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Friday, July 4, 2008

Bolton eyes more land in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Bolton Bhd plans to spend RM200mil to acquire by March suitable sites in the north-east of Penang island for new residential projects, said executive chairman Datuk Azman Yahya.

Datuk Azman Yahya with a model of the Surin condominium

“We plan to launch high-end residential properties with gross development value (GDV) of between RM600mil and RM800mil.

“The properties will comprise high-rise condominiums and landed residential homes,” he said after launching the company’s RM200mil Surin condominium project in Tanjung Bungah.

“In view of soaring energy and building material prices, Bolton will price its future properties 20% to 30% higher,” he added.

Construction work on the condo project is expected to start this month and scheduled for completion in three years.

Azman said about 65% of the 198 units in the first tower were sold during the soft launch.

Another 192 units in the second tower will open for sale tomorrow, he said.

“The key features of Surin include 850 parking bays in a multi-storey car park.

“Other facilities are a gymnasium, four high-speed lifts and closed-circuit television connected to the guard post,” he added.

The units have built-up areas of between 1,307 and 2,827 sq ft and are priced from RM364,988 to RM1.2mil.

“The units have higher floor-to-ceiling height and bigger balcony space,” Azman said.

He said Bolton was lining up a new range of residential properties with an estimated GDV of RM1.5bil.

These projects will be launched in the next 12 months.

The bulk of them were in the Klang Valley, including the RM1bil Mayang scheme, Tijani 2 North, Condo 3, Bolton Court and The Piazza in Puchong, Azman added.

By The Star (by David Tan)

Bolton eyes bigger Penang land bank

High-End Residence: Azman taking a closer look at the model of the Surin Condominium project

PROPERTY developer Bolton Bhd expects to spend RM200 million to increase the size of its land bank on Penang Island, giving a boost to its newly-launched maiden project, featuring a RM130 million condominium development, in the island-state.

Bolton said it is satisfied with its initial investment in Penang and is on the lookout for additional land bank for acquisition as well as opportunities to jointly develop with landowners to bring Bolton's brand and property products to the state.

"We are currently evaluating acquisition opportunities in Penang and have seen three or four proposals," its executive chairman Datuk Azman Yahaya told reporters at the launch of the "Surin" luxury condominium project in Tanjung Bungah yesterday.

"We feel Penang would be ideally suited to serve as a hub for our planned growth in the northern region, thus our commitment of another RM200 million investment," he added.

Azman said with the RM200 million, Bolton is looking at developing residential properties with a gross development value ranging between RM600 million and RM800 million.

He said the projects in Penang will comprise high-end landed properties in gated communities as well as high-rise developments.

"We hope to complete our acquisition during this financial year," he said, adding that one of the parcels of land being eyed is in George Town.

Azman also said that Bolton has no intention of slowing down, rather "in higher-end developments where margins are high, we will be able to absorb the increase in building materials cost".

With a development value of RM200 million, the Surin project sits on 1.4ha of land and offers 390 luxury condominium units tagged from RM364,988 to RM1.2 million per unit.

The project is scheduled for completion by 2011.

Bolton's executive director Chan Wong Kwong said 65 per cent of the 198 units in the first tower have been sold prior to the official launch.

"About 30 per cent of these buyers are foreigners from Hong Kong and Singapore," Chan said.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

Servcorp investing RM96mil in i-City project

SYDNEY: Australia’s Servcorp Ltd, the world’s second largest serviced office operator, is investing US$30mil over five years into state-of-the-art concierge services for I-Bhd's RM2bil i-City project.

The 72-acre integrated commercial development in Section 7, Shah Alam, would be equipped with seamless wireless access, integrated information and communications technology and building networks, as well as multimedia and collaborative tools.

“This concierge services concept will make i-City the first real estate project in Asia where all the services are connected via one network,” said Servcorp chief information officer Marcus Moufarrige.

He was speaking to reporters yesterday prior to signing an agreement with I-Bhd, who was represented by deputy chief executive officer Lim Boon Siong.

The concierge services are divided into two areas – the human services element provided by Servcorp and the innovative technology element provided by i-Office2 Sdn Bhd.

i-Office2 is a joint venture with I-Bhd in which Servcorp’s subsidiary Office Squared would hold 65% equity interest.

The concierge services would also be supported by a gigaspeed fibre optics network that would allow for complete connectivity and mobility while its “last-mile fibre optics to the units” network would have a capacity of up to 10Mbps.

Additionally, the network would also have super broadband redundancy and the components for Web 2.0, a second-generation Internet development.

Servcorp has had a presence in Malaysia since 1988 when it provided office services to Menara Haw Par. The company currently extends these services to Menara Standard Chartered and Menara Citibank.

Moufarrige said businesses locating to i-City would have a choice of whether to take up the services offered by Servcorp and the joint-venture company.

“The average fee charged to our clients in Australia is about A$140 per seat per month (per Internet connection) but it really depends on what level of service the clients want,” he said.

He added that the services would be charged on a different scale in Malaysia.

When completed in 2012, i-City would comprise a shopping mall, corporate towers, corporate suites, shop offices, serviced apartments, data centres, a hotel and an innovation centre.

By The Star (by Fintan Ng)

KSL to launch largest mall in Johor

SEGAMAT: KSL Holdings Bhd will launch in two months the biggest commercial complex in Johor, known as the KSL City.

The RM500mil project is located within Century Gardens, opposite Holiday Plaza shopping complex near Jalan Datuk Suleiman.

The project comprises a four-storey retail complex, two 26-storey hotel towers with 950 rooms and two 33-storey apartment towers.

“This is the first development in Johor combining retail, hospitality and high-rise residential living,” group managing director Khoo Cheng Hai told StarBiz after the company AGM recently.

He said the retail complex would offer 500,000 sq ft floor area and house retail outlets, a department store, cineplexes and car park.

He said the five-star KSL Resorts Hotel would be managed by a local hospitality management company.

He said the retail complex and the hotel towers would be completed towards the end of next year and the apartment blocks in mid-2010.

Khoo said the apartment towers would have separate entrances and car parks from the hotel towers.

He said KSL was confident that the hotel would do well as most hotels within the Johor Baru Central Business District currently recorded almost 90% occupancy rate.

“We are also expecting that Johor will benefit from the spillover effects when the two integrated resort projects in Singapore are completed in two years,” said executive director Ku Hwa Seng.

He said the Singapore Tourism Board was projecting some 17 million tourists to visit the republic next year.

Ku said Malaysians planning to visit the resorts would likely stay in Johor Baru as hotel rates in the republic were too costly for average Malaysian tourists.

He said the location of KSL City in the heart of Iskandar Malaysia augured well for the company due to the influx of local and foreign investors, tourists and new residents to south Johor.

Ku said KSL did not discount that the new project would be a stepping-stone for it to further venture into the retail and hospitality segments in other parts of Malaysia.

For the financial year ended Dec 31 (FY07), KSL posted pre-tax profit of RM138.3mil on revenue of RM277.4mil compared with RM94.1mil and RM266.2mil respectively in FY06.

By The Star (by Zazali Musa)

Sime Darby sells RM220m homes in nine days

PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Property Bhd has sold over 425 properties worth RM220mil in nine days through its “Parade of Homes” showcase.

The event, which was launched on June 20 and ended last weekend, saw 15,000 buyers flocking to nine townships and more than 40 show houses in Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, Klang, Ampang and Nilai.

The company said in a statement that properties within the Putra Heights, Bukit Raja and Bukit Jelutong developments attracted the most interest.

Executive vice-president for property development and strategic investments, Datuk Tunku Putra Badlishah Tunku Annuar said the response had exceeded the company's expectations.

By The Star

Meeting to discuss Low Yat’s hotel plan

GEORGE TOWN: The Low Yat group’s proposed hotel project on the famous millionaire’s row, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, will be discussed next week at a Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) meeting.

Sources told StarBiz the meeting, scheduled for July 10, would consider the plans submitted for a 23-storey hotel with 399 rooms on a 5,759 sq m site.

So far no approval has been given for the project.

“If there are no objections from the council approving body, the plans for the hotel would be approved. Construction work can begin as soon as approval is received,” the sources said.

The group is reviving the hotel because it believes the present state government has adopted a pro-active business stance.

However, it has not yet decided on the subsidiary to undertake the hotel development. The Low Yat group’s building plan for a three-storey commercial property scheme in Batu Ferringhi was approved last month.

“The project comprises nine shop-lots and 18 office units,” the sources said.

The group's plans for a residential project comprising 101 bungalows, 121 apartments and 18 villas in Batu Ferringhi, however, it have yet to be approved.

In 2005, executive chairman Tan Sri Low Yow Chuan had criticised the then state government for taking a long time to approve projects and for not being business-friendly.

The group is responsible for the development of the country’s first five-star hotel, Federal Hotel, in the 1950s.

It also developed the City Square shopping mall and Crown Princess Hotel, both in Kuala Lumpur.

By The Star - StarBiz - (by David Tan)

Govt urged to stabilise building material prices

A TRADE association has warned that the building material crisis could threaten the entire economy if it is not solved quickly.

Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Ng Kee Leen said that prices of building materials, especially steel bars, were rising too fast.

"If the government does not take immediate action to stabilise the prices, a negative chain of events can, and will, happen," he told reporters at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said the government should cover the ground and see why many contractors were not taking or bidding for jobs, and why contractors were giving up jobs after clinching them.

"If there is no remedial action now, this crisis in the construction sector can cascade into the banking sector and pull the whole economy down."

Ng said that many small contractors, who had taken up jobs at last year's pricing, were now forced to either wind up or give up the jobs.

This means that developers will suffer because they cannot hand over the partially completed houses to buyers, who in turn will lose out because they have to pay their housing loans without actually taking possession of the properties.

Building material suppliers, too, will suffer because the contractors may not be able to pay them, Ng added.

Asked about the government's decision to incorporate a price-fluctuation clause in contracts from May 12 this year, Ng said: "It doesn't solve problems for jobs undertaken before that date.

"The solution is to stabilise steel bar prices because contractors are also unsure about taking on jobs offered by property developers.

"Given the present scenario, we definitely cannot meet the 5.5 per cent growth forecast for the construction sector."

Ng said that banks will be hit as well if they have to grapple with mounting non-performing loans when the contractors cannot pay up, and this could threaten the entire economy.

He recommended that the government set aside at least RM1 billion for a three-month stockpile of steel bars.

"Should the steel bar price jump higher than the current RM4,300 per tonne, the government can then release this stock for local consumption, at least for some of the government projects, so that contractors are not forced to abandon the jobs halfway due to a lack of funds."

Also present at the press conference was Chartered Institute of Building Malaysia (CIOB) president Isaac Sunder Rajan.

The CIOB and MBAM will jointly organise the International Construction Conference 2008 from August 27 to 29.

The three-day conference in Kuala Lumpur will focus on project management of mega-sized projects and contractual claims.

By New Straits Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

Revise construction industry growth forecast, Govt told

KUALA LUMPUR: Growth of the construction industry as forecast in the mid-term review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) should be revised in view of rising raw material prices, said Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Ng Kee Leen.

“We feel that growth within the construction sector should be revised a bit lower, consistent with Bank Negara's revised gross domestic product growth forecast,” Ng told a press conference yesterday.

According to the mid-term review report, the construction sector is expected to grow at 5.8% per annum, underpinned by activities within the civil engineering, residential and commercial property sub-sectors.

The construction sector grew 4.6% last year compared with 0.5% in 2006. It contracted by 1.6% in 2005 and 1.9% in 2004.

Ng believes the construction sector would record positive growth in 2008.

However, the hike in prices, especially for steel and cement, was hampering the industry's growth, he said.

“Since the oil price hike, many construction projects have slowed down,” he said, adding that the deferment of Penang's outer ring road and monorail projects would definitely affect growth.

MBAM executive director Chan Fook Cheong said the slowdown was imminent despite the Government's decision to pump in RM30bil for development expenditure under the 9MP due to the rise in construction material costs.

“We welcome the move by the Government, but we feel it is more important for the Government to address the uncontrolled increase in prices of building materials,” he said.

Chan noted that if the Government did not look into the matter soon, many construction projects would come to a standstill.

“We have approached the Government (to address the issue) but the reaction has not been encouraging,” he said.

On another note, MBAM, the Chartered Institute of Building Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Mara will jointly organise the International Construction Conference 2008 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Aug 27 to 29.

Ng said the conference would bring together construction players from around the world to address issues affecting the industry and discuss good management practices.

By The Star