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Friday, May 23, 2008

Bina Puri unit awarded RM24.8m contract

ON-GOING PROJECT: Artist's impression of Jesselton Condominium in Kota Kinabalu

BINA Puri Construction Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, has been awarded a RM24.8 million contract to build 351 units of one-storey terrace houses in Buang Sayang, Papar, Sabah for Fastgrow Properties Sdn Bhd.

The project is slated for completion by July 2009.

In a statement issued yesterday, Bina Puri Holdings said with this new contract, its order book, both local and overseas, stands at RM2 billion, which would keep it busy till 2010.

Apart from this, the group has a number of ongoing projects in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, including Jesselton Condominium and 96 units of four-storey apartments in Taman Melawa Jaya Phase 2.

"The group has been actively participating in tendering for projects both locally and overseas. We will make appropriate announcements on projects secured to keep investors and the public informed from time to time," Bina Puri Holdings said.

By New Straits Times

S P Setia builds luxury high-rise in KLCC

Setia Sky Residences is S P Setia's first project downtown

The Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a coveted address for many real estate players. Award-winning S P Setia Bhd is not about to be left out of the action.

Although the established developer is a newcomer to the location, its divisional general manager Wong Tuck Wai is confident that the RM800 million Setia Sky Residences, its first downtown project, will be well-received because of its novel concept and superb location.

"This is our first high-end condominium project in the area and, having built a strong reputation in the landed luxury property segment, we are excited to realise our vision of luxury high-rise living with Setia Sky Residences," says Wong.

The six-acre freehold Setia Sky Residences is strategically located on the intersection of Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz Shah. It comprises 844 units, with sizes ranging from 1,044 to 1,679 sq ft. The project will be launched in stages, with the first batch up for sale by July. S P Setia is carrying out a registration drive for prospective buyers.

Wong says the target market will be owner-occupiers and property investors, both foreign and local, who wish to own a premium property with good appreciation potential.

"We believe Setia Sky Residences has all the ingredients of success. While the project is not on the immediate fringe of KLCC, most of the units offer a clear view of the Twin Towers. Indicative price is RM800 psf. The current selling prices of other high-rise projects in the KLCC area are above RM1,000 psf while those within the direct vicinity of KLCC have even exceeded RM2,500 psf. Our price is very attractive and offers good upside potential," he says.

Wong says the concept and design of Setia Sky Residences were inspired by the fluid lines of natural landforms. "The faces of the tower fronting KLCC are sculpted into a curvilinear form. This gives a longer building edge that allows more units to face this dramatic view. The sides facing the Titiwangsa Lake are shaped into slender and elegant forms, creating a dynamic composition of building blocks."

Setia Sky Residences has four towers of 40 storeys and will be ready by 2011. The layout includes a lobby for private lifts, a full range of family-recreational facilities spread over 40,000 sq ft of space at the Sky Deck (Level 5) and the Sky Club (Level 34).

The Sky Deck, located on the roof of the car park podium, features a playing area for children, spaces for family parties, a function room for big parties and a "secret spa garden" surrounded by lush greenery for quiet relaxation.

The Sky Club has four private entertainment villas. Each of the two villas on either end has a dramatic infinity plunge pool. All the villas are equipped with a kitchenette, where residents can host parties, The club also comes with a lap pool and a fully equipped gym with an aerobics and dance studio.

For the past three consecutive years from 2005, S P Setia has ranked first in The Edge Top Property Developers Awards. The developer's flagship projects include the 2,525-acre Setia Alam and the 791-acre Setia EcoPark in Shah Alam. In KL, S P Setia has three high-end projects — Duta Nusantara and Duta Tropika in Sri Hartamas, and Setiahills in Ampang. In Johor, it has Bukit Indah Johor in Bandar Nusajaya, Setia Indah Johor in Tebrau, Setia Tropika in Kempas and Setia Eco Gardens in Pulai. It also has Setia Pearl Island in Bayan Lepas, Penang, and Aeropod @ Tg Aru, Sabah. Last June, the group also inked a deal with Vietnam's top state-owned conglomerate, Becamex IDC Corp, to develop its maiden residential project there.

The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2008 held on May 10 was supported by S P Setia.

By The EDGE Malaysia - City & Country (by Allison Lee)

UOB sees growth in home loans market

The UOB booth at the Forum

The Malaysian property market has been on an upward trend and is still doing well despite concerns about the effects of the US subprime crisis and a slowdown in the global economy. This augurs well for the home loans market as well, says United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd's (UOB) first vice-president for mortgage, Loo Yeok Bee.

Take-up rates have risen by more than 50% within three months of launch, especially for high-end properties, she adds. According to Bank Negara Malaysia, loan approvals for 1Q2008 stood at RM13.6 billion, while for 1Q2007 it was RM8.5 billion.

UOB currently holds more than 6% of the home loans market in Malaysia. "We hope to increase our share to 7% by 2009," Loo says.

UOB is confident of the property market, and will continue to be, so as long as there is demand.

According to the Valuations and Property Services Department, over RM77 billion worth of properties were transacted in 2007, of which almost 65% comprised residential properties. Sales increased to 45% in 2007, with 52,664 units launched, compared with 41% in 2006.

"Currently, high-end properties in choice locations, such as the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang, are better re-ceived than low-end ones," says Loo.

Is it easier to approve home loans now than before?

Loo says it is relatively easier now than three or four years ago, as banks have access to better and more efficient technology and secured assessment systems to process loan applications. This encourages faster approvals and turnaround time for customers. Currently, it takes three working days for a home loan to be approved and for a letter of offer to be issued.

The bank looks out for five main considerations when approving loans — credit rating, capability, commitment, collateral and the applicants' character.

On whether banks prefer to give out loans for new properties or secondary market properties, she says both contribute substantially to their growth.

There are many home loan packages that cater for the different needs of customers and all offer competitive interest rates.

"We are proud of our flexible home loan facility. Customers can choose from a variety of facilities to match their financial needs. It is important for us to deliver quality service and we are supported by a large branch network and competent sales team," says Loo.

Current UOB home loan packages include the Flexi Mortgage Home Loan, the Intelligent Home Loan as well as the International Home Loan for its foreign customers. "At UOB, we offer a home loan facility of up to 40 years or until the borrower reaches 70 — giving customers flexibility in deciding their loan tenure and possibly lower instalments. UOB also offers up to 90% margin of financing plus 5% for mortgage reducing term assurance. These are our special features as we cater for our customers' financial needs at different stages of their life," says Loo, adding that the average loan tenure for high-end properties is around 15 to 20 years, with an average margin of financing of 80%.

The Edge Investment Forum on Real Estate 2008, which was held on May 10, was organised by The Edge and presented by UOB.

By The EDGE Malaysia - City & Country (by Rosalynn Poh)

Wijaya Baru plans to sell portion of land

WIJAYA Baru Global Bhd is in talks to sell up to 30 per cent of a 153.4ha leasehold land it recently bought in Pulau Indah, Klang.

The land, located adjacent to the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), was purchased from Pulau Indah Marina Resort Sdn Bhd for RM130 million.

Wijaya Baru Global entered into the deal to acquire the land in March 2005, and full payment was settled in November 2007.

"We acquired a piece of land next to the PKFZ for mixed development involving some housing, commercial and leisure (components)," its deputy chief executive Faizal Abdullah said.

"There are people who are interested to buy large lots (within the area we bought). There are two parties - one in industrial and the other in trading," Faizal told Business Times in an interview.

"We are still negotiating (to sell) between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of the land," he said.

Faizal said Wijaya Baru Global has not yet decided whether or not to sell the land, or to which party, but if it does go through the price will be at a premium to what the company paid earlier.

Meanwhile, work on this mixed development job is expected to commence early next year.

"We have put things on the drawing board. We will be finalising these plans in the next three to four months and commence operations early next year," he added.

Wijaya Baru's associate Wijaya Baru Sdn Bhd is involved in the construction of the infrastructure and superstructure of PKFZ.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

Global hotel investments may fall 50pc: Broker

SINGAPORE: Global investment in hotels may fall by more than half to US$50 billion (US$1 = RM3.21) this year because of the credit crunch, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc said.

Real-estate financing has evaporated as defaults by US homeowners prompted more than US$379 billion of losses and asset writedowns at banks and securities firms worldwide. Demand for hotel properties has slumped after global deals surged to a record US$110 billion last year, said Arthur de Haast, chief executive officer of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

"The main thing that will stimulate hotel investment is an improvement of liquidity in debt markets," de Haast said in an interview here yesterday.

Hotel investment fell to about US$8 billion in the first quarter of 2008, after exceeding US$20 billion a year earlier, Jones Lang LaSalle, the world's second-largest real-estate broker, said this month. The last time global hotel investment was below US$50 billion was in 2005 when transactions totalled US$47 billion, de Haast said.

Even as global hotel acquisitions slow, de Haast said he expects hotel deals in India to more than double to as much as US$1 billion this year, up from between US$380 million last year, he said.

Real-estate funds from private equity companies and sovereign wealth funds seek to tap India's growing domestic tourism market by acquiring hotels in the world's second most populous country, de Haast said.

By Bloomberg

Builders want to backdate claims to April 2007

Source: Master Builders Association of Malaysia

The government is allowing contractors to claim for price increases in steel bars for design and build jobs from May 12, but contractors said their claims should be backdated to a year ago.

They want to backdate their claims to April 2007 and if the government agrees, this could involve billions of ringgit.

Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Patrick Wong said steel prices have been rising since April 2007 and many contractors who took on design-and-build jobs could not claim for the full amount paid for the steel bars.

"Last year, contractors' claims for government design-and-build jobs were limited to that of the April, June and December ceiling prices," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"We have appealed to the government to consider paying us the price difference above the ceiling price which we have been shouldering all these while," he said.

Last week, following Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's announcement to fully liberalise the steel bar and billet market from May 12, all government design-and-build jobs were also required to incorporate price variation clause to accommodate claims for price increase in steel bars.

From May 12, changes in the price of steel will be based on the market price and calculated separately from the index of the construction items.

While MBAM welcomes this decision, it said the government should allow for contractors to claim from April 2007.

"If backdated to April 2007, the total claims for the price differences above the ceiling prices for steel bar in design-and-build-jobs could amount to between RM2 billion and RM3 billion," Wong said.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

Builders: Customs still demands permits for steel bars

SOME government agencies still demand contractors to apply for approved permits (APs ) to import steel bars, despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi having declared that the steel bar and billet market has been fully liberalised from May 12.

OPEN CEMENT MARKET: Wong (left) with Asli Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Michael Yeoh. Contractors have been told that the implementation date will be 'announced anytime soon'

"Our members on May 15 had wanted to import steel bars, but the Johor Customs Department at entry point had told them to apply for an AP," said Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Patrick Wong told reporters after the preview of the First Malaysian Construction Summit 2008 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

"They were also told to apply for APs to stockpile steel bars at the worksite," he said.

He said the association is saddened that there is a lack of follow-through when it comes to the implementation of the Cabinet's decision to liberalise the steel bar and billet market.

"We have written to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry on this matter," he added.

The government had scrapped the ceiling prices on steel bars from May 12 to enable contractors undertaking government projects to claim for changes in the contract price based on the market price.

In addition, contractors are no longer required to apply for APs to import or pay import duties when they buy steel bars from the overseas market.

There is also no export restriction on steel millers to sell steel bars and billets to their overseas clients.

On the government's move to open up the local cement market, Wong said contractors were told that the implementation date will be announced "anytime soon".

The First Malaysian Construction Summit 2008, which is jointly organised by MBAM and the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli), will be held on June 3 in Kuala Lumpur.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on ways to solve supply-chain bottlenecks in the construction industry.

By New Straits Times