales gallery for Setia Eco Gardens bags award

Property developer SP Setia Bhd has bagged another prize when its Singapore sales gallery for the Setia Eco Gardens project won an award at a major property event.

It won the "Best Developer - Office/Commercial Project Award" for its widely used theme of ecology and "green" architecture.

The award is a recognition for property developers that have shown outstanding achievements in the emerging Asian market.

The Cityscape Asia Real Estate Award 2008 ceremony was held in conjunction with the Cityscape Asia and Conference in Singapore recently.

SP Setia chief operating officer Datuk Voon Tin Yow received the award from Lebua Hotels and Resorts chief executive officer Deepak Ohri, who was one of the judges for the award.

"(This gallery) is the perfect embodiment of how concrete and natural elements can converge to create a sustainable living environment that reduces our carbon footprint," Voon said in a statement.

The single-storey sales gallery, dubbed Eco Gallery, features a rectilinear glass form that is placed along the north and south axis while its sides, facing east and west, have concrete surface to reduce heat gain.

Covering 2.23ha with a total built-up area of 1,900 sq m, the gallery is surrounded on all sides by water bodies that serve as cooling agents besides beautifying the landscape.

By New Straits Times

Scomi targets monorail market in Middle East

Datuk Siddiq Firdause Mohd Ali (seated left) and Ha Huy Quang signing the agreement witnessed by (from left) Hilmi Zaini (partially hidden), Scomi Group chief representative Datuk Ainuddin Noordin, Malaysian ambassador to Vietnam Datuk Lim Kim Eng and Vietnamese officials

HANOI: Scomi Group Bhd aims to penetrate the Middle East market for monorail systems within six months.

Scomi Engineering Bhd president Hilmi Zaini said the group was currently studying proposals from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain to set up monorail systems for the growing cities in these countries.

Scomi Engineering is a unit of Scomi Group involved in constructing monorail systems.

“We expect one of these countries to be our base for expansion in the Middle East, just like India and Vietnam are our bases for expansion in South Asia and South-East Asia respectively,” Hilmi told Malaysian journalists during a briefing on the group’s expansion plans yesterday.

“We also plan to move into the African market for monorail systems within two years,” he said.

Scomi Engineering is one of the three companies shortlisted for the RM5bil monorail project in Mumbai, India.

The 70km monorail project, stretching over four corridors in Mumbai’s city and suburbs, would be implemented on a build, operate and transfer basis for at least 30 years.

“Scomi spent about RM10mil to develop the Scomi Urban Transit Rail Application launched last year using Malaysian technology,” Hilmi said.

“The competitive edge of our monorail system is that its technology can be upgraded continuously without additional civil and structural investment.

“Its composite technology makes it possible to construct a lighter monorail system which brings down the life cycle maintenance cost.”

Scomi Engineering yesterday signed a collaboration agreement with the Hanoi Metropolitan Rail Management Board (HRB) to prepare a feasibility study on the implementation of a monorail system in Hanoi.

The agreement was signed by HRB director-general Ha Huy Quang and Scomi Transportation Systems Sdn Bhd (STSSB) director Datuk Siddiq Firdause Mohd Ali.

STSSB is a subsidiary of Scomi Engineering.

The Hanoi city government commissioned HRB and Scomi Engineering to prepare a comprehensive proposal on a monorail network to meet the urban transport requirements of Hanoi, and to integrate other urban transportation systems being implemented in the city.

“The proposal will be submitted in six months to the People’s Committee for approval, upon which Scomi Engineering will proceed to implement it,” Hilmi said.

By The Star (by David Tan)

Scomi: Vietnam set to be major monorail market

HANOI: Vietnam is set to serve as one of three overseas base markets for the Scomi Group's monorail business this year.

The company, via its subsidiary Scomi Engineering Bhd, has already made inroads in India where it has been pre-qualified for a monorail project in Mumbai and Pune and is now setting its sights on Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang in Vietnam over the next four to five years.

"We are also looking at the Middle East as another primary market in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain," Scomi Engineering Bhd president Hilmy Zaini told a media briefing here on Tuesday.

HILMY: Scomi is also looking at the middle east

Hilmy said the company has submitted proposals for monorail systems in several cities such as Riyadh and Medina.

Besides the three primary markets which have been targeted, Hilmy said secondary markets could emerge in Africa.

"The monorail systems - which are likely to be adopted by these primary markets - will tap into Scomi's continous technology advancements that will include the second generation new monorail called Sutra (Scomi Urban Transit Rail Application)," he said.

Sutra's composite technology makes it possible to construct a lighter monorail system, which brings down the life-cycle maintenance cost.

Hilmy said in 2006 and 2007, Scomi Engineering has invested close to US$10 million (RM31.60 million) in developing the Sutra.

Earlier, Scomi Engineering signed a collaboration agreement with the Hanoi Metropolitan Rail Metropolitan Rail Management Board (HRB) for the purpose of forming a strategic partnership to prepare a feasibility study on the implementation of a monorail system in Hanoi.

The strategic partnership has been granted an exclusive right by the People's Committee (Hanoi's city government) to prepare a comprehensive proposal on a monorail network to meet the urban transport requirements of Hanoi and integrate other urban transportation systems being implemented in Hanoi.

"The complete proposal is expected to be ready within the next six months," Hilmy said.

The agreement was signed by HRB's director-general Ha Huy Quang and Scomi Transportation Systems Sdn Bhd director Datuk Siddiq Firdause Mohd Ali.

Scomi Transportation is a subsidiary of Scomi Engineering.

Witnessing the inking of the agreement were Hanoi People's Committee vice-chairman Nguyen Van Khoi and Malaysian ambassador to Vietnam, Datuk Lim Kim Eng.

"The execution of this collaboration agreement signifies acceptance and confidence in Scomi's monorail technology," Siddiq said.

By collaborating with HRB, Siddiq expressed confidence that Scomi Engineering will achieve the primary objective of offering a viable urban transport solution to the people of Hanoi, as well as value-add through transfer of technology and related training to Vietnam.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)