Saturday, 29 June 2013

(BUSINESS TIMES) Gabungan AQRS plans to focus on local projects

KUALA LUMPUR: Gabungan AQRS Bhd has placed overseas ventures on the back-burner to focus on growth in Malaysia, where it has bid for jobs worth RM1 billion.

According to chief executive officer Alvin Ng Chun Kooi, the company has been scouting for construction and property development projects in emerging economies such as Indonesia to expand.

But it recently decided to take a breather to build its business here by finding new avenues to diversify its income stream, Ng said.

Ng said the company plans to venture into mechanical engineering works and is talking to several parties.

In Sabah, it recently acquired 49 per cent of Associated Concrete Products (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, a unit of the Sabah Economic Development Corp for RM3.5 million to expand the usage of industrialised building system (IBS) method in Sabah.

"There is higher risk attached to overseas ventures. We have decided to focus on Malaysia for now," Ng said yesterday, after the company's shareholders meeting.

Gabungan AQRS has an outstanding construction order book of RM1.1 billion and a portfolio of property development projects with an estimated total gross development value (GDV) of RM1 billion.

It has bid for road construction, bridges, government facilities and complexes here.

Ng said the company is expanding its property development activities and targeting 40 per cent revenue from this segment in the current year, from 16 per cent, previously.

For the first quarter ended March 31 2013, the company's revenue increased by 1.5 per cent to RM83.5 million, largely contributed by the construction segment at 62.4 per cent.

"Property market is still conducive. We have planned several projects this year to help us achieve the target," Ng said.

The company launched its first high-rise residential development called "The Peak" in Johor Baru. The project, worth RM527 million, has over 600 units of apartments and over half are sold. 

In the third quarter of this year the company will launch Permas Centro in Permas Jaya, Johor, comprising 99 units of shoplots worth RM127 million.

In Bandar Sunway, it will launch a high-rise development comprising 380 units of SOHOs (small-office-home-office), each priced from RM400,000 (600 sq ft to 1,100 sq ft).

(BUSINESS TIMES) MPHBCap looks to dispose of assets

IMPROVING CASH FLOW: Hotels and 1,090ha in the Klang Valley, Penang, Johor worth RM1.2b up for grabs

MPHB Capital Bhd (MPHBCap) plans to hive off assets worth RM1.2 billion to improve cash flow, says Ivevei Upatkoon, the eldest daughter of its major shareholder Tan Sri Lau Kim Khoon @ Surin Upatkoon.

The financial service and investment unit of Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd (MPHB) owns 1,090ha in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor.

The company's hotel assets are Flamingo by The Lake, here, and Flamingo by The Beach in Penang. 

According to MPHBCap's listing prospectus, the market value for the land and hotels is RM1.035 billion and RM166 million, respectively.

Ivevei, who is MPHBCap assistant general manager for property, said the company will dispose of the assets if the offer is higher than the current market value.

"MPHBCap is not a property developer. The company wants to build its business in general insurance and be among the country's top 10 players by 2015. If there are offers from property developers to develop some of the land jointly, we will consider them," she said.

MPHBCap currently has three deals with Bandar Raya Developments Bhd to develop land in Rawang, Gombak and Penang. The projects have a combined gross development value of around RM4.2 billion. 

Ivevei said MPHBCap's share in the three projects is 22 per cent, or close to RM1 billion.

"We have submitted a master plan to the authorities for the land in Rawang and are awaiting their approval. The projects in Gombak and Penang are in the planning stage," she said.

Ivevei was speaking to Business Times yesterday after MPHBCap's debut on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

MPHBCap's share price surged 45 sen to RM1.45 at the start of trade. The company had its offer price at RM1 per share.

The total gross proceeds of RM715 million less listing expenses will be used for a capital repayment exercise of about 48 sen per MPHB share held within three and a half months.

MPHBCap chief executive officer Ong Kok San said the company will continue to focus on the general insurance market in Malaysia as it is bullish on the industry.

"We will continue to serve all industries in Malaysia, including oil and gas. We have a strategy in place to penetrate deeper into the market," he said.

Friday, 28 June 2013

(The Edge) Kangar Council aims to make Simpang Empat a well-planned township

KANGAR: The Kangar Municipal Council (MPK) aims to develop Simpang Empat into a well-planned township, its president, Rosley Mat, said today.

He said, however, that this could only be realised if the federal government approved an application for a RM4.9-million allocation for the town's development.

"MPK plans to put up a three-storey building to house traders and also for a car park as the first step to develop the town," he said in response to the proposal by Simpang Empat assemblyman Nurulhisham Yaakob for MPK to develop the township.

Rosley said Simpang Empat was strategically located as it was on the tourist route to Langkawi and it could serve as a stopover.

(The Edge) Country Heights expects better performance this year

SERI KEMBANGAN: Country Heights Holdings Bhd (CHHB) expects a better performance this year compared with last year's.

Group chief executive officer Dianna Lee Cheng Wen said the company will launch a few property projects this year which will be translated into higher revenue for the group.

"This year we will have a slight increase in our activity because last year we focused more on cashing out of our existing inventory.

"We have completed phase one of Bellaza Garden Homes, and the LakeView Residency at Cyberjaya is 80% completed.

"So we have more projects completed this year and this project has been fully sold, and this will be translated into better revenue and profit for the year," Lee told reporters after the company's annual general meeting here today.

She said the company has projects in the pipeline of RM935 million in gross development value.

Besides focusing on the property project, the group also plans to launch a new project in October this year -- the transformation of the Mines into Malaysia's first integrated wellness city.

"During the launch, we will unveil our series of projects that will be coming up in the next 10 years," she added.

Lee said CHHB is also seeking to expand its landbank.

"We are looking at land of not less than 4.05 hectares for landed development, and we are also trying to secure land within the Mines that is still not under contract for our wellness city project as well," she said.

Currently, CHHB's landbank spans across 2428.11 hectares with the majority in Kuching, followed by Kedah, the Mines, Cyberjaya, Kajang, Damansara, Melaka, Port Dickson and Pajam.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2012, CHHB posted a pre-tax profit of RM32.9 million and a revenue of RM253.72 million.


(The Edge) Lido Residency draws buyers

KUALA LUMPUR: The strategic location of Lido Residency in Cheras is probably the reason the condominium development has been enjoying good sales since its official launch earlier this month.

It is merely 500m away from the nearest mass rapid transit station, the upcoming Taman Bukit Ria station, while two light rail transit stations are also located nearby, said Chuah Swee Guan, director of SCP Property Services Sdn Bhd, the developer of Lido Residency.

The 32-storey condominium project, which has a gross development value (GDV) of RM200 million, is almost 90% sold, less than three months after its soft launch in March.

The project has a total of 294 units, with built-ups ranging from 897 to 1,636 sq ft. Prices range between RM542,800 and RM981,000 for each unit.

Chuah said another strong selling point of Lido Residency is that it is purely a residential project which brings a host of benefits, compared with a mixed development.

“You don’t have to worry about heavy traffic when getting home from work and over weekends as there’s no shopping mall or supermarket in the condominium grounds.”

Lido Residency boasts a three-tier state-of-the-art security system and visitors will be screened before they are allowed to enter the lifts. Closed circuit televisions have also been installed in the car parks and lift lobbies.

All 294 condominium units in Lido Residency are located from levels nine to 31, while the various facilities are housed on level eight. There are three viewing decks from level 30 to 32. The units come with high ceilings and air conditioning units.

Piling work is currently in progress and the project is expected to be fully completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Lido Residency is SCP’s fifth project. Its earlier four projects have been fully sold.

(The Edge) Pinnacle PJ off to a good start

PETALING JAYA: J & C Homes Holdings Sdn Bhd’s maiden project, Pinnacle PJ in Jalan Utara, Section 52, Petaling Jaya, has received very positive response from buyers.

The 1.73-acre (0.7ha) mixed development comprises offices and loft offices (Tower A), office suites (Tower B), a hotel and retail space. It has a gross development value of RM505 million. Launched in April, Tower B and the loft offices in Tower A have both achieved a take-up rate of 75% while the offices in Tower A are fully sold.

The loft offices have a built-up of 741 to 1,025 sq ft; the office suites are 329 to 606 sq ft; and the offices, 558 to 1,518 sq ft. Prices starts from an average RM838 psf.

A company spokesman said the offices are designed to be spacious and framed by floor-to-ceiling glass windows that provide panoramic views of the city, while the loft offices have an open space with plenty of natural lighting. The retail space, which will occupy the lower three levels, has a net lettable area of 80,000 sq ft and will consist of mainly food and beverage outlets.

The leasehold development is developed by Terra Mirus Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of J & C Homes.

The spokesman told The Edge Financial Daily the overwhelming response was beyond its expectations and most of the buyers are locals.

Its strategic location at the junction of Jalan Utara and the Federal Highway, and its close proximity to Asia Jaya light rail transit station (less than five minutes’ walk) have added to its appeal.

At 210m above sea level, Pinnacle PJ will be PJ Central’s highest office tower. It will also feature the highest infinity swimming pool and the city’s tallest viewing platform and Sky bar, said the developer.

According to the developer, the 200-room hotel, which will be located in Tower B, and the retail space will be retained for recurring income.

It added that the Pinnacle name would be used for its upcoming projects to create a brand name.

“Each Pinnacle project will be differentiated by the location. We want to create sustainable developments that can last decades and enhance the lifestyles of our end-users,” said the developer. 

(The Edge) Plaza Low Yat and bbpark get RM20m phase 1 facelift

KUALA LUMPUR: Popular IT shopping centre Plaza Low Yat and entertainment locale bbpark in Kuala Lumpur’s busy Jalan Bukit Bintang will be refurbished at a cost of about RM20 million for phase 1 of this exercise. The refurbishment will be carried out in five phases and phase 1 will see the exterior upgraded with more greenery and modern design elements.

“This latest refurbishment project is to keep the whole area relevant and aligned with the evolving desires of shoppers,” said Low Yat group executive director Low Gee Teong at a media briefing yesterday. “We are giving it the feel of a high street shopping environment, energised with new shopping and dining choices, a lot of green areas, al fresco dining, and generally a cosier environment to spend time in between shopping trips.”

Phase 1 should be completed by year-end. The RM20 million, from internal funds, will be spent to spruce up the exterior of bbpark and Plaza Low Yat, including adding more greenery and plant walls, improvements to the drop-off areas and traffic flow. The mall will have upper and lower terraces for al fresco dining. There will also be a roof-covered boulevard that will protect shoppers against the elements and also connect key properties by Low Yat into a unified location.

“Our plan is to transform this vibrant and popular area into a city within a city in the near future. In line with this, we are bringing together Plaza Low Yat, bbpark, Federal Arcade, The Federal Kuala Lumpur Hotel and Hotel Capitol Kuala Lumpur into one centralised, lifestyle hub that will provide just about everything a consumer needs while enhancing their retail and shopping experience,” said Low.

The subsequent phases are still in the planning stages. Low disclosed it would include upgrading the interiors of Plaza Low Yat, adding levels atop Plaza Low Yat and building a connection to the Bukit Bintang Central MRT station, now under construction.

He said the tenant mix in the new levels will not be IT related and will carry various lifestyle brands. Additionally, the completion of the entire five-phase refurbishment is to coincide with the completion of the MRT station, which is slated to be operational by end-2016. The annual footfall of the seven-storey Plaza Low Yat is 15 million. The mall has over 600 tenants across 310,000 sq ft of retail space. Low said rents will not be increased although service charges will be raised marginally to fund maintenance of the plants and new surroundings.

(The Edge) Ho Hup closer to PN17 upliftment

KUALA LUMPUR: Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd expects its Practice Note 17 (PN17) classification (for financially distressed companies) to be uplifted by next year after the completion of its regularisation plan by October.

The company said it will apply to Bursa Malaysia for the upliftment following two consecutive quarters of profit (upon completion of its financial regularisation plan) by October.

“All our businesses are performing up to expectations,” said executive director Derek Wong Kit Leong, adding that he is optimistic on the group’s performance for its financial year ending Dec 31, 2013.

Last year, Ho Hup launched a project comprising shop offices and retail lots on a 10-acre (4.04ha) site in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

“It was successful,” said Wong, adding that the take-up rate for the commercial properties is almost 90% with total sales of RM260 million.

The three-four-and five-storey offices on five acres out of the 10 acres bear a gross development value (GDV) of RM400 million, he added.

Ho Hup also plans to develop a hybrid mall, apartments, “small offices versatile offices” (sovos) and condominiums on the 10-acre plot.

Bukit Jalil Development Sdn Bhd (BJD), 70% owned by Ho Hup, is responsible for developing the land.

Wong added that there will be another (50-acre) mixed development in Bukit Jalil, which will be jointly developed with Malton Bhd over 10 years. BJD is entitled to 18% of the estimated GDV, subject to a minimum of RM220 million.

“It was a fair deal at the point of time.

“We predict that the first launch for this plot of land will be in the first quarter of next year,” Wong said.

Malton executive chairman Datuk Desmond Lim Siew Choon had said the company planned to build a mall named “Pavilion 2” on the 50-acre plot.

“It’s going to be a very big and iconic mall,” said Wong, adding that the mall will have a net lettable area of two million sq ft.

On the competition between Pavilion 2 and Ho Hup’s hybrid mall in Bukit Jalil, Wong said he did not see any conflict.

As for its construction business, Ho Hup has submitted bids for about RM3 billion worth of projects comprising infrastructure jobs and treatment plants locally and overseas.

The company’s current orderbook stands at RM500 million, said Wong.

Ho Hup has also expanded its ready-mix concrete division by setting up new batching plants to capture rising demand from the dozens of infrastructure and development projects launched by the government in the Klang Valley.

Tru-mix Concrete Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Ho Hup, is expected to benefit from the development projects of the group.

To recap, Ho Hup was first admitted into PN17 in August 2008 for having an inadequate level of operations and financials.

Ho Hup is in the midst of implementing its regularisation plan which should lead to its exit from PN17.

“We need to finalise our circular to shareholders and call for a creditors’ meeting in mid-August,” said Wong. “The majority of our creditors have no problem with the scheme.”

(The Edge) Iskandar-S’pore rail link to be ready by 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposed 100km inter-city rail line between Iskandar Malaysia in Johor and Singapore is set to be completed within the next three years, said Malaysia Steel Works Bhd (Masteel) CEO Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng.

“As soon as the requisite funding is finalised, we will proceed with the construction of the rail line, hopefully by early next year,” he said after the company AGM yesterday.

The rail system will be built and operated by Metropolitan Computer Network Sdn Bhd, a 60:40 joint venture project between Masteel and KUB Malaysia Bhd.

The RM1 billion project will be divided into two parts, the first involving the rehabilitation of the railway line between Pasir Gudang and Pelabuhan Tanjung Pelepas.

“The government agreed that the current line needs serious repairs, so we have offered to do it for them,” Tai said.

The second part involves the construction of 21 train stations by KUB, which will be done concurrently with all remaining rail works under Masteel’s purview.

The ministry of transport (MOT) has offered Masteel a key piece of land in Kempas, Johor, which will be designated as a train depot.

“The land that is available for a depot is very limited. The MOT’s Railway Assets Corp has offered this prime piece of land, and we are trying to finalise the purchase.”

Tai said negotiations between the company and MOT over the land in Kempas had been put on hold due to the 13th general election.

The company believes that the local construction sector will pick up pace during the second half of the year, with an additional RM100 million worth of investments lined up for the next two years.

“We expect the selling price of steel to rebound after Hari Raya Aidilfitri [in August] as construction work will continue uninterrupted for the rest of the year,” Tai said.

He said the selling price of steel has dropped by 15% this year, with construction work experiencing a slowdown.

He disclosed that key infrastructure projects under the Economic Transformation Programme accounted for 30% of Masteel’s total revenue last year.

Among key infrastructure projects underpinning the company’s growth for 2013 are the Klang Valley mass rapid transit, light rail transit extension, second Penang bridge and the Janamanjung power plant.

(BUSINESS TIMEES) Mansteel aims to start Iskandar rail job by 2014

SHAH ALAM: Steel manufacturer Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Mansteel) hopes its joint-venture rail transit project in Iskandar Malaysia with KUB Malaysia Bhd to start as early as next year.

Managing director Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng said their joint-venture company, Metropolitan Commuter Network Sdn Bhd, is awaiting approvals from various authorities.

"We hope to finalise the financing part of this and then we can start work on the project by as early as next year," he said after Mansteel's annual general meeting here yesterday.

Tai said the estimated cost of the project remains at more than RM1 billion as when it was first announced two-and-a-half years ago.

"KUB, which owns 40 per cent stake in the JV (joint venture), will build 21 commuter stations in major towns in Iskandar Malaysia, while we will operate and manage the whole inter-city rail transit system," he said, adding that the project is expected to be completed in three years.

Tai also said the company expects to see an increase of between eight and 10 per cent of tonnage volume this year as demand for steel bars, its principal product, continues.

"But due to an estimated drop of about 15 per cent in raw material prices this year, we are expecting lower revenue for the financial year ending December 31 2013." 

In 2012, the company posted RM1.31 billion revenue and a RM24.9 million net profit.

"Last year was challenging for the steel industry but we still did good. So we are not expecting any lesser challenges this year but believe it would still be a good year," he said.

He added that to meet increasing demand, the company is investing a further RM100 million over the next two years on a new steel rolling mill that will boost its annual steel bar production to 550,000 tonnes.

Last December, Mansteel completed an RM80 million expansion of its Bukit Raja meltshop, increasing its steel billets production capacity to 600,000 tonnes annually.

On its dividend, Tai said the company is aiming to increase it to 15 per cent of its net profit over three payouts, from 13.4 per cent last year.

(NST) Facelift for Plaza Low Yat, BB Park

FIVE PHASES: Phase One, costing RM20 million, will be completed end of the year

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's largest IT lifestyle mall, Plaza Low Yat, and BB Park in Jalan Bukit Bintang is undergoing a facelift and refurbishment exercise to improve shoppers' experience and enhance the facade of the buildings.

Phase One of the refurbishment project costing RM20 million has started and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. In line with a nature-inspired theme, the project will feature plant-walls, open spaces, covered walkways and smooth traffic flow for the convenience of visitors.

The mall has more than 600 tenants and 29,799sq m of retail space. It caters to 15 million visitors a year.

Low Yat Group of Companies executive director Low Gee Teong said Plaza Low Yat had become a shopping paradise for techno geeks.

Low said the main aim of the refurbishment project was to keep Plaza Low Yat and BB Park relevant and aligned with the evolving desires of shoppers.

"We are giving it the feel of a high street shopping environment, energised with new shopping and dining choices, a lot of greenery to add to the static areas, al fresco dining and a more cosy environment," he said.

Low said they would also look into improving the drop-off area and main entrance of Plaza Low Yat.

"There will be a covered walkway for the convenience of visitors who are heading to BB park and Plaza Low Yat. We will also be upgrading the drop-off area for easy accessibility," he said.

Low said tenants would not be affected by the refurbishments works.

"The tenants will not be affected. We will not be increasing the rental, but we may increase the service charge slightly to maintain the quality of the area," he said.

Low said the next four phases were expected to be completed in line with the Bukit Bintang MRT station by 2016.

Low said the refurbishment works would extend to BB Park, which is renowned for its multi-cultural activities.

"We intend to have the same "nature-inspired" theme that Plaza Low Yat will feature. The overall enhancements of BB Park will boast abundant plants-carrying walls, fun and trendy public areas and furniture integrated into the new and improved landscape to keep up with current trends and lifestyles," he said.

Low said the drop-off area would be improved to ease traffic going into BB Park while the main entrance to BB Park would be connected to Plaza Low Yat with a unified boulevard and full-overhead coverage against the elements.

"This roof-cover will extend to connect The Federal Hotel and the Federal Arcade, providing even more reasons for shoppers and consumers to make the area their all-in-one destination. A centre stage will be built to continue hosting events and cultural activities and bring the entertainment value, for which this destination is renowned, to the next level; while new multi-coloured LED lights will create a contemporary and pleasing ambiance. The centralised lifestyle hub will provide just about everything consumers needs while enhancing their retail and shopping experience," he said.

Plaza Low Yat general manager (property management and operations) Michael Lee said the main entrance of Plaza Low Yat would feature an upper and lower terrace with quality food and beverage outlets.

"The completed front area will include covered terrace seating. The overhead coverage will also be extended, while the boulevard pavement and the road will feature a modern stone finish to make the boulevard terrace and the walkway pedestrian-friendly," he said.

Lee said Plaza Low Yat opened in 1999 and this was the second time the building was being refurbished.

"Low Yat Plaza started as a general retail mall more than 10 years ago. The mall was converted to an IT mall in 2002 and we had minor refurbishments work in 2005. This is first time we are embarking on a large scale facelift for the building," he said.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

(The Edge) Protasco eyes 10-15% profit growth this year

KAJANG: Construction and property group, Protasco Bhd, aims to increase its profit by between 10 and 15% this year, boosted by the construction and maintenance segments, said executive chairman/group managing director, Datuk Chong Ket Pen.

He said the construction and maintenance segments, which contributed RM577 million and RM104 million respectively to its revenue last year, will continue to perform better.

"Currently, we are maintaining some 14,000 km of federal and state roads under five long-term road maintenance contracts and concessions. We also expect positive contribution from the property development segment," he told reporters after the company's annual general meeting here today.

For financial year ended Dec 31, 2012, its pre-tax profit rose to RM106.557 million from RM72.204 million in the same period of 2011. Its revenue rose to RM793.895 million from RM695.985 million a year ago.

Chong said the newly-launched mixed development in Kajang, De Centrum, with gross development value (GDV) of RM240 million, will be completed in 2015.

A portion of the revenue was expected to be recognised this year from the completion of the first phase of the project. The first phase features a 20-storey low-density serviced apartment tower, a three-storey retail mall and shops, an eight-storey above ground car park and a 12-floor small office home office tower located near here.

"Property business will contribute over 10% to our revenue," he said, adding that the second phase of De Centrum, with GDV of RM400 million, will be launched by the middle of next year.

"If the second phase's sales are encouraging, we will start the third phase," Chong said.

He said the company will decide on the acquisition of the oil and gas business in Indonesia by October.

"Our consultants are still in the process of conducting due diligence exercise," he said.

The group had announced that it was acquiring 75% of oil and gas outfit, PT Anglo Slavic Indonesia, from PT Anglo Slavic Utama for US$55 million.

(BUSINESS TIMES) KLCCP eyes more assets to enlarge REIT size

KUALA LUMPUR: KLCC Property Holdings Bhd (KLCCP) aims to buy more assets to increase the size of its real estate investment trust (REIT) business, currently worth more than RM15 billion.

Its group chief executive officer Datuk Hashim Wahid, however, said the company will only acquire assets that fit its business model. 

"We are not specifically looking at any assets now. If there is an opportunity (to acquire assets) that fits the REIT profile, we may consider," he said after the company's shareholders meeting here yesterday. 

KLCCP launched Malaysia's first syariah-compliant REIT in May. 

The REIT's portfolio currently includes the Petronas Twin Towers, Menara ExxonMobil and Menara 3 Petronas, all of which are wholly owned by Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas). KLCCP has Suria KLCC, Mandarin Oriental, Kompleks Dayabumi and Lot D1 in its portfolio, which are possible assets that may also be injected into the REIT.

Moving forward, KLCCP expects a stable stream of revenue from its property investment and retail divisions to offset the decline in its hotels business.

According to Hashim, the major part of the company's revenue is derived from property investment, office rental and retail centre, followed by hotel property and management services.

"We remain positive on the outlook of our commercial properties due to the long-term lease and quality leesees we have," he said.

He added that the company expects its operating profit to grow up to eight per cent this year, backed by the restructuring in its REIT and higher contribution from its office segment.

On the other matter, Hashim said the company expects to secure anchor tenants for its new retail and office space located at Lot D1, opposite the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, within this year.

"Currently, we are in talks with several parties and we are targeting to secure anchor tenants and finalising the investment decision by the end of this year," he said.

The development in Lot D1 is expected to be completed within four years should the company succeed to finalise the investment decision by year end.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

(The Edge) Glomac sitting on projects worth RM7b in GDV

KUALA LUMPUR: Glomac Bhd, after posting a record net profit of RM101.5 million for the financial year ended April 30, 2013 (FY13), is expected to maintain its momentum in the next few years based on the availability of projects worth RM7 billion in gross development value (GDV) within greater Kuala Lumpur.

Group executive chairman Tan Sri F D Mansor said the property development company is targeting new launches worth RM1.3 billion in FY14, primarily focusing on townships and niche landed residential projects.

"Other than Lakeside Residences (in Puchong), the new township in Cyberjaya/Putrajaya with a total GDV of RM1.2 billion is earmarked for launch in the first quarter of 2014.

"Continuing the success of Bandar Saujana Utama (in Sungei Buloh), the company is undertaking a 200-acre (80.8ha) extension to the existing township which is expected to generate a potential GDV of RM800 million,” he said in a statement yesterday.

For FY13, the group's milestone of achieving a net profit of over RM100 million was on the back of RM665.9 million revenue.

"The stronger performance was attributed to construction progress in on-going projects, such as Glomac Damansara, Reflection Residences and township developments in Bandar Saujana Utama and Saujana Rawang.

"The company has successfully launched key projects which translated into record new sales of RM802 million for FY13. This has resulted in the group's unbilled sales reaching an all-time high of RM888 million as at end of April 2013,” Mansor said.

Glomac's Lakeside Residences in Puchong, the company's new RM2.5 billion flagship development, received a strong response in FY13. Phase 2 (Sonata) and Phase 3 (Symphony), comprising a total of 244 double-storey terrace houses, were sold out within the first day of their respective launches.

The company said Phase 4 (Avory), comprising 75 double-storey terrace houses with a GDV of RM60 million, was launched at the end of March this year and has been sold out.

"Glomac expects another exciting year ahead, with growth to be underpinned by its high unbilled sales and planned multiple launches from its strategic landbank,” Mansor said.

The company is proposing a final gross dividend of 3.5s en per share less 25% tax for FY13. This will bring its total dividend per share for the year to 6.5 sen, higher than the 5.5 sen paid in the previous financial year.

(The Edge) Mah Sing: Demand still high for DIBS

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Mah Sing Group Bhd group managing director Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum said any measure by the central bank to curb developer interest-bearing schemes (DIBS) should take the current market condition into consideration.

This follows reports in the local media that Bank Negara Malaysia was studying the risks arising from DIBS with a view to implementing measures to curb it.

"We can't comment too much now as there have not been many announcements, but generally the lending environment is still conducive and the interest rates are still low due to the competitive market,” Leong said after the company AGM yesterday.

He added that banks are selective in offering DIBS to developers and market demand is still high for the scheme.

DIBS is a financing package launched a few years ago. It is a scheme where a property developer absorbs the home loan interest of the homebuyers during the construction period of a property.

Mah Sing offers DIBS for some of its projects, depending on the market demand. The developer does not offer DIBS for its commercial and landed residential properties.

On the company's property development, executive director Datuk Steven Ng Poh Seng said that with a cashpile of RM822 million and a low net gearing ratio of 0.19 times as at March 31 the group plans to grow its landbank, especially in the Klang Valley.

"We are scouting for more land,” said Leong, adding that the company will also look at land in Iskandar Malaysia, Penang as well as Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Mah Sing has set a RM3 billion sales target for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2013 (FY13), after achieving RM2.5 billion new sales last year. With its RM750 million new sales in the first quarter (1Q), Ng said Mah Sing is on track to achieve the RM3 billion sales target.

The group garnered RM436 million sales from in the Klang Valley in 1Q with RM57 million from Penang, RM175 million from Johor and RM83 million from Sabah.

Additionally, out of the RM3 billion targeted sales, the group expects 62% to be generated from Kuala Lumpur, 13% from Penang, 20% from Johor and 5% from Sabah.

The property player is currently sitting on 1,391 acres (562ha) with a total gross development value (GDV) of RM24.31 billion, which should last for seven to eight years, said Ng.

Mah Sing is also planning to have RM3.7 billion worth of launches this year."We have RM3.55 billion unbilled sales as at end of March, which is 2.3 times our property revenue last year,” said Ng.

For this year, the group has acquired four parcels of land with a combined GDV of RM7.78 billion thus far.

The four parcels of land include Damansara Sentral in Kuala Lumpur (with a GDV of RM900 million), Lakeville Residence in Taman Wahyu, Kepong (GDV of RM1.15 billion), Meridin in Senibong, Johor (GDV of RM4.35 billion) and Kota Kinabalu Convention City, Sabah (GDV of RM1.4 billion).

The upcoming launch will be the 6.55-acre Damansara Sentral land with its first phase of the integrated commercial centre, slated to be launched in 4Q this year.

Meanwhile, the group expects to launch its new sales gallery in Singapore on July 8 at TripleOne Sommerset, which will feature the group's projects.

Mah Sing registered a net profit of RM69.5 million for 1QFY13, up 16% from the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter declined to RM423.14 million from RM457.78 million previously.

Leong said out of the RM69.5 million net profit the group had achieved, RM67 million was from the property segment while the remaining RM2 million was from the plastics segment.

(The Edge) Governments not sole providers of affordable housing, say experts

KUALA LUMPUR: The development of affordable housing must be jointly carried out by the government, civil society and the private sector, said a panel of international experts at the Fourth Annual Affordable Housing Projects conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Examining the shifting roles of each stakeholder in providing a range of homes for the middle-income group, they noted that civil society and the private sector are taking on bigger roles in supplying homes and community support.

“There seems to be a move from government dominance in supplying homes towards civil society and the private sector,” said Housing Choices Australia international advisor and former CEO Michael Lennon.

Housing Choices Australia is a national non-profit housing association that offers affordable housing for low-income groups and people with disabilities.

“We seem to be moving from what is traditionally called public housing developed by government-mandated agencies to a spectrum of social and community housing that may involve cooperatives, subsidies or grants, and affordable housing that is not for people in poverty, but for people in slightly higher income groups that still receive a variety or form of assistance, concession or funding,” Lennon said.

“While in the past, the government can be the supplier and supporter of community, now that seems to be on the way out.

“Based on previous presentations, we still expect the government to be the planner but in many places where governments are the funder, their role as funder is becoming increasingly questioned and the private sector is increasingly expected to be the supplier of housing.”

However, he pointed out that only the government can act as the regulator in providing affordable housing.

Lennon noted that the private sector is now becoming more involved with planning and funding “community housing” — a broader term that encompasses the needs of the middle-income group that may still require housing or rental subsidies — as well as supplying such homes.

He also said parts of civil society, such as volunteer organisations, are increasingly helping in the funding of affordable homes.

For instance, The Rockefeller Institute in the US has extended a US$5 million (RM16 million) grant to the New York Acquisition Fund to speed up and increase the supply of affordable homes in the city from 2006 to 2015.

The fund, governed by foundations and public and private investment groups, offers acquisition and pre-development loans to developers who supply or maintain affordable housing in the five main boroughs of New York City. Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi, the US-based World Bank Group’s expert consultant on housing and housing finance, illustrated civil society’s role with an example from Pakistan where, he said, civil society is very influential.

“In my opinion, the starting point for affordable housing is in civil society, because they determine the attitudes of the government programmes. If they feel that this is something immense, they will give the political leadership more sympathy to include it in their election manifesto,” he said.

He said while affordable housing is the responsibility of the state, the private sector plays a key role in supplementing funding and building efforts, supported by the government’s fiscal regimes.

Lennon pointed out that besides funding and building affordable homes, civil society organisations are also more involved in providing social capital and infrastructure to support communities.

North Shore City and Auckland Regional Councils planning consultant Dr Joel Crayford noted that the Christchurch earthquake in 2010 had triggered policy changes related to affordable homes in New Zealand.

“Affordability for middle income homeowners or would-be homeowners had been a rapidly growing problem there.

But after the earthquake, suddenly money was being spent on building affordable housing.”

The Fourth Annual Affordable Housing Projects conference was organised by Marcus Evans group, which specialises in holding global summits and strategic conferences, and also conducts professional training and in-company training.


(The Star) Glomac net profit soars in Q4

PETALING JAYA: Glomac Bhd saw its net profit soar 44.23% in the fourth quarter ended April 30 to RM31.19mil from RM21.63mil previously on the back of ongoing projects such as Glomac Damansara, Bandar Saujana Utama, Saujana Rawang and Lakeside Residences.
Revenue fell 9.78% to RM220.55mil against RM244.46mil in the same period a year ago, while earnings per share (EPS) stood at 4.1 sen. The property developer has declared a dividend of 3.5 sen for the quarter, taking its full-year payout to 6.5 sen.
In financial year 2013, Glomac’s earnings climbed 19.16% to RM101.48mil versus RM85.16mil in 2012, and revenue up 2.06% to RM665.87mil from RM652.41mil.
Its EPS for the full year stood at 14.72 sen.

(The Star) Mah Sing on track to achieve RM3bil sales target

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer Mah Sing Group Bhd is poised to achieve its RM3bil sales target for 2013, having delivered about RM750mil in sales for the first quarter of this year.
Year-to-date, the company has acquired four parcels of land with a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM7.78bil.
The said parcels of land include integrated commercial centres like D'sara Sentral, Greater Kuala Lumpur; Lakeville Residence, Kepong; Meridin@Senibong, Iskandar Malaysia; and the Kota Kinabalu Convention Centre in Sabah.
Further acquisition of prime land is feasible based on the current low net gearing of 0.19 times and cashpile of some RM822mil as at March 31.
“We have the financial prowess to take on more land, be they fast turnaround niche projects or large townships. Yet we can comfortably maintain our growth with our existing land bank,” said group managing director and chief executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum at the company's AGM.
The main focus of future acquisitions would be Greater Kuala Lumpur due to the healthy market and urbanisation, he added.
The total land acquired by Mah Sing in 2012 amounted to a GDV of RM7.38bil.
The company has progressively launched new and existing projects, including Icon City, Petaling Jaya; M Residence@Rawang; The Loft@Southbay City; The Meridin@Medini; and Sutera Avenue, Kota Kinabalu.
With regards to Bank Negara's potential curb on the developer interest-bearing scheme (DIBS), Leong said “there has been no announcement yet”.
He, however, “hoped that any implementation would take into proper consideration the industry's feedback and the current market condition”.
He also noted that “the lending environment was generally still conducive, financing liquidity was still attractive and interest rates were still low”.
According to CIMB Investment Bank Bhd head of research Terence Wong, Mah Sing should be less susceptible and would still manage to break new sales records. This is because it had limited the offering of DIBS to only a handful of projects since 2012.
“We remain overweight' on the property sector, with Mah Sing as our top pick and robust sales and earnings growth as sector catalysts. Any weakness in property stocks is an opportunity to accumulate,” he said in a report.
The brokerage remains selectively optimistic on certain segments of the property market, particularly for the medium to mid-high-end segments.
“We still see good demand for serviced residences from 500 sq ft in prime city or commercial locations, landed properties below RM1mil in good schemes with easy access and amenities, or mid-high to high-end residences in matured schemes.”
Among the resolutions approved during the AGM was the declaration of the first and final dividend of 7.6 sen per ordinary share.
The company recorded a 16% year-on-year increase in net profit to RM69.5mil for the first quarter of 2013.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Prolintas to invest RM8b in 2 new highways

The projects are the Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway and the Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway.

KUALA LUMPUR: Projek Lintasan Kota Sdn Bhd (Prolintas) is preparing a RM8 billion war chest to build two new highways in Peninsular Malaysia, said industry players and analysts who cover the construction sector.

Business Times was told that works on the infrastructure projects can take place within the next 12 months as Prolintas has already secured the concessions.

The projects are the Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH) and the Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway (SUKE).

Sources said Prolintas is working on the best financial model for the projects, addressing two core issues, namely the cost of compensation for businesses that may have to relocate before actual construction work begins, and the cost of construction materials, which has been volatile with a northward bias.

As at press time, Prolintas chief executive officer Zainudin A. Kadir did not respond to questions sent by Business Times.

Analysts said the construction sector is excited about new jobs coming on stream, including the light rail transit extension and the MY rapid transit (MRT) Line 1, but there are concerns about rising building material costs.

"The industry has to watch out for the sand price, which is rising," Edmund Tham, the head of research at Mercury Securities, told Business Times

Building material prices for components like bitumen, gravel and steel, in some cases, have risen over 100 per cent in one year, thanks to the big-ticket MRT Line 1, a RM23 billion project that aims to create an underground rail network in the city centre that links to Sungai Buloh and Kajang.

The Prolintas projects are expected to tighten demand for building materials and create a scramble among heavyweight construction companies for a piece of the action.

Among companies associated with heavy infrastructure jobs are IJM Corp Bhd, MMC Corp Bhd, Gadang Holdings Bhd and Bina Puri Holdings Bhd.

Prolintas, the country's second biggest highway concessionaire, is a unit of Permodalan Nasional Bhd, Malaysia's biggest fund management company.

It operates and manages the Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (Akleh), the Guthrie Corridor Expressway and the Kemuning-Shah Alam Highway.

DASH and SUKE are two of seven highway projects estimated to cost about RM19 billion to be developed under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015).

DASH will start at the Puncak Perdana U10 Shah Alam intersection and serve as a link for Puncak Perdana, Alam Suria, Denai Alam, Kampung Melayu Subang, Jalan Sungai Buloh, the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia, Kota Damansara, Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara. 

The 20.1km three-lane, dual carriageway will end at the Penchala interchange.

SUKE will link major highways in the eastern Klang Valley, including the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway, Akleh, Besraya, the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Highway, the Cheras-Kajang Highway, Kesas and MRR2.

The 31.8km, three-lane elevated expressway will start in Sri Petaling and pass through Sungai Besi, Alam Damai, Cheras-Kajang, Taman Bukit Permai, Taman Putra, Taman Permai Jaya, Taman Dagang Permai, Taman Kosas, Ampang and Taman Hillview, and exit at Ulu Kelang

(BUSINESS TIMES) Glomac Q4 net profit surges to RM31.1m

GLOMAC Bhd's net profit climbed 43.9 per cent to RM31.1 million in the fourth quarter ended April 2013 from RM21.6 million in the same quarter last year.

The property developer yesterday said net profit for the full year surged 19.1 per cent to RM101.4 million from RM85.1 million, while revenue rose to RM665.8 million from RM652.4 million.

Glomac group executive chairman Tan Sri FD Mansor said it made record sales of RM802 million and unbilled sales of RM888 million as at end-April 2013.

"Glomac delivered a record performance for its financial year ended April 2013. This is a new milestone for Glomac to exceed the RM100 million mark," said F.D Mansor.

He said the stronger performance was attributed to construction progress in ongoing projects such as Glomac Damansara, Reflection Residences and township developments Bandar Saujana Utama and Saujana Rawang.

Lakeside Residences in Puchong, the company's new RM2.5 billion flagship development, also received strong response. 

Phase 2 (Sonata) and Phase 3 (Symphony), comprising 244 units of double-storey terrace houses, were sold out within the first day of their respective launches via the balloting process.

Phase 4 (Avory), comprising 75 units of double-storey terrace houses with a gross development value (GDV) of RM60 million, launched end-March this year, are virtually sold out.

Glomac's astuteness in identifying prime landbanks and strategies to escalate its project launches have enabled it to achieve a sharp rise in sales over the past three years, he said.

The sales momentum is expected to be sustained, driven by the company's total GDV of RM7 billion within Greater KL.

"The company is targeting new launches worth RM1.3 billion in the current financial year, focusing primarily on townships and niche landed residential projects, where demand remains strong."

Other than Lakeside Residences, the new township in Cyberjaya/Putrajaya, with a total GDV of RM1.2 billion, is earmarked for launch in the first quarter of 2014. 

Continuing the success of Bandar Saujana Utama, the 80.9ha extension to the existing township is expected to generate a potential GDV of RM800 million.

Glomac expects another exciting year ahead, with growth to be underpinned by high unbilled sales and planned multiple launches from its strategic landbanks.

The developer is proposing a final gross dividend of 3.5 sen per share less 25 per cent tax for the year ended April 2013. This brings the total dividend for the year to 6.5 sen, up from 5.5 sen per share paid the previous year.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

(The Edge) Mah Sing on track to hit sales target

KUALA LUMPUR: Mah Sing Group Bhd is on track to achieve this year's sales target of RM3 billion, says Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

He said the group is optimistic of achieving the target judging from the RM750 million sales recorded in the first quarter ended March 31, 2013.

"Our diversity of good projects in prime locations coupled with our range of properties to suit every need should sustain our growth, moving forward," he told reporters after the company's annual general meeting.

He said for this year, the group has acquired four parcels of land with a combined gross development value (GDV) of RM7.78 billion thus far.

The four projects include integrated commercial centres like Damansara Sentral, Greater Kuala Lumpur, Lakeville Residence in Taman Wahyu, Kepong, Meridin@Senibong in Iskandar Malaysia and Kota Kinabalu Convention City in Sabah.

"We are in a very good position, we have the financial prowess to take on more land, be they fast turnaround niche projects or large townships, yet we can comfortably maintain our growth with our existing landbank," said Leong.

He said this is why the group has been very selective in the land it acquires. Leong said besides outright purchase, the group is open to joint ventures and also government privatisation land.

He said on the local property market, Mah Sing needs to continue offering appealing products in good locations to maintain its strong sales momentum.

"Sentiments are still strong and we are selectively optimistic on certain segments. Our market research and consumer feedback tells us that mass market products targeting the medium to mid-high segments is still the way to go," he added.

He said there is still good demand for serviced residences from 500 sq ft in prime city or commercial locations, landed properties below RM1 million in good schemes with easy access and amenities or medium-high to high-end residences in mature schemes.

"It is a competitive market but with our branding, concept, delivery track record and customer service, we believe we can continue to differentiate ourselves," added Leong.

(BUSINESS TIMES) Nusmetro targets RM1b lock-in sales

NUSMETRO Group is targeting RM1 billion worth of lock-in sales by the third quarter of this year.

Its managing director Thomas Chan said the targeted sales would be made through its four Arte series projects in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.

He said the two ongoing projects in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur - Arte @Subang West and Arte @Kuchai Lama - are already sold out.

The latest introduction in the series, Arte S in Bukit Gambir here, has already sold 40 per cent of its 400 condominium units, Chan said, with another 30 per cent sales targeted within the month.

"We would have sold 70 per cent of the Arte S units here by next month ... and we managed to sell 40 per cent during Chinese New Year in February.

"We hope to reach the RM1 billion sales target. 

"I do not think many developers have managed to do so, unlike the big players like SP Setia," he said at the official launch of the Arte S project last Saturday.

Arte S, a project of about RM430 million in gross development value (GDV), is the property developer's first Arte series project in the nor-thern region. Construction is expected to begin next month and be completed by the end of 2016.

The project features two condominium towers of spiralling architectural lines; iconic indoor and outdoor pods that house a three-storey entertainment lounge; a garden with hanging cocoons; a gym; and a multi-layered pool.

The project is designed by Spark, the internationally-acclaimed London-based architecture and ur-ban design firm, which also designed Singapore's Clark Quay and the Shanghai Cruise Terminal in China.

Chan said Spark's design for Arte S has been shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2013 in Singapore this October under the Future Projects Award.

"Spark has also worked on designing many other projects, but it chose Arte S to enter the competition at the world's largest architectural festival this year," he said.

Chan said Nusmetro did not previously develop projects in series until it introduced the Arte series two years ago.

"We never had that kind of branding but this is something we need to do to develop projects for a niche market," he said.

Projects in the Arte series, he explained, evolved around the art subject and sought to give a different definition to lifestyle living.

"When people look at the projects, and how they are designed externally and internally, what they think about them is subjective.

"However, our Arte series projects have received encouraging market endorsement," he said.

Nusmetro's fourth Arte project, named Arte+, is a mixed-development project with small-office home-office suites off Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur.

Chan said the project will be officially launched to the public in November or December this year, after it is unveiled to the company's partners in September.

(BUSINESS TIMES) IPGB to launch 3 phases of Penang Times Square

GEORGE TOWN: Property developer Ivory Properties Group Bhd (IPGB) is set to kick off phases three, four and five of its Penang Times Square development, measuring 1.5 million sq ft in gross floor area, by year-end.

Its group chief executive officer Datuk Low Eng Hock said the three phases would comprise exclusive small-office-home-office (SoHo) units, a luxury shopping mall, a five-star ho-tel with 300 en suite rooms, exclusive suites and a stand-alone cineplex.

The mall, said Low, would be solely owned by IPGB, with international retailers filling up about 500,000 sq ft of the mall area. 

To accommodate high traffic flow in the peak season, a double-storey basement car park will also be made available, he noted.

"With these developments in plan, the once quiet George Town will be injected with a new lease of life, especially during the night, with many activities happening in Penang Times Square.

"Phases three and four, which will stand at 151m and 153m respectively, are set to become yet another iconic landmark for Penang, and we are confident this will help to enliven the surrounding area for a more vibrant city," he said in a statement after the group's annual general meeting (AGM) last week.

On the group's performance, Low said the next three years of IPGB's performance would be even better following commencement of construction works for its Penang World City projects by year-end.

"Registration for the first phase of the development has reached 90 per cent and we are scheduling the official launching by the end of the third quarter of this year.

The group has also been appointed as the turnkey builder for Penang World City and "this will further strengthen its construction arm's financial contribution to the balance sheet", he said.

(BUSINESS TIMES) MRCB to undertake high-value projects

BIGGER PROFIT MARGINS: Focus will be on niche, specialised areas such as environmental construction

MALAYSIAN Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) will move into high-value construction with higher profit margins to drive the company forward, says group chief operating officer Mohd Imran Mohamad Salim. 

"We will focus on niche, specialised areas, such as environmental construction. These would involve rehabilitation projects and coastal rehabilitation works. There are not many competitors in these areas. In building construction, there are competitors everywhere and margins are going lower," he said in an interview here recently. 

Imran said MRCB will also diversify its property development activities to include niche projects and build more investment assets for higher recurring income. 

Currently, MRCB is involved in the RM11 billion KL Sentral transport hub in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Its other ongoing projects are Puncak Iskandar in Johor and Taman Kajang Utama in Kajang, Selangor. 

For fiscal year 2012, MRCB's net profit slipped to RM60.12 million from RM93.52 million a year earlier, while revenue was marginally higher at RM1.28 billion from RM1.23 billion previously. 

The group's property development and investment activities are currently the main contributors to the company's net profit and revenue. 

Imran said MRCB will launch a roadmap next year, which will set the company's business direction and new strategies. 

The plan is to have one-, three-, six- and 10-year roadmaps. 

"In the current business environment, we must have a roadmap every two to three years to direct the company forward. We also need to be transparent and create value for our shareholders," he said. 

Imran said under its new leadership, MRCB will be a growing company with a new business settings. 

Business Times has reported that Imran's father, 55-year-old Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din, the founder of Gapurna Sdn Bhd (GSB), will head MRCB as its group managing director by year-end. 

GSB is also set to take a 16.8 per cent stake in the property group, following an asset injection exercise recently approved by shareholders. 

MRCB is buying assets worth RM814 million from Nusa Gapurna Development Bhd (NGD). This includes taking full control of PJ Sentral Development Sdn Bhd (PJSD). 

PJSD is developing the multi-billion ringgit PJ Sentral project in Petaling Jaya, a 70:30 joint venture between NGD and the Selangor State Development Corp. 

Both MRCB and NGD share a common shareholder - Malaysia's largest pension fund, the Employees' Provident Fund. 

(NST) 'Let Jonker Walk night market remain'

MALACCA: An appeal is to be made to the state government for the Jonker Walk night market to continue.

Jonker Walk committee deputy chairman Datuk Gan Tian Loo said they would do so following the state government's decision on June 12 to close down the night market to allow for traffic flow.

"Jonker Street is distinctively unique and plays an important role as one of the most visited tourist spots in Malacca. It is important that we preserve Jonker Street, which is also rich in history and culture," he said, adding he was unable to reject the decision to discontinue the night market as he was no longer a state executive councillor.

Jonker Walk was established 13 years ago and proved popular not only to the people of Malacca but also from those outside the state and foreign tourists, he added.

Its night market was a crowd-puller and a tourist attraction with traders selling various food items, antiques, accessories and apparels to shoppers in the open air.

"I will try to discuss with Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron and the state authority on having the Jonker Walk night market to continue as before. Hopefully, by this weekend, it will be open for the public again."

Monday, 24 June 2013

(The Star) Nazri invites Kiwis to Malaysia

<b>Malaysia beckons:</b> Nazri addressing the New Zealand media and travel trade members in Auckland to promote the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign.
Malaysia beckons: Nazri addressing the New Zealand media and travel trade members in Auckland to promote the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign.
Malaysia was on the lips of many people in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, recently when Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz dropped by for a visit as part of the global promotional campaign for Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014.
Travel journalists applauded Nazri when he said that he was a great fan of New Zealand’s world-beating rugby team, the All Blacks. He then invited New Zealand journalists to come over to enjoy Malaysian hospitality next year.
Nazri said he believed culture and tourism were the perfect marriage as Malaysia’s diverse cultures enhanced the country’s competitiveness and attractiveness as a travel destination.
“Just like in New Zealand, where experiencing your Maori culture is a unique proposition for tourists, Malaysia too has a major drawcard in our melting pot of people and cultures that includes Malays, Chinese, Indians and the indigenous races of Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.
Nazri said Malaysia was aiming to attract 86,000 New Zealand visitors next year through the VMY 2014 campaign, an increase of 30% on figures for 2012.
“New Zealand is an important market for Malaysia and has great potential for growth,” he said.
At the Malaysia Truly Asia Evening to officially launch the VMY 2014 campaign for the New Zealand market, Nazri endeared himself to leading members of the travel sector with an address that was full of humour and warmth, while delivering a serious message that arrivals from New Zealand are down due to the withdrawal of AirAsia from the New Zealand market. He asked everyone to work together to compensate for that.
Key travel wholesalers and retail travel agents were among the guests, along with representatives of Malaysia Airlines and selected travel media.
The evening began with an in-depth seminar on Malaysia as a tourist destination by Tourism Malaysia director-general Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab followed by presentations from Sabah Tourism, Legoland, MYCEB and Malaysia Airlines. After the seminar, guests networked with each other and had the opportunity to learn about Malaysian culture and traditions.

(The Star) UK’s retail and fashion brands give sneak preview of their Spring/Summer collection

<b>Flash of flowers:</b> A model wearing a beaded boat neck dress by Debenhams.
Flash of flowers: A model wearing a beaded boat neck dress by Debenhams.
For the first time, popular British retail and fashion brands will participate in the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Weekend Autumn/Winter 2013 showcase to be held in November.
The United Kingdom is known for its monarch, arts, music and culture and over the years, British fashion has caught the interest of Asians.
British retail and fashion labels such as Debenhams, Jane Norman, Laura Ashley, Blue Inc and Accessorize are gaining popularity here.
The showcase was aimed at promoting Kuala Lumpur, alongside London, as one of the world’s top shopping destinations.
To provide a sneak preview of what is in store, the Spring/Summer 2013 fashion collection of the respective British labels were paraded at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Jalan Langgak Golf, Kuala Lumpur recently.
The event was attended by international shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo, Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Datuk Azizan Noordin, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Simon Featherstone, representatives of the retail outlets and the media.
Featherstone said the retail sector in the UK contributed to the country’s economy.
It accounts for five percent of UK’s gross domestic product per annum and almost 30% of all tax revenue.
<b>Fashion parade:</b> The sneak preview of British labels that was held at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Jalan Langgak Golf, Kuala Lumpur.
Fashion parade: The sneak preview of British labels that was held at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Jalan Langgak Golf, Kuala Lumpur.
He added that the Great British Fashion campaign will be the first large-scale joint initiative, by the UK and the Malaysian Government, to be held here.
“We are proud that Malaysia will be the first overseas post to be holding such a large-scale campaign to support the UK retail industry and specifically aimed at encouraging UK retailers to enter the growing and dynamic Malaysian market,” said Featherstone.
He added that the Debenhams, a leading British department store chain, entered the Malaysian fashion retail market in 2008, under a master franchise agreement, with Stellar Retail Sdn Bhd.
<b>Masculine simplicity:</b> Menswear paired with a straw hat — perfect for an evening about town.
Masculine simplicity: Menswear paired with a straw hat — perfect for an evening about town.
Following the success of its two outlets in the country, at the Curve and Starhill Gallery, a new outlet will be opened in Penang this September.
In 1998, the Malaysian United Industries invested in the Laura Ashley brand and it was also a success, said Featherstone.
Tourism Malaysia deputy director-general Datuk Azizan Noordin said the event would contribute to the Government’s ongoing campaign to establish Malaysia as a leading duty-free shopping destination.
“The retail and fashion industry makes a significant contribution to the country’s economy and shopping holds the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after accommodation,” he said.
Azizan said the event would be held in conjunction with the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale 2014, from Nov 16 to Jan 5.
For details, visit