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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Naza in talks on China project, eyes RM2bil property revenue

KUALA LUMPUR: Naza Group, Malaysia’s biggest luxury vehicle importer, has lined up RM6.4bil of property projects this year and is in talks for its first overseas real estate foray in China.

The company, picked by Peugeot Automobiles this month to lead its expansion in South-East Asia, aims to more than double its property unit’s revenue to RM2bil in five years.

It had longer term plans for a property trust and was drawing investors for a proposed 100-floor tower in Kuala Lumpur, joint chief executive officer S.M. Nasarudin S.M. Nasimuddin said in an interview.

“It’s going to be a better year,” said Nasarudin. “I expect the property market to pick up.”

Loans approved for Malaysian home purchases rose to RM7.3bil in November, the highest level recorded in 2009, adding to signs the country’s economy is rebounding, central bank data show.

Bank Negara meets on Tuesday to decide whether to maintain interest rates at a record low, as investors speculate China may tighten monetary policy to curb asset-price inflation.

“Since the second and third quarter last year, activity and prices have picked up, except for the high-end market which is not too exciting,” said Goh Tian Sui, managing director of C.H. Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd, a property consulting company, in a telephone interview.

Nasarudin and his brothers Faisal and Faliq are sons of the late Nasimuddin Amin, the group’s founder.

Nasimuddin began selling luxury cars in Malaysia when he was 21 and built Naza into one of the nation’s biggest auto groups after securing the rights to assemble Kia Motors Corp vehicles in Malaysia. He died of cancer in May 2008 at 53.

Naza, which Nasimuddin founded in 1974, expanded into transport, property, hotel and the food and beverage industry. Its real estate business today accounts for 30% of group sales, its second-biggest contributor.

“The benchmark for the family is that we want to be like the Tata Group, the Jardine Group, that will last generation after generation,” Nasarudin said.

“We’re only the second generation and there’s still a long way to go, but those are our targets to grow as a conglomerate.”

Among its seven projects planned for this year is the RM4bil Platinum Park at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, comprising three office towers, three residential towers and a hotel.

Naza, which sells Ferrari and Maserati cars and Ducati motorbikes, was also lining up foreign investors for Kuala Lumpur’s biggest property project, Nasarudin said.

It won land rights in November from the Government to construct an exhibition centre, on top of which it may build a 100-floor tower as part of a RM15bil, 15-year project.

That’s potentially higher than Kuala Lumpur’s 88-floor Petronas Twin Towers, previously the world’s tallest building. A master plan would be ready next month, Nasarudin said.

A real estate investment trust was also “something we will look at eventually, after five years,” Nasarudin said.

That’s when Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, its property unit, may rank among the top three developers in Malaysia, he said.

By Bloomberg

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