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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SP Setia adopting the Aussie standard of property development

MELBOURNE: Through its property ventures in Australia, SP Setia Bhd aims to adopt the best practices from that market for its other developments, said president and CEO Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin.

(From left): Setia Melbourne CEO Choong Kai Wai, Liew, Fulton Lane architect Karl Fender, Chor, Lee and Malaysian consul-general Dr Mohammad Rameez at the launch.

“We need to blend in with the local environment that is important. When you go to a new place to invest, you have to learn first before you think about making money. You need to learn how things work,” Liew said at the launch of the developer's Fulton Lane property in the central business district here.

“Things are transparent here. We think that by learning the systems here, it will make us a better developer in Malaysia. For instance, respecting the environment is something the Australians do well. In terms of design, your building is not allowed to cast a shadow on another building.”

The 487-apartment unit Fulton Lane, which comprises two residential towers and a retail podium, has sold about 80% of the first tower block and 30% of the second block.

Set to be completed in 2014, the land was bought for A$30mil in March last year and has a gross development value of A$470mil.

“I think Melbourne is a good market, but we will not be big here. We will start small, we want to understand the market and make sure we build a brand like how we did in Malaysia, which is a brand that people can trust.

“We'll do it slowly and make sure we execute it to the best quality. In Malaysia for example, it took us 20 years to build SP Setia. We'll be slow and steady on this.”

Although Liew maintained that the Malaysian property market was still SP Setia's main focus, the company was hoping for revenue from its overseas projects to hit 30% in five years.

He was not concerned by talk of a softening property market in Melbourne, saying: “A couple of weeks ago the Australian government reduced interest rates by a quarter per cent. If they reduce it by another quarter per cent, that would be perfect as the currency will drop and people will start to invest again.”

In his speech earlier, Liew said Melbourne had 30,000 Malaysians with permanent residence status, making it an attractive proposition for SP Setia.

The first block in Fulton Lane has received interest from investors as well as owner-occupiers, primarily Malaysians.

The second block, which is the taller of the two, has attracted the locals along with Indonesians and Singaporeans. SP Setia will also begin marketing the project in China in a few weeks, after similar excursions in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Brunei.

SP Setia Melbourne sales and marketing manager Jeffrey Ong said there had been some interest from institutional investors as well, but this was at the discussion stage.

On the proposed mandatory general offer by Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Liew said the state investment arm had come to an agreement with him and this would be reflected in the offer document that was to come from PNB.

“This is subject to the Securities Commission's approval, and if it goes through, it will be in the offer document. That's why it was delayed. We want to play fair to all the shareholders and keep them fully informed,” he said.

On SP Setia's plans for its 2.23-acre South Yarra land, also in Melbourne, Ong said it would have 329 apartment units and cater to local buyers. The A$250mil GDV project is still in the planning stage, and Ong said it was slated to be launched next year and would take some three years to develop.

The launch was attended by Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung and SP Setia Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

By The Star

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