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Saturday, August 22, 2009

E&O plans to launch RM4bil property projects

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O), which is looking to raise RM200mil from a 1-for-2 rights issue slated to be completed before the year-end, is targeting to launch RM4bil worth of properties in two to three years.

Managing director Datuk Terry Tham said about RM2bil worth of projects would be launched in the Kuala Lumpur central business district and the balance in Penang.

He said most of E&O’s current projects had good take-up rates, despite the tough economic environment.

“On average about 80% of our property projects have been taken up,” he said after the company EGM yesterday.

He said E&O’s fund-raising exercise would help the company take advantage of the opportunities that might arise in the next economic upturn.

The fund raised would have a coupon of 8% per annum, and irredeemable convertible secured loan stocks (ICSLS) holders have the option to convert to E&O shares any time within the 10-year tenure to take advantage of any upside in the share price.

Also, the ICSLS are secured against the assets of the E&O group to mitigate the risk for holders in the event of a default.

“The money raised from the rights issue will be used to fund strategic acquisitions for expansion purposes,” Tham said, adding that it would also help lower E&O’s gearing from 0.79% to 0.16%. We will channel the bulk of funds raised specifically towards the development of ready-to-market and strong-branded E&O products in prime locations.”

Tham said E&O had another target: raising RM500mil within 18 months. “We have raised RM100mil from property sales and RM200mil could potentially be raised from the rights issue and the balance from internal funds and future property sales.”

He said it was important for E&O to strengthen its balance sheet before embarking on an expansion. Currently, E&O has cash reserves of about RM300mil.

Tham said in the past three months the property market, especially the high-end category, had shown early signs of recovery.

By The Star

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