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Thursday, February 2, 2012

UMLand to start mixed project in downtown Johor Baru

PASIR GUDANG: United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) plans to start its multi-million ringgit mixed development project in Jalan Wong Ah Fook in downtown Johor Baru this year.

Group chief Pee Tong Lim said the project was now in the planning stage which included the gross development value (GDV), land utilisation and other related development details.

“We are looking at building a hotel block, a serviced apartment tower and a retail podium on the site,'' he said at the opening of the company's sales gallery and corporate office Galleria Seri Alam here by UMLand chairman Tun Musa Hitam.

Also present at the events were the company's executive director Datuk Ng Eng Tee, UMLand's subsidiary Seri Alam Properties Sdn Bhd general manager Frankie Tan Kiat How and Iskandar Regional Development Authority chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim.

Pee said he hoped the project would start concurrently with the RM1.8bil Johor Baru City Centre transformation plan which is expected to start either in the second or the third-quarter of the year.

The land is situated opposite Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak and just a short distance from JB City Square shopping mall.

Under the transformation plan, Sungai Segget which has been covered and turned into a pedestrian walkway would be opened up and beautified similar to the famous Cheonggyecheon river in downtown Seoul.

Separately, Pee said the company's joint venture project with UEM Land Bhd, the master developer of Nusajaya at Puteri Harbour, would start early next month.

By The Star

Hua Yang plans overseas expansion

Property developer, Hua Yang Bhd, will explore the overseas market when the company achieves its targeted RM800 million revenue in the next few years, says chief executive officer Ho Wen Yan.

“We hope to grow our revenue to RM800 million by 2018. By then, we will be at a comfortable size and can start looking for opportunities overseas or other high-end segments,” he told Bernama in an interview.

For the nine-month period ended Dec 31, 2011, Hua Yang’s revenue was RM222.13 million.

Ho said the company could bring its affordable housing model and technical expertise to emerging markets like Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia.

"Currently, venturing overseas is not in our plan, not within the next three years. The Malaysian market is still very strong, especially for our segment, the affordable housing.

"After three years, we will take a look. At that time, I hope these countries are ready for foreign investors. We are now exploring opportunities,” he said.

Ho said there are ample opportunities in Indonesia and Vietnam and developed countries like Singapore and Australia.

However, his company would have to offer different products for Singapore and Australia, being developed nations.
On the domestic front, Hua Yang plans to launch its next township "Pulai Hijauan" in Johor in April or May.

"Everything is ready now for the official launch of the township," he said.

Pulai Hijauan, with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM380 million, is about one kilometre away from the company’s existing township, Taman Pulai Indah, in Skudai.

Ho said the total GDV for the company’s ongoing projects and yet-to-be-developed ones was RM2.4 billion. Of that, the GDV for ongoing projects stands at about RM983 million.

“The rest are undeveloped and some are in the planning stage. These properties will be developed in the next few years. More phases will be developed in our townships, Taman Pulai Indah and Bandar Universiti Seri Iskandar in Perak,” he said.

Ho said the company aims to launch RM800 million worth of properties in Johor, Perak and the Klang Valley next year.

By Bernama

JCorp in RM40m hotel upgrade

JOHOR Corp, Johor state's investment company, will spend up to RM40 million to upgrade all its hotel assets in line with increasing tourist arrivals in the state, spurred by the opening of several attractions in Iskandar Malaysia, including the Johor Premium Outlets.

Government investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd is developing an indoor theme park in Puteri Harbour for RM350 million, which is slated to open by end-2012.

In Nusajaya, Legoland Malaysia, which is being built at a cost of around RM750 million, is set to open in early 2013.

JCorp Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd deputy chief executive officer Muhamad Mazlan Ali said the upgrading work will commence in early 2012 starting with The Puteri Pacific Johor Baru.

"The hotel, which opened in 1990, is quite tired now and needs some uplifting. Our competitors have refurbished their properties. To stay afloat, we have to upgrade our properties.

"We will review upwards our pricing strategy once the refurbishment exercise is completed in about a year or two," Muhamad Mazlan told Business Times.

Currently, the average room rate in the Johor market is about RM180.

JCorp Hotels, the hospitality arm of Johor Corp, owns and manages five properties in Johor. Apart from The Puteri Pacific Johor Baru and the Persada Johor International Convention Centre, it owns Sibu Island Resort, Selesa Johor Baru and Selesa Pasir Gudang.

The company also has a property in Negri Sembilan, called Selesa Port Dickson. The six properties are worth as much as RM600 million.

Muhamad Mazlan acknowledged that Johor needed more hotels.

There are over 4,000 rooms available in the two- to five-star categories currently and this is expected to double by 2014, but still may not be sufficient to meet demand, he said.

"We expect room demand to increase with the expected influx of tourists and attractions. We are optimistic that the attractions in Johor will bring more people to the state.

"With more universities and colleges opening at EduCity, we can expect a large number of international students too," he said.

EduCity is a fully integrated knowledge-based hub comprising world-class universities, industry-centric R&D clusters, international schools and colleges, as well as conference and exhibition amenities.

By Business Times

Enhancing Langkawi's appeal

The proposed rejuvenation of Langkawi, via a five-year tourism blueprint, is set to see the potential entry of fresh investments that will make the resort island more appealing to higher-end tourists.

The Langkawi Tourism Blueprint envisages RM5 billion worth of investment in tourism projects and aims to increase tourism arrivals from the current 2.4 million to three million by 2015. That would more than double its contribution to the country's economy from RM800 million to RM1.9 billion, as well as create 4,200 new jobs.

The government's financial commitment to the blueprint includes RM420 million to build infrastructure, acquire some land and promote the island so that tourists no longer give it a miss in favour of destinations like Bali, Phuket and the Maldives.

"The blueprint serves as an impetus and provides a focused approach on specific areas of development such as product development, key infrastructure and supporting enablers.

"This in turn provides existing and new investors a clear vision and direction set forth for Langkawi," says Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) chief executive Datuk Redza Razif.

The role played by the NCIA in helping uplift Langkawi's position is to play a lead role in the development of the blueprint, along with the delivery of its current initiatives on the island.

The authority is tasked to lead three out of 14 initiatives which have been outlined in the blueprint. They include plans for luxury stays and a vibrant north-west for the island, ensuring better connectivity and seeing to the setting up of a tourism academy by working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education and the Performance and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) in the Prime Minister's Department.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd had announced in December that it will be ploughing capital investments of some RM1 billion in Teluk Datai via Teluk Datai Resorts Sdn Bhd, its investee company.

This move is expected to be achieved via the implementation of a Teluk Datai master development plan which in turn will see reinvestments in the existing hotels at Teluk Datai, along with investments in select pieces of earmarked land which total around 604ha.

Projects include the enhancement of The Datai Langkawi, upgrading The Golf Club, Datai Bay, and optimising land for beachfront development.

Khazanah, via Teluk Datai Resorts, has also entered into a heads of agreement with Shangri-La Hotels (M) Bhd to jointly develop a five-star resort.

The proposed resort has been reported to be managed by Shangri-la International Hotel Management Ltd under the Shangri-La brand and will serve as Shangri-La debut on Langkawi.

Tradewinds Corp Bhd is said to be bringing more rejuvenation to Langkawi, via development of the Telaga Harbour Park at Pantai Kok and building new residential and commercial properties.

The company, which reportedly now owns the three-star Mutiara Burau Bay Resort, is believed to have plans to tear down the existing resort and rebuild it into a higher end accommodation offering.

The existing resort, which is currently in need of a major facelift, is dotted with sea-fronting chalets and appears to be "tired" and does nothing currently in terms of infrastructure and amenities for its guests.

Just up the road is the Oriental Village, which was opened by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) in 2003 and is poorly managed.

Originally envisioned to be a cluster of factory outlets stories, it is today nothing but a mix of crafts shops and buskers and serves as the occasional backdrop for television and movie producers.

Its close proximity to the island's top attraction - Panorama Langkawi cable car services - does not help the image of the cable car operator which offers rides to the peak of the 700 metro Matchingchang mountain range.

Although Panorama Langkawi Sdn Bhd, a profit making subsidiary of Syarikat Prasarana Negara Sdn Bhd, has over the past year done wonders to improve its image for its services, visitors are not accorded a positive first impression, owing to the conditions of the Oriental Village, which is in drastic need of a revamp.

While details of a supposed revamp of LADA are not publicly known, Langkawi locals and tourism players are now placing their hopes on the authority's newly-appointed chief executive officer Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, who previously served as chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

A delivery management office (DMO), for which LADA will serve as lead agency, is set to be established in overseeing the blueprint.

"With a targeted approach taken by the blueprint, timely implementation, sound business plans and on-ground support by all sectors, we are confident that Langkawi will emerge as a premier island destination," noted Redza.

He added that the Langkawi Tourism Blueprint defines specific initiatives and complements the Northern Corridor Economic Region's overall blueprint which is to see the economic fortunes of the four northern states of Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis improve.

On the proposed development of Teluk Datai, Redza said that the opportunity for NCIA in this effort will be to assist in scaling up local entrepreneurs to provide complementing services in the vicinity of the new resort.

"This would include the development of souvenirs, availability of well-trained private tour guides and the provision of authentic dining experiences which reflect among others, local culture," he added.

On whether it was too ambitious a plan to expect the blueprint to yield its targeted results at the end of 2015 when the document was only launched at the end of 2011, Redza said: "During the development of the blueprint, some groundwork and key issues were identified and as a result, quick-win initiatives were targeted and already rolled in late 2011 and part of this year".

By Business Times