Saturday, 30 June 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) KSL awaiting nod for project

PROPERTY developer KSL Holdings Bhd is yet to receive building approval for its proposed 10-storey high-end condominium development in Jalan Madge off Jalan U-Thant, Kuala Lumpur.

The project has been on KSL's plans as far back as 2010, a company official said, who declined to put a timeline on the possible approval.

KSL first obtained the project's land in June 2010 for RM24.5 million.

Meanwhile, the company yesterday told its shareholders it would not be paying out dividends this year in a move to cut its gearing level.

KSL executive chairman Ku Hwa Seng said while it was a bitter pill for the shareholders to swallow, the management believes it was in the best interest of the company.

KSL has some RM243 million in borrowings, while cash stood at negative RM582,000.

Ku told Business Times the company hopes to shave off about RM100 million off its borrowings.

On its biggest project KSL City, Ku said the 868-room KSL Resort is currently 70 per cent completed, while KSL City Mall is 85 per cent occupied.

The average room rate (ARR) at KSL Resort is between RM150 and RM160 currently, at promotional rates.

Ku is confident that the ARR will reach RM200 at the end of the promotional period at end-July.

Next week, the developer with land mainly in Johor will launch phase one of its RM2.5 billion Bandar Bestari mixed development project in Klang.

The project will have a gross development value of RM200 million.

KSL has some 800ha of undeveloped land bank and is still on the look out for more land, Ku said.


(BUSINESS TIMES) Tradewinds kicks off RM6b project, upgrades more assets

KUALA LUMPUR: Tradewinds Corp Bhd (TCB) will demolish the Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur and Kompleks Antarabangsa as early as the first quarter of 2013 to build a RM6 billion Tradewinds Centre.

To be located on a 2.8ha site, the project with four towers and a retail podium, will have a total gross floor area of 3.77 million sq ft and a net floor area of 2.78 million sq ft.

The whole project will be completed in 2019.

“The buildings (along Jalan Sultan Ismail) will be demolished in the first quarter of 2013 or early part of the second quarter,” group chief executive officer Shaharul Farez Hassan said.

Shaharul said Crowne Plaza’s last day of operations will be on January 2 next year and that TCB is in negotiations with hotel operator InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) on ending the management contract ahead of its term.

It is understood that Crowne Plaza held a townhall session yesterday to notify its staff on the last day of operations.

Shaharul said financing for the project would be from a combination of debt and equity.

“We will fund it with debt and equity. We are in talks with key bankers,” he said, adding that the ratio would be 70:30.

Another redevelopment by TCB is the Mutiara Burau Bay Resort in Langkawi, which will close in the first quarter next year.

The hotel is slated for a makeover that would push it to a five-star property from three-starTCB will spend about RM200 million to develop the property, targeted for completion in three years.

TCB, which has been the operator of Mutiara Burau Bay for Langkawi Development Authority, will now lease the land and build its own hotel.

It plans to hire a third party to manage the property.

TCB has refurbished some of its hotels to cushion the impact of the closures of Kompleks Antarabangsa, Crowne Plaza, Mutiara Burau Bay and Menara Tun Razak (MTR).

The latter building at Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur will be upgraded to a Grade A office building.

Refurbishing efforts include renovating the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa for an estimated RM60 million, Hilton Petaling Jaya (RM50 million), Hilton Kuching and Hotel Istana.

Shaharul, who spoke to reporters after TCB's annual general meeting yesterday, said the upgrading of MTR will help double its per sq ft rent to RM7 from RM3.50. The block is expected to be completed by end-2014.

A new tower called MTR2, to be built adjacent to MTR , has been sold to Tradewinds (M) Bhd for RM510 million.

On reports that TCB is interested in buying Bukit Bintang Plaza to accommodate the MY Rapid Transit (MRT) station, chairman Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas said: "We are in talks (with UDA Holdings Bhd), but nothing concrete has come out of it."

TCB also said that it is unlikely that anything will happen soon to its planned redevelopment of Hotel Istana.


(NST) Villa-style resort in Langkawi

Langkawi's landscape is set to change with the launch of the Seri Chenang Resort & Spa Langkawi today.

KUALA LUMPUR: The newly-built resort designed by Malaysian architect Datuk Zainal Abidin Ali offers villa-style accommodation.

It has six villas, each with its own characteristics.

They are Rumah Kedah, Rumah Selangor, Rumah Melaka, Rumah Negri Sembilan, Rumah Pahang and Rumah Terengganu.

Rumah Kedah can be rented as one villa or as three suite units. The three units are Alor Star Suite which is on the upper floor, while Sungai Petani Suite and Kuah Suite are on the ground floor respectively and consist of five rooms in total.

Rumah Selangor is offered as one villa as a whole or two suite units. The two units are call Shah Alam Suite and Klang Suite respectively and consists of three suite rooms as a whole.

Rumah Melaka, too, is offered to guests as a one villa as a whole or two suite units -- Ayer Keroh Suite and Alor Gajah Suite -- each with two king size beds, two TVs, a living room, a dining area, a kitchenette, bathroom (bathtub, and standing shower) and a verandah.

Rumah Negri Sembilan is a single-storey timber house on stilts. It is a self-contained studio suite unit with an open sky shower and bath.

It has a king-sized bed, two TVs, a living room, a kitchenette, a bathroom (bathtub, and standing shower) and dining area on the verandah.

Rumah Pahang and Rumah Terengganu are also similar to Rumah Negri Sembilan.

Apart from that, the resort offers spa service at Kayangan Spa which was designed by Julie Dharma of Dharma Spa Services, Bali.

Seri Chenang Resort and Spa Langkawi chief executive officer Norlin Zainal Abidin said the resort aimed to pamper and make their guests feel special.

"We are offering them an opportunity to escape from the hectic urban life an indulge themselves in a unique blend of culture and luxury," said Norlin.

The media were given a preview of the resort in Kuala Lumpur recently.

Ministry of Tourism Malaysia secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng officiated at the soft launch of Seri Chenang Resort and Spa Langkawi.

For details on the resort, visit

(NST) Terengganu hotel beckons

SEASIDE RESORT:Primula Beach Hotel offers old world charm with modern facilities

The picturesque azure blue sea, beautiful beach and swaying coconut palms form the backdrop of Primula Beach Hotel.

An international-class business hotel established in 1984, it is one of the landmarks in Kuala Terengganu.

It is just a stone's throw away from the business hub and places of attractions in town.

In line with the rich heritage of Terengganu, the design of the 248-room hotel has local elements with a contemporary feel.

Each room has an attached balcony overlooking the South China Sea. The colour schemes further enhance the comfort and coziness of the rooms.

The hotel has several restaurants serving delicious local, Western and fusion cuisine.

The newly renovated Bayu Restaurant now has a new contemporary style that is also in harmony with Terengganu's heritage.

Besides serving one of the best buffet meals in town, the hotel also offers an array of local and Continental a la carte and buffet cuisine. Diners also enjoy a view of the shimmering sea.

With 10 function rooms and a large convention hall that can accommodate up to 1,200 guests, the hotel has hosted many functions ranging from international conventions and seminars to wedding receptions and launches of branded products.

The hotel has also served as caterers to the ruling Sultan of Terengganu's functions.

Adjacent to Bayu Restaurant is the Anjung Bistro.

It's a delightfully informal open concept bistro that offers all-day dining of authentic Asian dishes.

It also gives diners a view of the beach and sea.

The Kuala Kopi Lounge with Wi-Fi access provides an appealing ambience for those who want to enjoy a special tete-a-tete with friends.

They can also unwind and surf the Internet here over a thirst-quenching drink and tasty snack.

Nowhere can you find local coffee served in so many different ways to suit your different moods.

Step into the impressive pillar-less Gamelan Convention Hall and you'll know why it has been the venue of choice for many prominent conferences and meetings.

It is second to none in Terengganu where gatherings of this sort are concerned.

For smaller gatherings, there is a choice of 10 other rooms that come with audio-visual equipment.

A team of dedicated and experienced conference service staff are on hand to make your function a stress-free and efficient affair.

In conclusion, Primula Beach Hotel offers an old world charm together with modern facilities.

Guests are thus assured of a memorable experience when they visit or stay at the hotel.


(The Star) Tradewinds to launch RM6bil project

KUALA LUMPUR: Property and hotel group Tradewinds Corp Bhd will launch a RM6bil mixed development project called Tradewinds Centre which will be completed by 2020.
Chairman Tan Sri Megat Najimuddin Megat Khas said construction on a 2.8ha site currently occupied by the Crowne Plaza Mutiara KL and Kompleks Antarabangsa on Jalan Sultan Ismail would start next year.
The two properties, owned by Tradewinds, will be demolished to make way for the new development.
Days numbered: Crowne Plaza will cease operations early next year for Tradewinds Centre, a RM6bil mixed development project.
There will be compensation for unionised employees at the Crowne Plaza. “As for Inter Continental Hotels Group (IHG) which manages the hotel, it has a few years left in its contract and we will negotiate with them,” said group chief executive officer Shaharul Farez Hassan after a shareholders meeting.
He did not elaborate.
Crowne Plaza would cease operations on Jan 2, 2013, he added.
Meanwhile, Megat said Tradewinds Centre would comprise Grade A+ offices, retail offices and serviced apartments, where the centrepiece would be a 65-storey officer tower.
The project would be funded by a combination of debt and equity, he said.
He said Tradewinds was “in discussions” with regard to reports that it had expressed interest to acquire the 38-year-old Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza), which needed to be demolished in order for a My Rapid Transit (MRT) station to be built.
Earlier reports had noted that Tradewinds had approached the current owner of BB Plaza which is UDA Holdings Bhd to redevelop the complex after the MRT station had been completed, under a 50:50 joint venture.
However, UDA's board had reportedly declined because the returns were not lucrative enough.
“There's nothing concrete with regards to this as yet,” said Megat.
For its first quarter ended March 31, Tradewinds made a net profit of RM13.4mil, or 1.21 sen per share, on revenue of RM127.3mil. This compares with a net profit of RM11.9mil, or 1.08 sen per share, on revenue of RM123.1mil for the same quarter a year earlier.

(The Star) 6.9% growth in KLIA first-quarter passenger movement

SEPANG: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) recorded a 6.9% growth in passenger movement to 9.6 million in the first quarter of 2012 from 8.9 million in the previous corresponding quarter.
“We are on track to achieve the target of 40 million passengers for KLIA by the end of 2012,” Malaysian Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) chief operating officer Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohd Ali told reporters at KLIA's 14th anniversary celebration.
The airport served 37.7 million passengers in 2011, an increase of 10.7% against 34.1 million in 2010.
He said the growth was attributed by factors such as an increase in flight frequencies, commencement of new routes from airline partners and the airline's incentive initiative, which included low landing charges for aircraft.
“KLIA has once again launched itself in terms of providing a world standard service. We already take into consideration the landing of a big plane when KLIA was planned,” he said, drawing example of the arrival of MAS' first Airbus A380 yesterday morning.
Although much of the company's capital expenditure is focused on KLIA 2, he said: “There will be an on-going expenditure for upgrading and maintenance of the current airport.”
MAHB has spent RM40mil to modify KLIA's baggage system and another RM50mil to upgrade its close-circuit television surveillance system last year.
Currently, KLIA and the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) have a combined capacity of about 43million-45 million passengers. Upon completion of KLIA 2 next year, KLIA's capacity will be 70 million passengers.
Hamid also said LCCT would be closed and all low-cost operations would be transferred to KLIA 2 when it was fully completed.
Up to end of May this year, KLIA and LCCT recorded a total of 16 million passengers.

Friday, 29 June 2012

(NST) Special shop and stay packages

GREAT DEALS: Johor Premium Outlets is working with selected hotels to offer special room rates, shopping discounts and free shuttle services

JOHOR Premium Outlets (JPO) has partnered with several hotels to introduce year-round shop & stay packages which include special room rates, shopping discounts and free shuttle services.

The packages are available at LeGrandeur Palm Resort, Mutiara Johor Bahru, Pulai Springs Resort, Thistle Hotel, Silka Hotel and other hotels.

Each package can be purchased directly through the hotels, and guests will receive a complimentary Johor Premium Outlets VIP coupon book.

JPO, which opened last December, is the first Premium Outlet Center in the Southeast Asia.

More than 80 leading designer and name brands are available, includes Adidas, Armani, Burberry, Canali, Coach, Esprit, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gap, Guess, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Nike, Oroton, Royal Selangor, Salvatore Ferragamo, Swiss Watch Gallery, Timberland and Tumi.

It also offers various food and beverage options, and amenities such as an Information Center, ATM machines, stroller rentals and wheelchairs.

JPO opens from 10am to 10pm and offers savings of 25 to 65 per cent daily. For details, visit


(NST) Council to discuss hotel issue today

OBJECTION: Subang Jaya council to review approval given to Grand Dorsett Subang Hotel’s extension plans

Number of councillors at the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) full-board meeting on Wednesday objected to the approval given to Grand Dorsett Subang Hotel to carry out landscape works in its extension plans.

Council president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi, who initially agreed with the decision by both the council's one-stop centre and landscaping department, said the consent was given on technical grounds.

He, however, has now agreed to discuss the matter in an internal meeting with MPSJ technical departments today.

Earlier, councillor Chang Kim Loong said such approvals should not be given when the main issue had yet to be settled.

He was seconded by R. Rajiv who urged the council not to approve the application as investigations into whether the hotel rooms could be sold was still pending.

Earlier this month, the council had called for a review of the permit granted to the hotel to sell its suites.

It had also sent a letter to the Housing and Local Government Ministry asking for the sales to be suspended pending the review.

The planning approval given by the council in 2010 was to expand the hotel and construct a block of 1,986 units of hotel suites.

It later found out through newspaper advertisements that the hotel suites were up for sale which qualified it as serviced apartments.


(NST) New interchange at MEX

HIGHLY APPRECIATED:More than 100,000 motorists from Serdang and Puchong to benefit as travelling time to the city will be reduced by half

THE building of an interchange on Maju Expressway (MEX) will benefit more than 100,000 residents around here and in Puchong.

Serdang MCA chairman Datuk Liew Yuen Keong said the proposed interchange at Jalan Serdang Raya/Jalan Puchong was approved by the cabinet early this year.

"Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor will visit the site next month.

"Details on the concessionaire, commencement and duration of the project will be revealed then," he said.

Liew added that the interchange would bypass Jalan Pudu and the Smart tunnel and exit at Jalan Tun Razak.

"Residents will able to save 20 minutes from the current 45-minute travel to Kuala Lumpur from here," he explained.

Also present at the press conference were Wanita MCA secretary-general senator Chew Lee Giok and other community leaders.

"We are looking forward to this interchange project to overcome traffic congestions in Jalan Besar Seri Kembangan.

"Currently, the road is the main access for residents to head for the city," she said.

MEX connects Kuala Lumpur to Cyberjaya, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

At present, its interchanges are at Kampung Pandan, Salak South, Kuchai Lama, Bukit Jalil and Putrajaya Utama.


(NST) Keramat Mall welcomes other traders

NO CHOICE:Since traders at the Datuk Keramat market refuse to relocate, City Hall is offering the mall’s shop lots to those keen to operate there

KERAMAT Mall will be opened for other traders in the vicinity if Datuk Keramat market traders and hawkers remain defiant to continue their business at the old market.

Mayor Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said City Hall is now left with no choice but to allow the traders to continue their business at the old market.

"We had a dialogue session with the traders' association last February and many of them have decided not to move to Keramat Mall.

"We have built a modern and comfortable place for them to run their business but they are still reluctant. What else can we do? We cannot force them to relocate if they refuse to leave the present market," said Fuad.

He added that City Hall will not take action on these reluctant traders.

"We will not demolish the old Datuk Keramat market. Traders who are willing to move to Keramat Mall are welcome to do so. Now we are offering the shop lots to other traders from nearby areas and they can start anytime."

Fuad said this after launching the Chow Kit redevelopment open day at Brisdale Hotel recently.

Fuad said that the arrangement of the lots and the multi-storey building were among the reasons the traders did not want to relocate.

The traders claimed that the arrangement of the premises was not strategic. The wet market, for instance, is located on the first floor as compared to just one level at the present Datuk Keramat market.

Streets had highlighted the issue of Keramat Mall turning into a white elephant if it failed to get traders from the market to relocate.

The complex, built at a cost of RM70 million, was to house a wet market, dry market, food court and a multipurpose hall as well as parking bays.

A recent Streets check of the old Datuk Keramat market showed that the market was a hive of activity.

We found that the level of cleanliness of the market was below satisfactory.

The waste from various stalls, especially the wet market were not disposed of properly and the drain was clogged with garbage.

Datuk Keramat resident, Munap Long, 66, said it was time for traders to change and make a fresh start.

"I buy my provisions at the old market regularly as it is the nearest market to my house. But I feel uncomfortable to do my shopping here as the market is old and dirty.

"I don't mind if the traders move to Keramat Mall as the complex provides a comfortable and cleaner environment. It is only half a mile away from the old market," said Munap, who has been living in Datuk Keramat for over 30 years.

Streets also visited Keramat Mall. There was a slight improvement since our visit four months ago as there was an increase in visitors and new tenants.

There are three new food operators at the ground level and tailors at the ground and first floors.

Food operator Husin Mat Dali said with the additional traders, the number of customers has increased slightly.

"The staff and workers from the nearby commercial areas are aware of our existence and they have their breakfast and lunch here regularly," said Husin.

"But we are still worried as many are unaware that Keramat Mall has been opened," said Husin, who moved in last September.


(The Star) The junction for culinary joy

FLAVOURS excite where worlds collide, as sparks of innovation ignite for the palate’s delight. Coalescing eastern and western sensations, The 1885 thrills with a medley of intertwining creations.
The award-winning, fine dining outlet of Eastern and Oriental (E&O) Hotel in Penang has long prided itself on offering guests the best of both worlds.
It is something that new executive chef, Petr Feher, is keen on taking to greater heights.
Promising gourmands surprising twists through his cuisine, which he describes as Asian-Continental, the affable Czech chef highlights the mixing of elements as central to the experience.
“I try to keep it simple, but not simplistic. Yet with a touch of sophistication. With food, the possibilities are endless, and the sky is the limit,” he said.
Feher brings a wealth of experience, boasting an illustrious CV that includes numerous positions at 5-star hotels and Michelin restaurants in the United States, England, Canada, Hungary, Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland and his homeland.
Growing up in the suburbs of Prague, he helped his parents in the garden, planting various crops from garlic to potatoes and peas. It gave him a profound respect for produce, and the work that goes into harvesting it.
“I’ve always believed that laughter comes through the stomach. When you make food with joy, the customer tastes your pas- sion.
“My mum was a great chef, and I grew up cooking with her. In my teenage years, I had to choose between being a musician or a cook. I opted for the later, and looking back, I think I made the right choice,” he opined.
Feher believes that the key to being a successful chef, is being able to adapt to the taste buds of the local community. Towards that end, he often visits the local market, to see what inspires him.
His inter-worldly approach is evident in one of his groundbreaking creations — Grain-Fed Australian Beef Tenderloin, with Potato Fondant, Caramelised Shallots and Rendang Sauce.
A distinctly western offering with a Malaysian twist, the prime slab of meat is perfect medium done, and bursts with juices and flavour. The accompanying rendang sauce adds a gentle, spicy edge, but is not overpowering.
“Every dish has a history behind it. I simply try to come up with something that makes it better,” quipped Feher, a fan of local ikan bakar.
The Squid Ink Tagliolini with Spicy Lamb Mergues Sausage, Calamari and Sun Dried Tomatoes, breaks with convention through its unorthodox combo of ingredients.
Artfully plated to play on colours, the contrast of flavours and textures makes for a delectably light and refreshing dish.
Feher’s Pan-seared Scallop, Tuna, Baby Lobster, White Asparagus and Saffron Aioli appetiser combo is another that highlights the chef’s attention to detail and aesthetic appeal. The colours of the garden and the marine world, congeal into a kaleidoscopic palette.
Expect further palate-thrilling delights as the chef revamps the menu in the coming months, as he stamps his mark with more innovative offerings.
After all, with a Czech chef who loves having eggs with cili padi in the morning, and eats sambal belacan by the spoonful, you know pleasant surprises are just a flip of the menu away.
For reservations, call the hotel at 04-2222000.

(The Star) State earmarks 24ha land in Sungai Soi to build houses for them

KUANTAN: The state is mulling over a proposal to build affordable houses for the second generation of villagers in Kampung Baru Seri Teruntum said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
Adnan said a plot of land measuring 24ha in Sungai Soi was being earmarked under the proposal to construct houses worth about RM100,000 each.
“We are in the midst of ascertaining the status of the land before making a decision on the matter.
“If the land is found to be suitable, some 300,000 units of houses could be built to benefit the people,” he said during a public gathering with local residents here recently.
Also present were Teruntum assemblyman Chang Hong Seong, Kuantan MCA division chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker and his deputy Laow Weng Choon. Adnan said the state government was aware of the difficulties of the second generation of villagers to own a property.
He said due to the rising cost of living, many were unable to save enough money for the purchase of a house.
“Under the proposal, the houses would be built using the ready-made concept to make it more affordable for these villagers to realise their dreams of owning a decent house.
“So far, four sites in the state have adopted this concept including those in Bentong and Lipis,” he said.
On a separate matter, Adnan reminded the people to obtain and fill up a form extending their land grant to 99 years.
He said it was just a formality to avoid any problem from arising although the respective land offices would update the land status automatically.
Later, he announced an allocation of RM5,000 to the new village and presented residents with some daily necessities.

(The Star) Buying the right address

Property developers and their top executives are always on the lookout for the next hot concept but unfortunately, most of them take the easy way out by copying each other’s ideas.
However, that may not necessarily be a bad idea in itself, if they take the trouble to understand, adapt and improve on such concepts.
What were at one time novel and innovative concepts, such as SoHo units, concierge service, private lift lobby, integrated development and Green certification, have become common these days. Judging from completed projects of certain developers and the upcoming development of others, one might say, there have been and will be, hits and misses.
Thus, property buyers and investors have to be on a constant vigil in their mission to buy a choice property and not fall for fancy promises of the sales and marketing team that don’t really add up.
Over the benchmark: Some of the serviced apartment units at the upcoming Icon City development in Petaling Jaya already cost over RM1,000 psf.
Integrated notion
One senior executive of a top property group pointed out that so-called “integrated developments” are not really integrated at all.
It is now fashionable for property developments to be touted as “integrated” but what really does it mean? Such a concept may allude to the fact that when you live in such a development, you can literally work, play and entertain within your self-contained neighbourhood.
But is there a real mall, hypermarket or even a supermarket within the development or a cineplex to catch the latest movie on a wide-screen cinema hall? Small-scale retail outlets and boutiques don’t count. For example, a certain mixed development in KL is being built near a mall with a “link” to it.
“But is this development really integrated,” asked the sceptical chief operating officer, “And they are charging over RM1,000 per square foot?”
Chef Wan’s dream home
Speaking of investment, while visiting Mah Sing Group’s property roadshow held at the Equatorial Hotel near their South Bay City project, I had the chance to chat with a celebrity who bought a house for over RM3mil while promoting Mah Sing’s property at the Shangri-La Hotel in KL recently. The roadshow continues in Johor Baru tomorrow till Sunday at the KLS Hotel.
Chef Redzuawan Ismail who is popularly known as Chef Wan, needed no prompting to talk about his latest property acquisition.
The 3½-storey detached house is one of 69 “limited edition homes” in the Aspen Garden Residence project in Cyberjaya. The corner unit spans 7,800sq ft and the land area is 6,500sq ft. It comes with a lift and has a large entertainment space on the rooftop garden. The house will be ready early next year as the developer will customise the unit to fit Chef Wan’s specifications.
Said Chef Wan, “I have been looking for a house for sometime. And Cyberjaya will be ideal for my new home as it is only minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. In my line of work, I am always flying in and out of the country.”
The celebrity said he had considered Bukit Jelutong in Shah Alam as well as Country Heights in Kajang but he didn’t fancy the houses there for various reasons.
“What I like about Mah Sing’s houses is that they don’t cut corners. There is plenty of space on the different levels. Relatives can come and stay and I will still have plenty of privacy. Also, the 69 units are uniformly elegant in architectural design without jarring monstrosities in the neighbourhood,” explained Chef Wan.
“I particularly like the rooftop garden space. As I like to throw parties and entertain my friends, it will be ideal.”
The chef who admitted to being a shopaholic, added that after 26 years in the business, he could afford to splurge on his new home. He turns 55 in January.
“I need plenty of wardrobe space as I have shoes like Imelda Marcos and lots of travel bags and watches,” said Chef Wan candidly, as he dangled his RM8,000 Ferragamo sling bag.
He also needs kitchen space and a large dining room to showcase his collection of bone china and other tableware that he has collected from around the world on his many assignments.
One of his requests to the developer is to change the timber flooring of the upper levels to marble. When told that it could be a bit “cold” to the overall ambience of the house, Chef Wan quipped that he has plenty of rugs and Persian carpets to put on the floor.
And when he moves into his new home early next year, Chef Wan will give his 3,000sq ft penthouse in Ampang to his son, Chef Mond Nadzri Redzuawan, better known as Chef Riz who is married to an actress.
And while talking of his “1 Market by Chef Wan” Asean food court project for Singapore Food Junction under LIPPO Corporation, one of the senior executives of Mah Sing suggested that he could do the same concept for another of the group’s property development in Bangi that spans 162ha (400 acres).
Chef Wan’s latest F&B project in a mall on Orchard Road, will encompass about 1,300sq m (14,000sq ft) of space and can seat 500 people. It will cost an estimated RM20mil (S$8mil) to materialise. It is scheduled to open in October.
Going RM1,000 psf in PJ
Radical idea: A skyscraper under construction in Mumbai, India, not only includes more than 200 apartments, three levels of car park space, a gym and sauna, but it also features pools on the edges of several balconies.
Remember a previous Early Bird article that talked about how property in Petaling Jaya will eventually hit the RM1,000 per square foot benchmark? Well, that benchmark has been breached.
Coincidentally, it is another property development that belongs to the Mah Sing Group. We are referring to the Icon City development in PJ that spans 8ha (20 acres).
This development is at the intersection of the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) and the Federal Highway, formerly the site of the Panasonic factory within the Sungei Way Free Trade Zone.
Both the Icon Residenz serviced apartment component as well as the i-SoVo (small office versatile office) component (Phase 1), have exceeded RM1,000 psf.
While bookings for the residential units were recorded since last September, it was only last month that actual sales were transacted following approval from the authorities.
And one of the smaller Icon Residenz units at 594sq ft was sold for RM632,000 or RM1,063 per sq ft. This was achieved on May 12 when the development was “officially” launched.
Icon Residenz serviced apartments total 572 units but only 248 units were open for sale. There are five layout options from one-bedroom to four plus one-bedroom units ranging from 557sq ft to 1,795sq ft. The average cost per sq foot is RM986 psf.
The i-SoVo units comprise 366 Duplex units, with a built-up from 745sq ft to 1,094sq ft and 91 Simplex units at 436sq ft each.
Average cost per square foot is RM950 while the highest price unit, in terms of per square foot, was sold for RM1,080 psf.
An upward trend
Housing prices in Petaling Jaya and elsewhere in the country continue on an upward trend. According to a recent report by Oriental Realty and Zeppelin Real Estate Analysis Ltd, the residential property market in Malaysia has seen an overall price gain of 78% from the first quarter of 2000 to the third quarter of 2011. Log on to for details on which type of home has gained the most.
You can also read about the case of a married couple who wants to upgrade to landed property (Old But Expensive) but finds the asking price of double-storey terraced houses in PJ is already in the range of RM700,00-RM950,000.
Aussie expertise
There will be a forum on Liveable And Sustainable Cities Of The Futureon July 2 at the Shangri-La Hotel KL to be hosted by the Victorian Government Business Office (VGBO). A delegation comprising 17 Victorian companies will share with Malaysians the latest in sustainable solutions as well as best practices in managing city development.
The Australian delegates will also undertake a series of business meetings to boost collaboration in sustainable development in cities.
The VGBO quotes the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Report (August 2011) which rates Melbourne (capital of Victoria) as the most liveable city in the world, while Kuala Lumpur is ranked 71.
Medical tourism
While our Malaysian tourism sector has been promoting “medical tourism” for a while now, the Indonesians have just embarked on their own version of the scheme in Bali.
Merging a luxury hotel property with medical treatment, the hybrid “product” is an interesting concept though not novel. The BIMC Hospital Group in partnership with the Courtyard by Marriott Bali will provide the country’s first medical tourism package tours and services for inbound travellers.
Inaugurated on May 5 by Indonesian Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Mari Elka Pangestu, along with officials from the Ministry of Health and the Balinese government, the internationally managed BIMC Hospital offers visitors the country’s most advanced dialysis treatment, surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures as well as dental care.
Located along a palm-lined boulevard neighbouring BIMC Hospital in the integrated resort complex of Nusa Dua, the Courtyard by Marriott Bali has added specific after-care services in preparation for the launch of the medical facility.
Along with in-room and resort-wide comfort and facilities, the resort is the first property in Indonesia to coordinate specialised medical services such as aftercare visits by BIMC Hospital nurses. Does any of our property owners or developers harbour such an idea?
Balcony pool
One radical idea in property development is found in Mumbai in India. While balcony space in Malaysia is hardly used, one architect has found a seemingly great use for it, by turning it into a pool.
The online abc News network recently reported that a skyscraper ( under construction in Mumbai not only includes more than 200 apartments, three levels of car park space, a gym and sauna, but it also features pools on the edges of several balconies.
Called the Aquaria Grande, the two 37-storey towers were designed by architect James Law and the real estate company Wadhwa Group.
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(The Star) Supplying fun and happiness

DID you know that it was a ballooning party supply business that afforded the Middletons an affluent lifestyle and provided Kate Middleton the means to enter into some of the priciest private schools in Britain, where she met her prince?
In Malaysia, party supply are becoming more sought after as party-goers are more willing to spend to add to the festivity.
And although the retail party goods industry here is not as happening as the US$10bil (RM30mil) industry in the US, party supply start-ups here are carving up success stories after years of educating the public on the value of paying for a good celebration.
Not sufficient: There is global shortage of helium and it has affected the price of helium balloons.
Coleen Koh, founder and director of Balloon Bouquet Sdn Bhd, the parent company of the Balloon Buzz franchise remembers the challenges she had to face when she decided to open her first party shop.
“I was biting my nails for the first three months. No one knew what we were doing and we had to educate the public on the things that can be done for a party. The market wasn’t really ready then.
“And there was only one other party shop at that time, so there was no benchmark for the success of this kind of business here although the trend was already there in the US,” she said.
Balloon Bouquet started as a home-based business in 2002 supplying balloons for occasions. But after much encouragement from her customers, Koh opened a retail outlet where her customers could get their party supply from.
Koh added that consumers then were used to getting free balloons from promotional events and not many were willing to pay for floating balloons and party items.
But Koh’s entrepreneurial spirit has paid off and there are now 12 Balloon Buzz outlets around Klang Valley.
Balloon Buzz expanded rapidly when Koh decided to take on the franchising route at the end of 2006. The franchise fee for Balloon Buzz is RM50,000 and the estimated start-up cost for an outlet is RM200,000.
“We have opened and closed some outlets along the way. But after 12 outlets, we have learned a lot about what the market is like. But even now, the market here can still be considered a relatively new market,” she said.
Koh considers Balloon Bouquet’s bold move into franchising as a pioneering step to open up the retail party goods market here.
Apart from balloons, products available at Balloon Buzz include décor for venue, items for door gifts as well as wearables such as accessories and costumes.
“You must have a passion to help customers plan their parties. This business is not for someone who wants to just sit behind the counter. It comes with skill, passion and care. It’s a happy business,” she said.
Perfect match: Quek embarked on the party shop business after proposing to his then fiance, now wife Clara.
Benjamin Quek, owner of Subang-based Party Paradise Shop, couldn’t agree more.
Quek, who comes from an engineering background, started his party supply shop two years ago after he found difficulty sourcing for good quality balloons to propose to his then fiancée, Clara.
“I didn’t really know where we will go when I first started the business. The first three months were quite bad and at some point we wondered if we were doing the right thing,” he said.
But Quek is happy that he persevered. With a start-up capital of RM90,000 to RM100,000, he brought his dream of making customers happy to life. For Quek, there is nothing quite like supplying fun and putting a smile on someone’s face.
But Quek worked hard to build Party Paradise Shop. In its early days, he went door to door to promote his outlet and worked with florists to get his products out.
Finding the right location was also a task for Quek before they settled for a first floor shop fronting the New Pantai Expressway.
“When we first took this shop, people told us it would be difficult to run a party shop that’s not on the ground floor. But we proved them wrong,” he said.
“Demand is coming up. People are more willing to spend especially for first birthdays. But we also want to help them budget their parties wisely. It is not just about our business,” he said.
The internet has also brought Party Paradise Shop a lot of exposure as Quek noted that about 70% of its clients knew about them online.
Although party shops seem to be flourishing, both Koh and Quek noted that they still faced many challenges.
For example, there is a global shortage of helium and price for the gas has jumped more than 25% since the beginning of the year.
Additionally, the supply side is getting a little crowded in the Klang Valley.
“It may be a saturated market, particularly in the Klang Valley because this is a niche market. Party supply are not necessities. It is for very special occasions,” Koh said.
But ultimately, good service will always bring the customers back, Quek noted.
The wholesale game
For One-Stop Party Shop, managing director Normaria Johnston said expansion opportunities lie in being wholesale suppliers.
Growing trend: Koh said more customers are willing to spend on their celebrations.
One-Stop Party Shop was started by Johnston’s mother-in-law in 1995 after returning home from the US. The business grew from a home-based one to a few outlets in Hartamas, Subang and Putrajaya.
However, the company decided to switch to a fully-online business in 2009 with an investment of RM15,000 to set up its online system.
“That way, it is easier to expand because we are more accessible and we can cater to markets outside the Klang Valley. Also, the cost is lower and we are able to provide a more competitive pricing for our products and services,” Adel Mikhael, the company’s event manager said.
Adel added that sales had grown by 50% since 2009.
Both Johnston and her husband, Adel, are hands-on in their business and personally see to the set up of every event the company caters to.
What sets One-Stop Party Shop apart from most party supply shop is that it concentrates more on organising full events for its clients. Event services contribute about 50% to 60% of its revenue.
While events form a big part of the company’s business, Adel said it is also looking at controlling the supply side in the market by doing wholesale business.
“Although demand is growing, it is not growing very fast. And there are more shops coming up. So the best way to grow the business is to supply to both the consumers and other retailers,” Adel said.
Competition is still manageable at the moment, and Adel and Johnston welcome more players into the market because that will help develop the market here.

(The Star) Two new cinemas open in Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam

IT was double joy for movie goers as Golden Screen Cinemas Sdn Bhd (GSC) recently launched two new cinemas in Setia City Mall, Shah Alam and Paradigm Mall, Kelana Jaya, respectively.
In her opening speech, GSC chief executive Koh Mei Lee said GSC had offered a wide range of choices for movies fans and they now need not have to travel all the way to Kuala Lumpur to see a movie.
“GSC has invested RM36mil in the two new cinemas to cater to the growing entertainment needs of movie fans.
“GSC Setia City mall, which cost RM17mil, has nine halls with four digital halls screening 2D and 3D movies while Paradigm Mall has nine halls, out of which six are digital halls,” she said during the launch at Setia City Mall.
Symbolic act: (From left) GSC general manager Irving Chee, Shah Alam mayor Datuk Mohd Jaafar Mohd Atan, local government, research and studies committee chairman Ronnie Liu and Koh pouring sand on the screen as part of the opening ceremony.
The opening of the two new cinemas were a part of GSC’s 25th anniversary activities which included the introduction of a new GSC brand — GSC Mentakab Star Mall in March.
“Both cinemas can accommodate more than 30,000 people at one time.
“They also have 36 chairs for the disabled,” she said.
The new cinemas have incorporated green concepts such as energy-saving LED lights, water saving fittings in the washroom and other sustainable features in the cinema.
The cinemas designs are inspired by the digital revolution in cinema technology and visuals depicting digital effects.
GSC has also extended the foyer to include an outdoor balcony for corporate screenings.
Moviegoers can enjoy a splendid movie experience as the cinema is introducing the Dolby 3D glasses.
There are also e-payment facilities as well as self-print auto-gate features at both locations.
GSC Setia City Mall and GSC Paradigm Mall are offering “Buy 1 Free 1” vouchers with every two tickets purchased at the ticket counters while stocks last.
Moviegoers can expect more GSC cinemas to be opened soon.
In the pipeline are the GSC City One Mall Kuching and GSC Amanjaya, Sungai Petani .

(The Star) Tradewinds shareholders approve building buy

KUALA LUMPUR: Tradewinds (M) Bhd’s shareholders have approved its plan to buy a building at Jalan Raja Laut for RM510mil cash.
The commercial building to be acquired would be used to develop the proposed Menara Tun Razak 2 (MTR2) project.
At its EGM yesterday, shareholders queried the company over the proposed acquisition. However, the resolution on the proposed acquisition was passed after a vote.
In a statement, chairman Datuk Wira Syed Abdul Jabbar Syed Hassan(pic) said the construction of the MTR2 building was part of the redevelopment plan of the existing 36-storey Menara Tun Razak (MTR) together with a four-storey annex building.
It said the plan would also entail the refurbishment of MTR facade and the demolition of the annex building where the MTR2 building would be constructed in place of the annex building.
Syed Abdul added that the purchase consideration of RM510mil was arrived on a willing-buyer-willing-seller basis.
Tradewinds has proposed that its unit, Sovereign Place Sdn Bhd, acquire the building from Skyline Atlantic Sdn Bhd, a unit of Tradewinds Corp Bhd.
The company said the acquisition would allow the group to have its own “Grade A” MSC compliant corporate tower with Green Building accreditation.
According to circular to shareholders, 15% or RM76.5mil of the purchase consideration would be funded internally while the balance of RM433.5mil would be external borrowings.
It added that the group has 400 employees in its headquarters in Menara HLA, Jalan Kia Peng which it had been renting for the past two years. It was renting 94.265 sq ft for RM6.34mil a year.
“Upon the completion of the MTR2 building, the proposed acquisition would result in rental savings for our group as well as an additional income stream arising from the rental of unused office spaces to third parties,” it said.
As at Dec 31, 2011, Tradewinds has total borrowings of RM3.49bil and gearing was 1.48 times. Post acquisition, the borrowings are expected to increase to RM3.92bil and gearing at 1.66 times.

(The Star) Crest Builder unit to build RM1.3bil project

KUALA LUMPUR: Crest Builder Holdings Bhd’s 51%-owned subsidiary,Landasan Bayu Sdn Bhd, had received a letter of intent from Lembaga Getah Malaysia (Malaysian Rubber Board) for the mixed property development with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.33bil.
Landasan Bayu is a 51:49 joint venture between Crest Builder Sdn Bhd and Tindakan Juara Sdn Bhd. The plot of land which will be developed is located at the intersection of Jalan Ampang and Jalan Jelatek in Kuala Lumpur and has an area measurement of about 19,247 sq m.
“The estimated gross floor area of the development is expected to be about 1.65 million sq ft,” it said.
The company told Bursa Malaysia that the mixed development comprised three 28-storey apartment and soho (small office home office) towers, a 33-storey corporate tower and a six-storey retail mall, and would be complete with the infrastructure, common facilities and common services.
“The development is expected to commence physical works in 2013, and is expected to be completed in 2018,” it said.
Lembaga Getah was entitled to RM299.85mil, in a mixture of both cash as well as completed property entitlements, it added.
The proposed development will not have any significant effect on the earnings or net assets of Crest Builder for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2012, and the share capital of the company. However, it was expected to contribute positively to its future earnings, it said.
The company also said the risk factors for the proposed joint-venture development would include but not limited to those associated with changes in the economic and regulatory conditions, such as changes to cost of funding and taxes.

(The Star) IJM to appeal with revised plan for highway extension

PETALING JAYA: IJM Corp Bhd says the Government had scrapped its plans for a proposed extension of the New Pantai Elevated Highway Extension. However, the company intends to appeal for a reconsideration of the proposal with a revised alignment.
IJM was notified of the rejection of the proposal by the Public Private Partnership Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department via its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, New Pantai Expressway Sdn Bhd (NPE).
However, in its filing with Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday, IJM did not state the Government’s reasons for rejecting the initially-estimated RM989mil proposed highway extension. Affin Investment Bank analysts believed there were alignment-related issues, which had complicated and prolonged negotiations between IJM and the Government.
On April 1, 2011, IJM had announced that it had received a letter from the unit, approving the proposed highway extension in principle. The project was a part of the Government’s Private Public Partnerships (PPP) programme, announced in the last 10th Malaysia Plan.
The existing NPE route is circa 19.6km long, starting from the west-end of Subang Jaya and ending in the north-end of Bangsar. The extension was to add a further 10km to the highway, starting from the Bangsar end of the existing route up to Dang Wangi area, connecting it to the Ampang elevated highway.
The extension was purported to relieve traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur. It was earlier reported that a supplemental agreement was to have been signed in October 2011 to consummate the terms of the deal.
It is worth noting that the Government had once requested for IJM to change the alignment of the extension, as it was too close to the National Mosque.
OSK Research analyst Kong Heng Siong said: “The announcement is a negative surprise as IJM’s management had previously highlighted that the proposed alignment for the NPE extension has been finalised and was likely to be officially awarded by the second half of this year. While management has expressed intention to appeal for the proposal to be reconsidered with a revision in its alignment, we believe this negative development is likely to trigger selling on IJM shares.”
However, he added that OSK Research would maintain its “trading buy” call for the moment, while waiting for more clarification on the matter from IJM’s management.
RHB Research Institute analyst Joshua Ng said in a report the NPE extension would have generated an estimated RM1bil to RM2bil internal construction job to IJM. Also, IJM had guided additional construction works from the West Coast Expressway (WCE). These two projects, worth about RM4bil, would have doubled the company’s existing outstanding construction orderbook from RM4.3bil to RM8.3bil.
“We expect the market to take the latest development negatively,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenanga Research analysts are neutral on this latest development as the highway extension project was not factored in its earnings forecasts and valuations. They expect IJM to be kept busy if it secures the WCE construction project.
AmResearch analyst Hoy Ken Mak said although the news was slightly negative in terms of newsflow, “it does not come as a surprise to us. Furthermore, IJM has said it would appeal against the decision with a revised alignment.”

Thursday, 28 June 2012

(BUSINESS TIMES) IGB eyes hospitality, office REITs

KUALA LUMPUR: IGB Corp Bhd (IGB), which will have RM800 million cash following the listing of IGB Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), is looking at spinning off two more REITs in the next five years.

Group managing director Robert Tan Chung Meng said that the group would ultimately like to have a hospitality and office REIT, but the exact timing for the product could not be determined now.

"It could be anything between two and five years," Tan said.

The timing, he said, now is suited for a retail REIT and hence it is establishing a IGB REIT, which will have two of Malaysia's most prized mall assets - The Mid Valley Megamall and The Gardens Mall.

IGB's preference is also to have separate REITs for different business and not to place it all under the same REIT.

IGB, a property developer, also operates hotels and manages office buildings to obtain recurring income.

The listing of the IGB REIT is expected to be in September 2012.

Some 3.4 billion units will be issued under the exercise for the two malls which have been a valued at RM4.6 billion.

Currently, both assets come under KrisAssets Holdings Bhd, in which IGB has a 75 per cent stake. KrisAssets will sell the shopping complexes to the IGB REIT.

IGB's stake in the soon-to-be-listed trust will be 51 per cent. The dilution of the stake would provide IGB with an estimated RM800 million in cash, following the listing exercise.

Tan, who was speaking to reporters following IGB and KrisAssets annual general meeting yesterday, said that RM800 million will be used for future expansion both locally and abroad.

The board has no intention to maintain the listing of KrisAssets.

Meanwhile, Tan said IGB continues to look for properties in the country and abroad for merger and acquisition purposes, and take advantage of the opportunity in the uncertain global economy which could offer assets at a bargain.


(BUSINESS TIMES) NCT banks on rising demand in Sepang

NCT United Development Sdn Bhd, a property development arm of NCT Venture Corp Sdn Bhd, expects to receive strong response for its township project, Sepang Perdana, as demand for properties in Sepang, Selangor, is on the rise.

"There is demand for good, quality properties in Sepang and we believe we are in the position to address the demand," group managing director Yap Ngan Choy told Business Times in an interview recently.

Sepang Perdana, built on 127ha of land, will comprise low-cost apartments, terraced, semi-detached and super-link houses, bungalows and commercial properties, among others. A gated-and-guarded community concept will be implemented for high-end properties.

The Sepang Perdana development, which comprises more than 10 phases, is expected to generate a gross development value (GDV) of more than RM800 million upon completion in 2017.

There are plans to connect the area and improve the linkage to the existing federal road, on top of the ready access to major highways in the country.

Yap said the properties a the township would attract airport and airline employees as it is located just 10 minutes away from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport .

"Some airlines encourage their staff to live within the proximity of the airport, so, Sepang Perdana will also be a good fit for them.

"With travelling time to Putrajaya and Cyberjaya within 20 minutes range, I believe the project will attract buyers who are working in the two places. It will also be able to attract those who are working in the Kuala Lumpur city centre as the Salak Tinggi ERL (express rail link) station is just five minutes from Sepang Perdana," he added.

Sepang Perdana was previously known as Taman Kenanga, one of the country's largest abandoned housing projects in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi. The project was abandoned in 1999.

Its previous developer, Kumpulan Sepang Utama Sdn Bhd, is currently in liquidation.

A joint effort between NCT United Development Sdn Bhd and chargee Malaysia Buiding Society Bhd had successfully revived the project. NCT United Development is a special purpose vehicle set up within NCT Group of Companies to undertake the development of the Sepang Perdana township.

"The next phase, comprising terraced and super-link houses, will be launched in the third quarter of this year. There are plans to develop houses under PR1MA (One Malaysia Housing Programme) for eligible buyers," Yap said.

Over the next few years, besides focusing on its existing project in Sepang, NCT will also focus on the development of its resort property project in Genting Highlands, as well as growing its landbank.