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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I-Berhad to deliver 1st phase of office suites

I-BERHAD is ready to deliver the first phase of its cybercentre office suites, a RM2 billion information and communications technology-enabled development in i-City.

In a statement in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, deputy chief executive officer, Lim Boon Siong, said the first phase, which consisted of 44 units of office suites, was targeted at Multimedia Super Corridor and knowledge companies.

“The tenants are expected to be fully operational by September this year,” he said.

Lim said the second phase, which would consist of data centre and 34 units of office suites, would be ready for occupancy by year-end and mid-2009 respectively.

Meanwhile, I-Berhad said groundwork for the shopping mall was scheduled to start in September.

“It will have cosmopolitan lifestyle outlets to cater to the needs of the i-City community,” it said.

By Bernama

UMLand to launch high-end projects in KL

UNITED Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) expects to launch another two high-end development projects within Kuala Lumpur city centre after the soft launch of Suasana Bangsar last April.

Its group chief executive officer, Anthony Yap, said the combined gross development value of all three niche projects was in excess of RM1.5 billion.

“Suasana Bangsar, a 190-unit freehold condominium, offers a choice of two-, three- and four-bedroom suites ranging from 1,112 to 2,200 sq ft each.

“Priced from only RM550 per sq ft, the RM185 million project was well-received at the soft launch,” he told a media briefing after the company’s annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Yap said in the second half of 2008, UMLand would develop a 34-storey 310 units of serviced residences on a 0.6-hectare site nestled within the serene enclave of Bukit Ceylon.

He said in early 2009, UMLand would also be developing a premium luxury low-density residences with townhouses and condominiums housed in two 45-storey towers on a 1.72ha site near the Petronas Twin Towers.

“This is a 50:50 joint venture project with Bolton Bhd. Given the attractive locations and development potential of these projects, they are expected to contribute positively to future earnings of the group,” he said.

He said the group has acquired two parcels of freehold commercial land in Johor Baru Central Business District and Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur for RM27 million and RM9 million respectively.

“The proposed developments for both land parcels comprise a mix of commercial and residential uses,” he said.

Group net profit for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2007 rose by 16 per cent to RM46.6 million on the back of RM396.8 million in revenue.

“Year on year revenue declined marginally from RM416.6 million in the preceding financial year due to lower revenue recognition from our Suasana Sentral Loft condominium project which tapered off in 2007 and was subsequently completed at the end of the financial year,” he said.

By Bernama

Pasdec to develop tourism-related project

PROPERTY developer Pasdec Holdings Bhd will go into tourism-related development projects in Bukit Tinggi near Bentong, Pahang.

Its chairman Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said this follows the acquisition of a 70 per cent stake in Bentong Aquarium & Sanctuary Park Sdn Bhd from AWP Aquarium & Park Sdn Bhd, which holds the remaining 30 per cent.

ADNAN: Infrastructure work on the Bukit Tinggi project is slated to commence next year

"This partnership will embark on tourism-related development on 115 acres of land in Bukit Tinggi, Bentong," he told reporters after chairing Pasdec's annual general meeting in Kuantan yesterday.

Adnan, who is also Pahang Menteri Besar, said infrastructure work on the project is slated to commence next year.

This may include the incorporation of an earthquake-proof technology, taking into account the recent detection of tremors in Bukit Tinggi.

Meanwhile, rising oil prices are expected to affect the group's property development growth prospects, particularly its residential properties.

"It will have an impact on the overall cost of living, affecting particularly the middle to lower income groups," said Adnan.

He added that a rise in building material costs will lead to an increase in the cost of construction, thus putting pressure on buyers' affordability and the price of properties.

"(As such,) we are strategically moving into non-property related businesses to reduce our reliance on property development," he said.

Pasdec recorded a profit of RM26.4 million for the financial year ended December 31 2007, from RM1.25 million a year ago.

Its revenue was RM107.2 million, up 1.5 per cent from RM105.7 million in 2006.

Adnan attributed the higher profit to the development of Putra Square in Transit Quarters, Kuantan, and the gains from the exchange of rights by bondholders of its Rainbow Exchangeable Bonds (REBs).

Pasdec announced the distribution of a first and final dividend of two sen per share less tax in respect of financial year 2007 for shareholders as approved during the meeting.

By New Straits Times (by B. Suresh Ram)

UEM Land signs pacts to buy properties

UEM Land Bhd, a subsidiary of UEM World Bhd and the master developer of Nusajaya, has signed agreements with UEM Builders Bhd and UEM Group Bhd to acquire properties to enhance and expand its property business in Nusajaya.

The consideration for these properties, estimated at RM155 million, is proposed to be satisfied via the issuance of mandatory convertible redeemable preference shares (MCRPS) of RM0.01 each in UEM Land or a holding company to be identified (and to be listed), at an issued price of RM1.00 for each MCRPS.

In a statement in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, UEM Land said UEM Builders has proposed to offer its shareholders the MCRPS to be received as consideration for the sale of properties under a non-renounceable restricted offer for sale (ROS).

UEM Group has also provided an undertaking to acquire all the MCRPS under the ROS.

“This ensures that UEM Builders will receive cash for the properties that it disposes of to UEM Land and at the same time give its shareholders a first right of refusal to buy the MCRPS,” it said.

UEM World managing director/chief executive officer, Datuk Ahmad Pardas Senin, said the acquisition was part of the on-going process by UEM Land to manage and consolidate its landbank in Nusajaya.

By Bernama

SP Setia hurt by high material costs

PETALING JAYA: SP Setia Bhd's net profit for its second quarter ended Apr 30 dropped 19.68% to RM47.99mil from the previous corresponding period mainly due to the escalating costs of building materials.

Revenue was 5.12% higher at RM301.51mil.

In a note attached to its quarterly result, the company said despite the challenging economic and business environment, expansion plans were on track.

Sales for the financial year 2008 (ending Oct 31) so far had remained strong and had hit RM951mil as at May 31, it said.

The company said rising costs remained the key concern and would be dealt with via a review of how contracts were awarded by incorporating cost-escalation clauses.

It added that operations would be restructured to make it more cost efficient while key infrastructure and amenities in the townships that the company was developing would be expedited and improved to “enable justifiable price increases to be passed on to purchasers”.

Aseambankers Malaysia Bhd said in an equity research report dated June 23 that SP Setia faced the twin risks of dwindling buyers' confidence and margin compression, which might cripple earnings growth.

“We conservatively cut our FY09 earnings forecasts by 12% to 19% in anticipation of slowdown in launches and margins pressure,” it said.

It added that with no immediate catalyst amid domestic and external uncertainties, the company's stock price was expected to languish over the next three to six months.

Recently, Real Estate and Housing Developers Association vice president Datuk F.D. Iskandar F.D. Mansor said the residential segment of the property industry faced “challenging times” due to higher oil price-fuelling inflation.

He said contractors were also not keen to take on new projects as they were adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

However, Sime Darby Property senior executive vice-president Datuk Abdul Wahab Maskan was quoted as saying in a report yesterday that despite the escalating costs of construction, the property arm of Sime Darby Bhd would not be deferring launches of new projects.

By The Star (by Fintan Ng)

Accor eyes 20-70pc stake in Malaysia hotels

ACCOR SA is keen to take a 20 to 70 per cent stake in the hotels that it operates in Malaysia.

Accor, which is on a aggressive expansion mode in Asia Pacific including Malaysia, operates brands ranging from the budget Formule 1 to the five-star Sofitel.

"Like our strategy globally, Accor want to be an equity partner, especially in economy (class) hotels, as we want to control the product and be consistent (in our service offerings)," Accor Asia-Pacific vice president for Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Gerard Guillouet, said.

"We are looking at anything between 20 per cent and 70 per cent stake. We have started discussions with several hotel owners," he said.

Malaysian Operation: The Novotel Hydro Majestic in Kuala Lumpur

"We are happy to have investments in flagship hotels like Sofitel, Novotel or Pullman," he added.

Investments in four- and five-star hotels should not exceed 30 per cent, while in budget hotels will be up to 70 per cent.

Accor has sold many of its properties in Europe and is now investing some of those funds in new hotels in other parts of the world.

On the performance of its two existing hotels in Malaysia, namely the Sofitel Palm Suite in Johor and the Novotel Hydro Majestic Kuala Lumpur, Guillouet said revenue is expected to increase by 15 per cent this year against 2007.

By New Straits Times

Accor: 5,000 hotel rooms in Malaysia by 2012

FRENCH hotel and services group Accor SA plans to operate 5,000 hotel rooms in Malaysia by 2012, including 12 under the three-star Ibis brand.

It is now in talks with 10 parties in Malaysia to expand its existing brands and introduce new mid-market brands like All Seasons.

In Malaysia, the hotel group operates the Sofitel Palm Suite in Johor and the Novotel Hydro Majestic Kuala Lumpur.

The stable of two hotels will expand with the opening of Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside, Novotel 1 Borneo Kota Kinabalu, Mercure Kota Kinabalu and Novotel Kuching.

"We are confident that the Malaysian market is strong and it is getting stronger and infrastructure is strong too. There is also a drive to develop tourism (in Malaysia)," Accor Asia Pacific vice-president for Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Gerard Guillouet, told Business Times on the sidelines of the World of Accor Expo in Jakarta, Indonesia, recently.

The World of Accor brings together the hotel and travel agents, wholesalers, corporate travel bookers, meetings, conference and exhibition specialists and travel industry partner.

"We are looking to open a flagship Sofitel in Kuala Lumpur and one more Pullman in Kuala Lumpur, and we are also in talks to open Ibis," Guillouet said.

"We would like to have 12 Ibis hotels in Malaysia. This is our five-year plan," he said.

Accor also expressed keenness to have three of its brands - Pullman, Novotel and Sofitel - in Langkawi.

On how Accor expects to compete with other hotel operators who are also in talks possibly with the same parties and in the same location, Guillouet said he is confident that Accor has the upper-hand.

"We are the leader in Asia Pacific with the largest number of hotels.

"We are also the most diversified hotel operator in terms of number of brands," he said.

Accor's brand ranges from the budget Formule 1 to the five-star Sofitel brand.

Today, revenue contributions from its hotels in Asia Pacific stand at less than 10 per cent, which provides the hotel group ample opportunity for growth.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

CapitaLand buys 62pc of Malaysian mall for S$250m

SINGAPORE: Southeast Asia’s largest property developer CapitaLand said today it had paid S$250 million (US$183 million) for 62 per cent of a retail mall in Malaysia.

CapitaLand chief executive Pua Seck Guan said the latest acquisition puts the Singapore-listed firm on track to set up its Malaysian retail real estate investment trust (REIT) by the end of this year.

“Together with the earlier acquisitions of Gurney Plaza and Mines Shopping Fair, the three assets collectively amount to a total asset size of approximately S$840 milion (US$614.5 million),” Pua said in a statement.

The retail space in the Sungei Wang Plaza mall is located in the popular Bukit Bintang retail belt in Kuala Lumpur and includes parking lots.

The mall has close to 100 per cent occupancy and sees more than 24 million visitors annually.

By Reuters

Amarin to launch luxury units in Q3

The Amarin Group, a niche boutique high-end developer, will launch its new Amarin Wickham development in the third quarter of this year.

The project is valued at RM130 million with units varying in size from 3,000 to 9,000 sq ft with an average price of RM4 million per unit, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Amarin Wickham is a low-density, low-rise luxury development of 21 units of duplexes and triplexes of innovative design set, it said. The company said it has almost completely sold out all units in its first development named Amarin Kiara.

By Bernama

HDC awaits Tamadam proposal on halal park logistics

HALAL Industry Development Corp Sdn Bhd (HDC) is waiting for Tamadam Bonded Warehouse Bhd's proposal on logistics infrastructure framework for halal parks in the country.

Chief executive officer Datuk Jamil Bidin said once HDC receives the proposal, it will conduct a study to see if the framework adheres to its guidelines on halal parks.

Jamil: If the proposed framework is feasible, we will recommend it to the companies operating in the halal parks

"The study will not take long. We can even complete it within one week. If the proposed framework is feasible, we will recommend it to the companies operating in the halal parks," he said after the launch of HDC briefing on halal certification by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Mashitah Ibrahim in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

Second-board Tamadam is expected to reveal the framework on logistics infrastructure for halal parks at its annual general meeting today. The proposed logistics framework is likely to bring in multi-million ringgit income to the company.

Tamadam's comprehensive halal logistics components, supply and distribution framework for the halal parks will include warehouses, distribution centres, commercial properties and IT system.

Currently, there are four halal parks designated by the government at Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) in Selangor, Gambang in Pahang, Padang Besar in Perlis and Tanjung Manis in Sarawak.

Jamil said HDC can only recommend Tamadam's logistics framework for companies operating in halal parks, but it is up to the respective companies to adopt Tamadam's services.

He said the PKFZ halal park, whose infrastructure and building have been completed, has started to attract interest from a few companies.

The park in Sarawak has received more than RM1.3 billion investment from over 20 companies, mostly foreign-owned, while the one in Pahang has an anchor Bumiputera company, Prima Agri Products Sdn Bhd.

The halal park in Perlis, which is designed to utilise raw materials from Southern Thailand and expertise from Malaysia, is still in the conceptual stage.

Meanwhile, Jamil said since HDC took over the authority for halal certification from Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) in April this year, it has received over 380 applications from local companies and more than 40 applications from overseas-based companies.

From the total, HDC has approved 80 local applications and one overseas application.

"About 85 per cent of these applications were submitted online, through e-halal that was developed by Jakim," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Hamisah Hamid)

ARCHIDEX returns

Looking for an architect to build you a futuristic home? Check out what's the latest at ARCHIDEX 08.

The 9th Malaysia Architecture, Interior Design and Building Exhibition (ARCHIDEX 08) will be held from July 3 to 6 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Malaysia.

ARCHIDEX 08, jointly organised by the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) and C.I.S Network Sdn Bhd, will be held concurrently with the PAM 2008 Convention.

ARCHIDEX 08 involves the participation of over 280 companies that will occupy 780 booths. Participants include major names in the building industry from Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Korea, France, Philippines, Austria and China.

Recognised as Malaysia’s key exhibition for architects, interior designers and the building industry, the ARCHIDEX 08 involves the participation of over 280 companies that will occupy 780 booths. Participants will be from Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Korea, France, Philippines, Austria and China.

From special flooring material to designer furniture, ARCHIDEX 08 will have the latest to offer the most discerning property builder or developer.

Two of the main highlights are the International Architectural Design Conference (DATUM: KL 2008) and Kuala Lumpur Design Forum, where local and international renowned architects and interior designers will present their work and share design philosophies.

Other events and highlights held concurrently at ARCHIDEX 08 are:

- Building Industry Dinner

- Architects’ Day

- Designers’ Day


- New Products Award

- Professionals Networking Evening

- PAM 2008 Convention Architectural Site Visits

Continuing Professional Development Programme (CPD) Points

Architects who attend the conference, forum, site visit, Biz @ ARCHIDEX (technical talk) or visit ARCHIDEX 08 are entitled to up to 13 CPD Points.

Exhibition hours are from 11am to 7pm.

* For details on ARCHIDEX 08, call 03-7982 4668, visit or e-mail For information on DATUM and KL Design Forum 08, contact Pusat Binaan Sdn Bhd at 03-2693 2843, e-mail / or browse their website at

By The Star

British home loans plummet

LONDON: New British home loan approvals nosedived at their sharpest annual pace in at least a decade to hit a record low in May, figures showed yesterday, raising fears the housing slowdown is about to escalate into a crash.

The credit crunch has forced banks to toughen up lending terms, making it harder for Britons to get affordable mortgages and house prices have already started to fall at monthly rates not seen since the slump of the early 1990s.

Economists worry that a housing market meltdown will drag the economy into recession at a time when the cost of living is rising fast as food and fuel prices soar on global markets.

The British Bankers’ Association said mortgage approvals for house purchase – an indicator of future house prices – fell to 27,968 in May from 34,752 in April. That was 56% down on a year earlier – the biggest drop since the series began in 1997.

“A very worrying picture of how the credit crunch is unfolding. A US-style housing slump looks increasingly likely,” said Michael Hume, an economist at Lehman Brothers. “The drop in mortgage approvals and lending points to a housing market that is rapidly grinding to halt under the pressure of higher mortgage interest rates, tighter bank lending standards, and declining confidence.”

By Reuters