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Monday, September 5, 2011

Bandar Raya goes mid-range with Verdana

KUALA LUMPUR: Bandar Raya Developments Bhd (BRDB) expects its RM800 million Verdana project at north of Mont' Kiara to set a benchmark in lifestyle development in the mid-range residential segment in Kuala Lumpur.

Verdana is an extension of BRDB's brand of cosmopolitan lifestyle developments and is the company's first foray into the mid-range segment.

BRDB, which has been developing land in Bangsar for 45 years and luxury apartments such as One Menerung and The Troika, is expanding its wings to build products of a different price range.

"We are now looking to build properties within the affordable price range, yet offering the lifestyle that we have been providing in all our other developments," BRDB chief marketing officer KC Chong said in an interview with Business Times.

Verdana will be developed in two phases over 4.4ha. The first phase comprises two 25-storey towers and a six-storey block with 298 units.

It is priced at an average RM580 per sq ft with unit sizes ranging from 1,450 sq ft to 3,020 sq ft.

Chong said the development is unique as the first six floors of each building, including the six-storey block, offers garden villas.

He said the villas, with sizes ranging from 2,400 sq ft to RM3,020 sq ft are selling from RM1.5 million to RM1.9 million each and 30 per cent have been sold since end July.

"Verdana has attracted various category of buyers, namely owner-occupiers, expatriates living in Mont' Kiara and local investors as well as from Europe. They love the concept and design," Chong said.

Chong said 70 per cent of the project will include landscape garden, recreational facilities and water features. The bathrooms and kitchen will also be fully fitted with branded appliances to value add on the project, he said.

Phase one was launched in early August and 60 per cent of the 298 units have been snapped up.

Chong said phase two will feature two towers and a block for garden villas, offering more than 300 units. It is slated to launch by end-2012.

By Business Times

E&O deal hogs limelight

Coveted land: Phase one of Seri Tanjung Pinang in Tanjong Tokong. A second phase comprising two islands of 740 acres of land will be reclaimed around the area next year.

Sime has got the biggest chunk of E&O, but was the price worth it?

The pundits have it. For the last month or so, the rumour mill was working overtime around Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O), the luxury lifestyle property developer, that a merger or acquisition was in the works.

First came the persistent speculation that SP Setia Bhd would merge with E&O, which was soon quashed by SP Setia. Then last week - quite out of the blue - Sime Darby Bhd announced it was acquiring a 30% stake in E&O for a significant premium over the latter's share price.

In early August, E&O's shares galloped to a three-year high of RM1.75 on the back of the SP Setia merger rumours, then came down again in line with the global stock slump. Yet, amid the broader market sell-down a few weeks later, its stock again saw aggressive trading, this time from its own shareholders who appeared to be upping their stake.

The notable ones included GK Goh Holdings Ltd, a substantial shareholder of E&O, and Datuk Azizan Abd Rahman, a director of E&O. According to shareholder changes filed with Bursa Malaysia, GK Goh had bought 1.25 million shares in three days, raising its stake to 11.6%, while Azizan acquired 100,000 shares.

The upward trend in E&O's share price can be observed since Aug 24, from RM1.43 to Friday's close of RM1.60, an 11.9% increase.

The deal with Sime Darby, which E&O called a “milestone” development, raised more than a few eyebrows about why such a high price was paid. The share sale agreement is for Sime Darby to acquire 273 million shares in E&O and 60 million irredeemable convertible secured loan stocks, representing a 30% equity interest, for RM766mil cash.

The sale price works out to RM2.30 per E&O share, which is a 58.6% premium over the stock's pre-suspension price of RM1.45. Sime Darby came out in defence of its purchase, saying the RM2.30 was actually a 20% discount to E&O's estimated realisable net asset value of RM3.2bil or RM2.88 per share.

Upon completion of the deal, slated for Sept 9, 2011, Sime Darby will be the single largest shareholder of E&O.

E&O's largest project is the 980-acre Seri Tanjung Pinang seafront development, a coveted address in Penang.

To recap, the 30% block in E&O was acquired by Sime Darby from three substantial shareholders: E&O managing director and founding member Datuk Tham Ka Hon, Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah and Singapore-listed GK Goh.

The trio's collective 41.7% shareholding in E&O will be diluted to 11.5% post-acquisition.

Tham, previously the largest shareholder with 15.7%, will end up with a 5.1% stake while Azmi and Goh will have 3.5% and 2.9% respectively.

A sore point with analysts is the high price paid for E&O. TA Research said the price was 19 times E&O's forecast earnings for 2012 and 1.85 times its price to book value based on consensus estimates. By comparison, the property sector has an average of 12 times forecast earnings for 2012 and 0.8 times price to book value.

Kenanga Research also noted that since Sime Darby was expected to equity account E&O's earnings on an associate level, that would only translate to a meagre 0.6% increase to Sime Darby's profits in 2012 and 2013.

It suggested that management might have been better off using the RM766mil to expand its plantation land or motor segment in China.

A local broker, however, had a more pragmatic view, saying that although Sime Darby was keen to venture into high-end development, it did not necessarily want to obtain everything at one go via a general offer, which would have been a much riskier proposition.

“Furthermore, E&O's shares in the open market are quite fragmented and not very liquid, making the task of acquiring 30% quite cumbersome and time-consuming.

“By getting the substantial shareholders to agree on a share sale proper, Sime Darby avoided facing a hostile takeover situation,” she said.

In terms of mutual benefits, Kenanga pointed out that phase two of the Seri Tanjung Pinang development might have factored strongly in the deal.

The project, estimated to have a reclamation cost of between RM3.2bil and RM3.5bil and a gross development value of RM9bil to RM10bil, could do with the financial muscle of a company like Sime Darby,

By The Star

Property loans to keep lead

PETALING JAYA: Analysts expect property loans to maintain their position as a key growth driver of credit expansion with some estimating them to grow between 10% and 12% this year due to the low interest rate environment and ample liquidity in the banking system.

While holding to this view, some feel the external environment, like the slowing US economy coupled with the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone, could dampen demand for properties.

For the first seven months of this year, property loans remained the key growth driver, accounting for 40.6% of the banking system's overall credit expansion, followed by working capital loans at 23.6%. Residential property loans currently accounted for about 27% of the system's total loans.

We believe that the full year loan growth for residential property loans will be in the 10%-12% range.- RAM Ratings head of Financial Institution Ratings Promod Dass.

RAM Ratings head of financial institution ratings Promod Dass told StarBiz that the credit environment to date had continued to be accommodative for borrowers with ample liquidity in the banking system and a stable economic environment. Coupled with attractive promotional packages offered by some developers, he said residential property loans had already shown a healthy 7.1% growth in the seven months to July (or 12.1% annualised), which was more or less at a similar pace compared with the overall total banking system's year to date loan growth of 7.5%.

“We believe that the full year loan growth for residential property loans will be in the 10%-12% range although we are closely observing the sovereign problems still brewing in Europe as well as concerns on the US economy and the consequent impact on Malaysia's economic growth stamina, which could affect consumer sentiment in property purchases,” he reckoned.

Dass said that while there was a slowdown in loan applications for residential mortgages in the few months after the implementation of the 70% loan-to-value cap on the third and subsequent house financing, the momentum had picked up again since March.

The move to curb the third and subsequent home financing was introduced by Bank Negara on Nov 2 last year to quell speculation on residential properties.

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd consumer banking head Ronnie Lim said he was bullish on property loans. He noted that in Malaysia, housing loans currently accounted for 50% (or RM255bil) of total household debt (RM510bil) and would continue to be one of the key growth drivers of retail credit expansion this year and in the near future.

“One of the main growth areas for properties is Klang Valley, which accounts for close to 60% to 65% of all property transactions. In addition, the population growth in Klang Valley is expected to reach 10 million by 2020 and the demand for residential property is expected to be fuelled by residents of Klang Valley whose average age is 34 years old.

“Coupled with the shortage of land in Klang Valley, demand will always out-strip supply. The economic growth and the low unemployment rate in the country is another catalyst for housing loan growth. The recent Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) announcement will further accelerate demand for residential properties as more affordable properties are being developed,'' he said.

Lim said prices of properties in Malaysia were still one of the lowest in the region when compared with countries like Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. The industry's total housing loan outstanding stood at RM255bil as of July 2011 compared with RM234bil in December 2010, he noted, adding that this represented a 14% annualised growth.

Given the positive environment and the above factors, Lim said the bank was confident the current growth rate could be maintained despite the recent global market unrest.

An MIDF Research banking analyst said property loans would hold up as a key growth driver of credit expansion this year as the persistent demand for property loans would be driven by low lending rates as well as the sustainable growth of the property market.

By The Star