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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Integrating technology

MALAYSIAN Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) group managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, a strong proponent of innovative building practices and high speed connectivity, is driving greater technology integration in the company’s property projects.

Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd group managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan.

The recipient of the prestigious Property CEO of the Year at the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI) Malaysia Property Award 2009 believes that putting technology to good use will result in tremendous gains for his company’s property buyers, tenants and investors.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah presenting the award to Shahril Ridza Ridzuan (right).

Shahril’s great interest in technology, born from being an avid reader all his life, has led to a belief in the benefits of personal connectivity. His “influence” can be seen in the development of KL Sentral – MRCB’s crown jewel and a prominent landmark in Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur Sentral, recognized as a prestigious business and residential address, is an exclusive urban centre offering global connectivity, good investment opportunities, business conveniences and an international lifestyle.

KL Sentral, a prime 72-acre freehold commercial and residential development built around a world-class transportation hub, kicked off in 1997. The integral part of the KL Sentral development is Stesen Sentral, an integrated transportation hub that started operations in April 2001 with the aim of enhancing public transportation in Kuala Lumpur through an integrated rail network.

According to Shahril, KL Sentral was the first private development in the country to be conferred MSC Cybercenter status back in 2006. Since last year, all the public areas in KL Sentral are Wi-Fi ready – providing a critical utility in the hands of travellers, tenants and visitors for free.

“Our building tenants are subscribing for up to 40 to 50 Mbps for their connectivity needs through our integrated fibre backbone. We continue to push technology into all our new buildings with a firm commitment towards low-energy and sustainability technologies. Our approach is to try and anticipate the future demand for these technologies,” says Shahril in a recent interview.

In the last four to five years, the development of KL Sentral has progressed tremendously with projects worth RM3bil built to date. This year, projects with a total built-up of six million sq ft, worth RM7bil have been launched. They include a 30-storey 400 room boutique hotel, six new office developments, a service apartment project and the Nu Sentral mall.

Another six million sq ft of space are still in the pipeline, of which three million sq ft of residential and commercial space will be launched next year and the final parcel of three million sq ft will be launched in 2012 for completion by 2016.

Big player
He says that by next year, MRCB would have achieved the status as the biggest developer of prime office space in the country. In an effort to support sustainable development, all the new developments will incorporate features to improve energy efficiency, less water wastage, and recycling capability.

Among them, the new Shell headquarters will comply with the LEEDs Gold Standard while the KL Sentral Park will be designed to meet the BCA Greenmark Platinum Standard. All the new developments will also be certified under Malaysia’s Green Building Index, as MRCB is a keen supporter of the development of local standards suitable for our conditions.

By 2016, at least 10 to 11 million sq ft of the total built-up space of 16 million sq ft of usable commercial space will have some form of minimum compliance to the Green Building Index.

“Even our old buildings including 1 Sentral that was completed in 2007 can be submitted retrospectively for a compliance rating,” he points out.

Shahril attributes the MPA award to the dedication and strong team work of the 1,000- strong staff in MRCB. “I would say that one of my main achievements is to get our people to believe that they can make a difference and contribute to building better environments. This is possible by allowing them to take some risks and make some mistakes along the way.”

Shahril says although MRCB is not one of the largest listed groups on Bursa Malaysia, it aims to do things differently by leveraging on technology to create wholesome and sustainable living and working environments.

“What is important is to recognise the reality of our strengths and weaknesses; take calculated risks and do things differently; and focus in what we do best,” he adds.

The law graduate from Oxford and Cambridge universities was 31 years old when he joined MRCB’s board as executive director in 2001. He was appointed chief executive officer and group managing director in 2003. Besides property development, MRCB’s forte lies in engineering and infrastructure sectors.

Leverage on partnership
Shahril believes in creating partnerships to optimise the company’s resources. “Interaction and networking with other people are important to widen our scope of knowledge. In the absence of such interaction, there is the danger of becoming too insular and not open to new ideas,” he says.

That explains why most of the buildings in KL Sentral are based on a quasi-real estate investment trust model where MRCB will develop and operate the buildings for financial investors. By adopting the development model of partnering with institutional partners and funds to come in as investors, the company aims to accelerate its KL Sentral development.

It has also sold two parcels of land to UEM and Quill Capital for their own projects respectively.

The development model has also been extended to other MRCB projects. Pelaburan Hartanah Bhd, which has taken up a 49% stake in the Nu Sentral mall, is also in joint ventures with MRCB to undertake three projects in Penang.

MRCB’s strategy continues to focus on owning the retail assets that it develops. In KL Sentral, it owns Sooka Sentral with a gross floor area of 180,000sq ft and the upcoming Nu Sentral retail mall with 1 million sq ft that will be completed in 2012. In addition to that, MRCB is also planning a second phase to its Alam Sentral mall in Shah Alam.

Going forward, Shahril sees MRCB growing into one of the leading industry players in the property market. “Currently, we are still very focused on the KL Sentral development as well as our present mixed use townships. We are looking at expanding into other segments and will need to recycle our capital quickly and harness our financial capability,” he explains.

Despite his busy schedules, Shahril makes it a point to be home by 8pm to dine with his family. “I try to have a fairly balanced life. It is important to appreciate your family and spend time with the kids during their growing years,” he adds.

By The Star (by Angie Ng) - Malaysia Property Award 2009 - Property CEO of the Year


Anonymous said...

400 room boutique hotel? Surely not possible.

Anonymous said...

Haha, i guess it's possible if one floor can accommodate 14 rooms :>