Friday, 28 February 2020

(The Star) New landmark Kuantan 188 is the pride of Pahang

KUANTAN: The Kuantan 188 tower, formerly known as Menara Teruntum, has been handed over to the Pahang government.

East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) chief executive officer Baidzawi Che Mat said the council was proud to hand over Kuantan 188, following the successful completion of the iconic and strategic public infrastructure in September last year.

“This new landmark is the pride of Pahang, being the tallest tower in the East Coast and second tallest tower in Malaysia, after KL Tower.

“I am confident that this new icon will be able to spur tourism in the state as well as bring about spillover socio-economic activities that will benefit the people, ” he said at the handover ceremony held at the tower.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail received the keys to the tower from Baidzawi during the ceremony.

Baidzawi said the Federal Government, through ECERDC, had been working closely with the Pahang state government to implement various high-impact public projects in the effort to realise the government’s vision of Shared Prosperity.

Wan Rosdy (right) and Baidzawi (middle) taking a tour of the tower.

“We are proud to have played a role in realising the construction of this iconic Kuantan 188 project. It is part of our strategy to create destinations by laying the foundation needed to generate interest and add value to surrounding areas that could boost tourism and other economic activities, ” he added.

Kuantan 188 is the latest landmark to be completed in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).

The design concept of the tower, with its upright and tapered profile, is inspired by the shape of the traditional Malay spear tips as found on the Pahang state coat of arms.

The design of the tower’s viewing deck is inspired by the flowers and leaves of the white teruntum plant.

The tower is part of a series of projects to enhance the Kuantan Waterfront and is designed to be a major tourist attraction for both local and foreign tourists.

“Kuantan 188 will complement other tourism attractions that showcase the richness of Pahang’s history and heritage, as well as its natural endowments.

“With its viewing decks, restaurant and other activities available in the tower, as well as the surrounding attractions in the wider Kuantan Waterfront development, it will be a tourist magnet for years to come. This will further spur the socio-economic development of ECER, particularly in Pahang, ” said Baidzawi.

He said apart from Kuantan 188, other tourism projects in Pahang implemented by ECERDC that had been completed last year included the upgrading of facilities at the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah, the interactive Rainforest Discovery Centre at Taman Negeri Endau-Rompin and Temerloh Titik Tengah Semenanjung.

As for the name change from Menara Teruntum to Kuantan 188, Wan Rosdy explained that the latter was more catchy.

“We had a discussion on the tower’s name. Some felt that Menara Teruntum has no commercial value and we chose Kuantan 188 that signifies the height of the tower, ” he said.

(The Star) Street market a new attraction in JB

JOHOR BARU: The newly-developed commercial tourism centre called B5 Johor Street Market will focus on attracting local tourists.

Damansara Asset Sdn Bhd executive director Yusaini Sidek the street market will serve as an option for locals to come with family and friends to enjoy an array of Johor cuisine at the bazaar.

“Covid-19 has made many cancel or postpone travels abroad. We hope they will come here instead, ” he said, adding that the virus had affected the flow of foreign tourist into the state.

“The market was initially planned to tap into Visit Malaysia 2020 and Visit Johor 2020 campaigns.

“We had lined up various arts and cultural activities for the tourists who visit, ” he said after giving media members and tourism industry players a tour of B5 Johor Street Market at Jalan Dato Muthuthambi here.

Yusaini added that the street market, a centralised retail tourism centre, was the first of its kind in the country with all of Johor’s unique features gathered in one place.

The commercial tourism centre is spacious and has reached its full occupancy of 219 traders.

“Travel agents can help promote this place to tourists, both local and foreigners.

“We have four cultural performance every day and the attractions change every festive season and during school holidays.

“Tourists can take part in cultural activities, enjoy local food and buy local souvenirs, ” he said, adding that they were targeting between five and six million visitors in the first year of the street market’s opening.

Yusaini said the market had also reached its full occupancy of 219 traders, with 40% offering food and beverages and 60% in the retail and culture sectors.

“Entrepreneurs are divided into three groups, retail bazaar, box park kiosk and retail lots rented out at a reasonable rate.

“The bazaar will offer different items during the day and night, ” he added. The B5 Johor Street Market was developed by Johor Land Berhad (JLand) and is managed by Damansara Asset Sdn Bhd - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johor Corporation (JCorp).

The groundwork started in February 2018 and was fully completed in February this year with a total development cost of RM40mil.

“We expect a return of investment of three to four percent during this first year and see it increase to six to seven percent subsequently, ” he said.

The B5 Johor Street Market will be operating daily from 10am to 10pm.

(The Star) Call for dual carriageway to ease congestion

SIBU: Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) will listen to residents of Jalan Ulu Sungai Merah and turn the road into a dual carriageway.

Pelawan assemblyman David Wong said residents had complained that the construction of a traffic light intersection at Jalan Ulu Sungai Merah - Jalan Ling Kai Cheng would worsen traffic congestion.

They said unless the road was turned into a dual carriageway, the traffic congestion would never be solved and only get worse.

SMC chairman Clarence Ting, who visited the site with Wong, said however that widening the road would not solve the congestion.

“A passageway at the inner part of the road could help. Dual carriageway, four lanes or even five lanes on each side are of no use as the inner part of the road is a dead-end, ” he said.

Ting said there was now a need to build a new road at the inner part of Jalan Sungai Merah to link it to other roads as an escape route.

“I hope that the authority concerned would consider building this new road as soon as possible, ” he said.

As a temporary measure to ease traffic congestion, he said the council would be opening up space in front of SMK Ulu Sungai Merah and SJK Nang Sang for parents to drop or pick up their children.

“The principal of SMK Ulu Sungai Merah came to see me recently to complain about the congestion. The school has 1,200 students, ” he said.

On the construction of the traffic light intersection there, Ting said the project was approved by the previous administration.

(The Star) Almost ready to serve public

Penang's first Urban Transfor-mation Centre (UTC) is 80% completed and expected to be operational in June.

Komtar assemblyman Teh Lai Heng said the renovation work being carried out by Penang Development Corporation (PDC) would be completed next month.

“After that the premises will be handed over to UTC to set up their equipment, system and furniture.

“I understand 13 Federal Government agencies will move into Komtar and will be housed at Levels Two and Three, ” Teh said in a statement.

UTC, a Federal Government initiative under the Ministry of Finance (MoF), will bring services to the people.

“The renovation work for the proposed area covering about 44,000sq ft is expected to cost PDC RM20mil.

“As the tenant, MoF will pay the rental and facility management charges to PDC, the property owner.

“I lobbied for the setting up of UTC in Komtar a few times at the state legislative assembly.

“Finally, with the assistance of PDC, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, it will become a reality soon.

“Many other states have established UTCs such as Perak, Johor, Pahang, Kedah, Sabah, Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur, ” said Teh.

Teh added that the setting up of UTC Komtar would also help revitalise the area as many parties had shown interest in renting available units in Komtar.

Among the agencies that will operate at UTC Komtar are the Public Services Commission, Royal Malaysian Police, Immigration Department, Health Department, National Higher Education Fund Corporation, Road Transport Department, Inland Revenue Board, Telekom Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional Berhad, National Registration Department and JobsMalaysia.

(NST) Exsim geared up to launch projects outside of Klang Valley this year

EXSIM Development Sdn Bhd (EXSIM Group) is expanding outside of Klang Valley and has inked multiple agreements with landowners in Penang, Johor, and Perak.

The head of marketing and corporate communications, Michelle Siew told NST Property that the agreements were signed in the last few months and are part of the group's strategy to venture out of Klang Valley for expansion.

"We have secured the land, some via outright purchase and the rest we intend to develop jointly with the landowners. The signing stage is over. We are now planning the development and target to launch the projects starting this year," said Siew.

Siew said the projects will have a combination of residential and commercial properties and the ratio will depend on demand in the respective markets.

She said Exsim is all set to perform much better this year over previous years, despite the current property market slowdown.

The group expects its property sales to increase by at least 30 per cent this year, and it could surpass RM2 billion on the back of new launches in Klang Valley, and also in mainland Penang, Johor Bahru and Ipoh, she said.

Last year Exsim registered about RM1.5 billion in sales from its projects in Klang Valley.

"We aim to launch around RM2 billion worth of new projects this year. When we launch we always target 100 per cent sales through various initiatives and promotions. So we are bullish Exsim will meet its RM2 billion sales target.

"For us, we are confident about our product and our workmanship. A product in the right location, with an innovative design, and at the right pricing will always sell," said Siew.

Timber-turned property developer

Exsim was established as a timber company back in 2002. The group ventured into property development in 2009, focusing on residential, commercial and industrial projects in the Klang Valley. Its completed developments include Nouvelle Industrial Park @ Kota Damansara, Nouvelle Kemuning Industrial Park @ Kota Kemuning, Nouvelle Industrial Park @ Meru, The Treez @ Bukit Jalil, The Leafz @ Sungai Besi, Twin Arkz @ Bukit Jalil, Expressionz Professional Suites @ Tun Razak, Petalz Residences @ Old Klang Road,

To date, the group has launched a total of 21 projects with a gross development value of RM8 billion and there's another RM18 billion in the pipeline.

Among its ongoing developments is The Arcuz @ Kelana Jaya, Millerz Square @ Old Klang Road, D'Nuri Residences @ Desa Petaling, Ceylonz Suites @ Bukit Ceylon, and Nouvelle Industrial Park @ Kota Puteri.

Its latest project is Scarletz Suites, which is Exsim’s second commercial property development in Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It is a serviced residence of 604 units housed within a single 49-storey tower, located on Jalan Yap Kwan Seng.

The launch price of this project started from RM750,000, for units sized between 450 square ft and 575 sq ft.

Siew said Scarletz Suites is fully taken up and is expected to be delivered to owners in the third quarter of 2021.

Sukuk issuance for projects

Exsim is raising RM3 billion from two Sukuk issuances to refinance loans as well as buy more land and fund its working capital needs.

The issuances include a RM2 billion Islamic medium-term note programme (IMTN programme) which carries a credit rating of AA3/stable assigned by Ram Ratings Services Bhd, and RM1 billion Islamic commercial papers (ICP).

The Sukuk was structured by NewParadigm Capital Markets Sdn Bhd and guaranteed by Danajamin Nasional Bhd.

The IMTN programme is the first Sukuk structure in Malaysia to monetise the future sales earnings of a commercial real estate development project, whereby each tranche will be secured against a specific project.

Exsim group managing director Lim Aik Hoe said during the signing ceremony recently that the first tranche is backed by the executed sales and purchase agreements of Scarletz Suites.

He said the programmes will help Exsim achieve its next level of growth and provide them with liquidity for future projects.

The first Sukuk programme by Exsim was in January 2019 to monetise its residential real estate earnings.

(The Star) LBS revenue jumps 74.35% in 4Q19

PETALING JAYA: LBS BINA GROUP BHD’s net profit for the fourth quarter to Dec 31,2019 was marginally up to RM17.9mil from RM17.56mil in the same quarter of the previous year.

Revenue was up 74.35% to RM291.1mil.

The increase in both revenue and profit was largely driven by the good take-up rate and steady construction progress from its ongoing projects within the Klang Valley, Pahang and Johor.

Revenue and profit were mainly derived from projects in LBS Alam Perdana, Kita@Cybersouth, Bandar Saujana Putra, Cameron Golden Hills and Skylake Residence.

Projects within the Klang Valley remain the largest revenue contributor, accounting for more than 75% of the group’s revenue for the current financial year.

For the full year to Dec 31,2019, net profit was down 17.4% to RM70.67mil on the back of an 18.1% increase in revenue to RM1.33bil.

The group achieved sales of RM1.63bil in 2019.

On its prospects ahead, the group will continue to focus on project launches mainly in the Klang Valley.

While the prospects for the property industry remain challenging due to global and regional headwinds, the group’s prospects moving forward remain positive with unbilled sales of RM2.24bil.

This is well supported by 18 ongoing projects and a total land bank of approximately 3,980 acres as at Dec 31,2019.

(The Star) I-Bhd profit at RM3.49m

KUALA LUMPUR: I-BHD net profit fell by 43.6% to RM3.49mil in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31,2019 from RM6.19mil a year ago, dragged by lower profit from its property development segment.

The group said the segment posted declining profits due to lower unbilled sales as there was no new project launches since 2018.

As of Dec 31, the group’s unbilled sales stood at RM97.2mil compared with RM112.9mil as at Sept 30,2019, it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.

Meanwhile, revenue was flat at RM47.16mil in the quarter from RM47.96mil a year ago.

For the property investment segment, the improvement in revenue for the quarter arises from the lease of additional completed properties in the segment.

However, the property investment segment posted a loss before tax due to the share of results of an associate.

On the other hand, I-Bhd’s leisure segment revenue and pre-tax profit has been sustainable for the fourth quarter in review.

As I-Bhd prepares for new project launches within i-City, the group would focus on enhancing the value of the of i-City development.

“Hence, great emphasis has been placed in enhancing the community’s experience and holistic living within i-City.

“i-City has come a long way since its inception. With its rapid development, i-City as Selangor’s ‘Golden Triangle’ has created new business opportunities and investments, ” it noted.

I-Bhd said it would also focus on the ongoing development of its investment properties and leisure assets such as GBI-rated corporate office tower, Double Tree by Hilton hotel and second Convention Centre that will contribute strong recurring income stream to the group.

(The Star) Conservative target by Sime Darby Property

KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Property Bhd is maintaining its 2019 sales target of RM2.3bil for this year as it expects a challenging outlook for the property market in 2020.

Acting group chief executive officer Datuk Wan Hashimi Albakri said the group had decided to set a conservative sales target for this year despite a stellar performance in 2019.

“We anticipate 2020 to be a soft, challenging market. With everything that’s happening at the moment, we expect sentiment to be affected, ” he said at a briefing. “However, Malaysia is a resilient country with good fundamentals. We will recover but it will take time.”

Wan Hashimi said Sime Darby Property planned to launch RM2.7bil worth of projects this year, adding that it would sell more properties within the affordable and mid-range price points in strategic locations.

“We’re looking at less than 20 projects this year. We have a breadth of products with differing price ranges from affordable to high end.

“But given the current market uncertainty, in light of the Covid-19 outbreak and the political situation, we’re offering more affordable range of products as that’s where most of the demand is right now, ” he said.

Sime Darby Property achieved sales of RM3.1bil in the financial year ended Dec 31,2019, boosted by contributions from City of Elmina, Bandar Bukit Raja, Serenia City, Putra Heights, KL East and Cantara Residences. Total sales had exceeded its target of RM2.3bil by 35%.

In FY19, it launched 2,917 units with a combined gross development value of RM2.3bil. Total unbilled sales were RM1.6bil as at Dec 31,2019.

The group reported an improved net profit of RM598.5mil for the year, mainly due to higher contributions from its core business of property development as well as one-off gains.

Revenue for 2019 rose 30% to RM3.2bil compared with RM2.4bil in the same period a year ago. The group registered a one-off gain of RM245.5mil from the disposal of properties.

Sime Darby Property is the country’s largest property developer in terms of land bank with 19,978 acres of remaining developable land, equivalent to a gross development value of RM86.9bil.

Wan Hashimi said the property sector received a huge boost last year in the form of the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC).

He said Sime Darby Property is hopeful that the government would consider extending the campaign this year.

(The Star) ‘Much-needed relief for industries affected by virus’

PETALING JAYA: The sizeable RM20bil economic stimulus package provides a much -needed relief for industries affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Socio-economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie noted that the package is a broad-based economic stimulation which targets to mitigate economic pain as well as protect jobs.

“The size of the package is above expectations as we were looking at RM15bil.

“I hope the government will expedite the public investments.

“Measures targeting individuals and businesses, particularly the tourism sector meet our expectations and are rightly channelled to the sector, such as the encouragement of in-bound tourism through the disbursement of e-vouchers and personal income tax relief, ” he said.

Meanwhile, UOB Kay Hian head of research Vincent Khoo opined that the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) rate cut by 4% from 11% to 7%, came as a surprise as it was larger than expected, and a significant portion of this RM10bil from this cut is expected to be translated to an increase in consumer spending.

However, the impact of Covid-19 is still apparent, particularly evident in the retail sector, with low mall traffic.

“Overall, the economic stimulus package is a modest amount contributed by the government.

“Hence, this should not affect the nation’s sovereign credit ratings and there is no overspending, ” said Khoo.

On the SME segment, the Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Berhad (CGC) is participating in Bank Negara RM2bil Special Relief Facility (SRF) for SMEs under the government’s 2020 Economic Stimulus Package.

The SRF is to alleviate SMEs’ short-term cash flow problems due to the COVID-19 outbreak and to assist them in sustaining their business operations.

In support of this, CGC is offering BizJamin SRF and BizJamin-i SRF guarantee schemes to SMEs affected by the Covid-19 outbreak from March 6 onwards to December 31,2020.

RHB Banking Group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli also announced that RHB is currently offering those who are affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, a moratorium of up to six months for monthly instalment payments of loans and financing, which are reviewed on a case-to-case basis.

“This stimulus package will help ease the financial burden faced by the business community and individuals in light of Covid-19 outbreak and headwinds in the local and global business environment.

“It comprehensively addresses the needs of businesses including SMEs during this trying period, in particular for tourism and infrastructure related sectors that are likely to be affected.

“The stimulus will ensure that the economic risks from Covid-19 is effectively managed.

“It will also further strengthen the economy by mobilising domestic sources of growth, boosting consumption and driving quality investments, ” he said.

Mah Sing Bhd founder and group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum lauded the government’s move to reduce the EPF’s minimum contribution rate which will potentially unlock up to RM10bil worth of private consumption, as well as the 6% service tax exemption for hotels, RM100 travel vouchers for Malaysian citizens, along with the personal income tax relief of up to RM1,000 for domestic travel.

“This will enable consumers to have extra spending power, which in turn would boost domestic expenditure and consumer sentiment.

“This includes spending on purchase of a property particularly in the affordable segment targeted at first-time homebuyers.

“Our newly launched ‘Eazy to Own’ campaign ties in well with this move, ” he said.

(The Star) AirAsia and AAX see major challenges in first half 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Both AIRASIA BHD and AirAsia X Bhd that posted big losses in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31 (4Q19), foresee major challenges in the first half of this year as the airline industry have been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

AirAsia’s acting chief executive officer and president for airlines Bo Lingam said the challenging start to this year with the ourbreak of the virus had disrupted some of the group’s businesses due to travel restrictions, flight delays and cancellations.

Despite the decline in demand for airline travel, he added that the group was taking proactive actions by managing capacity and costs to mitigate the challenging environment.

“They include active capacity management since early February, aggressive marketing push to pursue market share, redeploying capacity to domestic and intra-Asean flights as well as engaging and collaborating with industry stakeholders and authorities for incentives, discounts and rebates.

“With our proactive approach in managing the situation through these measures, in addition to stricter implementation of internal cost control, we believe we will recover as soon as possible and come out stronger, as we have shown in previous aviation shocks, ” Bo Lingam said in a statement.

Given the challenging environment surrounding the virus outbreak, AirAsia projects that it may not achieve its internal targets for 2020, though it expects to bounce back after Covid-19 dissipates.

AirAsia Bhd posted a second straight quarterly loss of RM384.5mil on revenue of RM3.36bil.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the consolidated airline group was positive at RM368mil in the quarter compared to a loss of RM91mil in 4Q18.

For full year ended Dec 31 (FY19), AirAsia made a net loss of RM303.7mil on revenue of RM12.45bil.

Meanwhile, AirAsia X also posted a net loss of RM95.80mil for 4Q19 on revenue of RM1.19bil.

Moving forward, it said the passenger bookings in the upcoming months were trending lower and the fares were expected to be under pressure given the outbreak of Covid-19.

“To mitigate the aforementioned risks, the company will launch extensive promotional campaigns and redeploy capacity into other core markets to counter the impact of the weak global economy as well as the virus outbreak.”