Tuesday, 26 September 2017

(The Star) 87 applicants happy with success in buying low medium-cost flat units

Living with eight family members in her father’s three-bedroom flat in Air Itam, Penang, has not been easy for 38-year-old nurse Teoh Sin Kim.

So when she got to ballot for her Selasih Court low medium- cost (LMC) unit in Tanjung Tokong, she could not contain her happiness.

“I am all excited about moving into the new flat with my two children, aged 12 and 18.

“There were eight of us living in our flat and some of us had to sleep in the living room.

“It was not easy but we didn’t have a choice,” she said, adding that she had applied for affordable housing in 2004 and 2008 without success.

Teoh was among 87 people who were successful in getting the flat units sold at RM72,500 by developer Eastern & Oriental Berhad (E&O).

Another successful applicant was fisherman Kamaruddin Othman, 65, who said he was happy to have his very own unit, as he and his family had been living in a transit home for the last decade.

“I have been a fisherman for the last 50 years and I do not earn much.

“I am so happy to finally have my own home and for it to be on the first floor, it is such a bonus!” said the father of 10.

Businessman Saleem Sulaiman, 55, said he would no longer have to pay for rent as he is now a unit owner, adding that he could not wait to move in with his wife, their 10-year-old son and his elderly father.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng witnessed the eligible individuals balloting for flat units in Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, Penang, yesterday.

In his opening speech, he congratulated E&O for completing another LMC housing project, after Nipah Court and Palm Court in 2009.

“E&O has fulfilled its obligation as stipulated by the Concession Agreement for Seri Tanjung Pinang by building 1,194 units of affordable homes.

“They also made the initiative to build an extra 142 units,” he said, adding that E&O had delivered 1,336 units of affordable housing since 2009.

State Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said that the state would continue to ensure that affordable housing in Penang is fixed at RM42,000 and RM72,500 for low-cost (LC) and LMC housing.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon and E&O managing director Kok Tuck Cheong.

Of the 100 units held by E&O, 87 were released for balloting. The remaining 13 were reserved by the state government for the relocation of squatters in the area.

Selasih Court is a 2.3ha development comprising 644 units by E&O Property (Penang) Sdn Bhd with 544 units sold to UDA Holdings Berhad. The 100 units retained by E&O are sold in accordance to the list of names provided by Penang State Housing Department.

The units, each measuring 657sq ft, are housed in two 15-storey blocks.

(The Star) Bicycle lane to link up three parks

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is planning to build a bicycle lane to link up Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, the recreation area around the Kampung Boyan flood retention pond and Taman Air Panas, Setapak.

DBKL executive director (Planning) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd said the local authority intended to include a bicycle lane along the pedestrian walk connecting Jalan Gurney to Jalan Syed Putra and eventually to Taman Air Panas.

“It will stretch between 3km and 4km. This is to provide connectivity between all three parks so it is easier for people to enjoy the parks,” he said during a press conference at the World Rivers Day Celebration at Kampung Boyan flood retention pond.

Mohd Najib said DBKL hoped to complete the bicycle-lane project at the end of next year.

He said Taman Tasik Titiwangsa was expected to be partially closed to the public next year to facilitate the River of Life development project’s second phase.

Teenagers cycling near the Kampung Boyan flood retention pond. 

“Since the size of the public area for Taman Tasik Titiwangsa will shrink, we are hoping they will visit Kampung Boyan as an extension to the park,” he said.

He said DBKL would also study how to link the pond area to Kampung Baru and Chow Kit.

“We hope to complete that in two years from now,” he said, adding that an estimated budget of RM200,000 had been set aside for this.

When asked when the pond area would be open to the public, Mohd Najib said DBKL would do so by December, in time for the school holidays once the safety of the area was improved.

“We will cooperate with the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) in maintaining the pond area as a full-fledged park,” he said.

In April, Mohd Najib said the Kampung Boyan pond recreation area, as an extension of Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, was expected to be opened to the public in the middle of this year.

The World Rivers Day celebration was organised at four locations simultaneously – Kampung Boyan flood retention pond, Taman Sungai Bunis, Setapak Jaya pond and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa.

The activities were focused on educational and public awareness, river clean-up, riverine restoration and community riverside celebrations.

An additional seven partners, on top of the existing 23 partners, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Sungai Nadi Kehidupan LA21 Project at the celebration to strengthen efforts to care for Sungai Bunus.

The seven partners included Ekovest Sdn Bhd, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kelab Eko Malaysia and Kindoyo Nature Services.

(The Star) UOB M’sia online customers up by 106% over last three years

PETALING JAYA: United Overseas Bank (M) Bhd (UOB Malaysia) posted a 106% rise in the number of customers using its online banking services over the last three years.

This was achieved amid growing presence of and high dependence on mobile phones and tablets, the bank said in a statement.

The biggest locally incorporated foreign bank in terms of asset size and branch network revealed that the number of online transactions, including fund transfers and bill payments, rose by 133% during the period.

According UOB Malaysia’s data, the number of online fund transfers and bill payments was up by 184% and 90%, respectively, from August 2014 to July 2017.

“The data also showed that in the first seven months of 2017, online fund transfers accounted for 59% of all online financial transactions, while bill payments made up another 12%,” it said.

Managing director and country head of personal financial services Ronnie Lim said consumers’ busy lifestyles demand that their banking and payment needs are simply and conveniently met.

“Consumers expect to have ease, speed and flexibility to carry out their financial transactions in keeping with the pace of their lifestyles.

“Rather than queue at bank branches and post offices during their lunch break to pay their bills, now they can carry out their banking transactions on the go and at their convenience,” said Lim.

Customers only need to log on to UOB Malaysia’s Internet banking website from their desktops or on their mobile phones for transactions.

Meanwhile, UOB Malaysia has improved its Personal Internet Banking (PIB) website to enhance the online banking experience in line with customers’ preference and online transaction habits, apart from upgrading its PIB facility.

“Through PIB, customers are able to transfer funds by simply entering the recipient’s mobile phone number and an access code will be sent to the recipient via a text message.

“To accept funds, the recipient will have to log on to the PIB website and key in the code. The money will then be sent to their bank account of choice,” Lim added.

With PIB’s enhanced capabilities, customers can transfer foreign currency to ringgit-denominated savings and current accounts.

(The Star) Damansara Realty JV wins RM27mil job

PETALING JAYA: Damansara Realty Bhd (DBhd) has been awarded a RM27.62mil integrated facilities management (IFM) contract for a small medical facility in Petronas’ Pengerang refinery in Johor, in a joint venture with KPJ Healthcare Bhd’s Kumpulan Perubatan (Johor) Sdn Bhd.

The project covers medical services for utilities, interconnecting and offsite facilities for the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia, DBhd said the small medical facility project also includes an optional services contract for RM7.8mil, bringing the potential total contract value to RM35.42mil.

As of July this year, DBhd has a total RM285mil worth of IFM contracts in hand.

“Our IFM division has been the engine in driving our return to profitability, contributing 46% of our total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) in the first half of 2017 alone.

“We implemented an aggressive strategic restructuring plan in late 2016, which has seen improved operational efficiencies within the group.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we expect the group to show a full-year operating profit for the first time in four years,” said group CEO Brian Iskandar Zulkarim (pic) in a press release yesterday.

DBhd’s strategic transformation initiatives resulted in a net profit of RM2.5mil for the first half of financial year 2017, as compared to a net loss of RM9.8mil in the previous corresponding period.

In September 2016, DBhd was awarded a RM124mil contract to operate and maintain the temporary executive village and management office of Petronas’ Rapid project, and in July 2017, it secured another contract for security management services worth RM26.21mil.

(The Star) AirAsia moves closer to setting up China JV airline

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Bhd is moving closer to setting up a joint venture (JV) budget airline in China, having entered into a non-binding term sheet with China Everbright Group and two other companies last Friday.

In an announcement to Bursa Malaysia, the low-cost carrier said the term sheet, whose signatories included Singapore-based Plato Capital Ltd and Oxley Capital Ltd, intended to confirm the parties’ interest in forming the JV and contained supplementary information to an earlier memorandum of understanding (MoU).

On May 14, AirAsia signed an MoU with Everbright – a conglomerate under the direct supervision of state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of China’s State Council – and Henan Government Working Group.

Their target JV airline, to be known as AirAsia (China) in China, will be established either through an acquisition or by obtaining a new airline licence.

Under the 12-month MoU, it is intended that AirAsia (China) will submit an application for an operating permit in China to Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

In addition to the airline, the JV will also look into developing infrastructure.

The JV will invest in developing for pilots, engineers and crew training as well as a maintenance, repair and overhaul provider (MRO).

The parties have also expressed interest to incorporate AirAsia (China) in Zhengzhou which is intended to be AirAsia (China)’s operating base and headquarters.

The term sheet signed on Friday, Sept 25, is valid for no longer than 12 months for the parties to discuss and negotiate definitive agreements for the proposed JV.

Plato is an investment holding company listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Ltd, while Oxley is an innovative private investment firm and multi-family office specialising in real estate, agriculture/alternative energy, natural resources sectors and investments across the Asia-Pacific region.

(The Star) Final rail alignment to determine cost of JB-S’pore RTS Link

KUALA LUMPUR: The cost of the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link (RTS Link) will depend on the final alignment of the rail track, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

He said Prasarana Malaysia Bhd had taken note of Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar’s advice on an alternative alignment for the rail track.

“The company has agreed to look into it and should be able to complete a study on the new alignment in a month or so and present it to our Singaporean counterpart,” he added.

Abdul Rahman said the design possibilities included a high bridge, low bridge, diagonal bridge and a bridge parallel to the causeway.

He said this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Prasarana and Singapore-based SMRT Corp Ltd.

The MoU involves the setting up of a joint venture, RTS Link operating company. It will design, build, finance, operate, maintain and renew RTS Link’s operating assets like trains, tracks and systems.

Abdul Rahman said the MoU would also pave way for the signing of a bilateral agreement between the two parties by December this year. — Bernama

(The Star) Property giant in the making

PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Property Bhd, which plans to list on Bursa Malaysia by year-end, has 16,938 acres of remaining developable land with a gross development value (GDV) of RM101.1bil in Malaysia.

The property pure play said the current land bank is expected to continue contributing to its sustainable earnings over the next 15 to 20 years.

In its prospectus posted on the Securities Commission’s website, the company said property development contributed 92.1%, 90.1% and 93.3% of its revenue for financial year 2015 (FY15), FY16 and FY17, respectively.

The company also has a footprint in the United Kingdom through its 40% stake in the Battersea Power Station project in southwest London.

Sime Darby Property is also involved in property investment as well as leisure and hospitality.

In the prospectus, the company said it is aiming for a dividend payout of not less than 20% of its net profit from July 1, 2017.

This is in line with its policy of paying dividends out of cash generated from its operations after setting aside necessary funding for capital expenditure and working capital requirements.

“As part of this policy, we target a dividend payout ratio of not less than 20% of our consolidated profit attributable to the owners of our company under MFRS, beginning July 1, 2017,” it said.

However, the company cautioned that its ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to shareholders would depend on certain factors.

These include its level of cash, gearing, return on equity and retained earnings; expected financial performance; as well as existing and future debt obligations.

On its listing reference price per share, which was not revealed, the company said it is determined after taking into consideration the pro forma consolidated net asset per share of RM1.42 as at June 30, 2017, and the market value of its properties.

This gives rise to a revaluation surplus of RM13.83bil on its properties’ net book value.

Moving forward, the company said it planned to focus on its core strengths in township development and increase its exposure in integrated and niche urban developments.

It also aims to optimise and grow its portfolio of recurring income assets and develop its recurring income contribution to 10% of operating profits by 2022.

On overseas expansion, the company plans to leverage on its involvement in the Battersea Power Station project as a platform to consider and evaluate other projects in the UK market.

(The Star) BLand back in the black with RM11.53m earnings

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) returned to the black with a net profit of RM11.53mil for the first quarter ended July 31, 2017, after posting a net loss of RM27.24mil in the same quarter last year.

The property group attributed its earnings to higher contribution from Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd’s principal subsidiary – Sports Toto Malaysia Sdn Bhd (STMSB) – as a result of a lower prize payout, improved profit from both the property and hotels and resorts businesses arising from higher revenue, and lower finance costs.

BLand’s earnings per share stood at 0.23 sen for the first quarter compared with a loss per share of 0.55 sen in the same quarter last year.

During the quarter in review, the company saw its revenue increasing a marginal 3.2% to RM1.6bil from RM1.55bil in the previous corresponding quarter.

BLand attributed the revenue growth to higher contribution from its unit HR Owen plc.

This is following higher volume of new and used car sales coupled with certain new models available for sale, improved progress billings from its property development and investment business, and better sales from the hotels and resorts business arising from higher overall occupancy and average room rates.

These offset the lower revenue reported by STMSB due to a lower number of draws as compared to the previous year’s corresponding quarter.

BLand said it expected its numbers forecast operation business to remain challenging for the remaining quarters of the financial year ending April 30, 2018.

As for the performance of its hotels and resorts business, it is expected to remain satisfactory while the property market outlook is expected to remain lukewarm.

(The Star) China’s CCCC to build tower in TRX

BEIJING: China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) intends to make Kuala Lumpur its hub for the Asean region as the port and construction group expands its footprint here.

“We will set up our regional centre in Kuala Lumpur,” CCCC vice-president Peng Dapeng told reporters at the group’s headquarters here.

He said the group was building the “CCCC tower”, a commercial building in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX).

“We have acquired the land. We are in the midst of reviewing the project so details are scant now,” he said, without disclosing the gross development value and investment value.

“We will have our regional head office there for Asean and some portion of the tower will be rented out,” Peng said.

He added that the group currently had eight regional hubs globally.

“Malaysia is very important to us. As you can see, the contract value we have in Malaysia is the highest among other Asean countries. Currently, we have more than US$16bil (RM67.27bil) worth of on-going contracts in hand.

“We believe this number will be bigger in the future,” he added.

It was previously reported that WCT Holdings Bhd said it would be undertaking a proposed joint venture (JV) with CCCG Overseas Real Estate (CORE) and CCCC to develop a plot of land measuring 1.65 acres in TRX.

WCT, CORE and CCCC will own 20%, 65% and 15% equity interests in the JV, respectively. CORE and CCCC will pay RM200mil to WCT, the owner of the land.

WCT acquired the land in October 2015 for RM223mil. Only 10% was in cash while the rest was in lieu of payment for construction and infrastructure works done in TRX.

Asked about the latest progress of the East Coast Rail Link, Peng said the group hopes to start construction within this year.

“The first section to be started is a tunnel near Genting Highlands. We are in the midst of getting approvals from the local authorities and preparing for the land acquisition process,” he said.

“Once we get approval from the local authorities, we hope the construction work can start within this year,” he said.

Peng added that the group was busy mobilising all of the equipment to Malaysia.

The RM55bil infrastructure project is China’s largest overseas project under construction and by far the largest single project under China’s Belt & Road Initiative.

CCCC is the world’s largest port design and construction company principally engaged in the design and construction of transport infrastructure, dredging and heavy machinery manufacturing.

It is the world’s largest highway and bridge design and construction company and also the largest container crane manufacturer.

(The Star) Sime plantation, property units unveil dividend policies

PETALING JAYA: Sime Darby Group, which is moving a step closer towards spinning off its plantation and property units, has unveiled the dividend policies for the businesses.

Sime Darby Plantation Bhd in its prospectus exposure has targeted for a dividend payout ratio of not less than 50% of its consolidated profit attributable to the owners of the company under the Malaysian Financial Reporting Standards (MFRS) beginning July 1, 2017.

In a separate prospectus exposure, Sime Darby Property Bhd said it is targeting a dividend payout ratio of not less than 20% of its consolidated profit attributable to the owners of the company under MFRS beginning July 1, 2017.

Sime Darby Plantation, which is en route to a listing on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia by year-end, said it plans to pay dividends out of cash generated from its operations after setting aside necessary funding for capital expenditure (capex) and working capital requirements.

The company noted that its ability to pay dividends would be dependent on its profitability and financial condition, and would have regard to its working capital needs; capex plans; availability of cash to fund such dividends or other distributions; and the covenants in its existing loan agreements as well as other obligations.

Sime Darby Plantation is one of the pure-play entities to be created under the restructuring exercise of the group’s parent, Sime Darby.

The exercise by the conglomerate would see the demerger of Sime Darby Plantation and Sime Darby Property from the parent.

The idea is to streamline the group’s operations and create three “pure play” stand-alone listed entities in the forms of Sime Darby Plantation, Sime Darby Property and a leaner Sime Darby.

According to Sime Darby group president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Bakke Salleh, the listings of both Sime Darby Plantation and Sime Darby Property were targeted to take place by the end of November this year.

Sime Darby Plantation counts itself as the world’s largest oil palm plantation company by planted area, accounting for about 4% of total global production of crude palm oil (CPO) in 2016.

The group saw its net profit surge 2.6 times to RM3.81bil for the financial year ended June 30, 2017 (FY17), from RM1.46bil in the preceding year. Consequently, its earnings per share rose to 5.84 sen from 1.61 sen.

Sime Darby Plantation’s earnings for FY16 represented a decline of 3.7% from RM1.51bil, or 1.66 sen per share, in FY15.

The group’s pro-forma consolidated net asset per share stood at RM2.01 as at June 30, 2017.

Sime Darby Plantation recently implemented a five-year strategy, focusing on growing its upstream and downstream businesses, as well as maximising returns across the palm oil value chain by leveraging on its integrated business model.

For its upstream business, the group said: “We aim to continue our focus on operational excellence towards achieving ‘Mission 25:25’, that is, achieving FFB (fresh fruit bunch) yields of 25 tonnes per hectare and 25% OER (oil extraction rate) by 2025.”

Sime Darby Plantation owned 602,509 hectares of land planted with oil palm as at end-July 2017, while its CPO production stood at about 2.48 million tonnes for FY17.

As for its downstream, Sime Darby Plantation said it would focus on differentiated, sustainable and traceable high-value products to serve its customers’ evolving needs.

“We will also explore and expand opportunities to increase our presence in key geographical markets such as India, South-East Asia, the United States, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and China,” it said.

“We target downstream operations to contribute more than 20% of our group’s profit before interest and tax within the next five years,” it added.

To maximise returns across the palm oil value chain, Sime Darby Plantation has started restructuring a number of its upstream and downstream operation units to optimise mill utilisation rates and streamline sales and marketing activities.

“We also aim to achieve a more efficient palm oil supply chain and establish a better risk-management framework in order to create further value and improve our market share,” it said.

“We are also strengthening our supply chain network to take advantage of price spreads across locations and strengthen our ability to trade around our own assets,” it added.

Following Sime Darby Plantation’s listing, it would have 6.8 billion shares in issue, of which 3.2 billion, or about 47.1% of its issued share capital, would be collectively owned by Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Amanah Saham Bhd.

The Employees Provident Fund would own 688.8 million shares, or a 10.1% stake, while Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) would own 399.6 million shares, or a 5.9% stake, in Sime Darby Plantation. The remaining 2.5 billion shares, or about 36.9% of its issued share capital, would be held by other investors.

Sime Darby Plantation will not receive any proceeds from its listing, as there was no offer for subscription or purchase of its shares.

(The Edge) Sungai Pinang flood control project delayed by land acquisition issue

KUALA LUMPUR: The delay in implementing the Sungai Pinang basin flood mitigation project is due to the issue of land acquisition in the area.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the problem of resettlement of squatters also caused a delay to the RM150 million project which originally should have started in 2016.

Speaking to the media after launching the World Rivers Day 2017 celebration here yesterday, he said the ministry had given an assurance the project would be handed to the contractor in early January next year and is expected to be completed by 2020.

“The tender process is ready ... the selection of contractor is being done. God willing, when [it is] ready, the project will reduce flooding. When it rains heavily like last week, the [flood] situation will not be as bad,” he said.

Wan Junaidi also said 33 of the 473 rivers monitored by the Department of Environment across the country have been identified as polluted and are mostly located in the city areas.

These polluted rivers include Sungai Juru and Sungai Jelutong in Penang, Sungai Penchala in the federal capital and Sungai Semenyih in Selangor.

“The pollution is the result of industrial effluent and domestic sewage outflow to the rivers, as well as the public’s irresponsible attitude,” said Wan Junaidi. — Bernama

(The Edge) Ho Wah Genting, Dufry to start duty-free shop in Genting Highlands


KUALA LUMPUR: Ho Wah Genting Bhd (HWGB) is teaming up with Switzerland’s Dufry Group to jointly operate a duty-free shop in SkyAvenue mall at the Genting Highlands Resort, Pahang.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, HWGB said it had entered into a shareholders agreement with Dufry International AG, a member of Dufry Group, to incorporate a joint-venture (JV) company for the operation of the duty-free shop. HWGB will hold a 49% stake in the JV company, while Dufry will own the
remaining 51% stake.

HWGB said through the JV company, it will have the opportunity to tap into Dufry Group’s strength in the travel retail business and to expand into the travel retail business in Genting Highlands Resort.

“The expansion will enable the HWGB group to share the operating results after tax of the JV company and is expected to contribute positively to the group’s result in the long term,” it added.

The JV company will have an initial paid-up capital of US$500,000 (RM2.1 billion).

(The Edge) Call for S’pore-JB project tenders by year end

Cost of rapid transit system will also be finalised by then


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will lead the rapid transit system (RTS) project between Johor Baru and Woodlands North in Singapore, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan said, with plans to call for open tenders for construction in the country by year end.

The RTS’ cost will also be finalised by the end of the year once its design is agreed upon by the operating company (OpCo), he added.

Abdul Rahman also said there has been no decision on the shareholding of the OpCo that will design, build, finance, operate and maintain, as well as renew the RTS link operating assets such as trains, tracks and systems. “However, the OpCo would not be held on a 50:50 ratio as it would impede the decision-making process.

“There could be a deadlock in decisions or agreements [made] if it held a 50:50 ratio. We are approaching this issue in a ‘brotherly’ manner where both parties have agreed that one of them has a slight majority, so it is easier to carry out the RTS moving forward,” he told reporters yesterday after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Malaysian government-linked corporation Prasarana Malaysia Bhd and Singapore-owned SMRT Corp Ltd to set up an OpCo to run the RTS.

“Of course, both countries agree that neither party can carry out the project on its own or impose its will. However, we don’t expect any issues.

“At the end of the day, there are mechanisms to overcome the issues at [the] ministerial level. If it is still not resolved at our level, then our prime ministers would be able to resolve the problem,” Abdul Rahman said.

Asked if debt-laden Prasarana is able to operate the link, its chief executive officer Datuk Seri Azmi Abdul Aziz said the government will issue a guarantee for it to raise the funds via the market.

“On us being a going concern, we are going through a transformation programme now. What is important is how we can get all public transportation infrastructure up, so it can serve the public and reduce unnecessary congestion that would choke the city.

“That is something we have to look at in ensuring that public transportation infrastructure will be off the ground as soon as possible, so the people can enjoy the government’s investments [in it],” Azmi added.

With a debt of RM18 billion in 2015 and a higher figure projected for 2016, Prasarana currently operates three light rail transit systems, a monorail line and the mass rail transit line 1. It also runs the Al Mashaer Al Mugaddassah Metro Southern Line and the Makkah Shadow Operator in Saudi Arabia.

Abdul Rahman also said there are alternatives for the Johor-side alignment — an issue of contention with the Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, but in Singapore, the alignment has been set.

“I met with [the] Sultan of Johor last week and some of his perceptions were based on third party views.

We gave him our story, and took heed of his views on the alignment. I don’t see any other issue, and assured him that I will brief him from time to time,” he said.

He noted the design includes a proposal for a high bridge, low bridge, perpendicular, diagonal or even parallel to the Causeway.

“We will finalise it by the end of the year. We are mobilising double the resources to finalise the technical details. We don’t see any objections from the Singapore side.” Abdul Rahman also said while Bukit Chagar in Johor Baru has been identified as the site for the station, there has been no decision on how to get there as there are different routes. The construction of the 4km-long link over the Tebrau
channel is expected to begin next year following a round of tenders for construction, and is projected to be operational in 2024.

When completed, the rail system is expected to draw some 10,000 commuters daily each way, and reduce traffic congestion.

(The Edge) S P Setia raises RM434m via sukuk for Penang land buy


KUALA LUMPUR: S P Setia Bhd has raised RM434 million under a sukuk programme with a nominal value of up to the same sum, to part finance its purchase of five parcels of freehold land in Seberang Perai, Penang.

It said in a filing that the notes were issued by its wholly-owned subsidiary Setia Recreation Sdn Bhd.

Public Investment Bank Bhd is the principal adviser for the sukuk programme, which will have a tenure of up to 10 years from the date of the first issue.

The sukuk programme is guaranteed by S P Setia and is secured by, among others, by the five plots of land mentioned, which are adjoining freehold parcels measuring some 1,674.83 acres (677.78ha).

Last November, the group announced it won the tender to buy the plots for RM620.12 million, which marked the property developer’s maiden entry into the mainland of Penang.

“The land is planned for an eco-themed mixed-development township that has a potential gross development value of RM9.6 billion over a period of 15 to 20 years.”

(The Star) PM: US ventures decided by investment committee

KUALA LUMPUR: The decision to invest in the United States was made by the country’s investment committee and professionals, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said that neither he nor politicians made the decision or instructed the committee to choose the United States.

“I only asked for the investment to be chosen based on the criteria that it has the best return, balanced with risk management.

“We receive returns of 11.1% when we invest in the United States; in Malaysia, we only get around 7%. Who benefits from this? It’s the employees in Malaysia.

“We need to have a global strategy and investing in the United States is not something new. This has been done since 2008,” he said in his speech during the “Sesi Jom Bersama Perdana Menteri dengan TM” event at Menara TM yesterday.

During his White House meeting with Donald Trump on Sept 13, Najib told the US President that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Khazanah Nasional Bhd planned to expand their investments in the United States.

The EPF is expected to invest between US$3bil and US$4bil (RM12.54bil and RM16.4bil).

Najib added that Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s investment in Alibaba Group, for example, yielded profits of more than US$1bil (RM4.2bil) and this would be used to invest in high-tech companies in Silicon Valley.

“So let’s not listen to certain groups that are trying to confuse the people and incite anger,” he said.

Najib added that Malaysia must be a first-class nation and looking at present indicators, it can already be recognised as a great country.

This includes an economic growth rate of 5.8% and being ranked 25th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

“I’m also curious when people complain that we have problems relating to cost of living but if you go to Mecca at any time of the year, it is filled with Malaysians.

“They are not only there to perform their pilgrimage but to shop as well. Is this a sign of a failed state or a bankrupt nation? I think not,” he said.

At the function, Najib launched new Unifi packages from Telekom Malaysia for e-entrepreneurs and students of institutions of higher learning, featuring broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps.

He also launched i-foundit, an app that enables Malaysians to access the Internet via wifi@unifi, previously known as TM WiFi.

Monday, 25 September 2017

(NST) MIDF Research: Valuation of KL Construction Index set to rise

KUALA LUMPUR: Valuation of KL Construction Index is set to climb higher as the price-to-earnings (PER) and price-to-book (PBR) start to converge again to reflect the intensifying news flow on the sector.

MIDF Research said sectoral PER climbed to 22.9 times, which was closer to its 11-year average of 24.2 times. From PBR standpoint, the sector fetched only 1.26 times PBR below its mean of 1.36 times.

Despite that, “writings on the wall” such as drop in infrastructure projects and uneven earnings for big caps and small-mid caps construction companies were ominous for the sector, albeit temporarily, said the research house in a note.

MIDF Research maintained its positive stance on the local construction sector despite blips in its expectation as it believes financial year 2018 estimates beckon better results due to higher revenue recognition, coupled with catalysts of subcontracting packages from China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

The research house said the policy of the Malaysian government opening its wide arm to the One Belt One Road Policy enabled China SOEs to participate freely in construction projects to improve its risk-reward profile.

With an anaemic earnings climate in China was only natural for its SOEs to look for better opportunities, MIDF Research added.

“Large China’s construction SOEs, such as the China Railways Engineering Corp and China Railways Construction Corp, have made strong developments in Malaysian construction sector — shrinking the impact to local companies further.

“Generally, Malaysia’s stable operating margin proxied by FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI’s average of 19.12 per cent is a boon for China’s SOEs,” it said.

(NST) Skyworld hopes for govt to shorten Rumawip sell-off period

KUALA LUMPUR: Property developer, SkyWorld Development Sdn Bhd, is hoping the government will consider shortening the sell-off period for the Federal Territories Affordable Housing (Rumawip) scheme to five years in the upcoming Budget 2018.

Founder and Group Managing Director, Datuk Ng Thien Phing said the gap should be similar to the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Programme (PR1MA), which was reduced from 10 to five years.

“Affordable housing projects are our corporate social responsibility programme and we emphasise not just on affordability, but quality as well,” he told reporters at the “Topping Off” ceremony for the SkyAwani Residences.

The event was officiated by Federal Territories Minister, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor here, today.

Ng said SkyAwani Residences had been fully taken up and was targeted for handover in 2018.

“Currently, the SkyAwani Residences project, which has a gross development value of RM360 million, is 60 per cent complete.

“We expect it to be ready by August 2018, nine months earlier than the original construction period,” he said.

Going forward, Ng said the company would be launching its next affordable housing project, SkyAwani 4 in Setapak, following the successful take-up rate for previous such ventures, namely SkyAwani 1 (Sentul), SkyAwani 2 (Jalan Ipoh) and SkyAwani 3 (Setapak).

“We urge first time house buyers to take advantage of SkyAwani 3 because the value will increase due to location and facilities, such as the SkyBridge and SkyGarden.

“We try to do better with every Rumawip series in terms of development, as we focus on quality, not quantity,” he said, adding, SkyAwani 4 would not be the company’s final such project.

Ng said SkyWorld would keep acquiring new government and private land, while reserving its current landbank of 55.44 hectares for other development.

(NST) (Update) Forest City contractor receives 'lost time injury-free' recognition

GELANG PATAH: Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd, the developer of the Forest City project, today announced that Plot 4 of its development has achieved the status of One Million Man-Hours free of any Lost Time Injury (LTI).

The recognition was given by the Johor Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to the project's main contractor, Giant Leap Construction Sdn Bhd, at a ceremony on the project site here today.

Giant Leap Construction recorded 1,112,920 man-hours without lost time injury since piling for Plot 4 started in Oct 1 last year until Aug 16.

Country Garden Pacificview engineering and technical department head, Wu Yang said the recognition marked a new milestone for the mega project, and hopes the achievement will spur other construction companies to embrace excellence.

Plot 4 on Island One comprises 1,000 units of houses in one 40-storey building and three other 35-storey buildings.

The entire Plot 4 area covers 18.7 million square metres.

"As Forest City is a mega project spanning 20 years of development, we have to make workplace safety our top priority.

"We need a huge pool of highly ethical contractors to contribute to the good reputation of Forest City as a contemporary urban icon," he said.

"We need to be selective in our choice of contractors as the Forest City development is growing bigger in size each day, and this achievement marks the start of bigger things to come," Wu said.

Meanwhile, Johor DOSH director Saiful Azhar Mohd Said said that occupational safety and health aspects of work sites must be given priority by employers in every sector and industry.

"A conducive work environment should be provided so that employees can carry out their duties comfortably, safely and healthily. This will make sure that the public near the workplace will live in a safe, secure and prosperous environment," he said.

He said based on statistics by Johor DOSH, there were 822 active construction sites registered in Johor and out of that figure, 12 sites were operating in Forest City.

Also present were Forest City Plot 4 safety and health officer chief B. Pupathy, Country Garden Pacificview Project Team 1 head Peng Guo Qiang, Giant Leap Construction director Tian Yue Long, and representatives from the six subcontractors of Giant Leap Construction: Haisong Construction (M) Sdn Bhd, Yong Fu Construction Sdn Bhd, Wuhan Ming Hong Overseas Enterprise Sdn Bhd, Zhong Da Construction Sdn Bhd and Million Growth Builder Sdn Bhd.

(The Edge) Affordable transport system needed nationwide — MP

Hard political choices have to be made about resource allocation

KUALA LUMPUR: To cater for the transport needs of the entire nation and not just this city, a more affordable mode of transport than big infrastructure would have to be adopted, a conference on social cities was told.

“Traffic congestion doesn’t just happen in Kuala Lumpur, it happens in many secondary cities too,” said Liew Chin Tong, the chairman of the Research for Social Advancement Policy Institute.

This requires hard political choices to be made about resource allocation, Liew, who is also the member of parliament (MP) for Kluang, told the Social City 2 conference last Tuesday.

Referring to a Neilsen study in 2014, Liew noted that the country has the third highest per capita car ownership in the world with 93% of households owning at least one car, and 54% owning more than one car.

“In Malaysia, even with such a huge ownership of private cars and motorcycles, the transport needs of women, students, the elderly, children, the disabled and the very poor are not catered for adequately,” he said in his keynote address which was distributed to the media yesterday.

With 11 million registered private cars and another 11 million motorcycles, Liew said in Malaysia, “most of the poor have cars, and if they are poorer they are on motorcycles”.

“Of course, the economic cost of owning cars is very high, too. Often, young families in the city spend a third of their income on instalments for car loans, petrol and maintenance, thus depressing disposable income which can be spent in other parts of the domestic economy,” he said.

Buses and some forms of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) have to be part of the solution, he said. Noting that Kuala Lumpur had 1,500 buses in 1985 when the Klang Valley was only one-third of its current size, he pointed out that there are less than 1,000 buses in the wider Klang valley area now.

“Ultimately, a well-connected system has to solve the ‘last mile’ question first before buying big toy infrastructure,” he said.