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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mara ventures into properties

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), a government agency set up to develop Bumiputera entrepreneurs, is venturing into the property business as it seeks to rely less on the government for funding.

Mara Inc Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Abd Halim A. Rahim said the move is in line with the government's wish to see agencies become independent and generate their own revenue.

Mara, an agency under the preview of the Regional and Rural Development Ministry, was set up to promote Bumiputera participation in commercial and industrial activities.

Since 1952, Mara has disbursed loans worth over RM2.1 billion to more than 160,000 Bumiputera entrepreneurs. The money comes from the government.

It now aims to develop its landbank, starting with the Klang Valley. However, it is not known how much land Mara has.

To start with, Mara Inc will develop 0.9ha at Persiaran Gurney, Kuala Lumpur, in a 51:49 joint venture with Zikay Group .

Mara Inc and Zikay, via their joint venture company Symbolic Avenue Sdn Bhd, will develop a project called Gurney Avenue, featuring three blocks of medium to high-end condominiums, retail and shop lots, worth some RM300 million.

"This is an on-going exercise within Mara to develop land. We will have more projects of similar nature coming up after identifying the land that we want to develop," Abd Halim said.

Abd Halim was speaking to Business Times yesterday in Kuala Lumpur, at the signing of the joint venture agreement between Mara Inc and Zikay.

Zikay group chief executive officer Anuar Mohamed said the project, now in design stage, is slated to launch by the end of this year or early next year.

"We have not priced the properties. We are bullish on sales as it is a prime asset in a strategic area," Anuar said.

The price of condominiums within the vicinity of Persiaran Gurney is above RM1,000 per sq ft, he said.

By Business Times

EPF appoints chief executive for Kwasa Land

PETALING JAYA: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has appointed Mohamad Lotfy Mohamad Noh the chief executive officer of Kwasa Land Sdn Bhd, a 100% subsidiary of EPF and the master developer of the Rubber Research Institute Malaysia (RRIM) land in Sungai Buloh, sources said.

They also said that according to initial plans by Kwasa, the RRIM project would consist of an integrated township development with a good mix of residential, commercial and industrial properties with facilities and amenities.

“The development is expected to feature breathtaking landscape parks, green lungs, open spaces, walkways and water bodies,” one party familiar with the plans said. “The township will also incorporate full information technology and data infrastructure (MSC City Status) and complete urban transportation integration.”

The RRIM land will also house the depot of the planned mass rapid transit (MRT) project.

StarBiz reported recently that Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd, the project owner of the MRT, will be allocated a parcel of land in the RRIM development project for commercial development as part of the “rail-plus-property” model being used to offset the cost of building the MRT.

Negotiations are believed to be ongoing between Prasarana and EPF for this purpose.

The RRIM land, measuring more than 3,000 acres, has been dubbed the “new hub” of the Klang Valley and will be developed over the next 15 years.

Mohamad Lotfy currently heads the property investment department at the EPF, a position he has held since 2005. He was formerly a director of Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB). Mohamad Lotfy resigned from the board of MRCB in October last year, likely due to his impending role in Kwasa Land.

Mohamad Lotfy, 52, began his career with Public Bank Bhd in 1982 before moving to then Kwong Yik Finance Bhd in 1986. Subsequently, he joined MK Associates Sdn Bhd (part of the MK Land Holdings group) in 1989 as a sales manager and was promoted to deputy general manager in 1991.

In 1993, he joined Land & General Bhd as a general manager, moving on to Golden Hope Development in 2003 and later Golden Hope Properties.

It has been reported that Kwasa will appoint or partner with various parties to co-develop the massive project, with parcels of land to be tendered out to different developers using an open and transparent basis.

“Developers are lobbying and pitching development plans to EPF even as we speak,” a source said.

As it stands, there is still little visibility on the selection criteria.

In fact, some industry players are wondering how open and transparent EPF is going to be on this development and whether the terms of the joint ventures are going to be fair or lopsided towards the pension fund.

Last March, the Government announced that EPF would form a joint venture to develop 3,000 acres of land in Sungai Buloh owned by RRIM into a new hub for the Klang Valley. The new hub, which is also part of 10th Malaysia Plan will lead to over RM5bil of new investments, it was then reported.

Earlier, market talk put MRCB as one of the lead developers for the project by virtue of its link to EPF, which controls MRCB.

At press time, EPF had yet to respond to queries from StarBiz.

By The Star (by Yvonne Tan)

Call to include PJ South in MRT project

The Selangor Petaling Business and Industry Association is requesting that the government consider Petaling Jaya South in the RM43 billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project.

Based on the original proposal, residents in Petaling Jaya may not benefit from the MRT project immediately as there were no MRT lines or stations slated for the Petaling Jaya South area.

"For example, Taman Medan, Taman Maju Jaya and Taman Seri Manja have been left out of the limelight although the area is densely populated," its Deputy President Tee Kee Tian said in a statement today.

Tee said Petaling Jaya South provided a very important linkage between Subang Jaya and Sunway via Sungei Way.

"We hope the government can take into account the people's feedback and suggestions, and review the alignment of the MRT to include some stations in Petaling Jaya south so that more people can enjoy the convenience of the mega project," he added.

The government recently disclosed details of the Sungai Buloh Kajang line and the 51 kilometer line should bring massive economic benefit and employment opportunities.

By Bernama