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Saturday, July 11, 2009

CMP to start Lido Beach mega project this year

JOHOR BARU: Central Malaysia Properties Sdn Bhd (CMP) will start developing Lido Boulevard, its multi-billion ringgit integrated waterfront development project, this year.

Datuk Chan Tien Ghee with the model of Lido Boulevard.

Managing director Datuk Chan Tien Ghee said land reclamation work along Lido Beach would start soon and would take 24 months to complete.

“The project has a gross development cost of RM2.7bil and a gross development value estimated at RM4bil,’’ he told StarBizWeek.

Located on 49.37ha, the project will be developed in phases stretching 2.4km along the Tebrau Straits from the now the defunct Lot I shopping complex to the Harbour Master’s office.

The flagship project by CMP, a company linked to business tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, is a joint-venture between CMP and Johor State Secretary Inc as the land owner.

“The project will be fully funded by CMP,’’ said Chan.

He said four dredging companies had bid for the reclamation work and the winning tender would be announced by end of the month.

They are Dredging International and Jan De Nul from Belgium, and the Netherlands-based Boskalis and Van Oord.

The notable projects undertaken by them include the Penny’s Bay for the Hong Kong Disney World Park, Dubai Palm Jumeirah, Singapore’s Jurong Island, Pulau Indah Marina and Watervillage in Klang and Palm Cove Canal in the United Arab Emirates.

About 6.8 million cu m of sand sourced from Teluk Rumania on the east coast of Johor is required for reclamation works.

The sand will be transported by a dredger anchored at Stulang Laut near the Causeway; then pumped to the site via a 2-km floating and sunken pipeline.

To facilitate this, two culverts under the Causeway were cleaned; one will be used to transport the sand and the other to ensure continuous flow of water.

“This was the first cleaning exercise conducted on the Johor side since the road section of the Causeway was completed in 1923,’’ said Chan.

He said the continuous flow of water from Stulang Laut to Lido Beach and vice versa would improve the water quality at Lido Beach.

“The project is expected to take shape by 2016 and it will completely rehabilitate Lido Beach and give Johor Baru a facelift,’’ said Chan.

The project comprises four main components – luxury condominiums, waterfront office suites, a hotel and a shopping mall.

Eight condominium blocks of between 18 and 26 floors each will offer 914 units on a 10.60-ha site.

Eight office blocks between six and eight floors each, a 296-room hotel-cum-serviced residences and a three-storey dual-frontage retail complex are also in the plan.

Incorporated in the mall will be an international-sized ice skating rink and 32-lane bowling alley and one of the main attractions will be the 4,645.15 sq m Indoor Snow Park with activities like ice sliders and tobogganing.

Chan said RM150mil would be spent to upgrade Jalan Abu Bakar, including widening it and building pedestrian bridges. CMP would also allocate RM46mil for landscaping to include water features like wading and splash pools as well as pocket parks along the 10m wide boardwalk.

By The Star

Developers keen to resume launches

HIGH-end property developers are expected to resume their project launches in the coming months aided by strong take-up in the first half of the year and more positive outlook in the economic front.

At least two luxurious residences in Kuala Lumpur and five high-end residential projects in Penang will be unveiled soon. (See table)

“Given the warm response for some of the recent project launches, we understand more developers are planning to launch their high-end properties in Kuala Lumpur and Penang in second half of the year,” says HwangDBS Vickers Research analyst Yee Mei Hui.

Developers are now more confident about resuming launches than focusing on clearing inventories previously.

“We believe that the good response from the properties buyers is an indication that demand for high-end has started to return,” says Yee.

She says while there would be a large incoming supply of high-end condominiums, especially around the KLCC and Mont’ Kiara areas, over the next two years, these new launches generally have lower entry prices due to smaller built-ups and the availability of attractive housing loan packages, says Yee.

“These new launches offer attractive financing schemes such as low down-payments and minimal cash outflow up to two years until the property’s delivery,” she adds.

DNP Bhd will be launching Verticas Residensi condominiums in Bukit Ceylon in Kuala Lumpur priced at RM970 per sq ft.

There will also be the release of 163 high-end serviced apartments for RM1,300 to RM1,400 psf for semi-furnished completed units by the previous en-bloc buyer of Pavilion Residences Tower A.

In Penang, Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O) is expected to launch its Seri Tanjung Pinang high-end linked houses, serviced apartments and condominiums these few months.

“We understand E&O is looking to launch its Seri Tanjung Pinang high-end condominiums in September to October at RM600 to RM700 psf,” says Yee.

“It is also planning to launch the second block of the St Mary high-end serviced apartments at RM1,200 psf via international road shows starting in September,” she says.

When contacted by StarBizWeek, an official from E&O says the company will be making announcements on the official launches of its St Mary project within the next few weeks.

IJM Land Bhd will also be launching two of its projects in Penang, namely the Light Linear upper-mid condominiums located near the Jelutong Expressway, and Light Point high-end condominiums later this month and in October respectively.

E&O’s maiden launch of 169 units of St Mary residences in June, the first high-end launch since the fourth quarter of last year, saw a strong 80% take-up rate after a recent five-day preview.

“The sales were above the market’s expectations,” says Yee, noting that buyers were predominantly locals who bought mainly for investment purposes.

Located within the golden triangle district in KL, St Mary Residences were sold at an average price of RM900 psf.

Sky Residences

SP Setia Bhd will be launching its first luxury high-rise residential project, Sky Residences on Jalan Tun Razak, tomorrow.

The sale preview of SP Setia Sky Residences Tower B kicked off last September but were only opened for sale in January this year, in conjunction with the launch of its 5/95 home loan package.

“Close to 95% of our units in Tower B have been taken up. We are now previewing Tower A and will officially open it for sale tomorrow,” says president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin.

“This will be the group’s final official launch before the end of the 5/95 programme,” he says.

Given the strong bookings it has on hands, Liew says SP Setia is unlikely to extend its incentive schemes beyond this month.

“We will stop launching any more new products for a few months and concentrate on delivering what had already been sold,” he says.

SP Setia, the largest developer by market capitalisation and sales, has been offering 5/95 home loan package and no interest payments during construction since January to give a boost to the company’s sales.

As of 30 June, SP Setia sales touched RM1.04bil, close to its full-year target of RM1.1bil for financial year ending Oct 31, 2009.

SP Setia has cash reserves of RM551mil and a net gearing of 0.23 times.

Sunrise bookings

Niche high-end developer Sunrise Bhd is among the developers who have benefited from the introduction of attractive incentive schemes.

“Our new bookings have soared to over RM242mil for Mont’ Kiara 11 condominiums and Residence bungalows from our promotion for both projects from March to June this year,” says an official of the company.

Mont’ Kiara 11 residences and the Residence bungalows are priced at an average selling price of RM850 psf and from RM5mil each respectively.

Following the introduction of the 10/90 financing schemes and zero payment up to two years of delivery promotion, Sunrise’s bookings have picked up since mid-March.

In fact, the collective sales for both projects within the first month of promotion have been catching up on its cumulative sales of RM247mil for the first nine months.

Yee of HwangDBS says about 47% of the company’s RM965mil unbilled sales (excluding the new bookings of RM242mil) will deplete by this year-end with the completion of Mont’ Kiara 10 and Solaris Dutamas.

“Sunrise needs to launch new projects in order to replenish its unbilled sales,” she says.

In response to this, the company’s spokesperson says, “It’s too premature to say when we will have our next launch. We are watching the economy right now.”

“Nonetheless, we have comfortable gearing, ample landbank and a pipeline of new projects to be launched, depending on market conditions.”

Sunrise, the largest prime landowner in Mont’ Kiara, is expected to launch its RM732mil Mont’ Kiara 28 condominiums with selling price of RM670 psf in early 2010.

Other launches in the pipeline are its Mont’ Kiara 20 mixed development and Lot 121 Solaris Office Tower. The former has a gross development (GDV) of RM767mil while the latter has a GDV of RM455mil. Both projects has an average selling price of RM700 psf.

Meanwhile, Sunrise will also have RM336mil of completed properties available for sale, which will underpin its earnings until end-2011, says Yee.

On the outlook for the company, the spokesperson says, “The outlook ahead will remain challenging. Much will depend on the strength of the recovery. But the worst is behind us.”

He says the low interest rates and the lack of new launches over the past year as well as the expectation of rising inflation will underpin property demand in the near future.


Mah Sing Group Bhd managing director and group chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum says the company hopes to bring forward the soft launch of its Legenda@Southbay in Penang to the second half of this year.

“We have not held back any launches due to the strong take-up for our products. In fact, we may bring forward some launches,” he says.

The group plans a soft launch of the first 15 units of its Legenda@ Southbay bungalows with some GDV of RM30mil sometime in the second half. The whole project consists of 76 units with total GDV of RM284mil.

“We are looking to bring forward the launches of our Legenda@Southbay due to the overwhelming response for our three-storey super link project Residence@Southbay,” he says.

To date, Mah Sing has sold about 89% of its launched units in Residence@Southbay. Since its launch in May, it registered cumulative sales of 177 units valued at RM149.15mil.

“We have exceeded our 2009 sales target for this project by 60%, and this boosted our confidence that the market in Penang is receptive to our product concept and value proposition,” says Leong.

For the first half, Mah Sing launched seven property projects worth RM315mil, meeting 80% of the company’s full-year launch target of RM394mil.

Leong says the company has achieved approximately 70% of its full-year sales target of RM453mil within the first half of the year.

By The Star (by Shannen Wong)

Fairlane aims to sign up 200 home owners

KUALA LUMPUR: Fairlane Hospitality Sdn Bhd, an asset and hospitality management company under the Low Yat Group, aims to sign up about 200 home owners of the Bintang Fairlane Residence in the next 12 months.

To date, it has already signed up 52 home owners just a month since it started marketing its holistic one-stop management service for property investors who seek to protect and optimise returns on their investment.

Fairlane is the first Malaysian hospitality brand that offers pool management option scheme – a contract and concept that shares it rental income pool from participating units as well as furnishing packages and hospitality services such as housekeeping, concierge and laundry.

Bintang Fairlane is the first property developed by the Low Yat Group that has 256 premium-quality apartments that have been fully sold.

Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail signing a plaque at the launch. With him (from left) are: Low Gee Soon, Low Yat executive director Low Gee Teong, director of architecture, planning & property services Wee Beng Sang, Fairlane group general manager Daniel Ong and Low Yat executive director Low Su Ming.

Low Yat executive director Low Gee Soon said it was timely to introduce the Fairlane management to meet the increasingly challenging premium property market demand where rental yields were diminishing but capital values needed to be upheld.

“Besides Bintang Fairlane Residence, it is also keen to manage another premium residence, myHabitat, that is scheduled to be completed by middle of next year and developed by Asia Pacific Land Bhd. And we are quite confident to secure the management work,” he told reporters after the launching of Fairlane, officiated by Mayor of Kuala Lumpur Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, yesterday.

Going forward, Low said, Fairlane was also keen to venture into the international market, especially China.

“We are optimistic in integrating our brand and services successfully with our future lifestyle developments and have plans to venture into key regional cities. This is because we would like to develop the current position as an value-added services provider to a revenue generating entity,” he said.

Ahmad Fuad said it was pleasing to see a company like Low Yat Group constantly contributing to the progress of the city with first-rate quality residential services.

“This is in line with the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020, a master plan of the city of tomorrow.

“One of our key long-term strategies is to create a complete living environment in the inner city that provides the very best business and working atmosphere, together with vibrant commercial, financial and entertainment centres,” he said.

For its marketing and management services, Fairlane collects 3% of the total gross revenue generated from the unit and the incentive fee is 7% of the gross operating profit.

By The Star

What’s in store for property firms involved in large mergers

MALAYSIAN property companies will continue to grow both organically and through mergers and acquisitions (M&As). The question is which method of growth is better for the industry.

While most Malaysian property players are moderately sized in terms of assets and market capitalisation (if they are listed) compared with their overseas peers, there will be more larger players coming onstream with talk of more potential M&As underway, especially those involving government linked companies.

The mega Sime Darby merger in 2007 that involved Sime Darby Bhd, Kumpulan Guthrie Bhd and Golden Hope Plantations Bhd has created the country’s largest property group in terms of land assets and sales.

The next merger in the pipeline is touted to be the amalgamation of Permodalan Nasional Bhd’s three property companies – Island & Peninsular Bhd, Petaling Garden Bhd and Pelangi Bhd. Together, they will have more than 10,000 acres of land bank.

The Sime Darby merger resulted in the new merged entity with a sprawling plantation land of close to 500,000 acres, of which 37,000 acres are under Sime Darby Property Bhd, the group’s property arm.

Among the critical issues to be addressed for a successful merger include leadership and staff morale after the amalgamation exercise.

These large property groups with their large landbank will do well if strategic plans are in place to unlock the value of these land through quality and innovative product offerings. In fact, they should take the opportunity to spearhead good sustainable and environment-friendly projects to promote a greater appreciation and care for our planet.

Ultimately, the property business is about holding power as it involves huge capital outlay and holding cost.

The larger the landbank, the heavier the holding cost and the onus is on developers to unleash their ingenuity and creativity to turn these land into well sought after addresses.

Expanding through organic growth certainly has its merits as the companies have built up their reputation, brand name and product specialties over the years, and they have rightfully earned the respect and trust of property buyers. More importantly, those who have developed their own successful business models have become industry leaders and trendsetters in their own right.

Companies such as SP Setia Bhd is well regarded for adding substantial value to greenfield township development in new growth areas.

It is one of the top industry performers in terms of sustainable earnings and sales and is well known for its innovative marketing expertise and product offerings.

Its capability in product innovation and designing has won the company many industry awards, both on the local and international stage.

Another industry innovator, Mah Sing Group Bhd is well known for its ability to develop small pockets of land within a short time frame. The fast project turnaround model has contributed to the company’s consistent good earnings and strong compounded annual growth in its top and bottom lines.

At the end of the day, it is important for a broad spectrum of property developers, whether big or small, to co-exist and continue making a mark in their respective market and product forte so that the industry will grow in depth and buyers will have a wider selection of property products to choose from.

What is important is for these developers to add value to the property landscape and contribute towards lifting the living environment, whether the projects are in the local or overseas markets.

While the company’s size and financial capability matter, especially if it involves huge greenfield developments with substantial holding cost, it is important to maintain one’s market niche and product specialties.

The degree of success of property companies speak a lot about their management skills and expertise, product design and innovation, branding quality and price premium.

It is important to have a competent and trustworthy management team in place. They are the faces behind a company’s name that property buyers and the investing public relate to.

The faces behind companies and organisations will have a bearing on the level of trust and confidence that customers and the investing public have in these companies.

Meanwhile, with the emergence of large multinational property groups vying for a share of the international property market, especially the insatiable China and India markets, our own home-grown property groups should also harness their skills and export their expertise to these high growth countries.

Property players with well-established brand names and financial capability should further benchmark against other international players and take the opportunity to shore up their image as international players.

Spreading their wings overseas will offer the opportunity for greater earnings growth for developers with an eye to expand offshore and give them an opportunity to break out of their comfort zone.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes the local property industry, with its resilient and versatile players, will be among the first to recover from the dreary sentiment brought on by the global financial crisis.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Consultant: Weigh risks when buying

A Malaysian property consultant says Malaysians must consider the risks and challenges when buying British properties.

Kumar Tharmalingam ... Britain can be an expensive place to maintain a property.

Hall Chadwick Asia chairman Kumar Tharmalingam says unless one have children studying abroad, Britain can be an expensive place to maintain a property, more so London.

“If you buy a landed property, you have to have somebody to occupy it. Otherwise you may get squatters moving in and you cannot move them out without a court order. The only advantage of buying London property is its capital appreciation and one may be looking at between seven and 10 years before you get real appreciation in value to cover the cost of maintenance,” says Kumar.

He related a friend who had a condominium in Victoria that come with concierge and security. His monthly service charge was £460. He sold it after 4 years as he could not get more than £900 a month rental and half of that goes towards payment of service charges. It is a cost that the landlord has to bear, among other things.

Although Kumar’s friend makes a small profit, the service charge increases by 10% annually, but not the rental. So management is an issue. An agent will charge 10% of the amount to manage the asset and one month rental every time you have a new tenant. The returns on investment is rather unattractive but the capital gain is attractive.

“What buyers are aspiring today is for London prices to go back to pre-2007 value and our exchange rate going back to RM7 a pound.

“But you will be caught unless you pay cash or take up a very small loan over a short tenure because you will be paying in pounds. In addition, Britain has a captial gain tax of 30%.

“If you take all this into consideration, I prefer to buy in Sydney or in Singapore where you are able to monitor your investments more easily. It is also cheaper to maintain. There is also the same value upside but without the currency risk,” says Kumar.

He says the British economy has taken such a deep hit that it may never regain the financial status of pre-2008.

He says prices in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham have almost halved. Rates and taxes will be lower, but the resale value will also be lower.

Kumar suggests interested parties check out a website address, one of the country’s most popular property website. It captures every sale, in any district in Britain.

“If somebody offers you a property, you can check the website to see the transacted prices of other properties along the same street by typing the address or street name. You will be able to see the most recent property sold in that street, the type of property, the price paid and whether it is leasehold or freehold. You can even check how far the prices have gone up over the years. That way, you can check if anyone is trying to slap you with a 2007/2008 price.

Agents don’t like websites because you can check yourself. You also need to know what people have paid for in that locality. The price cannot be very far from the other.”

Aspiring buyers must ask three questions: Is that a holiday home? Is it for the children’s education? Is it for investment?

“It can be all three. If it is a holiday home, then somebody must manage it so that it does not get broken into when you are not there. If it is for the children’s education, you can rent it after your children graduate. North of the Thames is always better than south,” says Kumar.

“Another thing to consider is culture. Malaysians are spoilt when it comes to apartment living. We want carpets, high ceiling and en suite bathrooms. These are only found in new properties so forget about the Georgian variety, which may only have a bathroom for an entire three-room house. Look for newer apartments which are better suited for Malaysians. There is no cultural shock.”

By The Star

SunCity expects to conclude hotel buy soon

PROPERTY developer Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) expects to conclude the purchase of the US$17 million (RM61 million) Sunway Hotel Hanoi in Vietnam by next month or September.

SunCity is buying the property from sister company Sunway Holdings Bhd, which wants to focus on its core business of property development and construction.

The four-star 143-room hotel is managed by Sunway International Hotels and Resorts Sdn Bhd, a unit of SunCity.

The hotel registered 74 per cent room occupancy and sales of US$4.7 million (RM16.8 million) last year.
SunCity chief financial officer Tan Poh Chan said the hotel deal is part of plans to build its investment portfolio division and export its management services.

"We are buying Sunway Hotel Hanoi as it commands good yields and fits into our investment criteria. Since we are already managing the property, we decided to buy it from Sunway Holdings to springboard into other hotel investment and management business in Vietnam," Tan told Business Times in an interview.

Tan added that SunCity aims to ride on Vietnam's expected boom in foreign direct investment, which will spur activities in the tourism industry.

"This may call for the setting up of new hotels in Vietnam. SunCity will be at an advantage since it already operates and manages a portfolio of hotels," he said.

As at March 31 2009, SunCity's total asset value was RM5.2 billion.

At present, it owns five hotels, two shopping malls, university colleges, themeparks and commercial towers, and a medical centre.

It also manages 12 hotels, half of which are in Malaysia and the rest in Phnom Penh, Hanoi and Jakarta under the Sunway and Allson brands.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Sunway building up to better year

SUNWAY Holdings Bhd, one of the country's busiest conglomerates, is optimistic of doing better this year given that its overseas operations are starting to reap profits while local businesses are improving.

Founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah said the group's core divisions of construction, building materials, and trading and manufacturing were growing concurrently and it was expecting higher net profit and revenue this year.

"We have invested in a lot of developments in Singapore and China over the last two and three years and are starting to see the money coming in. We hope to bring down our gearing to 0.5 time in two years, from 0.9 now," he said.

"Things have been flat in the first few months of 2009 in terms of property sales. But I think consumer confidence will come back by the fourth quarter. People with money will return and the situation will turn around.
Cheah added that the group will continue to sell non-core property assets to pare down debt.

Last year, it sold its 36 per cent stake in Sunway Infrastructure Bhd - the Kajang SILK Highway concession holder - which was the black sheep in its stable.

Sunway is selling the Sunway Hotel Hanoi in Vietnam for RM59.33 million to Sunway City Bhd. Some RM21 million will be used to reduce its debt.

"Of course we don't want to put on fire sales, but we are trying to sell some non-core assets to degear," Cheah said at the company's extraordinary general meeting in Bandar Sunway, Selangor, yesterday.

Sunway's net borrowings stood at RM669.1 million as at March 31 2009 against shareholders' fund of RM639.3 million, the bulk of which was to build up its overseas operations, Cheah said.

Sunway is supplying spun piles in China for the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. It is also involved in the production of machinery parts with South Korea's Daechang group.

In Singapore, Sunway has a few mixed development projects which are ongoing.

Cheah said that Sunway was looking to grow its current businesses, albeit cautiously, and did not rule out buying the local concrete plants, quarries and asphalt factories owned by HeidelbergCement AG.

It was reported that the debt-laden HeidelbergCement, a heavy building materials manufacturer based in Germany, was selling its assets for US$200 million to US$250 million (RM714 million to RM893 million) and that Sunway was keen to buy them.

"It's very difficult to comment at this point in time on whether we are interested to buy or not. We are not sure yet," Cheah said.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Making British property attractive

There is something about London which tugs at the heart’s strings. The place evokes a sense of nostalgia, especially among those who studied and lived there. Australian cities do not have the same effect, says a property consultant and valuer from Henry Butcher.

The company has, of late, exhibited four projects in Malaysia since the last quarter of 2008 after the devaluation of the British pound. There are expected to be more such weekend property exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Hong Kong in the second half of this year.

Grouped together as the Far East, British developers have been marketing their projects sometimes 10% to 20% off their published British prices.

Says an agent: “Unlike Malaysia, where prices are fixed, it is possible to bring the price down a little or to ask for better terms. Two years ago, there was no room for negotiation. It’s different today.”

He managed to get a two-year rental yield of 6% for a buyer, and an 18-month rental yield for another at the same rate. A furniture package was also thrown in, complete with cutlery, tables and chairs, when these were not included in the selling price.

“If the owner were to provide this for the tenant, it can add up to quite a bit. So there is room for negotiation,” he says.

Despite London being one of the most expensive cities, Malaysians have shown keen interest, but they are price sensitive, preferring those in the £200,000 price range. In ringgit, that’s about RM1.2mil already. (An average cost of a house in mainstream market in Britain and Wales is £160,000. London prices is not representative of those in overall mainstream British market.)

Henry Butcher brought in several projects of late ranging from £120,000 to £925,000 for one to three bedroom units from zone 1, which is prime central London, to zone 5. The most popular was CityWalk, with a SE23, London address close to Forest Hill Station and about 10 minutes to London Bridge. The one-bedroom unit (of about 480 sq ft) begins from £169,950 and the two-bedroom (700 sq ft) units £250,000. This project was sold out when in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.

Some buyers have so much confidence in the London property market that they bought without checking out the place. Others prefer to fly over to check out the place.

Two agents from different consultancies say they will not bring in the top end housing in the prime Central London in Chelsea, Knightsbridge or Hyde Park which may go into several million pounds.

“Not that Malaysians could not afford it, but they will not go into this segment,” he says.

If what he says is true, Rahim & Co will have a challenge on their hands. Managing director Robert Ang says it has put together a deal between a Malaysian developer and a British company to enter into a £6mil land deal several weeks ago.

The 50:50 joint venture is expected to develop a five-storey office and residential building located in the heart of Chelsea, one of most affluent prime residential areas in Central London. It is within walking distance of both Kings Road and Chelsea Embankment and the Thames. They are seeking planning permission for 10 units priced between £1,200 and £1,300 per sq ft. How much the unit will sell for is not known yet.

“This will be a quality development,” says Ang. For some buyers, location is paramount. A source related the story of a Malaysian who bought a £600,000 property in the early weeks of the crisis and today is looking for another in prime central London.

During a recent outing to Kuala Lumpur, Battersea Reach in the township Battersea and Aquarius House, on St George Wharf in Vauxhall SW8, had few takers. Singaporeans showed more interest. St George, the developer for both, is a subsidiary of Berkeley Homes group, one of Britain’s largest developers.

Both are riverside projects in the south but in terms of connectivity, Aquarius in Vauxhall SW8 offers more transport options than Battersea. The price for Battersea begins from £830,000 and goes up to £2mil (RM5.80 to £1). There were two buyers for Aquarius House who paid £420,000 and £540,000 respectively for their smaller units.

The development on Battersea Reach started seven years ago and is expected to complete in 2014, while the project on St George Wharf, started 12 years ago. Battersea is located on 13 acres of ex-brewery land. It is next to Wandsworth Bridge SW18, with Chelsea SW3 and Fulham SW6 on the other side. Battersea will have 1,084 units, with 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units.

Everything in the Battersea building have been specked up with modern finishes and comes with fully fitted kitchen with electrical appliances. Both Battersea and Aquarius House have gone to India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and United Arab Emirates.

A more affordable project by Berkeley group is Beauford Park in Colindale in the north, zone 4. Located on former aerodrome land, this 25-acre site across a police training grounds, will have 3,000 units of which 650 have been built. The project comes with 1, 2 and 3-bedroom units with price starting from £170,000 and goes up to £1mil for penthouses.

Says St George Central London Ltd managing director Ross Faragher, who is undertaking the project: “The market has been relatively difficult the past year and Beauford Park has been selling better than the rest of the group, at a rate of about five units a month.”

Faragher says the market picked up the last three months. Buyers comprise young professionals and first time buyers.

By The Star (by Thean Lee Cheng)

SPV set up for Iskandar public housing plan

The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) has approved the set-up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement a public housing programme in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.

The RM200 million programme, wholly funded by the Minister of Finance (MOF), involves construction of 1,500 units of quality rental housing with improved public facilities for the low- to middle-income groups.

The SPV will provide three-and-a-half to four-storey walk-up apartments with built-up of 900 sq ft per unit.

The programme was finalised during a meeting in Putrajaya yesterday, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also the co-chairman of Irda, and Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

In a statement yesterday, Irda said the SPV will facilitate the timely development and delivery of the programme within the specified time-frame, quality requirement and budget.

This will be executed through a property management system that will ensure sustainable and quality building management and maintenance.

The authority also endorsed the setting up of an SPV for the implementation of the transformation of Johor Baru's central business district (CBD).

The transformation exercise encompasses the cleaning of Sungai Segget, a sewerage treatment system in Sungai Segget's catchment and flood mitigation.

As at last month, Iskandar Malaysia had secured RM44.86 billion in committed investments, exceeding its target of RM44.75 billion by the year-end.

By Business Times