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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Frankfurt-based SEB bullish about Malaysia

SKANDINAVISKA Enskilda Banken (SEB) Asset Management AG, a Frankfurt-based real estate fund manager, is eyeing more growth opportunities in Asia, especially Malaysia.

The firm entered the Malaysian market in 2007 and has since invested RM700mil in two real estate developments – Tower 1 Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle and Citta Mall, a suburban shopping centre under development in Subang Jaya.

SEB managing director Chua Choy-Soon is optimistic about the company’s investment plans in Malaysia given the country’s strong rebound in the first quarter of 2010. Malaysia’s economy grew 10.1% in the first quarter, its fastest pace in 10 years.

Chua Choy-Soon says all the units of the Pavilion Residences sky villas have a panoramic view of the city skyline, including a view of the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Towers.

“This is an attraction to a group (like us) to further invest in Malaysia. The Malaysian Government is promoting a liberal and free-market economy. The changes done are a good signal for more foreign investors to come in,” he says.

Chua says the development of Citta Mall in Subang Jaya, which is in collaboration with local developer Puncakdana Sdn Bhd, is expected to be completed by year-end.

“Our strategy is similar to shopping centres in Western countries and we want to apply this concept here. In a recession, these (neighbourhood) malls are quite resilient because people still need to shop for groceries and essential goods.

“We feel this concept has not been fully utilised here. Malaysia is a family-orientated country. There will be a lot of focus on family-related concepts and activity for kids,” he says. The 400,000 sq ft Citta Mall is expected to have 150 shops and 1,200 car parks. Chua says the mall’s tenant mix would comprise mostly food and beverage, fashion and apparel outlets.

The Pavilion Residences meanwhile comprises two high-rise towers of 368 elite residences set amidst a seven-acre park overlooking the city.

Located in the heart of Bukit Bintang, the 43-storey, Tower 1 (which is owned by SEB), comprises 163 apartment units. The development has received overwhelming response since it was launched in November.

“About 70% of the units have been taken up,” says Chua. The size of the units range from 1,234 sq ft to 7,174 sq ft, with prices ranging from RM1,300 to RM1,400 per sq ft.

SEB will be launching its Pavilion Residences sky villas in Tower 1 on June 26. “The most unique selling point is that all units have a panoramic view of the city skyline, including a view of the Petronas Twin Towers and the KL Towers,” says Chua.

Chua says SEB is keen to partner local companies for future real estate projects if there are opportunities. “We’re long-term investors,” he says.

In Asia, SEB has investments in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. Chua says there are plans to grow its presence further within the region.

“Asia is definitely a focus for us in terms of real estate. In the next few years we think Asia will outperform both Europe and US. We see a lot of money moving into Asia and Malaysia is definitely part of the equation,” he says.

Globally, SEB’s total assets amount to 236 billion euros, while assets under management total 143 billion euros as of March 31, 2010. According to Chua, about 70% of the assets under management are in Europe, with Germany comprising 40%.

By The Star

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