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Monday, April 28, 2008

Residential property prices and rental rising

The many developments that have sprouted in the southern corridor have given a boost to property values. These developments range from townships and niche residential enclaves in Puchong, Bandar Kinrara and Seri Kembangan to the intelligent cities of Putrajaya and Cyberjaya.

Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe said that in the past five years, prices of residential properties had appreciated by at least 30% to 40% while rental rates in Cyberjaya were more than RM4.00 per sq ft.

Previndran Singhe

With Puchong fast transforming into a robust residential and commercial address, the iconic Putrajaya and Cyberjaya cities are in line to see a boom next.

The federal administrative capital of Putrajaya with the advantage of a well thought-out master plan incorporating the best of what technology and nature have to offer has shaped up as the country's first intelligent garden city.

The city also benefits from first-class amenities such as the Garden International School, Alamanda Shopping Centre and a medical centre.

Cyberjaya is also shaping up well as a world-class intelligent city for international information and communications technology (ICT) enterprises, complete with residential and commercial enclaves.

IOI Properties Bhd director Datuk David Tan said the garden concept of Putrajaya and Cyberjaya was setting the tone for development in the other parts of the southern corridor with more inclination towards modern aesthetic buildings with lush landscaping.

IOI Properties, which is one of the pioneer property companies that have made it big in the southern corridor, notably Puchong in the early 1990s, still believes in the corridor’s potential.

According to Tan, the company's developments in the Klang Valley have been moving southwards, stretching from Taman Mayang in Petaling Jaya to Bandar Puchong Jaya and Bandar Puteri Puchong.

Having built the 926-acre Bandar Puchong Jaya and 930-acre Bandar Puteri Puchong, the company has gone on to develop the IOI Resort City on 788 acres on the fringe of Putrajaya.

More projects under way
Tan said the next project lined up would be Sierra Puteri on 550 acres at the entrance to Cyberjaya, which has direct access from the LDP-Serdang Interchange.

“Sierra Puteri has been carefully planned after taking into consideration the needs of house buyers. We have gained valuable feedback from our buyers and have new concepts and ideas on housing and environmental designs that will fulfil their more discerning expectations,” he added.

Earthworks for the new township have been completed and infrastructure work is in progress now.

Sierra Puteri will comprise terrace and semi-detached houses, bungalows and apartments as well as a town centre fronting the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP) and South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE).

In Puchong, IOI Properties will be launching IOI Boulevard comprising retail/office blocks with lifts and basement carparks next month.

IOI to build Puchong Financial Corporate Centre
Coming up next will be the Puchong Financial Corporate Centre (PFCC) in Bandar Puteri Puchong comprising Class A office buildings.

At the IOI Resort, which still has 540 acres available for development, plans are underway to build lake-front offices fronting the main entrance into Putrajaya; exclusive bungalows in Diamond Hill that overlook the scenic Putrajaya views; a mega shopping mall and office buildings along the SKVE; and condominiums.

At IOI Resort's Beverly Row, 80 exclusive bungalows will be built for long-term lease to corporate clientele. So far, 37 bungalows have been completed.

SP Setia group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that with the sophisticated population flocking to Puchong from all parts of the Klang Valley, “the time is ripe for more commercial action in the area.”

SP Setia Bhd's 700-acre Pusat Bandar Puchong has grown into a mature township with 8,000 units of properties and a population of some 32,000.

SetiaWalk set to be niche commercial project
“Our next challenge is to change the face of Puchong with a niche commercial project, SetiaWalk, that will revolutionise the people's lifestyle experience. The integrated residential and commercial development comprising retail blocks, offices, an entertainment complex, service apartments and residential apartments will appeal to the trend-conscious younger clientele.

The SetiaWalk in Pusat Bandar Puchong.

“SetiaWalk is set to combine all the elements of live, learn, work and play through a seamless blend of astute planning, imaginative architecture and creative landscaping,” Liew said.

In Putrajaya, SP Setia's associate Setia Putrajaya Sdn Bhd is developing Precincts 9 and 15.

Park Village - a high-end residential private condominium villa complex within a secure, gated compound – will be launched in Precinct 15 in the third quarter of this year.

The project comprising 120 luxury villas in the sky will incorporate contemporary tropical designs.

By The Star

Turnaround guru takes helm at MPC

MALAYSIA Pacific Corp Bhd (MPC) is poised for exciting times now that “turnaround guru” Bill Ch'ng is helming the public-listed company.

Bill Ch'ng and his son Charles (left), who is an MPC executive director, with a model of the Lakehill Resort City

Ch'ng, who is MPC chief executive officer, is the man behind the RM6bil Lakehill Resort City, near Pasir Gudang in Johor. This ambitious 484-acre freehold development, part of MPC's 905-acre Nusa Damai, is within Iskandar Malaysia and would have more than 60,000 people when completed in eight years.

“This piece of land was approved for medium low-cost housing and the original intention was to cut the hill and fill the lake. I have instead retained the hill and lake and changed the whole concept. I have also increased the number of mixed units from 8,000 to 12,000 commercial and housing units,” Ch'ng told StarBiz at the CityscapeAsia 2008 in Singapore recently.

Ch'ng said he had introduced some new concepts, one of which was to turn the area around a lake into a one-stop tourism hub complete with pavilions where each state's unique arts and crafts could be exhibited and visitors could also savour the various types of cuisines offered in Malaysia.

Visitors and residents could also ride 13 types of gondolas, each symbolising the 13 states' cultures in Malaysia, and they would be steered by local costumed boys.

The resort township will not only have bungalows, court-linked houses, terrace and town houses, apartments and serviced condominiums but also a host of other unique features such as a food and entertainment area known as Nusa Paradis and even a medical and healthcare specialist centre.

However, the main attraction is the Asia-Pacific Trade & Expo City (APTEC) with a planned four million sq ft built-up area on 23.5 acres. APTEC will have a permanent global “show city” of wholesale consumer products, shopping mall, a three-star hotel, office suites and two serviced apartments. It will offer business networking, family outing, merchandising, shopping and a variety of entertainment experiences.

Off-season and overrun products can be taken to the adjacent Cowboy-themed “The Factory Outlet” to be sold at a discount. “It will be the biggest factory outlet in the region where people can shop for off-season branded goods at a lower price. They can save on VAT (value added tax) here.”

Ch'ng believes that the RM1.5bil APTEC could be a catalyst for the future growth of Johor and Singapore and the Iskandar Malaysia and Singapore synergy would mirror the success of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong strategic partnership.

When he visited Shenzhen in 1984, it was a mere fishing village with a population of less than 100,000 but today it has some 12 million people and is one of the fastest growing cities in China.

“We've a neighbour (Singapore) that is rich and willing to invest here. However, how come our neighbour, which knows us so well, is not investing (much). It does not jive,” he said, adding that Malaysian companies should invest in Malaysia and not “run away.”

In order to attract investors, there must be more incentives properly packaged to woo them, he said. “It is important that we must also look at the investment models of other countries and try to do better than them,” he said, adding that state governments being the biggest land owners should unlock the value of their land.

Ch'ng envisaged that tourists to Singapore would stop over at Lakehill Resort City to enjoy its many amenities, including doing business at APTEC.

Besides helping to source for products and services initially from China, India and Asean countries, APTEC could also enable local traders to showcase their products and distribute them. Imported goods can be stored at the warehouses in the Pasir Gudang Free Trade Zone.

“We want to help the SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and create a new breed of entrepreneurs. We will have a training school to conduct a variety of courses,” he added.

By The Star - StarBiz - (by S.C.Cheah)

Gold Coast on the upswing

From left: Lim Eng Chong, Peter Malady and Andrew Bampton with a model of the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residences at a special preview in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian investors should seize the opportunity to buy properties in Australia's Gold Coast, as the property market there is poised for another upswing.

Raptis Group Ltd sales and marketing director Peter Malady said the last boom was in 2004 and, as Queensland generally had a seven-year property cycle, investors should enter the market now.

“Gold Coast is Australia's fastest growing city. With a population of more than 500,000, it is Australia's sixth largest city. Almost 18,000 people move there every year,” he told StarBiz at a preview of Raptis' two latest Gold Coast projects, the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel & Residence and the Southport Central, in Kuala Lumpur recently. Each project has a gross development value of about A$700mil.

Malady said forecasts showed that the Gold Coast population would exceed 762,000 by 2026.

“There is a massive commitment to infrastructure development. They include a desalination plant, new Parklands Hospital, extension of the railway from Robina to Coolangatta, upgrading of the Pacific motorway and extension to the Gold Coast airport,” he added. He said Gold Coast residents were also willing to pay more for property with median housing loan repayments of A$1,480 per week, which is 12% higher than the national average.

Apartment accommodation is the second most popular type of dwelling (23%), and is 8% higher than the national average.

On the Gold Coast office vacancy rate, he said it remained at an all time low of just 4.5%, down from the 7.6% recorded at the start of 2006. “While supply additions have been significant, tenant demand remains strong, supporting the tightening market and the favourable location,” he said.

On the Hilton Surfers Paradise, Malady said it would comprise the 32-storey Boulevard Tower with 186 units of one and two-bedroom apartments and the 55-storey Orchid Tower with apartments, retail shops and offices.

The Orchid Tower will have 224 residences with over 50 floor plans as well as 170 hotel suites, managed by the Hilton group. It will be the only five-star hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise and the first hotel and residences complex in the area. It will also boast a fivestar indoor spa and five-star restaurant and bar.

Malady said with only 224 apartments and the Hilton brand name, the Orchid Tower presented a unique and “very limited” opportunity as compared to other developments in the area, such as Soul with 300 plus apartments, Q1 with over 500 units, Circle on Cavill with 550 plus units, and Chevron with over 700 units.

He said about 180 apartments of the Boulevard Tower were sold within 10 weeks of the launch recently. “In view of the good response, we have brought forward by five months the launch of the Orchid Tower. We have sold about 90 units since Easter,” he said.

Malady added that many Malaysians had sent their children to study in the Gold Coast.

“With AirAsia having direct flights to the Gold Coast, there will be more Malaysians travelling to the Gold Coast.”

Raptis sales operations manager Andrew Bampton said the Southport Central with 788 apartments in three towers and 400 offices would be the largest mixed development in Australia.

The apartments are priced from A$400,000 (86 sq m) to A$800,000 (140 sq m) Henry Butcher Malaysia president Lim Eng Chong said his company was very careful when picking projects to market. “We are helping Raptis market these two projects as we feel they offer very good investment opportunities,” he added.

The Raptis group, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange since 1986, has been developing in the Gold Coast for more than 30 years. Some of its notable projects are The Moroccan, Phoenician Health Spa & Resort, Marakesh, Adelphi Springs, Bel Air Resort, and Platinum on the Beach.

By The Star (by S.C.Cheah)

TH Properties launches Bandar Enstek show village

AN EXCLUSIVE CONCEPT: Ahmad Zahid launching timur@enstek. With him is Azizan (left)

Tabung Haji property arm TH Properties Sdn Bhd yesterday launched several show houses for its RM9.2 billion flagship property project, Bandar Enstek in Nilai, Negri Sembilan.

The 2.8ha show village, which comprises seven designs and different interior decor themes, is aimed at attracting prospective home owners and investors.

TH Properties chairman Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman said the show village is an exclusive concept, the first in the local property development industry.

The company also launched the third phase of the development, called timur@enstek which will feature 12,400 residential units of link homes, town villas, apartments, link bungalows and bungalows.

Timur@enstek will cover 580ha and the overall gross development value (GDV) is estimated at RM2.7 billion and gross development cost at RM2.1 billion.

The first phase of timur@enstek will feature single storey and one-and-a-half-storey link homes and single-storey bungalows, with prices ranging from RM166,300 to RM977,519, said Azizan.

"Careful, detailed thought and craftmanship have gone into the creation of the latest phase to give residents green spaces not just within the township but also inside their homes," he said.

Bandar Enstek, which is about 10 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, is expected to be completed in 2025.

Yesterday's launch was officiated by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In his speech, he commended TH Properties for developing a project that will be an attractive global destination for foreign investors especially those involved in education and human capital development.

"One of the major components of Bandar Enstek is techpark@enstek for biotechnology clusters, edupark@enstek which has attracted investments of over RM2 billion and medicalcity@enstek, a RM1.7 billion project," said Ahmad Zahid.

By New Straits Times (by Roziana Hamsawi)

The draw of the southern corridor

An exclusive bungalow at IOI Resort Putrajaya

The Klang Valley's southern corridor is set for more activities as developers and property investors continue to see good upside potential in the bustling corridor.

Until a few years ago, it was one of the few corridors in the Klang Valley that had large tracts of estate land that were suitable for property development. But in the past decade many new townships and projects have emerged.

However, with building activities increasing in the past decade, sizeable pieces of land are not easy to come by these days. As land sizes shrank, the cost of land has escalated.

Land prices in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya have risen to between RM25 and RM100 per sq ft (psf), depending on location, from less than RM10 psf about eight years ago.

Developers who have the foresight to lock in vast tracts of land here have secured “goldmines” and went on to reap a fortune from their developments.

Key property developers in the robust southern corridor include IOI Properties Bhd, SP Setia Bhd, Island & Peninsular Bhd, Bukit Hitam Development Sdn Bhd, Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd and Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd.

According to IOI Properties director Datuk David Tan, the large land tracts have enabled the development of well planned integrated townships with good infrastructure, commercial hubs, modern amenities, employment opportunities and secure neighbourhoods in the corridor.

Datuk David Tan

“The southern corridor has proven to be a preferred choice with its high accessibility, modern infrastructure and employment opportunities,” Tan said.

The pull of the corridor has been further enhanced with the good road network including the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), North South Expressway Central Link (Elite), South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), KL-Putrajaya dedicated highway and the North-South Expressway.

Stretching from Puchong and Seri Kembangan to Sepang, Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, remarkable growth in the form of new townships and infrastructure network, have spawned many new opportunities.

New centre of gravity
“The pull of Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, KL International Airport and Sepang International Circuit remains strong, and this has contributed to Klang Valley's new centre of gravity moving southwards towards Sepang.

“The northern part of Sepang that covers Cyberjaya and Putrajaya will experience a faster growth rate, especially with the completion of the SKVE project and the dedicated Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya Highway that was completed last December.

“Within the next three to five years, the growth in this corridor will continue to outpace other parts of the Klang Valley,” Tan added.

SP Setia Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said that based on the draft local plan, Puchong could look forward to more exciting times as an estimated RM3.1bil was expected to be pumped in for infrastructure improvement by the local council over the next 12 years.

Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin

“Among the facilities and amenities that residents can expect in the near future are the proposed Puchong light rail transit station and a RM10mil international camping site at the gazetted Ayer Hitam Forest Reserve,” Liew said.

He said Puchong was at the forefront of the transformation of the southern corridor with a rapidly expanding population, which is estimated at 250,000 today.

Highways turns Puchong into a fast- growing centre
The completion of highway networks has largely elevated Puchong into one of the fast-growing centres in the corridor.

Tan said that under the Selangor Structure Plan, parts of the southern districts of Sepang and Kuala Langat had been designated as Klang Valley 2.

Klang Valley 2 encompasses the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya and the information and communications technology-centred Cyberjaya on one end, and the KLIA and Sepang F1 racing circuit on the other. It also includes the area along the coast north of Sepang GoldCoast as far as Morib.

“It is a worthwhile initiative to ensure more well-planned developments, both residential and commercial, whereby private developers will complement the efforts of the public sector to further enhance the vibrancy of the corridor.

“To ensure more quality lifestyle for the people, Klang Valley 2 should avoid the problems of the existing Klang Valley and provide the right environment for living, recreation, education and work,” Tan said.

By The Star (by Angie Ng and Shannen Wong)

UOL gets 60% take-up rate for condo project

UOL Group Ltd's freehold luxurious condominium project, Panorama, has seen a take-up rate of 60% since its launch a month ago.

The RM300mil maiden project by the Singapore-based property development and hotel group is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Located on a 1.13-acre site along Persiaran Hampshire near the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the project comprises two 33-storey towers with a total 223 units.

It is a joint venture with General Corp Bhd, a property and construction group.

Units come in one- to three-bedroom combinations and built-up areas from 592 to 1,819 sq ft. They are priced from RM750,000 to RM2.37mil.

UOL group president and chief executive officer Gwee Lian Kheng said investing in Malaysia was a natural choice.

“We already own Parkroyal KL Hotel, Parkroyal Penang Hotel and the 30-storey south tower of One Residency at Jalan Raja Chulan,” he said in a statement.

Kuala Lumpur's buoyant property scene was rapidly gaining attention among the global community as evidenced by the mushrooming of various luxury developments within the city centre, he said.

“With UOL's branding and track record, we expect Panorama will be well received by foreign buyers and funds,” he added.

Together with General Corp, UOL has also acquired for RM172.14mil freehold land totalling 3.95 acres along Jalan Conlay, near Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Bintang commercial precinct, where it plans to develop a 38-storey luxury condominium.

UOL's listed subsidiary, Hotel Plaza Ltd, is the owner of 12 hotels in the Asia-Pacific.

By The Star

Puchong developments going up-market

With property prices in the developed areas of Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya having appreciated sharply, young families who are keen to own landed properties but face limited budgets are venturing into the Klang Valley's southern corridor. This is especially in the popular Puchong neighbourhood.

“From standard terrace units and high-rise apartments, Puchong folks have since graduated to high-end homes such as semi-Ds and bungalows set within themed gardens and landscaped environment as well as upmarket condominiums with all the trappings of modern luxury,” SP Setia Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said.

He said that as developments moved further away, developers were compelled to stand out from the clutter and market their offerings with value-added features and innovative designs to woo buyers who didn’t mind a slightly longer drive as long as the new development offered more enticing proposition.

Property consultants said rising land prices in central Klang Valley had spurred property buyers to look for better bargains in the southern corridor that still had relatively affordable properties to offer.

“With house prices having climbed in other areas, neighbourhoods like Puchong, Seri Kembangan and other parts of the southern corridor are becoming more popular for those looking for more affordable housing,” said PPC International Sdn Bhd executive director Thiruselvam Arumugam.

Thiruselvam Arumugam

SK Brothers Realty (M) Sdn Bhd general manager Chan Ai Cheng said the southern corridor was a good area for developing landed housing units such as double terrace houses, semi-detached units and bungalows for families.

Chan Ai Cheng

She said transaction prices of property had also shown steady growth over the years.

“People normally buy the properties in Southern Klang Valley for own stay,” she added.

According to Chan, there is a good mix of buyers in the area in terms of race and income.

Double-storey terrace houses in prominent existing projects such as Putra Heights, Bandar Puteri, Bandar Bukit Jalil, Taman Puncak Jalil, Bandar Kinrara and Bandar Puchong Jaya are sold from RM200,000 to RM750,000.

Thiruselvam said the rental for a standard double storey terrace house in these areas ranged from RM400 to RM2,000 per month.

He said the rental appreciated only by 2% to 3%, whereas capital appreciation for houses was good with prices rising 100% over the past decade.

According to him, Southern Klang Valley units are mainly for residence, rather than bought for speculation or investment.

Reapfield Properties Sdn Bhd president David Ong said the main draw to Southern Klang Valley was affordable house prices although factors such as value investing and property speculation could not be easily discounted.

“Prices of houses have peaked significantly in the central region of the Klang Valley, giving rise to an outward flow of the purchasing population to both the north and south of the Klang Valley,” he said.

Many buyers have sought investment opportunities by purchasing large bungalow plots, bungalows and semi-detached homes in this area on expectation that prices will increase significantly over the course of the next decade.

“While property prices can be said to be affordable or cheaper here than in the prime city areas, the high petrol prices and higher toll rates have started to cause a reverse migration effect,” Ong said.

Many buyers who bought in the fringe or secondary areas of the Klang Valley are starting to drift slowly back to the city as the benefits of lower housing instalments become significantly offset by higher price of fuel and toll rates.

“It now makes sense to some people to buy smaller apartments or flats in strong city locations rather than pay for cheaper houses outside central Klang Valley but end up bearing increased living expenses via higher fuel prices and increasing toll rates,” he said.

By The Star

High demand seen for commercial space

The Jusco Equire Park

There is robust demand for commercial space in Southern Klang Valley but inadequate supply of quality commercial space.

With the increasing land value in the central business district of the Golden Triangle, buyers are slowly moving from the KL city centre to some areas outside the city.

Reapfield Properties Sdn Bhd corporate services head David Wong said the upcoming commercial projects in Puchong included the SetiaWalk project by SP Setia Bhd, expansion of the IOI Mall by IOI Properties Bhd as well as a mixed development project that would include office towers and shophouses in Bandar Puteri near the Giant hypermarket.

SetiaWalk, located on 20.8 acres in the mature township of Pusat Bandar Puchong, is one of the main commercial projects in Puchong. At its soft launch, 57 shop office units were sold.

PPC International Sdn Bhd Thiruselvam Arumugam said Puchong was an area with limited commercial development projects.

Most of its commercial developments centre along Jalan Puchong in Bandar Puchong Jaya and focus on sundry businesses.

He said the Giant hypermarket in Bandar Kinrara, Tesco hypermarket in Pusat Bandar Puchong and IOI Mall Puchong were among the significant commercial buildings in Puchong that drew in the crowd to the area.

Shopping malls such as the Alamanda Putrajaya, Jusco Equine Park and Subang Parade have continued to receive good occupation and rental prices. In Seri Kembangan, Equine Park was the only dominant commercial project, said Wong, adding that there was no upcoming commercial development in the area.

Demand for corporate offices was lower in Seri Kembangan than for retail shops.

Developers are competing to launch high-end condominium projects in Subang on commercial-titled lands.

According to Wong, there is a trend to build commercial buildings within five km from the KL city centre.

However, there would be a limit to the supply of commercial buildings in Southern Klang Valley as there was limited demand for corporate offices beyond this five km fringe, he said.

By The Star

Peter's Holdings lines up RM1b KL projects

Property developer Peter's Holdings Sdn Bhd (PHSB) plans to launch new projects worth RM1 billion in Kuala Lumpur over the next 12 months.

Managing director Peter Loke Kwok Seong said it will launch a RM700 million project comprising medium-cost houses and a hypermarket on 12.15ha it owns on Old Klang Road by the end of this year.

LOKE: The firm is planning to launch its maiden development overseas, targeting China

"We are also negotiating with landowners to buy two plots of land in Ampang to build high-rise condominiums next year for RM300 million," he said at a media preview of Papillon Desahill Condominium in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

In addition to that, Loke said it is planning to launch its maiden development overseas, targeting China, where it has a crane-making business. "We are talking to our partners and hope to launch the development next year," he added.

PHSB's current projects are in Perak and Johor, worth RM120 million. It is also the project manager for Papillon Desahill, a new landmark project within the Taman Desa enclave worth RM180 million.

The company was awarded the job by its affiliate company ZEUS-TNB Properties, which is a 60:40 joint-venture company between Zeus Development Sdn Bhd and TNB Properties Sdn Bhd.

Papillon Desahill comprises 225 units in two 15-storey blocks, perched over 1.82ha. Construction would commence in July and completion slated by early 2011.

The units are available in four designs with built ups of 1,312 sq ft to 2,059 sq ft priced from RM480,000 to RM800,000 each or RM400 per sq ft.

The highest are the penthouses duplexes with build ups of 2,498 sq ft to 3,661 sq ft, which are priced from RM1.1 million to RM1.6 million each.

Loke said it hopes to sell up to 80 per cent of the units within the next 12 months.

Since its soft launch a month ago, up to 35 per cent of the units have been taken up, a bulk of it by locals and some by Japanese and Koreans.

PHSB is working with CIMB-Mapletree Management Sdn Bhd, the manager of CIMB-Mapletree Real Estate Fund I, for the plan and specifications of the project and in promoting the development.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

At 68, CEO is full of vitality and novel ideas

BILL Ch'ng is an indefatigable person who, at 68, still bristles with ideas and is ever ready to turn his vision into reality.

He showed his mettle when he patiently sat through nearly four hours of consecutive one-to-one interviews with four reporters at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Singapore recently.

“It's a challenge. It is also very good for the country as well as Singapore to have such a collaborative arrangement,” he said when asked the reason for taking on so much at his age, especially in developing the Asia-Pacific Trade & Expo City (APTEC).

“The success of Iskandar Malaysia will also benefit Singapore. If there is political will, APTEC can be built in three years,” he said, adding that APTEC was not just a property development project but also a socio-economic endeavour.

Besides helping importers to source for goods from countries like China, MPC could also get Chinese manufacturers to bring in their semi-finished products to Malaysia. “If we cannot beat China, we can join them. We can always get them to finish their products here. We can then package the products, and as long as 40% of the contents are from Malaysia, we can stamp them as made in Malaysia,” he said.

Ch'ng is no stranger to the complex business of distribution trade as he helped to turn around an emporium in Singapore when it went bust in 1983. “Nobody dared to buy it, but I bought it and turned it around. I later sold it,” he recalled.

He has won two architectural awards in Malaysia and Singapore when he was an architect prior to his corporate work overseas, particularly his pioneering advisory and investment promotion work in China that began in 1984.

Ch'ng, who has three daughters and a son, was also named one of the “50 Asia's Top Corporate CEOs” by Business Weekly International magazine in 1989. He accepted the position of MPC chief executive officer as a “challenge” to nurse MPC into profitability and growth. His plan is to groom a dedicated hardworking team to take over the rein.

MPC was known as Malaysia Pacific Land Bhd when it was first listed in 1997. It assumed its current name on Jan 11, 2005.

Its core business is investment and property development.

MPC plans to venture into other lucrative businesses such as mining and plantation to generate new sources of revenue. Ch'ng's goal is to turn MPC into a conglomerate and make Lakehill Resort City a brand name and a tourist and investment destination.

By The Star

Making inroads

MTD Capital has received offers to work on other Philippine highways as the company upgrades the South Luzon Expressway in a joint venture project

30-YEAR CONCESSION: Part of the South Luzon Expressway in Manila

CONSTRUCTION-RELATED MTD Capital Bhd, now close to midway into its 11.3 billion peso (RM875 million) upgrading works on the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) in Manila, has been invited to look at other highway projects in the Philippines.

Group managing director Datuk Azmil Khalili Khalid said MTD prefers to complete the SLEX project first before considering other jobs.

"We will only look at it once we complete this job. But we definitely want to stay in the country for the long term," he said.

Based on the 30-year concession for the SLEX project, MTD should break even within seven years, Azmil told Malaysian journalists during a tour of the project in Manila recently.

"As of today, we have completed some 40 per cent, but we want to complete the project fast. The sooner it is completed, the faster we can collect toll, which means revenue for the company.

"We also want to avoid the risk of higher costs that comes with delays. We don't know where the prices of materials are going to end in the next few years," he added.

MTD Manila Expressway has formed a joint venture with the Philippines National Construction Corp to undertake the upgrading and rehabilitation works on the 30-year-old SLEX, a 29km toll road that will eventually link Manila and Port of Batangas.

The joint-venture company, South Luzon Tollway Corp, was awarded a 30-year concession to upgrade and rehabilitate as well as operate SLEX by the Philippines government on February 3, 2006. It is one of several flagship projects that has received strong support from Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The SLEX project consists of three main sections designated as project toll roads (TRs), namely TR1, TR2 and TR3.

Azmil said the project is funded through MTD's equity (3.6 billion pesos or RM279 million), the World Bank through its private sector arm (2.5 billion pesos or RM194 million) and the balance by a consortium of banks led by Philippines' Banco de Oro-EPCI Inc.

He said the company hopes to complete TR1 and TR2 by March next year, and TR3 in the subsequent 12 months.

TR1 requires the retrofitting of viaduct foundations and columns, replacing of all concrete slabs and girders, and widening of the existing bridgedeck from six lanes to eight lanes.

TR2, meanwhile, is from the Filinvest interchange to Calamba, Laguna. Work involves rehabilitation and widening of 15.6km between Filinvest and Sta. Rosa from the current four lanes to eight lanes, and widening of the 11.7km stretch between Sta. Rosa and Calamba from four lanes to six lanes.

TR3 is a new four-lane highway that will extend from Barangay Turbina, Calamba to Sto. Tomas in Batangas where it will link with the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road.

Besides Malaysia, MTD is active overseas in Thailand, The Philippines, Australia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Indonesia and India.

By New Straits Times (by Kamarul Yunus)

Intrade Malaysia 2008 may rake in RM3.2b sales

International Trade Malaysia 2008 Exhibition (Intrade Malaysia 2008), to be held this November, is expected to generate more than RM3.2 billion worth of on-the-spot and negotiated sales.

This is in line with the anticipated increase in the number of exhibitors to 500 from 300 exhibitors at last year's event, according to Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).

Foreign exhibitors are expected to account for 20 per cent of the exhibitors.

Matrade chief executive officer Datuk Noharuddin Nordin said the exhibition has received encouraging response from both local and foreign companies as well as trade promotion agencies.

NOHARUDDIN: Encouraging response from both local and foreign firms

Speaking at a media briefing before the Intrade Malaysia 2008 networking reception in Kuala Lumpur last week, Noharuddin said the good response was due to impressive results reported by exhibitors and companies participating at the business matching sessions with international buyers during the inaugural Intrade Malaysia held in November last year.

Last year, Intrade Malaysia 2007 raked in total sales of RM3.38 billion for over 1,300 Malaysian companies. They recorded on-the-spot sales worth RM469.7 million, while sales under negotiation were valued at RM2.91 billion.

The top five buying nations include the United Arab Emirates with deals worth RM1.06 billion, followed by Kazakhstan (RM598.5 million), the UK (RM433.8 million), Australia (RM385.3 million) and Nigeria (RM156.3 million).

With its theme, "Optimising Global Opportunities", Noharuddin said Intrade Malaysia 2008 is aimed at providing a platform not only for Malaysian companies, but also foreign companies to expand their businesses and access new markets.

He said as a general international trade fair, Intrade Malaysia offers a platform to exhibit a wide range of products and services from agro-based products, auto parts and accessories to building materials .

By New Straits Times