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Friday, May 16, 2008

Boustead offers RM5.50 a share for property unit

LODIN: We are also providing an avenue for shareholders to have greater access to a larger listed entity with a more diversified earning base

CONGLOMERATE Boustead Holdings Bhd is offering RM5.50 per share under its voluntary takeover (VTO) for Boustead Properties Bhd, which is 31 per cent above the five-day weighted average market price of RM4.20.

Under this corporate exercise, Boustead, which already owns 65 per cent of Boustead Properties, said minority shareholders of the property arm can expect a handsome premium for their equity.

"This consideration is also at a premium on the audited net assets per share as at December 31 2007 of RM5.14 per share," Boustead said in a statement yesterday.

Existing shareholders of Boustead Properties are given options of either cash or a direct share swap into Boustead, or alternatively a combination of both.

As of yesterday, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) holds a 8.6 per cent in Boustead Properties and is deemed as a person acting in concert with Boustead by virtue of LTAT's 57.5 per cent stake in Boustead.

"LTAT has consented to this VTO and provided its irrevocable undertaking to accept the proposed offer in respect of its shareholding in Boustead Properties," it said.

On completion of the VTO, Boustead does not intent to to maintain the listing status of Boustead Properties.

"Once the VTO is successfully completed, the Boustead group will be further strengthened as the entire earnings' contribution from Boustead Properties will be fully realised at Boustead's level," said Boustead group managing director Tan Sri Datuk Lodin Wok Kamaruddin.

"This will be completed by the synergies in terms of consolidation of assets within the larger group," he added.

He said since shares of Boustead Properties have been relatively illiquid on the stock market, it was better to consolidate the unit into Boustead, given the liquidity levels at the holding company that will benefit shareholders from a potential upside.

"We are also providing an avenue for shareholders to have greater access to a larger listed entity with a more diversified earnings base," Lodin said.

Boustead Properties is mainly involved in properties development, property investment, hotels and plantations.

Its signature township developments are Mutiara Damansara in Selangor and Mutiara Rini in Johor and it also owns the Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya.

By New Straits Times

Acmar hopeful of RM3b GDV from D'Rapport

KLANG-BASED property developer Acmar International Sdn Bhd is optimistic that its new project in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, could generate RM3 billion in gross development value.

"The D'Rapport development is a profit-sharing venture with the Selangor state government via Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd," said group executive director Johnson Tee Kim Hock.

UPMARKET CONDOMINIUMS: Johnson Tee (left) and Steven Tee with a model of the D'Rapport project in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur

Sited on 25ha next to the South Korean Embassy along Jalan Nipah, off Jalan Ampang, D'Rapport is being developed in two phases.

The first phase, named Festa, will take up 3.65ha. The five blocks of condominiums will total up to 1,099 units with built-up sizes ranging between 1,100 sq ft and 2,300 sq ft.

The current selling price for Festa units averages at RM750 per sq ft and they are priced from RM750,000 each.

Tee said details of the second phase are still being finalised.

D'Rapport upmarket condominiums will cater to expatriates and participants of Malaysia My Second Home programme.

"We're located next to the Korean Embasssy and there are several international schools nearby," he said.

Sabah Development Bank is extending a RM125 million bridging loan to Acmar for the project.

Tee was speaking to reporters after Acmar awarded a RM40 million piling job to Bauer (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Representing Acmar was group managing director Datuk Steven Tee and Bauer managing director Thomas Domanski signed on behalf of his company.

Also present were Sabah Development Bank chairman Peter Siau, German Embassy deputy ambassador Dr Armin Koesler and South Korean Embassy first secretary Kim Im Sup.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

PJ Dev finalising deal to sell office tower

DEVELOPER PJ Development Holdings Bhd (PJD) is finalising a deal to sell a 26-storey office tower in Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, for some RM300 million.

The yet-to-be-named tower, which is under construction, will have 120 office suites and retail lots on a 0.6ha freehold site when completed by mid-2009.

PJD expects net profit and revenue to increase by more than 10 per cent in the year to June 30 2009 due to new launches and better sales.

In fiscal 2007, it posted a net profit of RM42.4 million and revenue of RM549.4 million.

"Our performance for the current year will also improve, led by projects that we have launched in the last 12 months," chairman Mohamed Zain Mohamed Yusoff said.

Mohamed Zain: Performance for the current year will improve, led by projects launched in the past 12 months.

He was speaking after witnessing the signing of a management agreement between Swiss-Garden International (SGI) Hotels, Resorts & Inns and Superville Sdn Bhd for Swiss-Garden Residences in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Superville, the developer for residences located at Jalan Galloway, off Jalan Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, and SGI, are both units of PJD.

Swiss Garden Residences comprises two serviced apartment blocks worth RM270 million, which will be connected to Swiss Garden International Hotel Kuala Lumpur via a connected bridge. The hotel is also owned by PJD.

Tower A, a 33-storey building, is offering 183 apartment units with built-ups of 550 sq ft and 650 sq ft for one-bedroom and 750 sq ft for a two-bedroom, pegged at more than RM700 per sq ft, and two penthouses with built-up of 2,700 sq ft, priced at RM1,000 per sq ft.

Tower B, which has 37-floors and not open for sale yet, will offer bigger units.

Mohamed Zain said 80 per cent of Tower A has been snapped up by locals and buyers from Hong Kong, Singapore and UK in less than three months even before the launch of the project.

"The take-up rate was faster than we expected and we hope the same to happen for Tower B when we open it for sale," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Tesco opens eco-friendly hypermarket in Alor Star

TESCO Malaysia has opened its first environmentally-friendly hypermarket costing RM80 million which has been fitted with energy-saving initiatives in Mergong, Alor Star.

"What we must do is better manage our carbon emission and focus on saving energy in every aspect,” said the company’s corporate and legal affairs director, Azlam Shah Alias, at a press conference in conjunction with the opening.

Apart from bringing a new shopping experience to the city, the eco-friendly hypermarket also offers a wide range of products for household consumption at low prices, Azlam Shah said.

"Our hypermarket is using freezer covers to reduce energy wastage, energy-saving bulbs, self-closing taps and airlocks to maintain the cold because 60 per cent of the energy consumption is contributed by air conditioning,” he said.

Azlam Shah said the store would be using motion detectors for lighting which could save up to 50 per cent of energy.

Tesco would also designate a staff member to act as an “energy champion” at each outlet to ensure that all the energy-saving initiatives and policies are being implemented accordingly, he said.

"We have spent RM2.2 million on this initiative because we are committed to do what we can to preserve the environment for our future generation and hope to influence positive behavioural change in the community,” he added.

Azlam said Tesco had also initiated a competition called “Energy League"

among its stores nationwide.

"The store that manages best its energy usage based on set key performance indicators will win a trophy and its a fun way to inculcate good habits and create awareness among staff,” he said.

By Bernama

Banks set to push home loans

PETALING JAYA: Banks are mapping out strategies to garner a larger slice of the home loans market as intense competition continues to exert downward pressure on interest rates.

CIMB Bank Bhd head of retail banking Peter England said: “There certainly has been a significant increase in competition in the Malaysian banking sector in recent years and this has translated into significant cost savings for customers.

Peter England

“At the same time, we are also focusing heavily on improving our customer service, not only during the initial sales process, but also throughout the whole tenure of the loan.”

He felt that as the pricing among banks settled down to a certain level, those with the best service and overall bundled product proposition would be the most successful.

Instead of burdening customers to visit banks, he said the bank's mobile sales officers would visit customers in their homes or offices to offer home financing.

According to England, cross-selling is another strategy to boost its home loans business. This involves selling home financing to the bank's existing five million customers with savings and current accounts.

In addition, he said the bank believed its innovative products would also help expand market share in this sector.

“For example, at CIMB Bank we recommend customers to opt for fixed rate loans to avoid having to pay a higher rate if there is a hike in the interest rates (overnight policy rate and subsequently the base lending rate).

“We can offer just about any fixed rate to clients, but typically recommend three, five or 10 years' fixed rates,” he said in an interview.

An increasingly popular home loan product is Home Flexi, which allows customers to make additional repayments and draw back these payments at any time with the convenience of a cheque book.

England added that the bank had even combined convenience of a flexi loan with the comfort of a three-, five- or 10-year fixed rate.

CIMB Bank also had a complementary range of Islamic home financing packages available via its mobile sales force and at its 362 CIMB Islamic branches nationwide.

CIMB Bank's current market share in this sector is over 10%, hence making it the third biggest player in the home loans business in the country.

Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd (StanChart) general manager for consumer lending Francis Loh said the bank viewed itself as a product innovation leader and would continue driving this strategic differentiator.

Francis Loh

“Moving forward, we will combine product innovation with our strategy to lead the industry in customer experience. We will focus on delivering superior customer experience and being relationship-focused when providing our advisory expertise.

“Expect a key product innovation based on a new pricing convention soon. Watch this space!'' Loh noted.

The bank's MortgageOne, launched in 2001, remains one of the strongest and most attractive for home-owners.

MortgageOne and its enhancers – Low Start and Optimizer – combine a loan account with any deposit account (savings or current). Any deposit in these accounts is used to reduce the outstanding loan amount and saving interest paid.

StanChart's mortgage business last year stood at over RM13bil and for this year, it aims to grow its market share by 8%.

Citibank Bhd director for mortgage business Goh Ching Chee said understanding customers' needs was paramount and enabled the bank to introduce a full range of products that met the evolving needs of customers, based on their lifecycle.

“We believe in giving customers competitive interest rates and given the flexibility of our products, we are able to meet the varied needs of customers at different segments of society as well as cater to their changing needs and lifestyle,'' he added.

For example, for first time house buyers, the bank's Citibank Home Partner-i financing package not only offered a very competitive financing rate but also came with a cap on how high their financing rate could go, he said. This helped ensure affordability and peace of mind for the customers, he added.

By The Star (by Daljit Dhesi)