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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PNB aims for steady income from overseas property investments

KOTA BARU: Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB)'s move to invest in the real estate business overseas is aimed at good returns, said PNB president and chief executive Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman.

The focus has been on equity investments all this while, he said.

Among the properties acquired overseas include Santos Place in Brisbane, Australia, and three other properties in London - namely One Exchange in Liverpool Street, as well as 90 High Holborn, and Milton and Shire House in Silk Street, Central London.

"In the past, PNB's focus had definitely been on equity investments, but now we are venturing into the real estate sector as it is expected to provide stable returns," he told reporters after officiating at a forum here yesterday on the Economic Transformation Programme and its challenges and opportunities for the east coast region.

The programme was organised by Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) with the help of the National Professors' Council (NPC).

Hamad Kama Piah, who is also chairman of the UMK board of directors, expressed hope that the congregation of the economic experts and professors would help contribute towards the success of the economic transformation plans for the east coast.

Meanwhile, chief of the NPC's Economic and Management Cluster, Prof Datuk Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali, said the 1,700 members of NPC who are professors from the various institutions of higher learning in the country, both private and public, were capable of providing expertise service in their various sectors towards advancing the country's economy.

By Bernama

Cavenagh Road condo in S'pore up for sale again

SINGAPORE: A freehold condominium right next to the Istana is up for collective sale at an asking price nearly S$200mil under the level the owners aimed for in 2007.

Back then, the Cavenagh Gardens owners asked for S$650mil but failed to get a buyer. They lowered it to S$490mil and still struck out amid the financial crisis.

They have again lowered their expectations, this time with an asking price of S$460mil or S$1,394 per sq ft for the 172-unit block in Cavenagh Road.

That price would give owners between S$2.35mil and S$2.96mil each for their apartments.

The estate's buyers could possibly acquire adjoining parcels of state land which would bring the total site to about 150,000 sq ft.

The potential gross floor area could then reach 310,000 sq ft or more.

Charles Chua, head of investment sales at PropNex, the marketing agent, told The Straits Times on Monday that the improving economy and recent successful suburban collective deals had encouraged the Cavenagh Gardens owners.

“We are predicting that with the influx of foreign investors and the interest of high-end home buyers, this land site has a plethora of opportunities to be developed into high-end residences, serviced apartments or Soho (small office and home office) apartments,” he said.

Colin Tan, research head at Chesterton Suntec International, said: “The main issue for launching such a big tender is whether developers can see and avoid more risks ahead. Currently there are more developers than sites available.”

He added that given Cavenagh Gardens' prime location and price tag, developers could consider forming a joint venture in order to mitigate the risks.

The consideration of a joint venture was also echoed by Nicholas Mak, SLP International's head of research.

He also noted that height restriction imposed on buildings around the Istana due to security reasons would be a limiting factor for developers.

By Straits Times

Seacera buying 55.2ha in Ulu Semenyih

KUALA LUMPUR: Seacera Group Bhd, through its wholly owned unit Seacera Properties Sdn Bhd, is buying a 55.2ha freehold land in Ulu Semenyih, Selangor, from Duta Skyline Sdn Bhd for RM78.13 million.

It plans to develop a mixed development project on the land, which will be bought using internally generated funds and bank borrowings.

Seacera told Bursa Malaysia that the proposed land acquisition is not expected to have an immediate or material effect on the group’s earnings for the financial year ending December 31 2012, but it is expected to contribute positively to the future earnings of the group.

By Business Times

Seacera buys Ulu Langat land

PETALING JAYA: Seacera Group Bhd via its wholly-owned subsidiary Seacera Properties Sdn Bhd has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Duta Skyline Sdn Bhd to acquire 138 acres in Ulu Langat for RM78mil.

Seacera will satisfy the purchase by way of cash consideration from bank borrowings of RM13mil and the balance from its internally-generated funds.

“The proposed land acquisition is part of Seacera's strategy to continue acquiring sizeable land banks with good development potential in strategic locations, which will provide an opportunity for the company to expand and strengthen its existing business of property development.

“It is also in line with the company's plan to ensure it would become one of its core businesses,” said the company in its filing with the bourse yesterday.

By The Star

SP Setia unit gets SC nod for debt plan

KUALA LUMPUR: SP Setia Bhd’s wholly-owned unit, Setia Ecohill Sdn Bhd, has received approval from the Securities Commission on its proposed commercial papers/medium term notes (CP/MTN) programme.

The programme comprises the proposed issuance of RM505 million CPs and MTN. SP Setia initially announced the seven-year fund raising programme last month.

According to the developer, the scheme will be guaranteed by the parent company and is secured by its land in Semenyih, Selangor.

SP Setia said proceeds from the exercise will finance the acquisition and development of the land.

By Business Times

Hands-on approach to development

WORKING with Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah on the development of Kedah has been an experience to cherish, according to Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak and several of his predecessors.

Azizan, who described Tuanku Abdul Halim as a man of wisdom, said it was significant that Tuanku Abdul Halim was being installed as Yang di-Pertuan Agong during the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“There is a special historical significance as Tuanku was also King in 1970 during the administration of then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who is Najib’s father,” he said.

Having vast experience in the administration of the country as well as the state, Tuanku Abdul Halim placed great emphasis on peace and stability, the MB said.

“That is why during the recent political crisis in Kedah, Tuanku directed me to resolve the matter swiftly and amicably as he did not want the chaos to prolong,’’ Azizan said.

The MB said Tuanku Abdul Halim had pledged to make weekly trips to Kedah to oversee development in the state.

“When in Kedah, Tuanku will be at his office (at Wisma Darulaman) as usual,’’ he added.

Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, who served between December 2005 and March 2008, described Tuanku Abdul Halim as an exemplary Ruler.

“While serving as MB, the most challenging task I had was when I had to get the consent of Tuanku to amend the State Islamic Administration Enactment to divide the Religious Department and Religious Council.

“The draft amendments were already drawn seven years before I was appointed Mentri Besar. When I presented the draft to the Tuanku, Tuanku appeared to have some reservation,’’ he said.

Mahdzir said he made arrangements to seek an audience with the Sultan a week later to convince him that the amendment would not erode the power of the Sultan in matters related to Islam.

“I brought with me the mufti, and the Syariah chief judge, among others.

“After we explained in detail, Tuanku understood and consented to the amendment,’’ he said.

Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, who was MB from 1996 to 1999, said the Tuanku was vastly experienced, skilful and wise.

“The King’s interest and understanding of matters are very deep. And he takes a more objective approach compared with party-based political figures,’’ he said, revealing that Tuanku Abdul Halim also keenly followed political developments.

Azizan: ‘When in Kedah, Tuanku will be in his office as usual’

Sanusi said the Kedah Sultanate was special in the sense that it was the oldest surviving monarchy in the world from the same family lineage.

“All the current royal families such as in England, Japan and Thailand are from different families respectively, although their monarchy systems had been established much earlier,’’ he said.

He said Kedah took pride in having the longest “unbroken” royal family lineage in the world.

Tuanku Abdul Halim was also among the longest serving monarchs in the world, he pointed out.

Sanusi recalled his most unforgettable experience while serving under Tuanku as the MB.

“I had to terminate the services of three Kedah football import players to cut costs in aid of orphanages that needed RM100,000 a month.

“My unpopular decision to terminate the football players made the Kedah team lose its placing from top to bottom in the following league.

“I was in a dilemma at that time as Tuanku was the biggest Kedah football fan.

“But Alhamdulillah (Praise be upon God), Tuanku understood why I resorted to such an action,’’ he added.

Another former Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain said Tuanku Abdul Halim was actively involved in formulating the Kedah Maju 2010 plan.

“Tuanku guided me and gave me advice on ways to improve the plan,’’ he said.

Syed Razak, who served from 1999 to 2005, said Tuanku Abdul Halim was very interested about the plan as he wanted Kedah to strive for developed status.

The Kedah Maju 2010 masterplan included the re-development of Bandar di-Raja Anak Bukit, development of a mini Putrajaya, expansion and refurbishment of the Sultan Abdul Halim Airport, development of Kuala Kedah waterfront city, re-development of Langkawi and construction of flyovers, among others.

“Tuanku has always paid special attention to economic growth and its spillover effects, tourism in Langkawi, and social development.

“Tuanku has a lot of ideas on ways to boost development. He also cares deeply for the poor and government servants,’’ added Syed Razak.

The former MB also said Tuanku paid special attention to punctuality.

“He takes pride in arriving at functions and meetings on the dot,’’ he said.

Syed Razak said Tuanku Abdul Halim kept abreast with current developments but never interfered in political matters.

By The Star

PM: No property will be demolished for MRT project

PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister has assured his followers on Twitter and Facebook that no building will be demolished to give way for the My Rapid Transit (MRT) project in Jalan Sultan.

“I assure you that no properties on Jalan Sultan will be acquired for the MRT project. They will be declared as heritage buildings,” Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on his Facebook and Twitter accounts yesterday.

Najib’s posts reiterated his comments during Chat Time with Najib, which was broadcast live on ntv7 on Monday.

“I can give a categorical assurance that we will not acquire their land. We only want permission to go below their land and will make sure their properties are not affected.

“We will declare them as heritage properties and will strengthen buildings that are not structurally strong,” he said during the 90-minute interview.

Later on Twitter, Najib announced in Bahasa Malaysia: “The new Bill that will replace the ISA has been discussed in Parliament, as promised on Sept 15 last year,” referring to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill which would replace the Internal Security Act 1960.

By The Star

Beijing tightens ‘land grab’ rules

Social unrest: Land grabs triggered a huge revolt in Wukan in December. China has tightened regulations in a bid to put a lid on what has become an explosive social issue. – AP

BEIJING: China has tightened regulations governing forced land expropriations in a bid to put a lid on what has become an explosive social issue and one of the country's biggest sources of unrest.

Authorities have for years tried to address the issue of government-backed “land grabs,” which regularly trigger protests as residents complain of poor compensation for homes that have been demolished to make way for new buildings.

In January 2011, new rules were issued stipulating among other things that violence cannot be used to force homeowners to leave and that compensation must not be lower than the market price, but these regulations are often flouted.

The Supreme People's Court on Monday clarified and tightened these rules in a bid to “protect the public interest and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of expropriated home owners.”

Under the tightened rules, government authorities that want to expropriate land but cannot reach an agreement with residents and apply to a local court for approval, must provide additional documents to prove their case.

These include a “social stability risk assessment” as well as “feedback from homeowners and the party which enjoys the direct benefits” from the land expropriation.

In addition, the amended rules which came into force yesterday lay out a series of reasons for local courts to reject authorities' applications for land expropriations.

China faces increasing pressure from public discontent over forced and illegal land grabs, which have in the past few months sparked protests against authorities in various areas.

Last week hundreds of ethnic Mongols living in the northern region of Inner Mongolia tried to stop a vehicle belonging to a forestry firm that they claim had illegally occupied their land.

Authorities arrested 22 people amid accusations of police brutality, rights groups said.

Land grabs also triggered a huge revolt against authorities in the southern village of Wukan in December, in a case that attracted international media attention and eventually led to rare concessions by the provincial government.