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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Four Seasons KL may rope in MidEast partner

A Middle Eastern consortium may become the partner for the RM2.5 billion Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur, which will occupy a site next to the Petronas Twin Towers.
Sources said the group is one of the largest investors in the Gulf region and it is now in talks with project developer Venus Assets Sdn Bhd.

The project has been delayed because of minor changes and the fact that Venus Assets has had a lot of suitors.

One source denied that the developer - owned by Tan Sri Syed Yusof Syed Nasir, the Sultan of Selangor and Ipoh-born tycoon Ong Beng Seng - was having financing problems and said that half a dozen prominent suitors had approached Venus Assets for tie-up talks.

"Venus Assets has one chance to get it right and wants no stone to be left unturned, and for it to be a perfect development that can enhance the Kuala Lumpur skyline and the property market," the source added.
In fact, the Gulf investors came into the picture after talks with state investment agency Khazanah Nasional Bhd ended.

It is believed that Khazanah had wanted 30 per cent ownership, a stake that would be worth about US$60 million (RM205 million).

Officials from Venus Assets could not be reached for comment.

Venus Assets is owned by Venus Pacific Sdn Bhd.

Venus Pacific is 30 per cent owned by ISY Equity Sdn Bhd, a company controlled by Syed Yusof and the Sultan, while the balance is held by Attesa Investment Ltd, which is controlled by Ong and partner.

Previously, it was speculated that the Kingdom Group, the vehicle of Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, was supposed to have taken a stake in Venus Assets.

However, that did not happen.

There was also talk that Venus Assets had spoken to KLCC Property Holdings to possibly build a twin towers development on a larger piece of land.

That, too, did not materialise.

Business Times reported in November last year that the completion of the hotel might be delayed as the developer was in the process of getting a new partner. Venus Assets was said to be undergoing an internal restructuring of its shareholding.

Minor changes to the 65-storey building - comprising a hotel, apartments and a retail area - were also said to be cause for delay.

Venus Assets bought the prime 1.05ha site for RM90 million in 2003 from the estate of the late Khoo Teck Puat, the former major shareholder of Standard Chartered plc.

By Business Times

Gamuda Land gets highest CONQUAS rating

PETALING JAYA: Gamuda Land Sdn Bhd’s quality drive has earned the company the highest rating in the Construction Quality Assessment System (CONQUAS) so far for landed residential and institutional buildings in Malaysia.

On Jan 25, the company’s Bandar Botanic Phase 18A and Phase 18B bungalows and Jade Hills Resort Club scored ratings of 86.9% and 80.6% respectively.

Managing director Chow Chee Wah (pic) said the achievement underscored Gamuda’s active drive to ensure high standards in all its projects. Assessments are marked over 100 points, so a higher score translates to better quality workmanship.

Chow said Gamuda was constantly raising its internal benchmarks to achieve higher workmanship standards and better quality buildings. “As a result, our scores have been steadily rising over the years,” he told StarBiz.

Chow said Gamuda Land was the first developer for landed property in the country to implement CONQUAS to build good quality residences and buildings. “There are very few developers willing to adopt the system because it incurs extra cost in construction and the process is very stringent,” he said.

Since implementing CONQUAS in Bandar Botanic in 2003, Gamuda Land has scored an average rating of 75.9%. “The quality assessment system has been extended to all the company’s townships to ensure a certain standard of workmanship across its products and to provide higher value to property buyers,” Chow added. At present, both Gamuda Land’s residential and institutional buildings are CONQUAS-assessed.

He said CONQUAS was a stringent quality assessment system that scored the structural, mechanical and electrical integrity in a newly completed building from foundation to roof.

“The implementation of CONQUAS not only improves the overall quality of the company’s products but also its construction building processes. This is because the assessment is divided into three main components – structural works, architectural works, and mechanical and electrical works.

“A CONQUAS-assessed property translates to superior quality standard which is an additional assurance by the developer to the purchaser,” Chow said.

Stressing the importance of “doing it right from the start”, Chow said having the right quality focus and mindset were mandatory.

“We observe a stringent pre-qualification of contractors to ensure only those that adopt the accepted quality practices will be shortlisted for contract tenders.

“The points they score will be used to decide the quantum of incentive payment that they will receive. This has lowered the incidences of defect liability from 0.3% of the total complaints received to 0.1%,” he said.

Implementing CONQUAS had saved Gamuda considerably in defect rectification operation costs during the defect liability period, according to Chow. “We have cut down at least 40% of our rectification works cost. This shows that if things are done right from the start (during construction), there is less to be expended on defect rectification works later,” he said.

By The Star

39,000 houses worth RM4.11b sold via Mapex

KOTA BAHARU, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- The Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) Kelantan Branch sold 39,355 houses worth RM4.11 billion through the Malaysia Properties Expo (Mapex) held yearly over the past 10 years.

However, demand for houses dwindled of late due to global recession that impacted Malaysia's economy, said State Rehda chairman Sekarnor Che Omar.

"Demand has dropped by about 30 per cent though the overall property market is still stable," he told Bernama.

Last year, a total of 1,774 houses costing RM210 million were sold by Rehda members as compared with 2,044 units worth RM237.2 million in 2008 and 5,020 units in 2007 valued at RM448.4 million.
Sekarnor said housing developers' profit margin has been affected by spiralling prices of raw materials, particularly cement, steel and labour costs.

Established in 1999, Kelantan Rehda has 33 members comprising local housing development companies, including subsidiaries of State Economic Development Corporation - Binaraya PKINK Sdn Berhad and SPP Development Sdn Berhad.

Sekarnor hoped more houses would be sold during the four-day Mapex 2010 beginning Feb 12.

By Bernama

Ho Hup board confident of prevailing at meeting

The board of Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd, embroiled in a tussle with some of its substantial holders, say they could prevail at a shareholders' meeting on Thursday as they have made progress to turn around the company.

Financially strained Ho Hup has been struggling, having been served 23 winding-up petitions over a five-year period for failing to pay RM5.1 million. It has debts of RM110 million in addition to late delivery charges of RM23 million.

The board, led by Ho Hup deputy executive chairman Datuk Vincent Lye Ek Seang and group managing director Lim Ching Choy, has restructured loans and resolved problems with creditors and buyers.

According to Lim, Ho Hup expects to settle the payments with the respective parties in installments over the next two to three years.

"If we didn't do all these fast enough, Ho Hup would have been under water. We may not be here today," Lim told Business Times in an interview in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, last week.
Ho Hup has built 225 houses in Jalil Sutera that were abandoned since 2006. Some 205 units have been handed over to buyers, Lim said.

It also launched last week 20 semi-detached homes in Jalil Sutera worth RM30 million. Almost all the units have been sold.

"The RM30 million will help us achieve our next target," Lim said, without elaborating.

Ho Hup has secured RM125 million in financing from Sabah Development Bank (SDB) for its RM2 billion integrated Jalil Green City project in Bukit Jalil.

"With the launch of Jalil City, we will be on a better financial footing. We will get the ball rolling for the project through the money secured. Following that, the project will be self-funded and we will be moving ahead with generating income," Lim said.

Ho Hup is also bidding for new building, construction and road infrastructure development projects in Peninsular Malaysia worth more than RM500 million to replenish its order book, Lim said.

"To me, Ho Hup needs to move forward. What we have done in the past nine months are the first steps to return the company to the black," Lim said.

Ho Hup former managing director Datuk Low Tuck Choy had called for the meeting to replace Lim and Lye as well as five other board members with six new directors.

Low claimed that the revamp plan submitted last October by the current board was not in the best interest of the company's minority shareholders.

"Shareholders should vote for a team that is working for them to enhance shareholders' value and manage the company professionally, to create a strong brand and raise market capitalisation.

"The vote for the right management is important for Ho Hup to move forward and get out of the Practice Note 17 (PN17) category," Lim said.

Lim said SDB, UOB, AmInvestment Bank and Maybank have indicated their support for Ho Hup under the current team.

Ho Hup has also been in the red since 2006. In fiscal 2008, its net loss was RM56.2 million. For the nine months to September 30 2009, it posted a net loss of RM23.8 million.

The 50-year-old company was declared a PN17 company in July 2008.

By Business Times