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Friday, October 24, 2008

i-Berhad expects RM2b township to drive profit

I-BERHAD, a home appliances maker turned property developer, expects to see double-digit growth in its net profit this year.

Director Eu Hong Chew said this would be driven by its RM2 billion integrated commercial township in Shah Alam, known as i-City.

Last year, the company made a net profit of RM1.9 million.

"The main (profit) drivers will be the investment by Al Rajhi Bank as well as our tenancies," he told reporters after a media preview of i-City yesterday.

A few months ago, Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank, the world's largest Islamic banking group, paid RM95 million to buy some commercial space in the first phase of the township's development.

i-City, which spans 72 acres and has MSC Cybercentre status, has so far managed to attract 12 companies, including two multinationals, to take up tenancy since obtaining its certificate of fitness six weeks ago.

Another eight companies are expected to move in before the end of the year, said Eu.

These 20 companies would take up about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the township's office space.

Eu said 100 per cent office tenancy would be possible by the middle of next year as there has been strong demand for space.

He pointed out that developments like i-City stand apart from others in that it is an information, communications and technology (ICT)-based township.

"These are the kind of services office users are looking for, and they are market-driven," he said.

He added that i-City, envisioned to be a digital city, is on track to be fully completed by 2015 as planned, with a shopping mall, an innovation centre, corporate office towers, serviced apartments and hotels.

Eu said the company does not expect to defer any launches and that its fiscal performance is unlikely to be affected by any economic slowdown next year.

I-Berhad is also keen to do joint venture developments with other landowners outside of the Klang Valley.

"We have been approached by two or three developers to see if we can bring the i-City concept to their developments," Eu said, adding that such plans are still at a preliminary stage.

By New Straits Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)

Wind of fortune blowing for I-Bhd

SHAH ALAM: The wind of fortune is blowing for I-Bhd as the company charts a new course in real estate and information and communication technology (ICT). Returns from its maiden property development in Shah Alam are expected to boost net profit by at least 10% in the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2008 (FY08).

I-Bhd, formerly known as Sanyo Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, began as an electrical home appliances manufacturer. Stiff competition from low-cost producers in China had prompted the company to think outside the box, which eventually led to I-Bhd's exit from the business.

In the second half of 2005, I-Bhd unveiled its intention to undertake its maiden property project - the RM2 billion i-City. The integrated commercial development sits on 28.8ha (72 acres) of freehold land in Shah Alam's Section 7.

"The journey we started three years ago is bearing fruit. We have nowhere to go but up," I-Bhd director Eu Hong Chew told reporters during a media visit to i-City's development site yesterday.

"We expect double-digit growth in net profit in 2008," Eu added.

I-Bhd's earnings declined in FY08's second quarter ended June. Net profit fell 4.4 % to RM525,000 from RM549,000 a year earlier while revenue was down 36% to RM475,000 from RM742,000. Going forward, property development will be the company's major revenue source.

i-City, a privately-funded five-year initiative, is due for completion by 2011. The future digital city includes a shopping mall, offices and hotels, besides apartments. So far, 44 cyber office suites have been completed and sold.

i-City was certified as an MSC Cybercentre by the government in May this year, placing the project on a par with Cyberjaya, KL Sentral and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

The corporate makeover of I-Bhd has received the thumbs-up from a major shareholder. Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said PNB was convinced of I-Bhd's new business model which combined the expertise of real estate development and ICT, hence differenting the firm from other property players in the country.

PNB is the second-largest shareholder with 17.15% in I-Bhd, after Sumurwang Sdn Bhd which holds 54.45%. "Good things will happen here (I-Bhd)," Hamad Kama Piah said during the visit to i-City yesterday.

He was non-committal when asked whether the state-owned fund manager planned to raise its stake in the property developer. "I have to get my advisers' (opinion). Our people will look at it," said the captain of PNB which manages some RM120 billion as of June this year.

Other property firms under PNB's stable include Island & Peninsular Bhd and Petaling Garden Bhd. PNB had taken both firms private in 2007.

I-Bhd fits strategically into PNB's portfolio as the developer could extend its ICT expertise to other real estate firms held by the fund manager.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Chong Jin Hun)