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Friday, April 30, 2010

Berjaya plans US$500m Japan project

Berjaya, controlled by Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, plans to build a hotel and residential properties on Okinawa Island

The Berjaya group is planning to develop a US$500 million (RM1.6 billion) property project in Japan, making it the second major Malaysian firm to invest in the Land of the Rising Sun in less than a month.

On April 15, YTL Corporation completed the purchase of a prime Japanese resort for RM205 million and it plans to purchase more properties there.

Berjaya, controlled by Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, plans to build a hotel and residential properties on Okinawa Island in the south of Japan.

Development is due to start in 2011 or 2012 and the work will take about five years.
Executive director of Berjaya Hotels and Resorts Valen Tan said the group was building a community which will have exclusive residential properties.

Berjaya Hotels and Resorts is the leisure arm of Berjaya Land Bhd.

"The US$500 million is for the entire project. A huge portion, 80 per cent, will be for the hotel and residences," Tan told Business Times in an interview.

"We are in the process of acquiring land there (coastal area in southern Okinawa), 90 per cent of the land (36.45ha) has been acquired, there is still about 10 per cent (4.05ha) to be acquired from the (land) owners," Tan said.

The up-market hotel and residences project will have about 200 rooms.

"We are looking at possibly starting development in one-and-a-half to two years' time when the planning, zoning and permits will come through," he said.

Berjaya has yet to decide if the residences will be sold or leased out.

Tan said that the island is an ideal location as it offers year-round sunshine, compared with other parts of Japan where it snows.

Berjaya Hotels operates six hotels in Malaysia and five hotels abroad. Locally, its top performing hotels are Berjaya Langkawi Resort, Berjaya Redang Resort and Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

Abroad, its best performing owned and managed properties include its two properties in Seychelles - Berjaya Beau Vallan Bay Resort & Casino and Berjaya and Berjaya Eden Park in London.

It also owns some hotels which are managed by international hotel chains including the Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake Hotel and Sheraton Hanoi Hotel and Towers in Vietnam.

BLand is also building a US$3 billion (RM9.6 billion) resort-type township on a 74.4ha land on Jeju island in Korea.

The development will feature 600 mid-rise apartments, 200 villas and a five-star hotel with 250 rooms and a casino hotel with 500 rooms, a shopping centre and a medical centre.

By Business Times

Hua Yang projects 2010 salesat RM300m

PROPERTY developer Hua Yang Bhd projects its annual revenue to grow to RM500 million in three to five years as it strengthens its position in the affordable housing segment.

For the nine months ended December 31 2009, it posted RM27.2 million in revenue.

The company also plans to move into the premium residential segment within the same period and is expecting some 10 per cent of total sales to come from this sector.

This year, Hua Yang is projecting some RM300 million worth of sales, following the upcoming launch of its One South mixed development project in Sungai Besi, Selangor. The RM750 million project features residential, commercial and retail components.

The development, which will be the key revenue driver to the group, will contribute some RM100 million per year in the span of eight years and development will be carried out in five phases.

"This is in line with our aim to be the top five developer in the country within five to seven years from now. To reach that goal, we need to progressively achieve RM500 million to RM600 million of sales per year," its chief operating officer Ho Wen Yan told a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Construction of Phase One of One South, which consists of 384 shopoffices with a street mall concept, commenced in March this year, with completion slated within three years. Covering 4.3 acres (1.74ha), the built-up area for these shop-offices and retail lots is between 479 sq ft and 2,100 sq ft with prices starting from RM350 per sq ft to RM750 per sq ft.

The next three phases will see the development of serviced apartments, while Phase Five will feature offices.

Ho said one of the unique features of One South is the dual frontage shops that face either the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Highway or the street mall and serviced apartments.

"Either way, business owners can be assured of maximum frontage and visibility," he added.

Besides One South, Hua Yang has rolled out some RM1 billion worth of projects this year including an upmarket residential project in Seremban Country Heights, an industrial and commercial development in Seremban called the Senawang Link, Symphony Heights serviced apartment in Selayang and exclusive residential called Polo Park in Johor Baru.

The group currently has a landbank of 1,000 acres (405ha) valued at RM1.8 billion.

By Business Times

SunCity, SSTEC collaboration for RM5b eco-city in China

PETALING JAYA: SUNWAY CITY BHD (SunCity) has signed a collaboration agreement with Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co., Ltd (SSTEC) to develop 41 hectares of the 3,000-hectare Tianjin Eco-City in Tianjin, China with a gross development value of RM5 billion.

The project will be developed in three stages over five years, with the initial work start earliest in March 2011 and completion by mid 2015.

SunCity's managing director for property development (international) Ngian Siew Siong said SunCity expects the eco-city project to contribute to its earnings only in 2012.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, April 30 after the signing of the collaboration agreement, he said this is the second project undertaken in China.

The first is the RM492 million Sunway Guanghao mixed development project in Jiangyin, which will be launched next month.

The 41-hectare development will incorporate the “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” (Lohas) philosophy to promote an ecologically and socially sustainable environment for residents. The Lohas philosophy started in the US in 1998 and consists of five pillars – health and fitness, personal development, environment, sustainable living and social justice.

“Lohas is not just about green buildings. That is only one component of it. Our design will center on these five pillars. One of the concepts of eco-city is that 40% of its residents can work within the city itself,” Ngian said to reporters after the signing ceremony.

SunCity’s development will consist of 90% residential properties, with a waterfront parcel housing exclusive high-end villas. The remaining 10% are commercial areas.

The eco-city is about 40 km from Tianjin city centre and 150 km from Beijing. It is the largest eco-city under development in the world by area size.

Funding for the project will be sourced internally and from bank borrowings in China, said SunCity senior general manager Ong Pang Yen.

“In China, foreign companies can borrow up to 50% of the project cost, while its domestic companies can borrow up from 65% to 70% of the cost,” he said.

SSTEC was incorporated in China and is the master developer for the Tianjin Eco-City. It is a 50:50 venture between the Chinese consortium led by Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. and the Singapore consortium led by the Keppel Group.

SunCity is the sole Malaysian developer selected to participate in this project, which enables SunCity a 60% equity stake in the 41 hectares development and a 40% equity stake by SSTEC.

Five more top regional developers are involved in the 3,000-hectare eco-city project: Keppel Land of Singapore, Farglory Group of Taiwan, Shimao of Hong Kong, Mitsui Fudosan of Japan, and Vanke in China.

SunCity said the overseas market provides possible new revenue source to SunCity. China has been identified for the group's regional expansion due to its huge population and high economic growth.

Currently, overseas property development contributes less than 5% to SunCity’s earnings in 2009. Ngian expects this portion to increase to 30% by 2015.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Aishah Mustapha)

SunCity, Sino-Singapore Tianjin in eco-city collaboration

KUALA LUMPUR: SUNWAY CITY BHD (SunCity) is collaborating with Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. (SSTEC) to undertake a "lifestyle of health and sustainability" development project in Tianjin Binhai new area in China.

SunCity said on Friday, April 30 the project Tianjin Eco-City and China, consist of more than 40 hectares with a total residential gross floor area of 607,320 sq metres and a total commercial gross floor area of 99,078 sq metres.

Both parties had entered into a collaboration agreement on Friday to set out the terms of the collaboration regarding the development.

The project will be developed in three stages over five years, with it expected to start the earliest in March 2011 and expected completion in mid 2015.

"The collaboration agreement also detailed out the various stages of the land injection, which is conditional upon SSTEC obtaining the approval from the relevant authorities in China," it said.

SSTEC was incorporated in China and it is the master developer for the Tianjin Eco-City. It is a 50:50 joint venture between the Chinese consortium led by Tianjin TEDA Investment Holding Co., Ltd. and the Singapore consortium led by the Keppel Group.

SunCity said the overseas market provides possible new revenue source to SunCity. China has been identified for the group's regional expansion due to its huge population and high economic growth.

The Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City is about 40 km away from the city centre of Tianjin and 150 km from Beijing.

"Over the next two decades, this 30-square kilometre piece of land will be transformed into an urban city with ample room for large-scale adoption of eco-solutions and 110,000 homes for about 350,000 population," it said.

Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City sits well with SunCity's philosophy of building sustainable and environmental friendly city for the future generation. Its concept of developing green building and promotes sustainable lifestyle attracts potential house buyers who desire to improve their housing conditions.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Joseph Chin)

Sunway City sees SSTEC contribution in '12

Sunway City Bhd expects contribution from the RM5 billion Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city (SSTEC) project in China only in 2012, with construction commencing in the first quarter of next year.

Its Managing Director for Property Development (International) Ngian Siew Siong said Sunway City would be involved in developing 41 hectares of the 3,000-hectare Eco-city in five years.

He said this to reporters after a the signing of a collaboration between SSTEC Investment and Development Ltd and Sunway City here today.

This followed a memorandum of understanding (MOU)signed in October 2009 to conduct market research and a feasibility study as well as develop a business plan over a six-month period.
The 41-hectare development will consist of 90 per cent residential properties which include condominiums and a waterfront parcel, featuring exclusive high-end villas.

By Bernama

Equine Capital to sell land to Safetags

EQUINE Capital Bhd (ECB) plans to sell 6.04 acres of leasehold land Petaling, Selangor to Safetags Solution Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Titijaya Group, for RM19.6 million.

It will use proceeds from the proposed disposal repay bank borrowings and for working capital.

ECB had planned to develop the land into a commercial centre with transportation hub within its Pusat Bandar Putra Permai township.

“The project was launched in 2007 but was shelved in 2009 for the lack of response to sales,” ECB said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

By Business Times

MBSB looks forward to better year

Malaysia Building Society Bhd (MBSB), a housing loan provider, expects higher revenue and net profit this year on stronger growth from its retail business and corporate financing.

"The retail business financing will be supported by personal financing to government servants at a competitive rate. We will support any effort by the government to provide home-financing for government servants for second homes," said MBSB chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Zaini Othman.

He was speaking to reporters after the company's shareholders meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

As for its corporate loan portfolio, MBSB will provide financing for government contracts which includes construction and supply or even project financing, said Ahmad Zaini.
For its financial year ended December 31, MBSB saw its revenue grow 29 per cent to RM537.96 million, while net profit surged 76 per cent to RM57.2 million.

Its retail loans and financing in 2009 was up 27.1 per cent, driven by a 101 per cent overall growth in Islamic financing.

"We came out from a difficult 2009. With the local economy forecast to grow between 4.5 per cent and 5 per cent, MBSB expects earnings to improve as well," said Ahmad Zaini, adding that improved domestic consumption would spur its lending activities.

While the local overnight policy rate may increase further this year, he said MBSB will continue to offer competitive rates for its products.

On its plan to become a full-fledged bank, MBSB said the rationale behind it was to strengthen its presence and a banking platform would allow it to do so.

"Currently, we are just at the discussion stage and have not submitted anything official as it will require shareholders' approval first. Moving from a mere lending institution to a bank will also enhance the value for our shareholders," said Ahmad Zaini.

With some 32 branches at present, MBSB will add one in Sabah or Sarawak and two in Peninsular Malaysia this year.

On the development plans for its 2ha land in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Ahmad Zaini said a possibility was to have a mixed development with an estimated gross development value of RM300 million to RM400 million.

By Business Times

Thursday, April 29, 2010

SunCity positive on sales of Australian project

Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) is building logistics and distribution centres at its RM1.1 billion industrial park project in Australia and it is positive on sales.

"Looking at currency appreciation, the economy is doing well. Industrial land price dropped more than 30 per cent in 2009 to A$225 per sq metre (A$1 = RM2.95). It is improving," said SunCity international property development division managing director Ngian Siew Siong.

SunCity and Australand Property Group are developing the project known as Wonderland Business Park on 120ha.

Construction started this year and the project is due for completion by 2014.

Ngian told Business Times that the company has sold one distribution centre to Best & Less, a retailer for A$44 million.
"We are negotiating two more deals. One local Australian company plans to buy a logistic and distribution centre and the other company wants to lease a separate building," Ngian said.

SunCity ventured into Australia in 1997 when it bought 220ha of land, which partly housed the Wonderland Sydney Theme Park in 1997.

Around mid-2000, the company closed the park and sold 100ha to a local institution and to Australand, which is controlled by Singapore's CapitaLand.

In 2005, it signed a joint venture with Australand to develop the remaining 120ha.

"We are proud of this venture. We may consider more developments in Australia," Ngian said.

SunCity targets to have 30 per cent of its net profit from overseas projects by 2015, from some 5 per cent currently. Its focus is on India and China, Ngian said.

The company has two joint-venture projects each in India and China, worth almost RM8.3 billion collectively.

Its project in China is Sunway Guanghao in Jiangyin, which will be launched in May or June. It comprises medium-end condominiums and specialty shops.

SunCity also has 110 acres to develop at the Tianjin Eco-City eco-themed integrated project. It will launch the project early next year.

In India, it plans to build Sunway Opus Grand Residency in Hyderabad, comprising more than 3,000 condominium units.

It will also build 1,500 units of condominiums on a 14-acre site near Hyderabad starting next year.

"The combined population in India and China is 2.5 billion so it is a huge market as house ownership is still very low. There is strong emerging middle class," Ngian said.

By Business Times

SunCity property investment unit to provide half of group's profit

SUNWAY City Bhd's property investment division will continue to provide half of the group's net profit as new projects come on stream this year.

The developer is planning to launch the RM1.5 billion Sunway Velocity integrated commercial project in Cheras, which will have a 800,000 sq ft shopping mall, shop offices and serviced apartments.

It will also start building the Lost World Hotel in Ipoh, Perak, two office towers and an apartment for nurses of Sunway Medical in Bandar Sunway, Selangor.

In addition, it will start expanding its Sunway Pyramid mall.
These properties are worth more than RM600 million, managing director for property investment, Ngeow Voon Yean told Business Times.

"Market optimism is coming back and all indicators point to a recovery to a certain extent," Ngeow said.

The division now owns and manages RM4.7 billion worth of properties. They include Sunway Pyramid Mall, Sunway Carnival Mall, Sunway Giza, Menara Sunway, Sunway Tower, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat and two universities.

Ngeow said hotel revenue is set to rise as the economy improves and there are more meetings and exhibitions taking place.

"Our hotels are doing well with room bookings and functions giving us a good indication that business travellers are back. We hope to close the year at an average 78 per cent occupancy for all our operating hotels and resorts," Ngeow said.

SunCity owns Sunway Resort Hotel and Spa, Sunway Georgetown, Sunway Seberang Jaya, Sunway Hanoi, Sunway Pnomh Penh and the Banjaran, which collectively has 2,000 rooms.

It manages Allson Angkor Paradise, Allson Angkor Hotel, Golden Diamond hotel and Allson Medan Tuanku.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Sunway to buy Selangor land

SUNWAY Holdings Bhd plans to buy 33.37 acres of leasehold land in Taman Equine, Bandar Putra Permai, Selangor, from Taman Equine Riding Sdn Bhd for RM37.8 million.

It intends to build semi-detached and bungalow villas on the land, which has an indicative gross development value of RM250 million and is scheduled for launch in early 2011.

Sunway Holdings, via its subsidiary SunwayMas Sdn Bhd, yesterday entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Taman Equine for the acquisition.

"With this acquisition, Sunway Holdings' total land bank now stands at 440 acres with a GDV of RM2.2 billion," said Sunway Holdings managing director Yau Kok Seng in a statement yesterday.

The group is expected to launch some RM800 million worth of property projects in Malaysia, Singapore and China this year.

By Business Times

A case of once bitten, twice shy for SelProp

Selangor Properties Bhd (SPB) will stop investing in global property funds after losing money on previous bets.

SPB, one of the largest landowners in Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur, had invested some RM300 million in 2006 in several funds managed by foreign banks.

"We thought we could make more money but the value started to drop. We have RM88 million in the funds now and the valuation has improved. We will sell when we think it is right," SPB financial controller Lee Boon Kian said.

The group has sold some of its investments but it made provisions of RM77 million in 2009 to account for the lower value of its investments.

Speaking after the company's annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Lee said SPB may set up a real estate investment trust. It is now building its property portfolio.
Its current portfolio includes Menara Milenium, Wisma Damansara, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, Wisma HELP and SPB Towers. It also owns half of the Claremont Shopping Mall in Australia.

The book value of the assets, which yields 7 per cent to 8 per cent returns annually, and its 104ha vacant land in the Klang Valley is valued around RM1.3 billion.

SPB may redevelop and upgrade some properties like Wisma Damansara.

"We have RM600-odd million cash in hand and will use part of it for the plan and also to manage our new and existing property development projects in Kuala Lumpur and Australia," Lee said.

SPB holds 51 per cent of Help International Corp Bhd, a private university college. It is building a main campus for HELP University College in Subang 2.

It is also bullish on the property sector and hopes to do better in its next fiscal year ending October 31 2011 as it has several new launches coming up in the second half of this year.

SPB is launching Batai Condominium, a 20-storey tower with 107 units worth around RM350 million, at Jalan Batai, Damansara Heights.

It will also launch new houses at its Bukit Permata and Selayang Mulia projects in Gombak and Selayang.

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mutiara Goodyear to launch RM1.6b projects

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd will launch four residential projects with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM1.6bil this year.

The development will take up about 40ha of its 404ha landbank, executive chairman Hamidon Abdullah told a press conference yesterday.

These will involve, among others, residential units in Taman Melawati with a total GDV of RM1bil, a residential project in Kajang with a GDV of RM300mil, apartments in Sunway and high-end condominiums in Bukit Gambir, Penang.

The company was also in talks to acquire more land, especially within the Klang Valley, Hamidon said.

“We are negotiating to acquire around 80ha of land.” he added.

According to him, prospects in the property sector were looking positive with demand not only from Malaysians but also overseas.

By Bernama

Sunway buys Subang land for RM37.79m

SUNWAY Holdings Bhd's wholly owned subsidiary, SunwayMas Sdn Bhd, today entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Taman Equine Riding Sdn Bhd to purchase 13.35 hectares land in the vicinity of Taman Equine in Subang Jaya, Selangor, for RM37.793 million.

In a statement, Sunway said semi-detached and bungalow villas have been planned for this land and is scheduled for launch in early 2011.

The project will have a Gross Development Value (GDV) of approximately RM250 million.

It said the land is located close to the mature townships of Puchong, Bandar Kinrara, Bandar Sunway and Petaling Jaya, and accessible via several major roads and highways including the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) and Maju Expressway (MEX).
Yau Kok Seng, Managing Director of Sunway said with the acquisition, Sunway's total land bank now stood at 176 hectares with a GDV of RM2.2 billion. It expects to launch about RM800 million worth of property projects in Malaysia, Singapore and China for the rest of this year.

SunwayMas entered into a joint-venture with Monty Properties Sdn Bhd earlier this month to develop double-storey terraced and semi-detached homes on three parcels of land totalling 6.77 hectares in Puncak Jalil with a GDV of RM120 million.

It also recently acquired 39.2 hectares land with a total GDV of RM500 million near Templer Park.

Preparations are underway for the anticipated launch of both Puncak Jalil and the Templer projects later this year, it added.

Yau said impressive take-up rates for Sunway's on-going projects, including Sunway Rydgeway in Melawati as well as from its two public housing projects in Singapore, has provided it with more than RM500 million in unbilled sales to date.

By Bernama

I&P busy with RM8.8b of projects

Existing mixed development projects in the Klang Valley and Johor, worth some RM8.8 billion, will will keep the property developer busy for eight to nine years

I&P GROUP Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), has some RM8.8 billion of gross development value (GDV) at its existing mixed development projects in the Klang Valley and Johor.

This will keep the property developer busy for eight to nine years, managing director Datuk Jamaludin Osman said.

The I&P group - a combination of once listed firms of Island & Peninsular Sdn Bhd, Pelangi Sdn Bhd dan Petaling Garden Sdn Bhd - currently has a landbank of about 2,200ha in the Klang Valley and Johor.

Jamaludin said the group will focus on developing the remaining phases of its existing township projects in the two areas, instead of buying new land and developing brand new projects.
They include Bandar Kinrara, Alam Impian, Temasya Glenmarie and Alam Sari.

"These projects are still well received after all these years," Jamaludin said in an interview in conjunction with this year's Minggu Saham Amanah Malaysia (MSAM 2010) exhibition in Kuching, organised by PNB from April 20 to Monday.

I&P is one of 13 PNB companies taking part in the week-long show, aimed at increasing the people's awareness on investments in unit trust and exposing them to PNB group of companies.

Other participating firms include Malayan Banking Bhd, UMW Holdings Bhd and NCB Holdings Bhd.

In the case of the 480ha Alam Impian project in Shah Alam, Selangor, Jamaludin said the group has another eight years of development there, which has a GDV of some RM5 billion.

Launched in 2006, the township will provide 10,000 residential units with an expected household of 50,000 people once it is fully completed.

I&P - through Petaling Garden - will soon develop 31ha in Temasya Glenmarie in Shah Alam, comprising 119 units of "superlink" houses and 60 units of terrace houses that will cost at least RM800,000 each.

It will also start developing another 12ha at its existing Bandar Baru Seri Petaling township in Selangor, with commercial units costing about RM2 million each.

The Alam Sari project in Bangi, Selangor, launched in 2007, still has many more years before being fully developed with a total GDV of over RM1 billion, he said.

In Johor, I&P is developing new phases of projects in Taman Pelangi, Taman Perling, Taman Rinting and Taman Pelangi Indah.

I&P, together with its subsidiaries that also include Perumahan Kinrara Bhd, SPPK Sdn Bhd and I&P Alam Impian Sdn Bhd, boasts some 100 years of experience in the local property sector.

The group posted a pre-tax profit of RM263.4 million on revenue of RM1.07 billion last year.

By Business Times

Property market set for substantial rebound

The growth rate of Malaysia's property sector is expected to return to pre-crisis levels this year, on a growing economy and improved commodities market and exports.

"The property market this year will improve substantially against 2009. Last year, most industry players had anticipated that the market would be severely affected by the crisis, but it was 'a year that never was'," said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He was speaking to reporters after delivering a keynote address at the International Real Estate Research Symposium 2010.

According to the "Malaysian Property Market 2009" report released by the Valuation and Property Services Department at the Finance Ministry last week, sales in the first quarter of this year rose 52 per cent to RM25.3 billion compared with a year ago.
The recovery was supported by a positive turn in the economy and new launches during the period.

Earlier, in his speech, Awang Adek said at this recovery stage, it is important to ask what the lessons learnt from the recent crisis were.

He praised the Malaysian banking system which had a strong foundation in the run-up to the crisis, following fixes made during the 1997 Asian financial crisis which helped to mitigate the effects of the current crisis.

"The banking sector was in a stronger position due to consolidation and dealing with direct borrowers while being resilient to assets and derivatives," he said.

On the RM67 billion stimulus package, he said 33 per cent or RM22 billion has so far been spent and the remaining RM45 billion will be spent this year.

By Business Times

Ho Hup bids to declare pact void

PETALING JAYA: Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd’s board of directors has filed a suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court in respect of the joint-development agreement entered into between its 70%-owned subsidiary, Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd, and property developer Malton Bhd’s Pioneer Haven Sdn Bhd on March 17.

The board said in an announcement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday that the suit sought the High Court to declare that the agreement, power of attorney and endorsement and undertaking by Bukit Jalil Development was void.

It added that Pioneer Haven had “to account for all benefit in any form received or accrued by reason of or otherwise arising from the agreement, power of attorney or the endorsement and undertaking” and to pay or otherwise deliver all benefits within 14 days of the order.

The board also sought to have the caveat lodged by Pioneer Haven on the land expunged or removed.

In addition, It was also seeking damages from the company’s former deputy executive chairman, Datuk Vincent Lye, former group managing director Lim Ching Choy and other former members of the board as well as Pioneer Haven.

The agreement involved the 60 acres of freehold land that Ho Hup’s subsidiary, Bukit Jalil Development, still held.

By The Star

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mayland lines up projects worth RM2.2b

Malaysia Land Properties Sdn Bhd (Mayland) is launching new residential projects worth up to RM2.2 billion this year in the Klang Valley and Johor.

"Our focus for 2010 is to gear up on some launches which were held back due to market sentiments. We are studying the market . We are seeing that more people are willing to invest in properties now," said Mayland head of leasing Eddy Tan.

Tan said there is pent up demand for serviced apartments and condominiums in Sri Hartamas, Ampang, Kepong and Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur.

He told Business Times that Mayland will launch high-end serviced residences worth RM650 million in Ampang. The project will be developed in a 50:50 joint venture with Land & General Bhd.

"We have yet to identify a name for the project or the launch date. But it will be soon," Tan said.
Tan said in Country Heights Damansara, Kepong, Mayland will launch over 1,000 units of apartments and serviced residences for RM500 million.

At Jalan Kuching, it will launch Sri Putramas 3, comprising 3 blocks of apartments with 650 units, worth RM350 million.

Mayland, helmed by Tan Sri David Chiu, a Hong Kong-based hotelier and property developer, is looking to launch a 27-storey hotel-cum-serviced apartment tower at its Plaza Damas 3 project in Sri Hartamas in the third quarter of 2010.

Tan said the tower will have more than 600 furnished units worth a combine RM550 million.

"It will be operated as a hotel by one of our sister properties, either Grand Dorsett or Cosmopolitan. We haven't decided," Tan said.

The high-end tower will be the final launch for Plaza Damas 3. Mayland has launched 72 shop office units and 1,452 serviced apartments in three blocks. Over 70 per cent have been sold, Tan said.

By Business Times

New green rating tools to boost value of old buildings

KUALA LUMPUR: The Green Building Index (GBI) Non-Residential Existing Building (NREB) rating system for older buildings will enhance their value and attract investors, said Malaysia Green Building Confederation president Von Kok Leong.

“Today, more people are looking for buildings that are more energy efficient and sustainable. Such buildings fetch better rentals and are more likely to attract investors,” he told StarBiz on the sidelines of the GBI NREB launch by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin yesterday.

Von said it was also more cost effective to upgrade an old building than to demolish it and build a new one for want of a more environmental-friendly structure.

“You’re giving new life to old buildings. Other than investors, even developers are looking for buildings that they can upgrade instead of building from the ground up. It’s cheaper.”

In his welcome address, the chairman of GBI Accreditation panel and Malaysian Institute of Architects president Boon Che Wee said the GBI NREB would give existing buildings a new lease of life and appeal.

“The new rating is timely for existing property owners to re-condition and ‘future-proof’ to meet 21st century environmental performance standards and remain competitive in the long term.

“This, together with the lower operational and maintenance costs that come with the new environmental credential, will undoubtedly lead to progressive appreciation in rental and asset value,” he said.

According to Boon, existing buildings and its communities contribute over 40% of green house gases to the environment.

“Retro-greening will be the new stimulus of our green economy and a new economic multiplier of our construction and property industry,” he said.

Under the GBI NREB, existing non-residential buildings are rated based on six criteria – energy efficiency; indoor environment quality; sustainable site planning and management; material and resources; water efficiency and innovation.

The highest emphasis is on energy efficiency and indoor environment quality (accounting for a maximum of 38 and 21 points respectively out of 100) to address energy use and well-being and productivity of the users of the building.

Points are given for water efficiency and innovation to encourage such improvements and modifications.

Facility management is introduced for sustainable site planning and management, and material and resources to reflect the need for environmental protection in the use of chemicals, pesticides and procurement policy.

By The Star

China likely to impose tax on residential property

BEIJING: China is likely to introduce a property tax on residential housing in the first half of the year as part of its attempts to curb real estate prices, state media reported yesterday.

The levy would be imposed on a trial basis in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing and the southern city of Shenzhen, the Economic Observer newspaper said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Government agencies including the central bank, the finance ministry and the State Administration of Taxation were still working out when to implement the tax, it said.

China has no such levy on residential property but does impose a 1.2 per cent tax on 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the value of commercial real estate.

Details of the new tax were not yet finalised, the report said, such as whether it would be levied against all homes or merely on additional residences purchased by an individual home-buyer beyond the first property.

The report came after Beijing announced a range of new measures to prevent asset bubbles and soaring property prices.

Official data showed real estate prices in 70 cities jumped 11.7 per cent in March, the fastest year-on-year rise for a single month in five years.

The government has recently tightened restrictions on advance sales of new property developments, introduced new curbs on loans for third home purchases, and raised minimum down payments for second homes.

State media reports last week also said banking regulators had ordered lenders to conduct quarterly stress tests on mortgages as the government tries to clamp down on bad loans and rein real estate speculation.

The new property tax was also expected to help replenish the coffers of local governments, which have been depleted by the government-led investment binge of the past year linked to an economic stimulus programme, the report said.


SP Setia sets up another Aussie unit

Property developer SP Setia Bhd has set up another subsidiary in Australia.

Setia International Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of SP Setia, has incorporated Setia Australia Ltd.

The subsidiary was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands with an issued and paid-up share capital of US$10 (RM32), comprising 10 ordinary shares of US$1 (RM3.2) each.

Setia Australia will be involved in investment holding and property development.

By Business Times

Sunrise mulls REIT listing

Malaysian property developer Sunrise may consider injecting some of its property assets into a real estate investment trust as they begin to deliver stable income, said its executive chairman.

“We have invested considerably in a pool of investment assets over the last few years, which are now starting to bear fruit,” said Tong Kooi Ong.

Sunrise, ranked ninth among listed Malaysian developers, may consider a REIT “at a later stage,” Tong said in an email interview.

Larger rival Sunway City this month said it will inject eight retail properties into a REIT this year in a deal that bankers said may raise up to RM1 billion (US$315.3 million) for the company.
Tong, a former banker and stockbroker, said Sunrise has not planned to enter fast-growing Vietnam and China.

“For the medium term, our overseas focus will be on Canada.
We do not have plans for the moment to venture into Vietnam or China,” he said.

Sunrise’s Tong said there has been no major impact on property sales from the recent interest rate hike.

Malaysia is one of the first in Asia to withdraw crisis measures when the central bank raised its key policy rate by 25 basis points to 2.25 per cent percent in March. Most economists expect more hikes later this year.

The central bank’s overnight policy rate is still below its long-term rate of 2.75 per cent after the March increase, said Tong.

“Overall mortgage rates remain very low and the banks have been accommodative in credit approvals,” he said.

By Reuters

Second Penang link may cost less

The second Penang bridge project will cost less than the RM4.5 billion initially estimated and is on track to be completed by September 2013.

"We are expecting it (cost of second bridge construction) to be less than RM4.5 billion with the competitive open tender for Package 3," Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) managing director Datuk Professor Ismail Mohd Taib told reporters after a signing ceremony between JKSB with CHEC Construction (M) Sdn Bhd and UEM Builders Bhd in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

So far, over 100 construction firms have shown keen interest in the RM750 million Package 3 contract work.

"About 40 of those companies have submitted their tender for Package 3. We hope the board can sit this month and if there are no problems, we can start work for Package 3 construction by the end of May this year," he said.

Asked why the second Penang bridge project has been delayed for more than a year, Ismail said it was due to the "change in business model and funding of the project, which have resulted in a review of the contractual terms of the agreements with the financiers and the contractors".
The 17km bridge will link Batu Kawan to Batu Maung on Penang island and will be the longest in the region when completed.

Package 3 is divided into seven parts: The Batu Maung Interchange(Package 3A), the Batu Kawan Land Expressway (Package 3B), the Batu Kawan Trumpet Interchange (Package 3C), Toll Plaza and Administration Building (Package 3D), Toll Collection System (Package 3E), Traffic Control Surveillance System (Package 3F) and Mechanical and Electrical and Infrastructure Works for Package 3A and 3C (Package 3G).

Package 1 of the second Penang bridge project involves a RM2.2 billion contract work on the main span, substructures and foundation, which is expected to be completed in May 2012.

Package 2 is a RM1.55 billion contract for the construction of the superstructure, scheduled for completion in 2013.

Construction of the Second Penang Bridge is now 24 per cent complete and it should be open to traffic by November 2013.

JKSB is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the federal government to supervise and fast-track the second Penang bridge project.

It is also a concessionaire appointed to oversee the construction, management and operations of the second bridge.

Yesterday's signing saw the award of Package 1 and two construction works to CHEC Construction and UEM Builders respectively.

Deputy Finance Minister Senator Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, who witnessed the signing, said the mega project will not only benefit Penang residents but also those in the surrounding areas.

"Apart from the objective to ease traffic congestion, it will also stimulate the economy of the southern area of Penang, thus further enhancing the country's economic development," he said.

By Business Times

Monday, April 26, 2010

12,000 new houses in Perak this year

Artist’s impression of double-storey linked houses in Bandar Seri Botani

IPOH: Around 12,000 new houses are expected to be delivered to buyers in Perak this year, a 20%-30% increase from 2009.

According to Real Estate Housing Developers’ Association Perak chapter chairman Datuk Francis Lee, the estimated figure of 12,000 was based on the number of applications submitted to the local authorities for planning, building and earthwork approval in the first quarter of 2010.

»The delivery for last year was 9,000 to 10,000 houses« DATUK FRANCIS LEE

“Although the latest Property Market Report by the Valuation Department for 2009 is not out yet, the delivery of new houses in Perak for last year is expected to be between 9,000 and 10,0000, compared to 6,412 in 2008,” Lee added.

Perak-based developers that will be launching new property development projects in Ipoh starting from mid-2010 include Taiko Properties Sdn Bhd, Kinta Properties Holdings Sdn Bhd, Namcom Development Sdn Bhd, Pyhomes Realty Sdn Bhd and Morubina Sdn Bhd.

Collectively they are launching some 836 units of residential landed and high-rise properties with an estimated gross sales value of RM337mil.

The selling price of these new residential projects are between 10% and 15% higher than last year’s pricing, due to better demand and higher land, construction and marketing costs.

The launches with the highest gross sales value comes from Taiko Properties’ Bandar Seri Botani and The Thompson projects in southern Ipoh and Ipoh city, with an estimated gross sales value of RM194mil.

“To be launched for Bandar Seri Botani in the third and fourth quarters of 2010 are 317 units of double-storey semi-detached houses, double-storey linked houses, and bungalows, with an estimated gross sales value of RM79mil.

“These properties have buit-up areas of between 1,287 sq ft and 2,180 sq ft, priced between RM155,000 and RM365,000,” Taiko project manager Lau Eng Pun said.

The RM115mil Thompson project, scheduled for launching in mid-2010, comprises 46 bungalows in a guarded community with built-up areas ranging between 6,900 sq ft and 8,100 sq ft, priced from RM2.4mil onwards.

“The project, located on a 13-acre site, is between Jalan Tun Dr Ismail and Lorong Tun Dr Ismail, the most prestigious area of Ipoh city,” Lau said.

Kinta Properties is launching 136 units of landed properties, comprising linked and semi-detached houses, with an estimated gross sales value of RM31.9mil from mid-2010 onwards in Bandar Baru Sri Klebang.

“The linked properties have built-up areas ranging between 1,500 sq ft and 2,160 sq ft, priced between RM205,000 and RM298,800,” Kinta Properties chief executive officer Bernard Tan said.

In February, Kinta Properties launched 21 bungalows priced between RM449,800 and RM788,000.

Namcom Development Sdn Bhd is launching in the third quarter RM65mil worth of landed and high-rise properties comprising 158 semi-detached, double-terraced, and terraced houses in Klebang Ria, and 37 condominium units in Jalan Tun Dr Ismail.

Its managing director Chan Nam Sing said the landed properties with built-up of between 1,000 sq ft and 2,500 sq ft are priced between RM138,000 and RM368,000.

“The condominiums, with built-up of 1,500 to 3,400 sq ft, are between RM420 and RM450 per sq ft,” said Chan.

Pyhomes Realty Sdn Bhd is launching 142 units with an estimated gross sales value of RM46.4mil in Sg Siput, Batu Gajah, Pasir Putih Selatan and Gopeng in the third quarter.

They comprise semi-detached and double-storey terraced properties with built-up of between 1,980 sq ft and 3,180 sq ft, priced between RM208,000 and RM491,000, according to managing director Chan Hoong Mun.

Meanwhile, one of the largest commercial schemes in Perak being carried out now is Morubina Sdn Bhd’s RM80mil Kinta Riverfront Hotel & Suites project.

Its project coordination manager Anuar Abu Hassan said the project, comprising a five-star hotel and a 20-storey block of 249 condominum units, was 40% completed.

“We have sold 75% of the condominiums since the launch last year,” he said, adding that the project is scheduled for completion in 2011.

The condominiums with 808 sq ft in built-up are sold from RM215,000 onwards, while the 7,393 sq ft penthouses are priced from RM780,000 onwards.

By The Star

Ipoh landed properties to cost 10%-15% more in second half

IPOH: The selling price of landed properties targeted for launch here in the second half of this year will be priced between 10% and 15% higher than last year due to better demand, rising raw material and land cost.

Real Estate Housing Developers’ Association (Perak) chairman Datuk Francis Lee said that since the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, property prices had been stagnant.

“Presently profits reached sub-normal levels in Ipoh, with margins of about 10%.

”For example, the cost to construct which include the land and raw materials, and to market a landed property with a built-up of 1,800 sq ft, is around RM200,000.

“When sold in the market, such a property is priced between RM210,000 and RM225,000, depending on its location.

“The profit should be at least 20% as there are risks that the developer have to encounter, such as late delivery due to unforeseen circumstances and the liability period for claims on defects,” he said.

Lee said that for the past six months, the property development market in Ipoh had picked up.

“The demand is rising gradually,” he added.

“The growing demand in the property market, rising raw material prices, and land cost are likely to push property prices up in the second half by 10% to 15%.

“However, if the demand drops, there will be no new projects launched because of the abnormal returns.

“This will eventually force prices to move up to a more equitable level,” he said.

Lee said the present home ownership in Ipoh is about 60%, while the remaining 40% comprised those who stay as extended families or in rented premises.

“The potential for home ownership to grow in Ipoh is there, as it has a population of about 710,000,” he said.

Lee added that the purchase of primary and secondary residential properties in Ipoh was largely driven by effective home ownership demand. And only a fraction of which is in the form of property asset investment.

“As property prices in Ipoh are largely determined by economic fundamentals devoid of speculative investment, prices of properties are relatively stable even through the recent recession,” he said.

By The Star

More foreign investors targeted for Nusajaya

GELANG PATAH: UEM Land Holdings Bhd is targeting more international investors to participate in the development of Nusajaya this year.

»Nusajaya will have enough content to attract investors and residents« DATUK WAN ABDULLAH WAN IBRAHIM

Its managing director Datuk Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim said the company was eyeing investors from China, India, Europe, Singapore, South Korea and the United States.

“Nusajaya is progressing well and moving on the right track and we are confident of keeping the momentum going as planned,’’ Abdullah told StarBiz.

He was speaking at the launch of “Green Programme”, a collaboration between UEM Land and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at SK Taman Nusa Perintis 1, near here on Saturday.

The Green Programme is outlined under the Nusajaya Green Plan launched in December last year to ensure a sustainable development of the country’s first economic growth corridor.

Abdullah said the company was unfazed by the Dubai World saga and now the Greece debt crisis as the two were unlikely to affect the global economy.

“Even during the global economic slowdown in the last two years, Nusajaya attracted interest from both local and foreign investors,’’ he added.

Abdullah said the company believed there were always opportunitie,s even during times of economic uncertainty, as there were investors and individuals with funds.

He said the company’s high-end residential projects, East Ledang and Horizon Hills, a joint venture between UEM Land and Gamuda Bhd, had attracted a large number of foreign buyers.

Abdullah said foreigners made up 65% and 56% of the buyers at East Ledang and Horizon Hills respectively and that the projects had recorded good take-up rates.

UEM Land is the master developer of the 9,308ha Nusajaya, the key driver of Iskandar Malaysia which was launched on Nov 4, 2006.

Nusajaya comprises eight catalyst developments – Kota Iskandar (Johor State New Administrative Centre), Southern Industrial and Logistic Clusters, Puteri Harbour Waterfront Development, EduCity, Medical City, International Destination Resort and Nusajaya Residences.

Nusajaya is one of five flagship development zones in Iskandar. The other four are the JB City Centre, Western Gate Development, Eastern Gate Development and Senai-Kulai.

Abdullah said works on infrastructure and several development projects in Nusajaya were on schedule and were expected to be completed in the next three to five years.

These include the RM1.4bil Coastal Highway linking Johor Baru city centre to Nusajaya, Asia’s first Legoland Theme Park, Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour, Marlborough College, Newcastle University Medical Faculty and Pinewood Studios.

“On completion of these projects, Nusajaya will have enough content to attract investors and residents,’’ he said.

Abdullah said it would be much easier to convince and attract investors to Nusajaya as they could witness the developments taking place.

He said another contributing factor was that Iskandar received continuous support and commitment from the Federal and Johor governments.

“The support from the Federal and Johor governments is important to ensure the success of Iskandar, which in turn will ensure that Nusajaya succeeds too,’’ Abdullah said.

He said other stakeholders, namely Iskandar Regional Development Authority and Khazanah Nasional Bhd-backed Iskandar Investment Bhd, also played crucial role in determining Nusajaya’s success.

Abdullah said its close proximity to Singapore was another added advantage for Nusajaya as it would not only able to attract Singaporean investors but also expatriates and multinational corporations there.

“As the master developer, UEM Land has an enormous task to ensure that Nusajaya succeeds and looking at its progress, we are well on our way to achieving it,’’ he said.

By The Star

Aptec project civil work to start this year

Property firm, Malaysia Pacific Corporation Bhd (MPCorp), plans to start the civil work of the Asia Pacific Trade and Expo City (APTEC) in Iskandar Malaysia this year.

The combined cost of the project, including Nusa Paradis and factory outlets is expected to cost RM2.6 billion.

"We have the masterplan and are waiting for some special incentives from the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). We hope to be granted soon," its president and chief executive officer Datuk Bill C.P. Ch'ng told reporters at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia forum titled "A Strong China: Its Implications and Challenges" in Kuala Lumpur today.

APTEC, billed as the largest trade exposition and distribution centre in the region is located within its flagship Lakehill Resort City. It will comprise a trade and expo centre, shopping mall, office towers, hotels and a halal centre.

The entire project -- APTEC and LakeHill Resort City -- is expected to cost RM4.5 billion and has an estimated gross development value of between RM6.5 billion and RM8 billion.

Covering three million sq ft of exhibition space, APTEC will have the widest selection of products from China and the Asian region, with the state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructures in a one-stop sourcing and trading centre.

APTEC will serve as a catalyst in the development of Iskandar Malaysia into a regional and distribution hub, targeting Asia-Pacific's population of 800 million.

"We are also negotiating with various potential joint-venture partners as we want to look for people with the expertise to operate APTEC. We need various expertise as it is an international trade centre," Ch'ng said.

APTEC, he said, would showcase a wide variety of mass consumer products such as garments, souvenirs and high-tech electronic goods from China, India and Asean countries, at competitive prices and comparable quality options for buyers.

Ch'ng said Asean was a good alternative market as the world was also looking at China and Asia to kick start the global recovery.

"In terms of affordability, it will still be the Asia and China because by tradition and culture, we tend to save more money and spend," he said.

APTEC will also have an impact on the economy as the expo centre will serve as a direct source from suppliers and factories, Ch'ng said, adding that it will have an enormous economic spin-offs.

"You will get the price directly from the source and there is no middlemen and agents. The cost will then can be brought down which will help contain inflation and reduce the cost of living," he added.

APTEC and LakeHill Resort City are developed by LakeHill Resort Development Sdn Bhd, a joint venture between MPCorp and Amanahraya Development Sdn Bhd, which holds 22 per cent.

By Bernama

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Napic: Property deals rise to RM25.2bil in Q1

KUALA LUMPUR: Property transactions for the first quarter this year increased to 91,979 worth RM25.2bil, says National Property Information Centre (Napic) director Dr Zailan Mohd Isa.

Datuk Chor Chee Heung launching Napic’s property report. With him are Napic valuation director-general Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani and valuation deputy director-general Abdul Hamid Abu Bakar.

“Last year’s record showed that 79,024 transactions worth RM16.92bil were done in the same period,” she told reporters after the launch of Napic’s property report yesterday.

“The transactions done in the first quarter this year covers all sectors that include residential, shopping complex, shops, offices and industrial building.”

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung, who launched the report, said the outlook for property market this year would be much better than last year.

“The recent Budget has proposed various measures to spur the property market. Apart from providing new homes for the needy groups, the issue of abandoned housing projects have also been tackled.

“The 5% real property gains tax have also been reintroduced to prevent speculation on the price of houses. All these will contribute to the growth of the market,” he said.

Chor added that the Government wanted to spur the Islamic Real Estate Investment Trust (I-REIT) industry to increase foreign direct investments in the country, especially those by Middle-Eastern investors.

“The Malaysian REITS industry, in general, is still small compared with other countries like Singapore, which is worth US$15.1bil and Hong Kong US$8.3bil.

“Ours is worth just about US$1.43bil and we need to do more to increase the FDIs into our property market,” he said.

Chor also said the recent hike in overnight policy rate by Bank Negara would not give much impact on the property market.

By The Star (by Edy Sarif)

On lookout for signs of property speculation, overheating

As the property market makes its recovery, the government has one eye on potential speculative activities.

This is a risk because borrowing costs are still low while developers have their promotions to boost sales. This combination could induce people to bet on rising property prices, aided by an economic recovery.

Indeed, Valuation and Property Services Department director general Datuk Abdullah Thalith Md Thani said the government is concerned about the property market overheating.

However, he pointed out that the government has been taking preventive measures such as the Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT).
The 5 per cent RPGT is applicable to properties that are sold within five years of their purchase.

Still, the property market's recovery appears to be modest as the average price of a house based on The Malaysian All House Price Index, rose by 3.2 per cent to RM184,574 in the last quarter of 2009.

Houses in Kuala Lumpur are the most expensive at at average price of RM381,802, followed by Sabah at RM299,566 and Selangor at RM266,686 in the same quarter.

According to data from the National Property Information Centre, property transactions for the first three months of 2010 rose to 91,979 units, valued at RM25.3 billion, which is 52 per cent higher than in the first quarter of 2009.

Abdullah Thalith said the next three quarters will be better as people generally buy more properties in the second half of the year.

Demand for high-end units priced above RM500,000 will increase steadily. Last year, there were more sales for houses priced between RM100,000 and RM500,000.

By type, terraced houses will still be the most sought after as land prices are rising.

By Business Times

Malaysia property sector records strong Q1 recovery

Sales jumped 52 per cent to RM25.3 billion from a year ago, supported by the positive turn in the economy and new launches during the quarter

The property sector has recorded a strong recovery in the first three months of 2010, with sales jumping 52 per cent to RM25.3 billion compared with the same period last year

The recovery is supported by the positive turn in the economy and new launches during the period.

"We have began to get back on track after the economic recession episode last year. This year, with the stimulus package and improving market sentiment, we expect to grow better," said Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Some 91,979 transactions were recorded during the quarter and residential properties make-up the biggest chunk, with some 54,683 units of homes sold. This is followed by agricultural (20,44 units); commercial (9,536 units); development (5,112 units) and industrial (2,178 units).
During the first quarter of 2009 some 79,024 units of properties were sold with a total value of RM16.6 billion.

According to "Malaysian Property Market 2009" report released by Valuation and Property Services Department Ministry of Finance yesterday the Malaysian property market recorded an overall modest performance last year.

However, market value decreased by 8.3 per cent to RM80.1 billion against RM88.34 billion in 2008. Transaction volume was also lower by 0.7 per cent to 337,859 transactions compared with 340,240 transactions previously.

The residential property sub-sector continues to spearhead market transactions and recorded 211,600 transactions worth RM42 billion last year.

In comparison to 2008, this was lower in volume by 2.4 per cent or 216,702 in transaction but higher in value by 1.3 per cent or at RM41.3 billion.

A number of states recorded positive growth with Sarawak capturing 32.7 per cent of the country's total transactions followed by Selangor at 30.6 per cent and Kelantan at 29.2 per cent.

On account of fewer units being launched two years ago, primary market sales performance of new launches strengthened slightly to 48 per cent in 2009 against 44.5 per cent earlier. Out of 45,909 new units that were launched, 22,055 units were sold.

Supported by various measures announced during the recent budget such as providing new homes for the needy and the newly launched scheme using savings from Employees Provident Fund account II to purchase additional home, Chor said the property sector is well on the road to recovery.

"The Government is also looking at various ways to push Islamic REITS and so far we have seen positive development, especially from Middle Eastern investors," Chor said.

By Business Times

Making Redang high-end getaway is not a sustainable solution

The recent suggestion by the Terengganu Mentri Besar that Pulau Redang should be turned into an exclusive getaway for the rich and famous must have peeved many average Malaysians who are left wondering what good would that do.

He also went on to say that new hotels must charge RM1,599 a night, ostensibly to protect the environment.

While the reason may be quite noble as he pointed out the need to protect the island’s natural habitat and marine life, turning it into a high-end escapade for only “the haves” will not guarantee that it will remain an unspoilt nature’s paradise.

Of course, we should not tolerate irresponsible visitors who litter the beach, step on corals, chase after or catch the fishes and other marine life, and breaking marine park regulations.

Although turning Pulau Redang into a high-end vacation paradise only for the rich may sound like a speedy and effortless solution for the state government, it is certainly not a sustainable solution.

The seemingly short-cut solution by barring the average visitors and “the non-rich and non-famous” from stepping on the island is not the answer to resolve the problem.

We cannot assume that the rich and famous are all well behaved and will be civic conscious to safeguard the island’s natural beauty.

We just need to turn the pages of the celebrity magazines and newspapers to know that they are also only human and have many faults and shortcomings.

How many times have we seen people in big expensive cars throwing their cigarette butts or rubbish from their speeding vehicles? Of course, people in other cars are also guilty of such uncivic behaviour.

Instead of assuming that the lower-income group and average people are the culprits for the deterioration of the island’s cleanliness and natural habitat, there should be more pro-active measures to inculcate the right attitude among the people to take care of the island’s surroundings and natural environment.

A more permanent solution will be to conduct a real study on why some visitors don’t behave civilly when on the island and flout the rules, whether written or unwritten.

Drawing up and implementing policies to protect and preserve the island’s natural environment will ensure visitors from all walks of life will toe the line and get to enjoy the island’s beauty.

A list of dos and don’ts while on the island will be a good start and it should be distributed to all visitors upon arrival.

Enforcement, including spot checks, should be conducted regularly to ensure those who break the rules are fined heavily, visitors included.

Resort operators should throw in their support and adopt more green-friendly operating measures. They can also adopt or foster certain parts of the island to ensure its proper maintenance and upkeep.

Ultimately, it boils down to the need to educate our people about the importance of civic consciousness and putting in their share to care for our natural environment.

Schools will be the right place to train our young ones on the need to respect and care for Mother Nature.

Adults, especially parents, are in many ways the resource centres for children and they should always set the right example and be the role models for the young to emulate.

Malaysia has many natural places of attractions and they are for everybody to appreciate and enjoy. All of us have a stake in helping to take good care of them for the benefit of future generations.

So, let’s start by being more civic conscious and do our part for Mother Nature.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng believes by keeping the country’s natural attractions open to all, the people will benefit in terms of stronger ties and respect for each other, regardless of their stature.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Hong Leong China project wins award

BEIJING: Guoson Centre, Hong Leong Group's (HLG) flagship project in China, has won the five-star "Best Mixed Use Development in China" Award at the 2010 Asia-Pacific Property Awards recently.

This is the first time a Chinese development has won the regional first prize in this category.

The Asia Pacific Property Awards is part of the International Property Awards to identify the best real estate professionals across the globe. It was held on Apr 16 in Hong Kong.

Guoson Centre was developed by GuocoLand China, the property arm of Malaysia-based HLG.
GuocoLand China is well-known as a "specialist in transportation hubs" for the ingenious site selection of all their developments.

The prize-winning development, Guoson Centre, is a large-scale, integrated mixed use development and is located in Beijing and Shanghai.

The 600,000-sq metre Guoson Centre at GuocoLand's Dongzhimen mixed development in Beijing houses Asia's largest transportation hub and features on-site check-in and customs service, a first in Beijing.

It takes 16 minutes by the airport express to get to the Beijing International Airport.

Meanwhile, the 500,000-sq m Guoson Centre in Shanghai is a 10-minute drive away from the Hongqiao transportation hub, one of the world's largest.

GuocoLand China group managing director, Violet Lee, said Guoson Centre, a mixed development, comprised an international retail mall, five-star British-style hotel, Grade A office towers, high-end residences and expansive Singapore-inspired "Garden City" landscaping.

Guoson Centre in Beijing has a 40,000 sq m sky garden, the largest in a commercial project in China.

The centre in Shanghai offers a water-inspired landscape.

The development contains all the facilities for people to work, live, dine, entertain, travel, shop, and even enjoy a healthy and green lifestyle.

"Guoson Centre has been designed as a city within a city. The Guoson Centre offers everything a person needs for an enjoyable life," she said.

By Bernama

REITs set to ride on recovering economy

PROPERTY is a relatively stable sector for investment, and with the better economic outlook, real estate investment trust (REIT) players are already looking to cash in on the improved sentiment.

Abas A. Jalil ... ‘The old perception that the REIT market is not active is no longer there.’

AmanahRaya-REIT Managers Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Abas A. Jalil claims that many investors are already starting to look at the REIT market positively.

“Previously, people perceived that Malaysian REITS had slow growth in returns,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“However, with the announcement of Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) and Qatar-based REITs, you will see more activities in the local (REIT) scene, which will in turn become the engine for the overall property growth in Malaysia.”

According to Maybank Investment Bank’s recent research note, the asset size of Malaysian REIT market could double to RM18bil by year-end due to three impending listings – the SunCity REIT (with an asset size of RM4bil), CapitaRetail Malaysia Trust (up to RM3bil) and Malaysia’s first cross-border REIT, the Qatar REIT (RM1bil).

Abas believes that the local REITs will spark more interest among investors and the sector will become more vibrant.

“The old perception that the REIT market is not active is no longer there. Investors’ understanding of this segment has also changed,” he says.

“Now they (investors) are seeing REITs as an alternative form of liquid investment that provide a very stable yield as well as a potential upside in terms of pricing.”

AmanahRaya-REIT is the manager for AmanahRaya Real Estate Investment Trust (ARREIT), which is targeting to grow its total assets to RM1.5bil in the next two years, from RM748mil currently, by injecting new properties into its portfolio and improving the value of its existing assets.

Abas, who is confident of achieving this target, says ARREIT has a good mix of tenants with good occupancy rates. It will acquire Selayang Mall in Selayang, Selangor, and Dana 13 in Ara Damansara, which are expected to boost its total asset value to RM1bil.

“ARREIT was listed in February 2007 with an asset size of RM345mil. In three years, we have reached RM1bil. I think this is a good achievement,” he adds.

He says ARREIT also became the first local to be rated by Standard & Poor’s in early 2010, earning a rating of BB+.

Stewart LaBrooy ... ‘Axis REIT Managers is on track to improve on last year’s performance.’

Axis REIT Managers Bhd chief executive officer Stewart LaBrooy says the local REIT market has often been criticised by foreign funds as lacking depth and liquidity, adding however that the new listings will make it more attractive.

Axis REIT announced early this year it was targeting to grow its total assets to at least RM1bil from RM907.7mil as at end 2009. LaBrooy says the target is achievable.

“We have also announced our first acquisition for 2010 – a RM30mil logistics warehouse at the Port of Tanjong Pelapas in Johor. This brings our total assets under management to RM957.78mil and we should be on track to cross the RM1bil target before year-end,” he says in an e-mailed response.

Axis REIT Managers is the promoter of Axis REIT. Its strategy currently is to acquire office and industrial assets that are syariah-compliant, focusing on properties in the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang, says LaBrooy.

“We have just disclosed our first-quarter dividend of 3.7 sen, which is much higher that our peers in the Malaysian market. We are on track to improve on last year’s performance as our recently refurbished Quattro West and Shah Alam SADC 1 welcome new tenants,” he says.

Kumar Tharmalingam says REITs are defensive stocks with longterm capital appreciation.

Hall & Chadwick Asia Sdn Bhd chairman Kumar Tharmalingam believes that the REIT market is looking buoyant and recommends it to anyone looking for stable returns.

“The REITs purchase quality assets and the investments are mostly in commercial buildings. These buildings are mostly in the city centre and the tenancy rate is always good,” he adds.

He says REITs are defensive stocks with long-term capital appreciation, adding that he is optimistic about the Qatar-based REIT.

“I think the prospects are good. The country has good oil reserves and is not affected by the world economy. The only problem is that the property is overseas and the investor needs to travel to Qatar to see them.”

By The Star (by Eugene Mahalingam)

AmFIRST REIT profit up on prudent management

KUALA LUMPUR: Am ARA REIT Managers Sdn Bhd recorded an after-tax profit of RM41.9mil for the financial year ended March 31 (FY10), up 11.6% compared with RM37.5mil in FY09.

Am ARA REIT manages AmFIRST Real Estate Investment Trust.

Chief executive officer Lim Yoon Peng attributed the better performance to prudent cost management, active asset management strategies and six well-located assets.

The company has proposed a final income distribution of 4.88 sen per unit for the six-month period from Oct 1, 2009 to March 31.

In a statement yesterday, Lim said the company, with its enhancement programmes, would position the properties to remain competitive in the market and increase the current occupancy levels.

Meanwhile, the revaluation exercise on all its six properties in the final quarter of FY10 has been completed.

Based on the unaudited results as at March 31, the net asset value per unit of AmFIRST REIT (after provision for distribution) will be RM1.35 upon incorporation of the revaluation surplus of RM12.14mil.

By Bernama

Second Penang bridge 24% completed

GEORGE TOWN: The construction of the RM4.3bil second Penang bridge is now 24% completed compared with about 7% in October last year.

A Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd (JKSB) spokesman said the 24% completion covered the works done for both package one and two of the bridge.

Package one involves a RM2.2bil contract work on the main span, substructures and foundation, which is expected to be completed in May 2012.

Meanwhile, package two is a RM1.55bil contract for the construction of the superstructure, scheduled for completion in 2013.

The final package involves RM350mil of land portion works, both on the island and mainland.

The JKSB spokesman said a contract agreement signing ceremony would be held in Kuala Lumpur on Monday between JKSB and CHEC Construction (M) Sdn Bhd, and UEM Builders Bhd.

It is learnt that JKSB managing director Datuk Prof Ismail Mohd Taib would sign the deal on behalf of JKSB.

JKSB is a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the Government to supervise and fast track the second Penang bridge project.

It is also a concessionaire appointed to oversee the construction, management and operations of the second bridge.

Last October, in a visit to the bridge site, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the bridge completion had to be delayed by a year to 2013 due to re-designing works.

The 17km bridge will link Batu Kawan to Batu Maung on Penang island and will be the longest in the region when completed.

By The Star

Cement to cost 10pc more come May 1

The price of bagged cement is due to rise by 10 per cent to between RM15.50 to RM16.50 per bag from May 1. Each bag weighs 50kg.

Steel millers and cement manufacturers in Malaysia face higher production cost as world oil price had been on the rise.

Earlier this week, Tasek Corp Bhd, announced the 10 per cent retail price increase in a small advertisement.

When contacted, Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Ng Kee Leen said, "The cement manufacturers have been wanting to raise prices for the past year."
It is understood that bulk cement is also expected to go up by RM25 per tonne from May 1.

Builders are thinking of buying raw materials like cement from abroad as they are cheaper.

"As contractors, we have to control costs. We're looking at regional pricing. If we can get basic building materials like bagged cement and steel bars at a cheaper prices, we'll import," he told Business Times in a telephone interview from Taipei, Taiwan.

Ng was leading a 23-member delegation to participate in the 38th International Federation of Asian & Western Pacific Contractors' Association (IFAWPCA) convention to share Malaysia's initiative in promoting the use of environmentally friendly ways of construction.

"We're in talks with building material suppliers in Taiwan for more competitive prices. So far, the talks are encouraging," he said.

Following this, MBAM said pricier steel bars and cement will mean costlier construction projects, be it government funded or jobs procured from property developers.

"We're trying our best to minimise cost but we also have to pass on the material price increase to consumers," Ng said.

By Business Times

Friday, April 23, 2010

Concern over rising prices of houses

Speculators believed may be taking advantage of easy financing

PETALING JAYA: The jump in home prices lately has raised concern that speculators may be taking advantage of the easy home financing scheme.

Since the introduction of the scheme early last year, property sales have improved considerably while prices in some locations in the Klang Valley and Penang have edged up by between 10% and 20%.

Under the housing facility, buyers only need to fork out a small deposit of 5% or 10% of the property price and do not need to make any further payment until after their property has been delivered to them.

Developers are absorbing the stamp duty, legal fees and interest cost during the construction stage.

While some industry players agree that there is cause for concern, most feel the housing facility is still needed at least over the next 12 months until the market is back on a stronger footing.

Ireka Development Management Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Lim Ech Chan said easy-payment schemes had its pros and cons.

With the low entry cost, such schemes enabled those who have difficulties buying a house to put down the initial 5% or 10% downpayment and have their own roof over their heads two to three years later.

“When SP Setia first came out with the scheme, it helped the mass market a great deal,” Lim said.

He said the drawback was that since buyers did not have to pay anything for the next two to three years, they may sell their units when the project was completed.

“If the project is handed to them during a boom, they can sell it. But if the project is handed to them during a weak economic environment, they will have to pay for the mortgages.”

ECM Libra head of research Bernard Ching said the recent 25 basis point increase in overnight policy rate had prompted more buyers to buy and lock in at the current interest rates as they might expect the cost of fund to rise further.

“This is the best time to buy a property for own occupancy as entry cost is at an all time low. As seen in the high buying interest in the past six months, many buyers are buying to hedge against rising inflation down the road,” Ching told StarBiz.

According to Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector president James Wong, developers need to catch up with “lost time” when launches had to be deferred for more than a year as a result of the global financial crisis.

“Buyers were facing cashflow problems then and needed to watch their spending. Buying big-ticket items like a house is the last thing on their mind. There are merits in the scheme as it has lowered the entry cost and make house purchase more affordable for buyers.

“Such financing schemes require a lot of resources and only the big developers with strong financial resources can afford to adopt them. In a way, it is a variant of the build-then-sell concept,” Wong said.

He said there was still no risk of overheating in the market as the double-digit rise in property prices was registered only for very niche projects in very-sought-after locations where demand far surpassed supply.

“Property prices on the whole are still much lower compared with those in other countries. While there is still upside potential, prices will not spiral out of control,” Wong said.

Since buying interest recovered in the past few months, developers are no longer offering the housing facility across the board but only for selective projects.

“Besides, Bank Negara is very stringent and only eligible buyers who have the required minimum income level will be able to sign up for the housing packages,” Wong added.

On its downside, he said while the scheme might had drummed up sales, it could give the wrong indication of the real or effective demand for houses.

Admitting that there would always be speculators in the market, SP Setia Bhd president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin said as long as speculation was not rampant, it was actually good for the market as it demonstrated confidence and would improve market liquidity.

“The key is for banks to be vigilant in their credit assessment to determine the borrowers’ ability to service the loan. They should also be selective in terms of the projects and developers to whom they extend the scheme.”

Liew said the higher prices reflected insufficient supply to meet the strong demand for projects in good locations and there was ample room for further price appreciation for good landed residential property.

Since the scheme was launched early last year, SP Setia’s monthly sales averaged more than RM190mil between January and July 2009, which was a new sales benchmark for the company.

Mah Sing Group Bhd president Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said of the company’s RM727mil sales recorded last year, 51% of the buyers signed up for the easy financing facility. The sales was much higher than its target of RM453mil.

By The Star

'2010 prospects for property sector positive'

Prospects for the property sector this year are positive due to the healthier performance of the domestic economy and further stabilisation of external economies, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung said today.

For the first three months of the year, the total number of property transactions was 91,979 valued at RM25.294 billion, up from 79,024 transactions worth RM16.922 billion in the first quarter of 2009, he said.

The Malaysian property market recorded a modest performance last year, with a total of 337,859 transactions worth RM80.997 billion compared to 340,240 transactions valued at RM88.34 billion in 2008, he told reporters after launching the Valuation and Property Services Department's publications in Kuala Lumpur.

Among the publications were "Property Market Report 2009", "Laporan Status Pasaran Harta Tanah Suku Keempat Tahun 2009", "Laporan Stok Harta Tanah Suku Keempat Tahun 2009" and "Laporan Indeks Harga Rumah Malaysia Suku Ketiga-Keempat 2009".
"The government has introduced various measures under the recent budget to stimulate and promote the property market and there is also a need to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs)," Chor said.

He said with a high level of FDIs, the demand for housing, office and retail space in terms of sales and revenue would also increase.

Asked about Islamic Real Estate Investment Trusts (I-REITs), Chor said the government had been engaged with other government agencies to look into Islamic REITs.

"We have started to see many investors, especially from the Gulf Region, investing in REITs," he said.

By Bernama

New auction date, Putra Place price lowered

The auction price of Putra Place, which houses The Mall shopping complex, Legend Hotel and an office tower, has come down by a tenth to RM571.05 million

The auction price for Putra Place, located opposite the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, has come down by a tenth to RM571.05 million as there have been no bids to date.

On Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court set June 28 as the new auction date.

Putra Place, which houses The Mall shopping complex, Legend Hotel and an office tower, failed for a second time to attract a buyer, resulting in the price cut.

Commerce International Merchant Bankers Bhd (CIMB) is selling Putra Place to recover loans given to property owner Metroplex Holdings Sdn Bhd.
When it first went up for auction in April 2008, the price was set at RM705 million.

In the absence of bids, the price was reduced by 10 per cent to RM634.5 million.

Another auction date was set for January 20 2009, but the auction did not take place as the judge felt that a wider net ought to be cast to attract more interest in a property of that size.

Apart from Malaysia, advertisements were to have been placed in Canada, Los Angeles in the US, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A new auction date was later fixed for August 20 2009, which also failed to attract any bidders.

The previous order on advertisement will apply in the up-coming auction.

The Mall comprises eight levels of podium retail/shopping units. The Putra Place office tower covers the tenth floor to the 33rd, while the 25-storey Legend Hotel includes serviced apartments and penthouses.

The freehold property with 193,621 sq ft space has 1,323 parking bays.

By Business Times

Guocoland upbeat on China property

BEIJING: Guocoland Ltd, the developer controlled by Malaysian billionaire Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, plans to double investment in China property to more than US$9 billion (US$1 = RM3.20) on confidence government efforts to avert a bubble will work.

Guocoland, whose projects include shopping malls, apartments, offices and hotels, said a year ago it planned to invest 33 billion yuan (100 yuan = RM46.93) in new commercial properties in China.

"We should very easily double that," Violet Lee, head of Guocoland's China operations, said in an interview in Beijing.

"We have much more confidence now because we can sense the central government is taking things very seriously."
The Chinese government in March ordered state-owned companies to pull out of property development if it's not part of their main business, creating an opportunity for foreign developers.

The nation last week increased the size of downpayments, raised interest rates on second homes and barred banks from funding purchases of third homes after property prices surged by a record 11.7 per cent in March from a year ago.

"The recent policies focus on curbing demand, but China's urbanisation and the rising demand for housing are still there over the long term," said Dai Fang, a Shanghai-based analyst at Zheshang Securities Co

"With the expectation of a yuan appreciation, it also makes sense for foreign companies to build up investment in China."

Guocoland shares closed 4 cents higher at S$2.36 (S$1 = RM2.33) in Singapore trading yesterday.

Guocoland's new investments will focus on integrated projects in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai as well as provincial centres, Lee said. The company is considering expanding its land holdings.

The Singapore-based developer, part of Malaysia's Hong Leong Group, aims to increase its investments over about two years, Lee said. She also sees a "big, big opportunity" in the Chinese government's demand that 78 state-owned companies exit the property market because real estate isn't their main business.

The company plans to take advantage of the move through "mutually beneficially working relationships," she said.

China this week ordered developers not to take deposits for sales of uncompleted apartments without proper approval and barred them from charging "abnormally high" prices.

Real estate prices in Haikou, capital of the southern island of Hainan, jumped 53.9 per cent last month.

The average cost of land in 105 Chinese cities rose 8.1 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier to 2,700 yuan per square metre, the Ministry of Land and Resources said yesterday.

By Bloomberg