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Saturday, April 25, 2009

EcoFirst eyeing projects worth over RM200mil

MAIN board-listed EcoFirst Consolidated Bhd, which is undergoing a corporate restructuring exercise, is eyeing various mid-sized projects worth over RM200mil.

Executive director and group chief executive officer Tiong Kwing Hee says the group is in advanced talks on construction work for a new hospital and an educational institution.

“We are awaiting approval from the relevant bodies and expect to conclude both deals by next year,” he tells StarBizWeek after the official launch of Edu Mall @ South City yesterday.

As part of its turnaround plan, the group has rebranded its key property asset South City Plaza in Seri Kembangan to an educational mall with a view to increasing its occupancy rate to 90% by year-end from 75% now.

Tiong says the group hopes to raise about RM80mil to RM100mil through the issuance of sukuk bonds by year-end to finance the building of two high rise buildings on top of the mall as well as the mall’s refurbishment.

To reform its business model, the group has identified food ration and manufacturing as new income generating divisions.

“We plan to invest about RM40mil to RM50mil to acquire two manufacturing companies by the middle of next year and have identified three potential candidates.

“We are also currently negotiating for a long-term food ration supply contract. We anticipate an average additional income of RM3mil per annum from both divisions,” says Tiong.

Meanwhile, the group is also looking to establish a 50:50 joint venture in engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPCC) under its construction division.

“We are talking to some government agencies to do EPCC work for government ports,” says Tiong.

To date, the group has completed about 60% of its total government contracts worth some RM70mil.

“We hope to return to the black after the restructuring exercise is completed by the middle of next year,” says Tiong.

EcoFirst currently operates four divisions – property investment, network marketing, construction and education.

By The Star (by Shannen Wong)

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