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Monday, November 5, 2012

Iskandar Malaysia enters the fast lane

The chief of Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB) is bullish on the outlook for Iskandar Malaysia in Johor, attributing his optimism to various projects like the high-speed rail (HSR) plan and the transformation of Desaru.

"Hopefully, it (HSR) can come earlier. Iskandar Malaysia will benefit from the MRT link between JB Sentral and Woodlands in Singapore," said IIB president and chief executive officer Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim.

"The outlook from 2013 onwards will be strong within the context of Nusajaya and Iskandar Malaysia. We see some of the current developments coming up and investors will be submitting their plans for new projects," he told Business Times in an interview recently.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd recently said plans are underway to transform Desaru, starting with Phase 1 that carries a gross development value of RM5 billion. The transformation will be carried out in three phases over 15 to 20 years.

For the HSR, a study to link Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is being carried out by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), which is expected to be completed by year-end.

If found feasible, SPAD will call for pre-qualification bids by mid-2013.

IIB, set up in 2006, is a strategic developer of catalytic projects in Iskandar Malaysia, the country's special economic zone.

It is developing four clusters - education, driven by Educity; leisure and tourism, led by LegoLand; healthcare and wellness, with Gleneagles Medini Hospital being the key driver; and creative development, with Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios the catalytic project.

Syed Mohamed said the catalytic projects will generate substantial multiplier effects, triggering economic activities.

"Without Educity, it would be difficult for any developers to enjoy the current pricing level. For the past 10 years, apartments in Johor were selling at RM300psf but UEM Land (Holdings Bhd) recently launched properties at RM700psqf," he said.

Syed Mohamed said growth for IIB is on the cards. By end-2012, the company is expected to ink six to seven new deals, including joint venture and land-lease purchase agreements.

IIB currently has such agreements with China's Qingdao Zhouyuan Investment Holdings, Mah Sing Group Bhd and WCT Bhd to undertake projects worth RM2.5 billion, RM1.1 billion, and RM1.5 billion, respectively.

By Business Times

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