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Friday, September 19, 2008

Mah Sing sweeps 3 awards

KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd has swept three awards out of seven categories in the Euromoney Liquid Real Estate Awards 2008 including the highest honour of “Top Developer Overall Malaysia”. The other two awards are “Best Office/Business Developer Malaysia “Best Mixed-Use Developer Malaysia”.

In a statement yesterday, Mah Sing said currently in its fourth year, the awards covered developers, lenders, advisory firms, investment banks, investment managers and property management firms from more than 50 countries, across a variety of regional categories.

The Euromoney Liquid Real Estate Award is based on surveys and assessments of real estate’s sector performance and achievements over the past 12 months, and the winning companies are selected through an annual real estate awards poll organised by Euromoney magazine’s research team.

The official award presentation will be held in a gala dinner in London on Oct 2.

By The EDGE Malaysia

SunCity delays launch of REIT to next year

KUALA LUMPUR: Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) will delay the launch of its real estate investment trust (REIT) to next year on current weak market sentiment, says HwangDBS Vickers Research.

“We expect the REIT to be delayed again but it should be at a better value,” it said in a report yesterday.

The research house said the listing was likely to be in Malaysia (instead of Singapore) as all SunCity’s RM3bil assets were based in Malaysia and the recent positive policy changes to improve Malaysian REITs’ competitiveness vis-à-vis regional peers.

“SunCity would likely maintain a 33% stake in SunCity-REIT while we expect GIC (Government Invest Corp of Singapore) to take up a sizeable stake as well,” it said.

Assuming SunCity-REIT is launched next year at 7.7% yield, HwangDBS Vickers expected a one-off gain on disposal of RM29mil.

“Although our expected yield of 7.7% is at a premium to the sector, we believe it is justifiable given SunCity-REIT’s size and its potential RM3bil pipeline,” it said.

HwangDBS Vickers said SunCity-REIT had the potential to double its asset size to RM5.5bil, almost on par with some of the mid-sized Singapore REITs.

“We have applied a 7% yield to value Sunway Pyramid (a SunCity asset), based on Country Heights’ sale of Mines Shopping Fair (a retail mall inSeri Kembangan) to CapitaLand in August 2007.”

By The Star (by Edy Sarif)

Penang surfers to enjoy free wireless Internet

PENANG became the first state in the country yesterday to offer free Internet wireless broadband services on Wi-Fi, with the launch of its `Wireless@PENANG' initiative.

The two-pronged Wireless@PENANG project is made up of two components. The first is wiring up the whole state with free access using Wi-Fi technology while the second is a paid service for faster access in some areas using WiMAX technology.

Wi-Fi allows Internet access over limited distances or hotpots while WiMAX covers a much bigger area.

Penang will not spend any money for the initiative since the free Wi-Fi services will be provided by Hotgate Technology (M) Sdn Bhd.

Hotgate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based Hotgate Technology Inc, is partnering with REDTone Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, to offer free Wi-Fi services to 750 hotspots over the next 15 months.

The REDTone-Hotgate consortium will invest RM10 million initially for more than 400 sites within the next six to nine months, chief executive officer Wei Chuan Beng, said.

WEI: Over time, low-cost housing areas and food centres will also be wired up while the company hopes to make money from advertising revenue

In the next four weeks, the following sites in Penang will have free Wi-Fi. They are Queensbay Mall, Jalan Macalister, Jalan Burma, Gurney Plaza and Gurney Drive, Bukit Jambul area and Bukit Jambul Complex, Universiti Sains Malaysia and its surrounding areas, Butterworth in Seberang Prai and Tanjung Bungah.

"Over time, low-cost housing areas and food centres will also be wired up," said Wei. The company plans to make money from advertising revenue.

He was speaking to reporters at a media briefing in George Town.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who launched the initiative, said next week the state plans to unveil the "WiMAX @PENANG" project, catering to the serious mobile Internet users who require better speed.

Although Lim did not name the party partnering Penang for this effort, it is learnt that the company is Green Packet Bhd.

By New Straits Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

Berjaya in venture to build Hanoi hospital

BERJAYA Corp Bhd plans to build a specialist hospital in Hanoi together with its associated company TMC Life Sciences Bhd and a local Vietnam construction firm.

Spending on the 300 to 500-bed hospital may range from US$50 million (RM172.5 million) to US$100 million (RM345 million), executives of the companies said.

The plan, however, depends on a feasibility study that could stretch to one year, they said. Construction itself should take another two to three years and several phases before full completion.

"The feasibility study is expected to start next month," TMC managing director Dr Colin Lee said after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the project in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

LEE: Feasibility study expected to start next month

Under the pact, BCorp is to own half of a possible joint venture company with a capital of US$30 million (RM103.5 million). TMC and Viet Ha Corp will hold 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

The potential venture will mark BCorp's return to the hospital business, although it will indirectly operate one soon via 27.41 per cent-owned TMC.

BCorp used to own Pantai Holdings but sold its stake in the owner of the Pantai Medical Centre chain about 10 years ago.

TMC is poised to open Tropicana Medical Centre in Kota Damansara by the year-end. It will have 52 specialist clinics and 180 in-patient and day-care beds.

"There is an increase in demand for quality healthcare and medical services in line with the higher standard of living in Vietnam," BCorp chairman and chief executive officer Tan Sri Vincent Tan said in a statement.

"The increase in demand would be significant with Vietnam's large population base of 86 million," Tan added.

BCorp already has various ongoing projects in Vietnam. Through Berjaya Land Bhd, BCorp had received the nod to undertake four property projects there valued at over RM30 billion.

Dr Lee is also bullish about the joint venture's prospect, despite the current uncertainties in the global economy.

"Vietnam is regarded as one of the emerging economies in the region, with gross domestic product growth of 6.5 per cent in the first half, in addition to the rising income level," he said.

By New Straits Times (by Zuraimi Abdullah)

Ireka has buffer to counter material costs

KUALA LUMPUR: Ireka Corp Bhd, whose construction order book has surpassed the RM1bil mark, has a “healthy buffer against the volatile prices of raw materials,” said group managing director Lai Siew Wah.

With an order book worth RM1.14bil, the company would be kept busy through to 2011.

“Since most of our contracts do not allow for a variation of price (VOP) option, we have built in a healthy buffer in case material prices go up,” Lai said.

The current easing in the prices of some raw materials such as steel was a “good sign”, he said, adding that “we are actively managing the costs.”

And with a healthy gearing of 0.3 and a locked-in order book, Lai said the company was in a good position to weather tough times, hence, prospects looked “quite bright” for the next two to three years.

Ireka’s current portfolio of construction works include luxury condominium projects in Mont’ Kiara namely, Tiffani by i-ZEN and SENI Mont’ Kiara and the Sandakan Harbour Square urban renewal project.

Lai said the company would continue to bid for new projects although it was being “very selective” given these trying times.

Asked to elaborate, he said: “We have actually pre-qualified for two (local) projects but it is too preliminary to reveal details.”

As for overseas plans, he said Ireka would continue to look for opportunities in the Asian region.

“Vietnam is where we are currently focused on. We have been studying the market for the last two years and established a good network of contacts there,” Lai said.

For the financial year ended March 31, the group made a net profit of RM152.9mil on revenue of RM299.7mil.

It also announced a dividend policy to distribute at least 40% of its net earnings to shareholders.

By The Star

Ireka’s order book surpasses RM1b mark

KUALA LUMPUR: Ireka Corporation Bhd has achieved the RM1 billion mark for its construction order book, which will keep it busy through 2011, the company said yesterday.

In a statement issued in conjunction with its 32nd AGM here, Ireka said at RM1.13 billion, its order book included luxurious condominium projects in Mont’ Kiara, namely Tiffani by i-ZEN and SENI Mont’ Kiara; integrated offices and retail mall, One Mont’ Kiara and the Sandakan Harbour Square urban renewal project.

Ireka said the outstanding order book currently stood at RM950 million.

Ireka chairman Abdullah Yusof said the company was beginning to see a positive turnaround in its focus to be an asset-light construction and property development player. It recently announced a dividend policy to distribute at least 40% of its net earnings to its shareholders.

For the year ended March 31, 2008, the group recorded a net profit of RM152.9 million on the back of a RM299.7 million revenue. The FY08 earnings included a one-off gain of RM206 million arising from the disposal of two property companies.

In the first quarter to June 30, 2008, Ireka posted a net profit of RM3 million on the back of a RM62.9 million turnover.

Abdullah said the company would continue to focus on Malaysia and Asia, specifically Vietnam, for its construction and property development activities.

“The rising building material costs and external pressures are felt by most industry players, but the group has taken an astute approach in value-engineering technique for its construction activities and become more selective in the projects that we undertake,” he said.

Ireka has a 19.6% stake in Aseana Properties Ltd, which was listed on the Main Board of the London Stock Exchange on April 5, 2007. Aseana has appointed Ireka unit Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd as its exclusive development manager, responsible for the day-to-day management of its property projects in Malaysia and Vietnam.

By The EDGE Malaysia