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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Big change in landscape ahead for Klang Valley

The Klang Valley property landscape is set for a massive change with major government land being open for re-development and a number of new infrastructure initiatives.

They include the mass rapid transit (MRT) system, Greater Kuala Lumpur development plan, the re-development of the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) land in Sungei Buloh and the Sungei Besi airport.

These projects are certainly high-profile and potentially significant as catalysts for change in the interest of a more organised living, working and recreational environment.

The proposed development projects present immense opportunities to both the people and industry players to participate in their planning. As such, their views should be given due attention and incorporated if they proved to be relevant.

They are important to ensure the sustainability and growth of the country's infrastructure development for years to come.

It is not every day that an opportunity for re-development of such massive scale arises; so, it should not be treated as a profit-making venture but a chance to overhaul poorly-planned cities.

The 3,300-acre RRI project has the potential to become a showcase for a well-planned sustainable township that will last for decades.

Besides its potential gross development value of RM10bil, there are many intangible values which should be considered including a safer neighbourhood as well as more accessible, economical and convenient public transport system.

More development projects could also result in more proposed mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

But these M&As have generated both excitement and concerns in the market.

For industry players, those looking to merge their companies may be driven by the need to strengthen their capital base and technical capability.

They believe that by becoming larger developers, they will get to enjoy economies of scale and become more efficient. It will also provide a stronger financial position, healthier balance sheet, larger landbank and management expertise.

Merged entities will also mean larger market capitalisation and liquidity. Their higher profile may also attract interest from investors.

While there may be merits to support the M&As, there are also shortcomings that may de-rail such plans.

The M&A process will become problematic if the enlarged team cannot work as a team as there are bound to be differences in corporate culture, vision, work ethics and practices.

A contentious issue will always be about the controlling stake of the new company. Therefore, it is crucial for the companies to get it right from the very beginning from controlling stake to the right management team.

It will be ideal if the two companies which are going to merge addressed issues concerning their differences and assimilate best practices.

For the public, the formation of bigger entities may mean that there are fewer smaller developers and less competition in the industry.

This scenario is not healthy as the absence of competition means that players need not produce their best product offerings to survive in the market.

Nonetheless, a bigger entity does not necessarily equate a stronger, and more successful company as many mega financial institutions in the West had crumbled during the global financial crisis. More importantly, companies, whether big or small, should conduct their business in an ethical manner.

They should not be guided by the motto of “making profits at all cost” and therefore sacrificing their values and responsibilities to the community at large.

Conglomerates have been known to fall from grace when greed takes over sound ethical values.

I believe companies that grow through the organic process may have smaller capacities but they have built for themselves a strong foundation to face market challenges and uncertainties.

In the property sector, there is certainly a big role for the smaller players who are focused on their strength and in doing what they do best.

The bottomline is to ensure that they deliver good values, quality and wholesome projects to their customers.

Deputy news editor Angie Ng still has faith in the laissez-faire system and believes merits and fair competition is a more sustainable option.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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