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Thursday, May 21, 2009

S P Setia’s Setia Eco Gardens, Pavilion clinch Fiabci awards

KUALA LUMPUR: S P Setia Bhd’s Setia Eco Gardens project in Johor and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur have emerged winners in the Fiabci Prix d’Excellence Awards 2009 international property awards. Fiabci is the French acronym for the International Real Estate Federation.

S P Setia won in the Master Plan category while Pavilion KL won in the Retail category. Fiabci International announced the winning projects in a press release on May 21.

The awards presentation ceremony was to be held during the 60th Fiabci World Congress in Beijing. However, the entire Congress was called off three days before it was to due to begin on May 19 due to concerns over the spread of the A (H1N1) influenza.

This is S P Setia’s second win as it won in the same category in 2007 for its Setia Eco Park residential development in Shah Alam. The Group has been ranked the nation’s top property developer in The Edge Top Property Developers Awards for the past four years.

S P Setia president and CEO Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin attributed the win to the Group’s continous efforts in striving for excellence. “We are heartened that our efforts over the years to differentiate ourselves as the developer of choice have been rewarded with such a well-respected award in the property industry,” said Liew who is currently in Beijing together with about 100 other delegates who were already in Beijing when the Congress was called off including Lisa Kurrass, the new Fiabci World president.

“Setia Eco Gardens was developed in line with the Eco Concept due to the existing environment and the intention is to make the Eco concept available to both high-end customers (lavish eco villas priced from RM800,000) and the mass market (eco homes priced from RM200,000),” added Liew of the homes in the 948-acre township development.

Among the common features of the Eco homes and villas are energy conservation features such as rainwater harvesting, water recycling and solar panels.
The provision for green zones in the development master plan includes a 18.5-acre Eco park, a 16-acre rainforest, smaller landscaped parks as well as rivers, lakes and canals.

Meanwhile, Joyce Yap, CEO-Retail of Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd said winning the award in the Retail category could mean that the lifestyle mall has led the country’s retail industry to new levels particularly in the growth of retail brands in Malaysia. It has a total of 450 tenants across 1.3 million sq ft net of retail space and has received about 48 million visitors since opening in 2007.

Residential project Lake Edge Puchong by YTL Land & Development Bhd was runner-up in the Master Plan category.Other runners-up from Malaysia was YTL's condominium project The Maple at Sentul Park which came in second runner-up in the Residential category while the 1 Sentral office building in KL Sentral by Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd and G Hotel in Penang were first runners-up in the Office and Hotel categories respectively.

Orchard Scotts and Newton Suites from Singapore took the top two spots respectively in the Residential category while St Regis Singapore was the winner in the Hotel category.

Last year, Mulpha International Bhd's Pinggiran Bayou Village Homes which is part of its Leisure Farm Resort development in Johor was tops in the Residential category while four other Malaysian developers were runners-up in various categories.

This year’s awards saw several first-time winners from China, India and Russia. The two China projects that won were Huaming Model Town in the Rural & Suburban category and the Nanjing Riverbank Family affordable housing project which won a special award called the Beijing Congress Award. Russia’s tallest building the Federation Tower won in the Office category.

The full list of 2009 winners can be viewed at

By The EDGE Malaysia

‘Sell then build’ has worked well

IN London last week I found the weather to be similar to the residential property market – mostly cloudy, with some bright patches.

Values of central London property have dropped 25% in a year.

When coupled with a drop in the value of the pound against the ringgit, this reduction in cost, to a Malaysian, is about 40%.

Of course, values are still high by our standards, ranging between £1,000 and £2,000 per sq ft.

A million pounds wouldn’t buy you much, but many Londoners had become quite blasé about the big numbers.

I met one “small time” operator who had accumulated about seven apartments to renovate and sell.

He was personally indebted to his bank for over £45mil and there was some doubt about whether his assets could cover that amount.

It was, he explained, so easy to borrow money until the crunch came.

He showed me one of his apartments currently let at £33,000 per week.

When I left England in the late sixties, that was the amount a blue-collar worker might expect to earn in his entire lifetime.

An interesting feature of the London market is that there is not much stock available.

Sellers, including the banks, are holding off until prices perk up, and there are already some early signs of recovery.

A prolonged upturn might persuade more owners or people with mortgages to liquidate, confirming my belief that a recession always has a sting in its tail.

While I was winging back to KL, a gentleman in Australia was penning a letter to the press accusing me, in one of my articles, of “obfuscation, irrelevance and mumbo jumbo.”

The less confused bits of his letter appear to deal with the issue of “sell then build.”

I am grateful to him for bringing this up and would like to clarify what I believe is confusion over terminology.

The traditional delivery system for developers in Malaysia – and in many other parts of the world including Singapore, Spain and occasionally in England – is to buy “off the plan” and pay progressively during the development period.

This is known as “sell then build.” My antipodean correspondent is of the view that this is grossly “unfair.”

I’d like to be present when he takes possession of a new apartment in Shanghai.

Customarily developers over there deliver a bare shell and all “extras” such as doors and sanitary fittings are added by the purchaser.

My friend from down under went on to add that my act of buying a Proton Exora by signing an order, paying a deposit and taking delivery when it was built, was somehow not “sell then build.”

My view is that we have a locally accepted housing delivery system that has worked phenomenally well and has put a roof over the heads of millions of Malaysians post independence at a rate that the Government alone could never emulate.

It has taken care of the needs of the low-income sector and stands as a shining tribute to private endeavour.

However, in response to potential interest from the market, a second delivery system has been introduced, popularly known as “build then sell” or, “BTS 10:90.”

I believe this is seen as offering the consumer better protection against default by the developer.

As the name implies, the system provides for the buyer to pay a 10% deposit and the balance upon issuance of the Certificate of Completion and Compliance.

In an ideal world, the buyer only risks 10% and he can withhold the balance if there are substantial defects, or if the developer absconds.

In reality, a developer is unlikely to offer this delivery system unless the buyer has lined up a bank loan for payment of the balance 90%.

This seems sensible to me because it discourages speculation.

The developer will normally draw down this 90% during development and bear the interest costs, so in most cases, the arrangement is still essentially a “sell then build” system.

Nothing has changed very much, including the right of the bank to seek redress from the buyer if, for any reason, the developer fails.

In Britain, house buyers have the protection of the much-vaunted National House Building Council 10-year Buildmark warranty and insurance cover for new home buyers.

Despite this self-important title, its effectiveness has been called into question.

The British press recently carried a story of a disgruntled buyer’s letters of complaint to the developer being returned with the endorsement “moved to Iraq.” One wonders who deserves the most sympathy.

In response to the problem, the Council assured the buyer that it is “committed to resolving the problems as soon as possible.”

Critics call the Council a toothless tiger and blame the local authority for signing off on the property in the first place.

All this has some resonance in Malaysia and it is so reassuring to see that delivery problems will persist no matter where.

Finally a little perspective. Last year, 216,702 houses changed hands in Malaysia. 80% were sold in the secondary market.

That means they were mostly completed and available for inspection.

Only 20% of transactions were sales from developers.

By a large margin the majority of purchasers get to see, smell and feel their property before purchase.

Amongst those who do not, there is undeniably a small percentage who suffer from the default of the developer.

The Ministry of Housing and the Bar Council are working on enhancing the current legislation.

Enhancement is always desirable; fundamental change would be a mistake.

As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Chris Boyd is executive chairman of Regroup Associates Sdn Bhd property consultants.

By The Star (by Christopher Boyd)

UEM Land, BiotechCorp to set up biotech hub

ATLANTA (US): UEM Land Bhd and Malaysian Biotechnology Corp Bhd (BiotechCorp) are expected to sign a definitive agreement to jointly develop about 80 hectares in Nusajaya, Johor into a biotech hub in a couple of months.

"We have matters of land, infrastructure, facilities as well as equity to finalise before we can sign the documents," UEM Land strategic marketing and corporate communication director, Zulkifli Tahmali, said at the Malaysian Pavilion at the Bio International Convention 2009 here yesterday.

Both parties had on May 15, 2009, signed a memorandum of collaboration (MOC) to collaborate and cooperate with each other to develop and set up the hub to be known as "Bio-XCell".

UEM Land and BiotechCorp signed the MOC to govern the working relationship between the parties pending finalisation of the definitive agreement.

It is the master developer of Nusajaya, which is part of Iskandar Malaysia.

UEM Land is part of the Malaysian delegation to BIO Atlanta this year to promote Malaysian biotech industry, including "Bio-XCell".

Zulkifli said UEM Land hoped to start construction by year-end.

"We will stay true to our developmental expertise and focus on the management of the project and facilities, while BiotechCorp will bring in the biotech expertise," Zulkifli said.

He said the biotech park in Nusajaya would benefit from its close proximity to University Technology Malaysia, a bioscience institution as well as Singapore’s advanced biotechn industry, and pool of human capital.

"Bio-XCell" would be able play a complementary role to the research park which has positioned itself as the place for cutting-edge technology," Zulkifli said.

He said the biotech park would be one of the important projects in Nusajaya as it would have tremendous spillover effects on the entire development of the area.

Nusajaya is a 9,600-ha development, which is currently home to eight signature projects, namely the Johor State New Administrative Centre, Southern Industrial and Logistics Centre, International Destination Resort, Residences at Nusajaya, EduCity, Medical Park and its jewel, the Puteri Harbour waterfront development.

By Bernama

Vietnam offers projects for Malaysian firms

Opportunities are now available for Malaysian firms to participate in major construction and infrastructure projects being implemented in Vietnam up to 2020.

State Capital Investment Corp of Vietnam (SCIC)'s strategy department director Nguyen Chi Thanh said the country was offering foreign investors a wide range of investment opportunities in areas like roads and bridges, power,seaports, railways and airports.

For this year, Vietnam planned to undertake two major projects worth US$75 billion to build the Long Thanh International Airport and Thu Thiem International Financial Centre, Thanh said.

Other projects such as North-South Express Railway, Lach Huyen International Port and Ha Noi-Lao Cai Highway will be implemented in stages up to 2020, he said.

Thanh, who was in Malaysia to meet Malaysian companies, said SCIC would like to discuss with investors about potential investment cooperation that could be achieved between both countries.

"We are here to introduce big projects to foreign investors, especially Malaysians, due to the strong investment capital cooperation between both countries, such as with Khazanah Nasional Bhd," he said. "Both countries have a strong relationship, and we want to follow the Khazanah model and implement it in our country," he added.

SCIC, the investment holding arm of the Vietnamese government, is looking for cooperation in the form of strategic investors for its existing investee companies as well as setting up new businesses, Thanh said. This, he said, could be carried out with SCIC and its linked companies to implement major investment projects.

By Bernama