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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bukit Kiara Properties to venture outside of its traditional market

An artist’s impression of the Persiaran Madge residential project by Bukit Kiara Properties.

BOUTIQUE developer Bukit Kiara Properties Sdn Bhd is looking to expand its brand of niche residential projects out of its traditional market of Mont'Kiara to other parts of the Klang Valley.

»We may consider setting up joint ventures with landowners« N.K. TONG

Group managing director N.K. Tong says the company is in an advanced stage of planning for two new projects in Persiaran Madge and Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur. Subject to approvals, one of the projects is earmarked for launch in the third quarter of this year and the other in 2012.

The project in Persiaran Madge will comprise 19 spaciously-designed residences on a 5-storey block with built-up area of 3,500 to 6,500 sq ft. They will be priced from RM3.8mil or about RM3,500 per sq ft.

The Jalan Tun Razak project will have 160 fully-furnished service suites in a 20-storey block. The 750-sq-ft to 3,000-sq-ft units will be priced from RM1.2mil or RM1,500 per sq ft.

Tong says besides niche high-rise projects, Bukit Kiara Properties will also be looking for land of 50 to 100 acres to build landed residences in gated communities.

“We may consider setting up joint ventures with landowners for such developments,” he says in an interview with StarBizWeek.

Since its establishment in 2000, the ISO-certified company has finished two projects in Mont'Kiara Aman Kiara and Hijauan Kiara.

Completed in July 2004, Aman Kiara was the first development in the country to feature strata-titled bungalows and condovillas. Aman Kiara was handed over to purchasers nine months ahead of schedule.

Tong says the company's second project, Hijauan Kiara was completed in early 2008. It was the first condominium project in Mont'Kiara to feature a private lift lobby concept.

In fact, the unique name of Mont'Kiara, which is today synonymous with exclusive upmarket condominiums, was coined by Tong. The residential enclave turns out to be a big hit among the modern upper-echelon of the local community and the expatriates.

Tong works closely with his father, Datuk Alan Tong who is the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. Alan, the founder of the Sunrise group, is dubbed the “Condominium King of Malaysia”.

The father-and-son team is focused on improving the living standards of homebuyers by providing a good form of lifestyle living with ample facilities and security and property management.

“We believe the relationship with our customers begin with the handing over of keys to their properties. Principally, our business is based on the core values of quality, innovation, caring and integrity. We do not rush through our projects and take about a year to launch a new phase or project,” Tong adds.

Bukit Kiara Properties also goes the extra mile to ensure each of its projects has the stamp of individuality and offers first-of-its-kind features.

In its latest development, the VERVE Suites series which comprises four condominium blocks in the western enclave of Mont'Kiara, the company takes great effort to offer fully-furnished designer suites with four different interior design themes in each tower.

The four towers Viva, Vibe, Vogue and Vox have a total gross development value (GDV) of RM592mil.

Each tower has its own unique sky lounge concept Vertigo, Hypercubes, Gardens of Concentrico and Versilica Sky Beach. The residents of VERVE Suites get to share the use of facilities of all four towers.

Viva and Vibe Towers have been fully sold while 95% of the 255 units in Vogue Tower has been taken up. The final tower, Vox, is 80% sold.

Tong says that by 2014, when the entire VERVE Suites development is completed, there will be a total of 100,000 sq ft of recreational facilities and four sky lounges. There will also be 87,000 sq ft of gross retail space for lease. Recreational amenities provided include swimming pools, BBQ areas, children's playground, reading pavilions, reflexology paths and landscaped podiums.

The VERVE Suites is also setting new industry benchmark in terms of quality. The Vibe Tower has recently emerged as one of the highest CONQUAS (Construction Quality Assessment System) scorers for fully-furnished serviced apartments in Malaysia.

The project obtained a score of 82.2, the highest ever for a high-rise project in the country. The overall CONQUAS score is derived from the sum of 10 categories internal floor, wall, ceiling, door, window, other fittings, roofing, external wall, external works, and mechanical and engineering works.

At the end of 2009, the Viva tower obtained a CONQUAS score of 79.4.

Tong says although CONQUAS assessment is not a requirement to be fulfilled by local developers, Bukit Kiara Properties adopts the stringent quality monitoring system introduced by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore in all its projects to fulfil its commitment to build quality homes.

“We believe that it is important for our projects to undergo this international quality assessment. After all, quality workmanship of a project is important as it enhances the value of the properties,” he adds.

In line with the company's quality drive, a group of site supervisors, contractors and consultants will attend CONQUAS training each year to understand the quality aspects of property development. The company also implements the CONQUAS scheme to reward or penalise its contractors.

Each year, Bukit Kiara Properties pays special bonuses to its contractors who meet the high-quality CONQUAS standards required of its projects.

“This special bonus has been initiated since the company's inception in 2000 to promote quality workmanship,” Tong says.

By The Star

JCorp may sell land, property to pare down debts

KUALA LUMPUR: Johor Corp (JCorp) is considering selling various assets including some landbank, properties and plantation assets to partly repay its current RM3.6bil debt which is due for repayment in July next year.

The state investment arm first plans to bring down the debt level of RM3.6bil to a “sustainable level” of between RM1bil and RM1.5bil following a debt restructuring exercise, its newly appointed president and chief executive Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim said.

That would mean that it needs to raise at least RM2.1bil by 2012.

“About 70% (source of funding) for the RM2.1bil needed has already been identified and this includes selling some of our assets,” he said at a meeting with the media yesterday.

The group has “saleable assets” of RM2.1bil, Kamaruzzaman said, without elaborating.

JCorp's landbank and properties are largely in Johor and this includes up to RM2.5bil in commercial properties.

At at March last year, it had about 2,000ha to be developed in the Iskandar Malaysia region.

It also has major plantation and palm oil businesses in Papua New Guinea.

Kamaruzzaman said the group's remaining debt would be restructured via new loans or instruments.

JCorp has appointed CIMB Bank and Maybank Investment Bhd as advisors for the restructuring.

Both banks are also the biggest lenders to JCorp which could probably mean that both banks own the bulk of the bonds due for maturity.

According to JCorp's 2009 annual report, it has RM705mil in cash but a whopping RM6.62bil in debt and with hardly any free cash flow.

The RM3.6bil debt was due to JCorp's investment projects since 2000, “mainly in landed property and industrial areas”, it has been reported.

JCorp has been in the news in recent weeks after it rejected two bids for the takeover of its QSR Brands Bhd. One was by a company linked to tycoon Tan Sri Halim Saad and another by the Carlyle Group.

JCorp is the ultimate shareholder of the lucrative fast-food businesses of QSR and KFC Holdings (M) Bhd.

Its interests in both companies are held through its 53%-owned subsidiary Kulim (M) Bhd, which main business is in the plantation sector.

Kulim owns a 57.5% stake in QSR, which in turn, owns a 50.6% stake in KFC.

As one of the country's largest state economic development authorities, JCorp has about 250 companies under its stable from which it currently derives RM90mil in annual dividend income, Kamaruzzaman revealed.

Kamaruzzaman said yesterday there was a possibility some of these might be listed in the future. “But the proceeds will not be to repay our current debt due for maturity,” he said.

JCorp's other key assets apart from those in the recent limelight include private healthcare service provider KPJ Healthcare Bhd, property development companies Johor Land Bhd and Damansara Realty Bhd, intrapreneur venture business Sindora Bhd and the London-listed plantation company, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd (NBPO). (Kulim owns about 50% of NBPO).

NBPO is one of the world's largest producers of sustainable palm oil.

By The Star

IJM Land moves on despite merger failure

An artist’s impression of IJM Land’s The Light Waterfront development in Penang.

PETALING JAYA: It is business as usual at IJM Land Bhd after a proposed merger between the company and Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) fell through due to their failure to reach an agreement on the definitive terms and conditions of the plan.

IJM Land managing director Datuk Soam Heng Choon said the developer had a lot on its plate, including about 30 existing projects and a number of new developments in the pipeline.

Datuk Soam Heng Choon ... ‘We have two greenfield developments in the Klang Valley and Johor.’

“For financial year 2012, we will be kept busy with RM1.5bil worth of project launches, including two greenfield developments in the Klang Valley and Johor,” Soam told StarBizWeek.

With a land bank of about 5,000 acres, which has a total gross development value (GDV) of some RM18bil, there are good values in IJM Land's assets.

The company launched RM1.3bil worth of projects in the first nine months of the current financial year ending March 31, 2011 (FY2011). Sales for the first six months ended Sept 30, 2010 amounted to RM700mil and analysts said the company was on track to achieve total sales of RM1.4bil for FY2011.

IJM Land turned in record sales of RM1.25bil in FY2010.

For FY2012, its new project portfolio will comprise the 2,000-acre Canal City in Selangor and the 1,188-acre Sebana Cove in Kota Tinggi, Johor. Soam said the Canal City was earmarked for launch in the second half of 2012. The massive township will have a GDV of RM6bil and will take 10 to 15 years to complete.

Located directly behind the mature Kota Kemuning township, the Canal City will turn IJM Land into one of the leading township developers in the Klang Valley. The company is now sorting out some land and project planning matters with the Selangor Government.

An earlier agreement with the previous state government involved a flood-mitigation project in the form of an 18km canal linking Sungai Klang and Sungai Langat. In return, the company will be awarded the land for development.

However, the new state government has decided that there was no need for the flood mitigation project. Therefore, in August last year, IJM Land signed a termination agreement for the canal privatisation project.

As for Sebana Cove, Soam said planning was in progress to develop the 1,188-acre land into an upmarket eco-friendly and health-cum-lifestyle themed residential and marina resort development. The 10-year project is expected to be launched later this year.

Soam said IJM Land also planned to launch its maiden 7-acre project in Vietnam in March or April.

The development comprising four blocks of high-rise residential apartments as well as retail and commercial properties is in Nhon Trach city centre in Dong Nai province.

In China, IJM Land plans to undertake a RM500mil upmarket residential and retail development in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin province in the northeast of China.

Locally, the company is busy with its flagship waterfront development, The Light, featuring residential, entertainment, business and hospitality facilities in Penang. With a GDV of close to RM6bil, the 152-acre mixed residential and commercial development is the largest (in terms of development value) in IJM Land's portfolio. It will take 12 to 15 years to complete.

Under The Light Collection III, new launches will comprise condominiums and water villas priced from RM1,252 per sq ft.

IJM Land also has new project launches in Shah Alam, Seremban, Malacca, Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and Kuching.

By The Star

China plans US$1.3b 'seven-star hotel'

BEIJING: Beijing authorities plan to build a "seven-star hotel" modelled after Dubai's Burj Khalifa -- the world's tallest building -- in a US$1.3 billion joint project with Saudi Arabia.

The hotel will be erected in western Beijing's Mentougou district some 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the Chinese capital's centre, the state-run Beijing Morning Post said in a Thursday report, quoting a local parliamentary meeting.

A district official, who declined to give his name, confirmed the project and its price tag in comments to AFP on Friday.

He said that the Saudi side was expected to foot the entire bill but he refused to provide other details, such as why such an expensive project would be located in the underdeveloped rural area.

The Beijing Morning Post said the building's design would be patterned after the 828-metre (2,717-foot) Burj Khalifa's distinctive slender, tapering design, but did not say how tall the planned structure would be.

The "seven-star" classification is not officially recognised internationally, as no formal body awards ratings above five stars, but there are a handful of luxury hotels around the world that still use the distinction.

Dubai's Burj Al Arab is one such establishment, and in Beijing, the Pangu 7 Star Hotel built near the 2008 Olympic stadium also claims the rating.

The announcement of the Mentougou project comes at a time when China is attempting to crack down on high-end developments and use more land for affordable housing, amid general discontent over soaring property prices.