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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Property developers eyeing land swap with St Nicholas' Home

GEORGE TOWN: A land swap involving a residential and training centre for the blind and visually-impaired in a prime spot on Penang island appears to be on the cards.

Business Times has learnt that several property developers in Penang are eyeing the 74-year-old St Nicholas' Home (formerly known as St Nicholas School for the blind) along Jalan Bagan Jermal here in exchange for land elsewhere on the island.

At the heart of the proposed land swap is the Anglican Church, owners of the 2.4-hectare piece of land, which houses Malaysia's first education and rehabilitation institution for the blind.

Other schools founded by the Anglican Church in Penang include the premier Penang Free School, St George's Girls' School, St Mark's primary and secondary schools and Hutchings primary and secondary schools.

Sources said the proposal is to exchange the land - currently zoned for education purposes - for an undisclosed acreage of land, and the successful bidder will pay the difference in valuations to the landowners to balance the deal.

"There are at least two big property players wanting the land in exchange for their own land. The successful bidder will have to build a new school and chapel for the home at the alternative site," one source said.

It is learnt that the land, which sits in a leafy neighbourhood, is valued at around RM400 per sq ft.

The site is within close proximity to the Penang Chinese Girls High School, Penang Adventist Hospital and the sea-fronting Gurney Drive.

Another piece of prime land on the island, which has come under the spotlight for property players in recent months, is the 65-year-old Penang Sports Club, which is located in one of the island's green lungs and most valuable lots in George Town.

The New Straits Times last year reported that the club, which sits on 6.4ha of leasehold land along Jalan Utama, is believed to be on the brink of losing its clubhouse along with the main car park, swimming pool and most of the tennis courts as it struggles to come up with RM24 million to renew its lease.

The club had reportedly failed to raise the sum and its appeals to pay in instalments were rejected by the state government.

By Business Times

S P Setia Q2 earnings slightly higher at RM92.38m

KUALA LUMPUR: S P Setia Bhd's earnings rose marginally by 0.17% to RM92.38mil in the second quarter ended April 30, 2012 compared with RM92.22mil a year ago due to an absence of a one-off gain from the disposal of an investment property.

It said on Thursday its revenue rose 24.2% to RM617.20mil from RM496.75mil. Earnings per share were 4.85 sen compared with 5.55 sen. It declared an interim dividend of 5.0 sen a share.

"The group reported a profit before taxation (PBT) of RM127.9mil for Q2, 2012, which is 8% higher than RM118.3mil reported for Q2, 2011," it said.

S P Setia said for property development, revenue increased by 29%, while the PBT increased by 6%.

"The increase in revenue is mainly contributed from higher revenue recognition from residential and commercial properties in the Klang Valley, Johor Bahru and Penang," it said.

It explained PBT a year ago had included the gain from disposal of an investment property of the group, hence this saw lower increase in PBT during the current quarter as compared to the increase in revenue.

S P Setia said ongoing projects which contributed to the profit and revenue achieved include Setia Alam and Setia Eco-Park at Shah Alam, Setia Walk at Pusat Bandar Puchong, Setia Sky Residences at Jalan Tun Razak, Bukit Indah, Setia Indah, Setia Tropika and Setia Eco Gardens in Johor Bahru and Setia Pearl Island, Setia Vista and Setia Greens in Penang

For the first half, its earnings rose 7.8% to RM166.38mil from RM154.26mil. Its revenue rose 9.2% to RM1.108bil from RM1.015bil.

By The Star

Residents against development projects

SUBANG Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) should not approve any more commercial developments in USJ 1, Subang Jaya until roads dispersing traffic from the area are fully built.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh said residents had raised concerns over the upcoming commercial projects that will bring heavier traffic to the jam-prone area.

“The residents are not against development but they want a sustainable one that brings more conveniences than problems to the community.

“Thus I urge the local council not to approve any other new commercial development application in the area until a dialogue with USJ 1 residents on this matter is held and detailed solutions are agreed upon.”

Yeoh said two proposed access roads are — from USJ1 to Kesas highway and from Summit USJ area to Persiaran Murni.

She added that currently three new commercial projects in USJ 1 had been approved and work would start soon.

On another matter, Yeoh said residents of SS14, Subang Jaya were crying foul over frequent water disruptions in their residential area and they are not happy with Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) for failing to give prior notice about the disruption.

“I have received a lot of complaints through Twitter and emails about the disruptions that had happened five times in a month.

“I have brought up this issue to Syabas but until now there is no official and proper explanation on the disruption.

“Syabas needs to tell the residents the reasons for the disruptions as soon as possible and what they plan to do about the water supply,” she said.

By The Star

AP Land 14,000 to build houses for servicemen, GDV RM2b

KUALA LUMPUR: AP Land Bhd will build 14,000 houses for the military servicemen in Pahang, Perak and Terengganu.

AP Land chairman Datuk Nazrul Arsad said on Thursday the houses would cost between RM85,000 and RM185,000 each.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the total gross development value of the houses would be about RM2bil.

By The Star

China advisers urge government to relax property curbs

BEIJING: China's top advisory body called on the government to relax property market restrictions to keep the economy growing, a newspaper said, the first such proposal by advisers to steady a weakening house market.

The China Daily cited the Chinese People Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body for parliament, as saying Beijing should loosen purchase restrictions for luxury homes in the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

“Restrictions on purchases should be relaxed for high-end residential properties in first-tier cities,” the newspaper cited the proposal as saying. The paper did not say how it obtained the proposal, saying only that it was released on Tuesday.

This is the first time a group of influential economic advisers have called on China to relax controls on the property market, a once redhot sector that has cooled under a government campaign to make home prices more affordable.

It follows rampant market talk that China could soften its grip on the house market by allowing bigger discounts on mortgage rates, which the government has vehemently denied, saying instead it needs to persevere with price controls.

Premier Wen Jiabao has been adamant that the government will not relax its grip on the housing market even as he has called for other measures to support economic growth.

Analysts said China was unlikely to heed the suggestion as home prices were still too high, but the proposal underlined worries that China's economy could sink into a deeper downturn if the property market was suppressed for too long.

“I don't think the proposal on relaxing restrictions on home purchases will be accepted by the central government since it is in contrast to Beijing's tightening stance,” said Li Wei, economist from Standard Charted Bank in Shanghai.

Growth in the world's second biggest economy slumped to a three-year low of 8.1% in the first quarter as Europe's debt crisis sapped export growth. Analysts forecast growth to slacken further to 7.9% between April and June.

The CPPCC, which includes retired or soon-to-be retired officials, meets in parallel to China's parliament and has no decision-making powers. But it has in the past floated ideas that subsequently became law.

By Reuters