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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mega project in Iskandar Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: A multi-billion ringgit mixed-development project will be launched in Iskandar Malaysia this year.

The project, to be called Airport City or Aeropolis, comes under an associate company of Senai Airport Terminal Services Sdn Bhd, which is linked to billionaire Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

The project, on 1,133.11ha near Senai Airport, will comprise three main components – residential-commercial-hospitality amenities, an air cargo logistic centre and a hi-tech park.

The first component will cover 323.74ha while the other two will occupy 404.68ha each.

“The investment in infrastructure – power, water, roads and telecommunications – is estimated at about RM1bil,” a source told StarBiz.

The source said utility providers must be committed in providing uninterrupted supply and services to users in the development area.

The area will be equipped with high-speed broadband for residents and companies to communicate with clients or business associates from all over the globe.

Other facilities will include private medical centres, international schools, hotels and retail malls.

It will be vital to have world-class and uninterrupted utilities and services as the development wants to attract investors from Europe, Japan, Taiwan and the US.

The source said the company was engaging a consultant from Australia to undertake the master plan study.

The consultant is looking at several well-known hi-tech parks in Australia and Taiwan in its study.

“The hi-tech park will be better than the Kulim Hi-Tech Park,” the source said, adding that unlike the Kedah park, Senai would only engage in research and development activities.

When the master plan study is completed, probably next month, it will be presented to the Johor government and a ground-breaking ceremony should take place towards year-end.

By The Star - StarBiz - (by Zazali Musa)

ICT hub set to draw RM1bil investments in next 12 months

KUALA LUMPUR: Cyberjaya, the national ICT hub, will receive RM1bil in investments over the next 12 months as local and foreign companies relocate their operations there.

Setia Harum Sdn Bhd chief operating officer C.K. Lao said the company, together with a few sub-developers, were negotiating with several parties on the possibility of setting up their operations in Cyberjaya.

From left: Setia Haruman director Peter Teh, chief operating officer C.K. Lao and general manager Balasundram R. at the briefing

“We are in advanced discussions with a few companies that have shown interest to relocate,'' he said after a media briefing yesterday.

Setia Haruman, the master developer of Cyberjaya, is responsible for the planning, design and development of the township and also the sale of land parcels to investors and sub-developers.

While those keen to relocate were mainly American and European companies, Cyberjaya is also finalising some local deals.

Lao said the two US-based companies were a department store and a company involved in data centre services.

“There is also a bank from Europe and a South Korean company,” he said, adding that Cyberjaya was now moving in “high gear” and had more than 10 ongoing projects.

“Major ongoing projects include the MKN Embassy Techzone, Satyam Global Delivery Centre, Bank Negara Data Centre, CSF 11 Data Centre, IMPACT Building, Prime 8, JPJ Data Centre, TM R&D Centre and the Showroom@Cyberjaya.”

These projects alone would increase the population from the present 35,000 to 60,000 by 2010.

Launched in 1997, the 7,000-acre Cyberjaya is home to multinational companies like Ericcson, Dell and IBM.

Lao expects an influx of data centres to Cyberjaya as there was high demand from the government and private sectors.

He said the company was also mulling on the idea of expanding and opening new areas in Cyberjaya to cater to high-end data centres.

By The Star (by Eileen Hee)

Affordable homes in Cyberjaya soon

KUALA LUMPUR: Cyberview Sdn Bhd will launch affordable homes by August in Cyberjaya in an initiative to make the country’s first cybercity a more affordable place to live in.

Cyberview, together with stakeholders such as Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd, the master developer of the city, as well as the Multimedia Development Corp, will take delegates from the ongoing World Congress on Information Technology 2008 and members of the press on a technical tour of Cyberjaya today.

Cyberview managing director Redza Rafiq said the tour was an opportunity for the stakeholders to show what Cyberjaya had to offer as a place to work and as a community.

Cyberview is the landowner and the entity spearheading the entire Cyberjaya development.

“Housing in the city is not cheap with apartments priced from RM300,000 but by August, we’ll be launching apartments priced from RM88,000 and two-storey townhouses priced from RM168,000,” he told StarBiz.

Redza said Cyberjaya was now undergoing a second surge in development after a slowdown from 2002 to 2004.

“So far, Cyberjaya has bucked the trend in growth. During the Asian financial crisis, Cyberjaya boomed but when the economy was coming out of the crisis in the early 2000s, Cyberjaya stagnated,” he said.

Redza said the city now had seven projects with a total gross development value of RM400mil. “Yes, we’re worried about the slower economic growth but we still have to deliver initiatives that bring value.''

Redza likened the city to a larger version of a Google or Microsoft campus. “For cybercities, growth is organic in nature. It’ll take time to grow but what the delegates will see is that the city is not just a concept; the infrastructure is ready. We’re ready,” he said.

“It took us a long time to build up 1 million sq ft of office space, now we’ve 3 million sq ft and the target is 5 million sq ft by 2010. I think by the way things are going, we’ll be achieving it earlier.”

By The Star (by Fintan Ng)

Cyberjaya seen getting RM1b investments

The nucleus of MSC Malaysia, Cyberjaya, is expected to receive more than RM1 billion in investments in the next 12 months from the US, Europe, South Korea and two local companies.

Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd chief executive officer C.K. Lao said a few sub-contractors are negotiating with several companies on the possibility of setting up facilities in Cyberjaya.

"Two companies, involved in data centre services and departmental store, are from the US while another two are banking companies from Europe and South Korea.

"We are in advanced stage of discussions with a few companies who have shown keen interest to relocate to Cyberjaya,” he told a media briefing at the World Congress of Information Technology 2008 which ended yesterday.

Lao said the company has more than 10 on-going projects.

"Among them are development of data centre building for Bank Negara Malaysia, Road Transport Department, Telekom Malaysia, IMPACT Building and CSF Advisers Sdn Bhd,” he said.

Cyberjaya township covers 2,800 hectares and it has become a choice destination for global information and communications technology (ICT) operations.

It is ranked as one of the top three global destinations for business support services and outsourcing.

The township is home to multinational companies such as Shell, EDS, Ericsson, BMW, HSBC, DHL, Motorola, Dell, Satyam, Wipro and Nokia.

Setia Haruman is the master developer of Cyberjaya.

Meanwhile, Lao said the company is considering opening up new areas for high-end data centre amid higher demand.

"We hope we can continue to build an attractive home for data centre and any ICT-related activities,” he said.

By Bernama

JLand to restrategise business moves

PROPERTY developer Johor Land Bhd (JLand) said it expects revenue to improve this year, with its recent Windsor Trade Holdings Sdn Bhd acquisition and a positive fiscal first-quarter results.

It saw revenue fall 15 per cent to RM63.36 million in 2007, while pre-tax profit dipped 63 per cent to RM8.27 million.

JLand chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim attributed the lower financial performance last year to delays in the company's development projects due to the escalating cost of building materials triggered by the rising oil price.

Muhammad: JLand expects better revenue this year

"The rescheduling of our development projects caused by the delays last year have put us in a better position to restrategise our business moves this year as the construction of the launched projects is now in progress," he told reporters after the company's annual general meeting in Johor Baru yesterday.

"Construction work on 1,200 units of semi-detached and terrace houses and commercial lots at Bandar Datuk Onn, which spans 612ha of freehold land, is now under way. We have also seen 30 per cent sales so far and a growing interest among housebuyers," he said.

Muhammad said the township, offering 17,800 properties, will rake in a gross profit of RM1.2 billion for JLand when completed within the next 10 to 15 years.

It will have some 90,000 residents, adding that JLand's parent company, Johor Corp Sdn Bhd (JCorp), will also move its headquarters from the Kota Raya Complex in Johor Baru city centre to Bandar Datuk Onn by mid- 2009.

Muhammad said JLand's landbank in Iskandar Malaysia will be developed over the next 10 to 15 years and has a gross development value of more than RM7 billion.

Meanwhile, JLand's acquisition of 50.98 per cent equity in Windsor Trade Holdings is expected to help the company further broaden its current revenue, profit and customer base.

"The acquisition, to be completed by the second quarter of this year, will position us to tap into the existing growth potential of logistics and barter trade activities within the fast-growing Sabah Development Corridor," said Muhammad.

By New Straits Times (by R.Sittamparam)

Sunrise in talks to develop township

KUALA LUMPUR: Sunrise Bhd, which is known for its luxury high-rise projects in Mont'Kiara, is in talks with a landowner for the development of a township.

Executive chairman Tong Kooi Ong declined to give any details on whether it would be an acquisition of land or a joint venture with the landowner.

He said at an analysts' briefing that the company was looking at acquiring several parcels of land outside of Mont'Kiara, the details of which would be made known over the next 12 months.

Tong also said that all land the company was interested in would be within the city.

The company had no plans to go beyond Malaysia besides a five-acre freehold mixed project in Richmond, Canada, he said, adding: “We've looked at China, India and Vietnam but so far we cannot see a justification for the return on equity and return on time but maybe somewhere along the road an opportunity may arise.”

He said the company's policy of setting aside 35% of net profit to dividend would remain for at least the next two financial years. Sunrise's financial year ends June 30.

“There should not be a problem to meet the dividend policy unless our earnings forecasts are wrong.”

Tong said going forward, gross margins would be affected by higher construction and labour costs. “The figures you've seen so far haven't really factored in the construction costs.”

For future commercial projects, the company would prefer to have more en bloc sales because unit-by-unit sales would take longer to sell, he said.

An example was MK20, a freehold six-acre plot of land on Jalan Kiara, which was sold on a put-and-call option to Singapore-based Malaysia Commercial Development Fund Pte Ltd at over RM700 psf, he said.

The RM767mil project will comprise offices, serviced apartments, a retail mall and car parks and will be completed in 2012.

For its third quarter ended March 31, Sunrise posted a net profit of RM20.63mil on revenue of RM156.96mil. Year-to-date, the company posted a net profit of RM115.17mil on revenue of RM517.65mil.

By The Star (by Fintan Ng)

Paramount eyes India, Vietnam ventures

PROPERTY developer Paramount Corp Bhd is in talks to expand to India and Vietnam and hopes to finalise a venture within two years.

Group managing director Datuk Teo Chiang Quan said the company is studying the market in both countries.

"We won't go into places where margins are low. Currently, we are talking to few parties and will see where it goes from there," he said after the group's annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Locally, Paramount has 320ha of land with a total gross development value of RM2 billion. They are located in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya and Sungai Petani in Kedah.

Paramount is continuously looking to buy more land, especially in prime areas in the Klang Valley and Iskandar Malaysia.

The company's net profit fell 19 per cent to RM51.8 million last year due to slow sales from its Kemuning Utama project.

However, Teo said more than 80 per cent of the units have been sold to date and is optimistic of better sales for this year.

By New Straits Times

Selangor secures RM5b European investment

SELANGOR has secured RM5 billion in investment for its Science Park 2 from a European company, said Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

"The manufacturing facility is over 63 acres (25.5ha) and construction on the facility started last week," he told delegates yesterday on the last day of the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2008.

Last year, foreign investment in Science Park 2, a high tech industry-based site, was over RM6 billion from Japan, Europe and the US.

Three state chiefs shared the stage yesterday to impress upon WCIT 2008 delegates the investment opportunities and ICT developments in their respective states.

The speakers were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and Khalid.

Lim said his state would see more hi-tech and high value services, promotion of research and development and design, and the upgrading of its supply chain capabilities.

"With the launch of the Northern Corridor Economic Region, Penang has been identified as a key logistics hub," he said.

He also mentioned that the state secured foreign investments worth RM1.2 billion and would announce the deal today.

Mohammad Nizar said Perak was moving towards a knowledge-based economy by 2010 and that MSC Malaysia CyberCentre@Meru Raya was its hub for ICT.

Meanwhile, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said MSC Cyberport Johor had signed a memorandum of understanding with India's Mantri Reality to develop the 60.7ha Bandar MSC Cyberport.

"This cybercity will comprise of residential, offices, and recreational facilities with state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure at much lower costs than neighbouring locations," he said during a briefing on Iskandar Malaysia.

By New Straits Times (by Jeeva Arulampalam)

Malaysia to open up cement market

The government has decided to open up the cement market, just like it had for steel bars, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad.

"For steel bars and cement, it does not seem right that price controls should be set at a level that is not reflective of the cost and market price," he said.

However, he declined to say when this would take effect for the cement industry.

Similar to the steel industry, local builders complain that cement is being sold to them above the ceiling price.

Producers argue that the extra charges include transport costs.

The government opened up the steel bar and billet market on May 12.

Cement is still being sold at RM219 per tonne in Pahang, Selangor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

In Johor, however, cement costs RM224 a tonne. In Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak, it is priced at RM217 a tonne. But in Terengganu and Kelantan, it is sold at RM233.

Cement producers via the Cement & Concrete Association of Malaysia (C&CA) had put forward a few proposals to the government.

They requested that the government raise the ceiling prices for cement by 10 per cent.

There was also a recommendation for an automated price mechanism based on an index that incorporates pricing of coal, electricity and diesel, the main costs to manufacture cement.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)