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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SP Setia eyes move into Vietnam city centres

SP Setia Bhd, Malaysia’s second-biggest publicly traded developer, hopes to take advantage of lower prices in Vietnam’s property market by starting a development in downtown Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

Setia’s first two projects in Vietnam are housing developments in Binh Duong province, adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s business center. The developer is now looking for a “high-rise building with some branding” to boost its corporate image in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s property prices are falling amid a glut of high-end residential apartment developments, the U.K.-listed Vietnam Property Fund Ltd said last month. Asking prices have dropped over the past “six, seven weeks,” said Alex Loh, Setia’s chief resident representative in Vietnam.

“We are looking for opportunistic deals,” Loh said in an interview yesterday in his Ho Chi Minh City office, declining to give details on any potential projects or prices. “We have been trying for the last few weeks and months. We are looking at coming back closer to the city now.”

Vietnam marked SP Setia’s first move outside its home base and the company has now also expanded into Australia. Chief Executive Officer Liew Kee Sin said in 2008 that the Kuala Lumpur-based company planned to spend “a lot of effort and time” in developing its projects in Vietnam.

Sales in the country have been slow, hurt by commercial bank lending rates of “about 18 or 19 percent,” Loh said, as the Vietnamese central bank pushed up its policy rates to slow Asia’s fastest inflation.

“They’re not very happy with it,” Loh said about his company’s view on Vietnam five years after committing to its first project in the country. “The pace here is just not there. But head office understands it, so they’re still going along with a slower pace-type of sales over here.”

SP Setia expects to identify a downtown project in Vietnam by the second quarter, and be at the “negotiations stage” by that time, he said.

By Bloomberg

Work on KB Sentral project to take off in June

KOTA BARU: Construction and engineering firm Sara-Timur Sdn Bhd plans to invest up to RM600 million to develop an integrated commercial property project called Kota Baru Sentral@Tunjong in Kelantan.

Chairman emeritus professor Datuk Dr M. Zawawi Ismail said the project, which will feature shopping malls, luxury apartments and condominiums, a convention centre and office blocks, will be developed over three phases on a 16.5ha land in Tunjong.

"We expect to begin construction by June or July as land acquisition procedures and other preliminary engineering works are already completed," he told reporters here.

The project, Zawawi said, will be jointly developed with the Kelantan Menteri Besar Incorporated and Tunjong Development Corporation.

He said the first phase of the project involving a shopping centre called "village mall" is expected to be ready for occupation in two anda half years.

"We expect the entire project to be fully ready in five to seven years from now," Zawawi said.

He said Kelantan traditional architecture and contemporary Islamic designs will be infused into buildings in the project.

By Business Times

Iskandar set to reach tipping point

PETALING JAYA: Iskandar Malaysia is set to reach its tipping point in the next 24 months after the completion of key catalyst developments and infrastructure improvements, according to HwangDBS Vickers Research.

The research unit believed that prospects for the economic growth corridor in Johor would be boosted by the successful bilateral talks during the recent Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat, the entry of more property developers as well as spillover demand for properties in Iskandar due to Singapore's latest stamp duty hike and high property prices.

It was noted that the recent bilateral talks had resulted in fruitful discussions on topics such as the construction of an undersea tunnel linking Johor Baru and Singapore, sale of electricity to Singapore (possibly from Pengerang), co-operation in aviation and airport services between Johor's Senai International Airport and Singapore's Changi International Airport, and the formation of a work group on industrial co-operation to promote Iskandar and Singapore.

“The industrial co-operation work group may be a springboard for more investments by Singapore in Iskandar, and could be a key re-rating catalyst,” HwangDBS Vickers Research said.

Since 2006, Iskandar has received RM77.8bil worth of committed investments.

The region had also recently seen property launches setting new price benchmarks, the research house said.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the strong 65% bookings for UEM Land Holdings Bhd's Imperia@Puteri Harbour condominiums, which were launched in Nov 2011 at a record RM725 per sq ft.”

It was also noted that UEM Land's Impiana@East Ledang condominiums had seen brisk sales with two blocks almost fully sold within six months at RM480 per sq ft (compared with RM300 per sq ft for the adjacent Ujana apartments launched in 2009).

For SP Setia Bhd, Johor is also a core market (accounting for 29% of its sales) with sales surging 57% in its financial year ended Oct 31, 2011.

Meanwhile, land values in Johor's Southern Industrial and Logistics Clusters continued to appreciate with the latest transactions hitting RM35 per sq ft (compared with 2010's RM25 per sq ft).

HwangDBS Vickers Research said its top stock picks, for exposure to Iskandar, were UEM Land, SP Setia, Eastern & Oriental Bhd and Genting Plantations Bhd.

By The Star

UDA to spend RM15m on Plaza Angsana

UDA Holdings Bhd will spend RM15 million to give Plaza Angsana, a popular shopping complex here, a facelift.

Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the project would be undertaken in two stages with the first involving external renovation works costing RM8 million.

Another RM7 million would be spent in the second phase, focusing on replacing the lights and floors as well upgrading the food court, he said.

"Tender for the first phase will open in two or three weeks and we expect the uprading work at Plaza Angsana to take a year to complete," he told reporters when attending the company's community programme at Taman Sinar Harapan here today.

Nur Jazlan said other shopping malls of the same age as Plaza Angsana had undergone upgrading works and UDA Holdings had to do the same so that Plaza Angsana could remain competitive.

The company was also looking for investors for the Angsana 2 project which would be developed at the parking lot next to Plaza Angsana, he said.

The project was expected to cost between RM200 million and RM250 million, he said.

By Bernama

TM eyes HSBB service pacts with 20 property developers

From Left to Right: JPK & Associates Sdn Bhd Director Lai Kok Phooi, BHL Group of Companies Executive Chairman Datuk Lim Boo Kian, TM Executive Vice President Azizi A Hadi, TM MSC State General Manager R.Manivannan.

KUALA LUMPUR: Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) aims to sign service agreements with 20 property developers this year to deploy and provide its high-speed broadband service (HSBB) at their respective projects.

Its executive vice president (SME), Azizi A. Hadi, said last year, TM inked agreements with 11 property developers, mainly for projects in the Klang Valley.

"This year, we plan to expand our services in Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, Johor and obviously the Klang Valley region," he told reporters after signing the agreement with BHL Group of Companies here today.

This move, Azizi said, would increase HSBB coverage to some 95 areas nationwide from the current 78. "To-date, the premium HSBB is offered to 1.19 million premises and we expect to increase to 1.3 million premises by year-end.

"Currently, our take-up rate is around 20 per cent.

"As our service offering expands, I am sure the rate also will increase in tandem with the growing Unifi subscribers," he said.

Azizi said TM would launch its high-speed broadband services, Unifi, in Ipoh and later continue to expand in key areas nationwide.

The agreement with BHL was for the deployment and provision of HSBB network infrastructure and services to the latter's three projects.

The projects are USJ One Park in Subang Jaya, KL Palace Court in Jalan Klang Lama and another in Cheras, which account for a total gross development value of RM680 million.

By Bernama

Gurney Paragon set to welcome RM35m F&B investments

GEORGE TOWN: Penang is set to welcome investments totalling RM35 million this year from food and beverage operators into phase one of the Gurney Paragon development on Gurney Drive.

The project's developer, Hunza Properties Bhd (HPB), has already seen the entry of nine tenants into Phase 1B of its multi-billion ringgit waterfront development with capital investments in excess of RM10 million.

"We are working hard to continue bringing in established names which have yet to set up a presence in Penang to open their businesses in Gurney Paragon," HPB executive chairman Datuk Khor Teng Tong told Business Times yesterday.

Phase 1B of the project comprises some 100,000 sq ft of lettable space, and its developers are touting the entire Gurney Paragon project as the only one in the country for now which integrates a restored heritage building amidst modern residential, retail and commercial spaces.

The company last night officially opened its "St Jo's@Gurney Paragon" building, which is the restored heritage building built in 1918.

The building is flanked by two towers which house 220 high-end dwellings, along with eateries on its first three levels.

St Jo's, which was formerly known as St Joseph's Novitiate, was initially started by the De La Salle Brothers to train young Catholic men to enter the religious order.

The colonial building, which was restored by HPB for RM10 million, was also once the site for Uplands School now known as the International School of Penang.

The restoration works include retaining the building's teakwood floors, roof trusses, window frames, stairways and clay tiles.

Khor said the current tenants surrounding St Jo's are Goku Roku Ramen, Pacific Coffee Co, T.G.I.Friday's, Brussels Beer Cafe, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and Meet Fresh.

The tenants who will open soon for business, he added, are Italiannies (serving Italian cuisine), Wong Kok Char Chan Teng (Hong Kong's foods and treats eatery), Share Tea (Taiwanese bubble tea beverage) and Petite Millie (casual French cuisine).

Khor said HPB is expecting at least 30 per cent of its new tenants to be first-time investors in Penang where a lifestyle mall - the Gurney Paragon Mall - is due to be completed by the end of this year.

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)