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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The new wave tipping point for Iskandar?

KUALA LUMPUR: It was the most obvious missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle for Iskandar Malaysia.

For about five years, the country's biggest special economic zone was waiting for its closest neighbour to come as an investor. This was only logical since Iskandar is right next door to the island-republic and it was also touted as a cheaper alternative for Singapore companies.

But only Raffles Education Corp Ltd produced Singapore's biggest investment, with plans to build the RM200 million Raffles University Iskandar.

This is set to change. Analysts think the tipping point is the tie-up between Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd.

They plan to build RM3 billion worth of properties in Iskandar through their partnership called Pulau Indah Ventures Sdn Bhd.

The project shows the confidence from Singapore, which would lead to more investments from the country and other global investors, said HwangDBS Vickers Research analyst Yee Mei Hui.

"Temasek is very selective with investments. Their interest in Iskandar Malaysia indicates their confidence in the development so we can expect a new wave of investments, boosting land and property prices in the region," she told Business Times.

The two sovereign wealth funds on Monday said they will jointly develop houses, retail space and wellness-related offerings in Iskandar Malaysia.

They will also build hotels, apartments, offices and shops worth RM27 billion in downtown Singapore.

"Iskandar Malaysia may attract major property developers such as CapitaLand and Wing Tai Holdings Ltd," said an analyst with OSK Research.

Three times the size of Singapore, Iskandar Malaysia spans 2,217 sq km and is a mixed-use development planned for completion in 2025.

Launched in 2006, the expected investment of US$110 billion (RM375 billion) is split between an initial start-up of US$13 billion from 2006-2010 and US$97 billion (RM331 billion) from 2011-2025.

Although neighbouring Singapore, the bulk of investments into the region has come from Europe, the Middle East and Japan with focus on manufacturing, property and tourism projects.

The biggest investments are from Acerinox SA of Spain and Japan's Nisshin Steel, which have committed RM5 billion in investments to build a stainless steel plant.

From the Middle East, Mubadala, Millenium, Kuwait Finance House and Aldar have committed US$1.2 billion (RM4.27 billion) to develop properties in Medini in Nusajaya.

Ongoing projects in Medini include the development of Legoland Malaysia by Merlin Entertainment for US$200 million (RM726 million).

The UK's Newcastle University of Medicine is setting up a branch campus for US$100 million (RM363 million) in EduCity.

So far, the Khazanah-Temasek tie-up has produced one quick win.

Yesterday, Eastern & Oriental Bhd announced plans to partner Pulau Indah and develop a wellness township over a 84ha site.

By Business Times

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