Tuesday, 31 January 2017

(NST) Pine Properties, MJR Investment, to develop IOI Resort City condo

KUALA LUMPUR: IOI Properties Group Bhd’s unit, Pine Properties Sdn Bhd and MJR Investment Pte Ltd, will jointly develop a condominium project at IOI Resort City, Putrajaya. 

Last Friday, IOI Properties said the project, which comprises 676 units of condominiums, is sited on a 9.6-acre plot. 

IOI properties said it has entered into a shareholders agreement with MJR Investment Pte Ltd to dispose of its 45 per cent stake in PINE MJR Development Sdn Bhd to MJR Investment. 

“(Upon obtaining the relevant approvals), the parties will subsequently increase PINE MJR’s paid-up capital through the subscription of ordinary shares and redeemable non-cumulative preference shares,” IOI group said in a statement. 

IOI Resort City is an integrated development crafted by IOI Properties, which comprises Puteri Palma Condo; Green Building Index-certified IOI City Towers; world-class hotels Putrajaya Marriott and Le Méridien Putrajaya; IOI City Mall – the biggest mall in the southern Klang Valley; and Palm Garden Golf Club – home to an 18-hole championship golf course.

(The Star) Pizza food chain opens latest outlet at Bandar Utama, Sandakan

KUCHING: Pezzo plans to take the brand forward by aggressively expanding in Sabah this year.

Pezzo marketing manager Sophia Ong said Pezzo now has 53 outlets all over Sabah and Sarawak in addition to the recently opened outlet at Bandar Utama Sandakan on Jan 12.

“The new outlet in Sandakan received an overwhelming response from netizens on social media with 78,000 audience and 633 shares when we opened it, Pezzo said in a statement.

Pezzo was first introduced to Sabah and Sarawak in 2014 when it opened its first outlet in Gaya street, Kota Kinabalu.

It received good response, calling the restaurateur to provide more outlets for the growing demand.

“Customers can find Pezzo outlet in Sabah at CityMall, 1Borneo Hypermall, Indah Permai, Centre Point, Papar Commercial Centre and Labuan.

For a start-up cost of RM250, 000 Pezzo welcomes anyone who is interested to be a Pezzo franchise owner to contact them at 082- 422 000 or email to

Meanwhile, in conjunction with the Chinese New Year festival, Pezzo introduces the new Fortune Pizza promotion from now till the end of February.

Shaped like a coin, the new flavour consists of tomato and pineapple chunks smothered in a special fortune sauce and topped generously with mozzarella cheese and fluffy chicken floss.

Double up the order for only RM68 for two whole pan pizzas (12 pieces). Collect the Pezzo’s limited edition year of Rooster red packets while stocks last with any purchase of a whole pan pizza (6 piece).

Pezzo Plaza Merdeka reopened at a new location on Jan 19.

“Grab your favourite pizza now next to MPH bookstore and feel free to dine in the spacious area of the new outlet,” the company said.

(The Star) Charter flight from Taipeh begins

KUCHING: The first Taipei-Kuching charter flight landed at Kuching International Airport last weekend with 150 passengers on board.

The flight, organised by Taipei-based See Mark Travel Services (Taipei) Co Ltd, flew in from Taipei Taoyuen International Airport early Saturday morning.

It resulted from the Sarawak Tourism Board’s (STB) marketing initiative in Taiwan last year, when it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with See Mark in Taipei on Nov 4.

The MoU specified that more charter flights will be planned from June to August this year.

Passengers on the charter flight, who included See Mark general manager Chen Chin Chang, were welcomed on arrival by a lion dance performance and received garlands from a Sarawak cultural troupe upon stepping off the aircraft.

Present at the airport to welcome the passengers were Sarawak Tourism chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Aziz, Tourism Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik and Sarawak Tourism and Sarawak Convention Bureau group chief executive Mike Cannon.

While in Kuching, the Taiwanese visitors will visit various places of interest such as Bako National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife and Rehabilitation Centre and the Sarawak Cultural Village.

The return trip to Taipei is scheduled at 8.40pm tomorrow.

(The Star) A partnership to promote the silver state

Developing the state is of utmost importance to the Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI).

Among its plans to develop Perak is to ensure businesses thrive as well as to promote the silver state as a brand to domestic and foreign tourists.

Its president Datuk Liew Sew Yee hopes to start on the associations plans this Year of the Rooster as it turns 110 years and it coincides with Visit Perak Year 2017.

Top on his mind is to give global recognition for Perak’s capital city Ipoh.

In his speech during PCCCI’s Chinese New Year open house on Sunday, he asked the state government to get recognition for Ipoh old town as a world heritage site.

This was following Lonely Planet listing Ipoh as the sixth best place to visit in Asia in 2016 and Perak as ninth in the World’s Top 10 Regions in 2017 by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2017.

Liew also said that prices for property in Ipoh had substantially increased since the recognition given by Lonely Planet as a must-visit destination.

Zambry (second from left) and Liew (left) presenting ang pow to children.

“We would like to propose that the state government explore the idea of getting Ipoh old town recognised as a world heritage site,” he said.

To this request, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir who was guest-of-honour at the open house, promised to look into it.

He said he had informed Ipoh mayor to do the needful towards getting the recognition for the city.

Also present at the open house at Weil Hotel was International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan among other dignitaries.

Liew also thanked Invest Perak under the leadership of Zambry for approving RM3.2mil for organising the Ipoh International Food and Beverage Fair.

“My greatest appreciation goes to the Perak Tourism Board for granting RM500,000 for the joint organisation of the first Ipoh Cultural Parade.

“PCCCI also has plans to organise two sporting events, including a trail run through Gua Tempurung, and a long distance cycling trip.

PCCCI members tossing yee sang during the new year bash at Weil Hotel.

“The cycling team comprising all our affiliated associations and branches in the state will raise funds for charity during the cycling trip at each of the stops,” he said.

As part of its anniversary celebration, Liew said PCCCI planned to host the national annual general assembly of the Association Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM) in July.

It will invite leaders of other chambers from Asean countries, and other friendly associations in China to take part in the anniversary do.

Later in his speech, Zambry said the state government always worked hand-in-hand with PCCCI to rejuvenate the economy and to turn Perak into a successful state.

He said as his eighth year as the mentri besar he planned to take the state to greater heights.

“I even work with the Opposition for the betterment of the state because there should be less politicking, and to bring more prosperity for the state,” he added.

(The Star) More air connectivity sought

MALACCA: More air inter-connectivity is being sought for Malacca International Airport (LTAM) at Batu Berendam here following the decision by the Federal Government to extend the runway in a bid to accommodate larger aircraft.

State Transport, Project Rehabilitation and International Trade Committee chairman Datuk Lim Ban Hong said the runway will be extended to 2,500m without the need for land acquisitions while the work is expected to be completed in a short span of time.

“There will also be various other passenger handling facilities apart from parking lots made available to make the airport more convenient,” he said at the Chinese New Year open house at Pay Fong Middle School here recently.

The open house was attended by Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron, local community leaders and over 5,000 people.

Malacca government also gave away RM150,000 in monetary aid to 15 charity organisations here as Chinese New Year ang pow during the event.

Lim said currently talks were in progress to have another direct flight from Hainan, China apart from the present Guangdong route.

“We are looking for more destinations between cities in China and Indonesia to LTAM before wooing other countries.

“For the domestic sector, the Kota Baru route will be reactivated apart from identifying new routes within the country,” he said.

Lim said the government was also working to promote medical tourism where LTAM could function as the main entry point for the sector.

Currently, LTAM is mainly used for training purposes with one leading flying school in the country fully utilising the site as the major flight academy in the country.

The airport has two parking bays for bigger aircraft, arrival hall, departure hall and six passenger registration counters.

Lim said once the runway was extended, Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800 could also use LTAM.

On Sept 28 last year, LTAM saw the Airbus A319 from China touch down here and this gave stakeholders new hope to turn the airport into a regional service hub.

The arrival of the maiden flight from Guangzhou, China operated by China Southern Airlines was also seen as a precursor for other airlines to operate from LTAM.

(The Star) Breathing glittery glamour into airport in Subang

Glamour at SkyPark Terminal, Subang is up a level with the opening of the Love Lola boutique, which features internationally recognisable jewellery and accessory brands.

Among the brands partnering with Love Lola are Thomas Sabo, Misaki, Pica LéLa and Toscow.

J&S Group managing director Suraj Menon said the boutique was set to change the landscape of the travel retail business.

“Love Lola epitomises a strong, confident and independent fashionista who is always on the go.

“It represents her fashion accessory picks that can take her from day to night and complements the many hats she wears.

“We will be replicating Love Lola at other airports in Malaysia,” he added.

Thomas Sabo from southern Germany, which operates about 300 boutiques in five continents, stocks a wide range of jewellery watches and well-known charm bracelets.

Australian brands Toscow and Pica LéLa are known for finely crafted jewellery featuring unique designs and materials.

Toscow with a presence in 30 countries, embellishes their pieces with pearls, opals, diamonds and other gemstones.

Meanwhile, Pica LéLa features colourful designs inlaid with crystals and stones plated in 18k gold, and Misaki is known for its luxury jewellery crafted with cultured and handmade glass bead pearls as the signature material.

Models wearing jewellery pieces from brands such as Thomas Sabo, Misaki, Pica LéLa and Toscow during the opening of Love Lola at SkyPark Terminal.

Suraj said J&S Group was working closely with SkyPark to bring several other international luxury brands to Malaysia.

Subang SkyPark Sdn Bhd executive director Tan Sri Ravindran Menon said the city airport had expanded at a rapid pace.

More than 3.1 million passengers use the airport and the numbers are set to go up with the planned refurbishment of Terminal 2 in June.

“SkyPark had been lying idle for 10 years before we came into the scene.

“We thought like any other place in the world, it would be great if Kuala Lumpur had a city airport.

“As our passenger volume keeps increasing by the year, it is nice to have new brands.

“I think this is just the beginning of many more high-end brands in the travel retail business,” said Menon.

The other brands brought into SkyPark Terminal by J&S Group are Chocolate Box, Jet Set Go, Scents and Dusunku.

J&S Group’s vision is to develop its business into a premier-class distributor and retailer across multiple portfolios, including fragrances, chocolates, luggage and travel accessories.

(The Star) KTM Rail Link, Terminal 2 a boon for Skypark

KUALA LUMPUR: The upcoming completion of the KTM Rail Link and the expansion of Terminal 2, Subang, will allow Skypark Terminal to attract more visitors by providing a convenient and cost-effective method to travel.

Subang SkyPark Sdn Bhd executive director Tan Sri Ravindran Menon said the company is grateful to its visitors who use SkyPark Terminal as their preferred airport, especially during the Chinese New Year holiday.

“SkyPark welcomes the Lunar New Year by surprising travellers with zesty offerings. These are exciting time for SkyPark Terminal as we head towards reaching our goal of catering to five million passengers by 2020,” he said in a statement.

Ravindran said the year of the Rooster was shaping up to be an exciting one for Malaysia’s busiest airport upon the completion of the KTM Rail Link in June, 2017.

“With expansion plans of Terminal 2 to be announced soon, there is no stopping the growth of the airport,” he added.

SkyPark Terminal’s focus on ease of travel to and from the airport has been a major contributor to its success. Located a mere 30 minutes from Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, it is a convenient option to travel to some of Malaysias major destinations and Singapore. — Bernama

(The Star) PLB plans affordable housing project in Penang

BUTTERWORTH: Property and construction-based PLB Engineer-ing Bhd is planning to start a RM2.6bil affordable housing project in Paya Terubong in mid-2017 on a 113-acre site.

Group executive chairman Datuk Seri Ong Choo Hoon told StarBiz at an AGM recently that the project would comprise 7,658 affordable units priced between RM300,000 and RM390,000.

“The project would be launched in stages over a six-year period.

“This year, we plan to kick off with the development of 1,280 affordable units with a gross development value of RM450mil,” he said.

Ong said the group planned to develop over 2,000 units of commercial and residential properties on the same site in the near future.

On the island, the group plans also in June to develop an RM150mil condominium project in Zoo Road.

“There are 206 units, of which 50 units will be priced between RM200,000 and RM300,000.

“The other units are priced from RM500,000 onwards,” he said.

In 2019, Ong said the group planned to develop an RM1bil mixed-development project on a 200-acre site in North Seberang Prai.

“We plan to develop landed property, apartments and shophouses on the site,” he added.

The group currently has over 100 acres of undeveloped land bank on the island and about 300 acres in Seberang Prai.

In a recent announcement to Bursa Malaysia, the group said it had unbilled sales of RM46mil from ongoing construction projects in Bukit Minyak, Prai and Penang island, which is expected to contribute to the group’s turnover over the next one year.

PLB said the property development segment for the group would continue with the development of the final phase of the Balik Pulau, Greenwish Garden at Batu Maung and Paya Terubong projects.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the prospects of the group for the financial year 2017 remains positive,” PLB said.

For the first quarter ended Nov 30, 2016, PLB posted a net loss of RM503,000 on the back of a turnover of RM51.8mil.

(The Star) Hua Yang stake buy in Magna paves way for more tie-ups

PETALING JAYA: Hua Yang Bhd’s acquisition of a 10.84% stake in Magna Prima Bhd last week paves the way for more collaboration between both companies to develop property projects.

Property-based Hua Yang has a strong management team and has carved a name for itself as a reputable and well-managed developer counting institutional shareholders as among its shareholders.

As for Magna Prima, it has some prime parcels of land, including the Lai Meng School parcel, which is located close to the Petronas Twin Towers.

“However, it could do with a strong team to unlock the value of its land,” said an official close to both companies.

The purchase of a stake is only the first of many probable tie-ups between both groups to grow on each other’s strengths, said the official.

“Both groups will latch onto each other’s strengths. Going forward, Hua Yang could increase its stake in Magna Prima if there are synergies and value to a deal,” said the official.

Last week, in a surprise move, Hua Yang acquired the stake in Magna Prima for RM66.6mil or RM1.85 per share.

When asked about Hua Yang’s stake acquisition, Magna Prima’s group managing director and executive director Datuk Wira Rahadian Mahmud Mohammad Khalil said it would benefit both parties, as they could leverage on each others’ expertise.

“Both companies have similar management approaches. We also have landbanks in the Klang Valley that need to be developed.

“Hua Yang has built a name for itself and is well-known for its affordable housing projects.

“Magna Prima is known to be a luxury developer, but we also want to be in the affordable segment, given the current soft property market and weak consumer sentiment,” Rahadian added.

He said the company would concentrate on developing its mid-sized projects.

“We will take the opportunity during this slow market to streamline, increase our efficiency and value-add on certain land banks,” he said when contacted by StarBiz.

Hua Yang’s niche is in the affordable housing segment, which includes its first integrated township in Perak.

Magna Prima is best known for having some prime parcels of land, including the Lai Meng School land along Jalan Ampang, a 20-acre plot of land in Shah Alam, seven acres of freehold land in Jalan Gasing and five acres opposite Kelab Golf Sultan Abdul Aziz in Shah Alam.

Hua Yang is now the second-largest shareholder in Magna Prima.

For the financial period ended Dec 31, 2016, Hua Yang’s total unbilled sales stood at RM215.63mil. Its earning per share for the period was at 14.57 sen, from 25.21 sen a year ago.

The company had cash and cash equivalents of RM78.26mil as at Dec 31, 2016, with borrowings of about RM270mil.

The group to date has ongoing development projects in the Klang Valley, Perak and Johor.

The bulk of the group’s revenue comes from projects outside of the Klang Valley, with Johor contributing 32% and Perak, 21%.

The group also has in excess of 1,000 acres of freehold and leasehold land scattered in Johor, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Penang, of which 459 acres are yet to be developed.

With a strong balance sheet and prudent approach to managing its financial position, the company is able to buy land bank to sustain its development activities.

It is noteworthy that Hua Yang has consistently been paying out dividends and the company has plans for RM721mil worth of new launches for the current 2017 financial year.

As for Magna Prima, its cash and cash equivalents stood at RM20.73mil as at Sept 30, 2016, while borrowings stood at about RM430mil. It also has been declaring dividends of late.

For the nine-month period ended Sept 30, 2016, the group reported a net profit of RM53.19mil on the back of RM89.49mil in revenue.

Magna Prima is expected to release its fourth-quarter financial year 2016 results by next month.

As of last Friday, both Magna Prima and Hua Yang closed unchanged at RM1.56 and RM1.08, respectively.

(The Star) Suiwah plans more outlets

Group to upgrade Sunshine Square and B2B platform after February

GEORGE TOWN: Suiwah Corp Bhd is planning more stores, new products and fresh business initiatives to boost its growth in 2018. Group executive director Cynthia Hwang told StarBiz the group planned to open three more convenience outlets on the island by mid-2017.

“We will upgrade the Sunshine Square in Bayan Baru after Chinese New Year. The upgrading, scheduled for completion by Hari Raya, will feature a new Korean consumer goods and food products department,” she said.

Hwang said the group would focus on initiating its business-to-business (B2B) online platform after February.

“This is to complement the existing online shopping business for our customers, which is rapidly growing.

“The B2B on-line platform will enable our suppliers to source from us also.

“Our goal is to deliver a relevant, personalised and seamless shopping experience across all channels.

“We have made great progress and are well-positioned for future intersection with digital retail,” she added.

The B2B online platform, the new stores and Korean products should contribute to the group’s revenue in the 2018 financial year (FY18), according to Hwang.

“Business for the first half of FY17 ended Nov 30, 2016 had improved compared to the first half of 2016 due to the opening of a new supermarket in Jelutong and improved market sentiment.

“We are optimistic that FY17 ending May 31, 2017 will be better than 2016,” she said.

On the group’s RM1bil Sunshine Tower mixed-development project which started late last year, Hwang said the project would be completed on schedule in 2019.

“There will be a hotel, 270 apartments and office block, and a hypermarket under the Sunshine brand name,” she said.

Group revenue for the six-month period ended Nov 30, 2016 amounted to RM188.75mil, an increase of 5.18% from the RM179.45mil recorded in the corresponding period last year. Group profit before tax for the period under review was RM7mil compared with RM5.18mil previously, an increase of 35.26%.

Hwang said domestic demand continued to be the main engine of growth for this year, but growing at a slower rate.

“Consumers are feeling pessimistic about their future income and employment outlook,” she said.

Last November, according to Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Malaysia recorded a stable consumer confidence level in the third quarter of 2016, with an increase of only two index points to 89 percentage points compared with the second quarter of 2016.

Nielsen said although Malaysia was the 30th most confident country globally, it was the lowest in South-East Asia and it continued to be pessismistic about the future.

The survey involved more than 30,000 respondents with Internet access in 63 countries.

Consumer confidence levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism, respectively.

(The Star) Mah Sing shifts gears

After 2 years, property developer will launch project in a new area

PETALING JAYA: Property developer Mah Sing Group Bhd, which is at the last leg of a three-year transformation programme and having hit a sales target of RM1.8bil, is optimistic of matching its performance this year.

“The minimum target we have set is RM1.8bil and it’s the same as last year.

“But we are confident of improving on it because this year, we will have a fresh launch in a new area,” said its 60-year-old group managing director and chief executive officer Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum.

Mah Sing, which started as a plastics manufacturer in the late 1980s before becoming a developer in the mid-1990s, had initially set a sales target of RM2.3bil last year.

However, it scaled the target down to RM1.8bil on the back of a slow property market.

It has 46 development projects under its belt, of which 13 have already been completed and handed over, while the remaining 33 are in various stages of development.

Leong, a seasoned hand in the property development segment, did not launch any new projects in the last two years as he was being cautious.

“We only launched new phases in existing projects that were up and running. The last time we launched a brand new project in a new location was back in 2015.”

Leong said the sales of at least RM1.8bil this year would be underpinned by launches of both new and phases of existing projects.

“Our main goal for 2017 is to maintain or improve on last year’s sales and hit greater heights in 2017,” he told StarBiz.

Leong said Mah Sing was focusing on mass-market projects to cater to consumer demand, as well as to better withstand the slowdown.

“About 89% of our products are below RM1mil. For this year, 78% of our projects will comprise developments below RM700,000.”

“We cater to what the market needs. It doesn’t need high-end projects now and it wouldn’t make sense to develop these projects. We are taking a cautious stand but also need to be optimistic.”

Going into 2017, he said the property market is expected to remain challenging due to the uncertainties in both the global and domestic economies.

“Global political and trade issues will dictate sentiments locally. The Sino-United States relationship must be monitored,” he said.

As at Sept 30, 2016, Mah Sing’s cash and bank balances amounted to RM727.9mil, with a low net gearing ratio of 0.09 times.

The group has remaining undeveloped land of 2,473 acres, which has a combined remaining gross development value and unbilled sales of RM30.9bil.

“This can support the company’s revenue growth for eight to nine years,” said Leong.

Mah Sing recorded an 8.9% jump in net profit to RM91.89mil for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2016 from RM84.40mil in the same quarter a year ago.

This was achieved on the back of a 5% lower revenue of RM732.37mil from RM770.74mil a year ago. Earnings per share increased to 3.05 sen from 2.74 sen.

For the cumulative nine months, Mah Sing’s net profit was RM275.75mil from RM273.79mil in the corresponding period a year ago, on the back of a lower revenue of RM2.22bil from RM2.33bil. Earnings per share was at 9.92 sen from 11.02 sen.

According to JP Morgan in a recent research report, Mah Sing’s nine-month earnings were within expectations.

“Unbilled property sales of RM4bil as at end-September 2016 translates to 1.4 times historical revenue, down from 1.7 times at the end of December 2015, a trend that is also seen among its peers given the weaker year-on-year industry pre-sales trends.”

JP Morgan said Mah Sing had also followed its peers to offer easy financing schemes with the launch of its “Lock-and-Roll” campaign.

Moving forward, the research house has cut Mah Sing’s pre-sales forecast for 2017 and 2018 by 18% and 19% respectively, to account for a protracted soft market.

It is forecasting Mah Sing’s pre-sales of RM1.8bil over 2017 and 2018, which translates to a 7% and 10% downward revision, respectively.

“We maintain our ‘neutral’ rating on valuations for Mah Sing amid a lack of near-term drivers and continuing sector headwinds,” it said.

Monday, 30 January 2017

(The Star) Developer upbeat on flagship township project in Batu Kawah

KUCHING: MJC City Development Sdn Bhd is offering its award-winning SkyVilla Residence, One Residency Phase 7.5 and Papillon New Street Mall in its Batu Kawah New Township to those interested in landed properties.

These new residential and commercial properties, located 7km from the city centre and accessible via public transport, will ensure high capital returns to buyers.

“Batu Kawah New Township is no longer a new name to property hunters, whether they are investors or those looking to buy a home.

“While many of our projects have been sold out and fully occupied, it is still not too late for those looking for residential or commercial properties with good rental return and capital appreciation,” MJC City Development said in a statement.

Mutiara Villa exclusive bungalows, MJC Mutiara double-storey semi-detached units, One Residency link villas as well as Courtyard and Upper Sanctuary lifestyle apartments are listed among the developer’s established portfolios.

MJC’s gated and guarded landed property, One Residency is currently home for some 200 residents ranging from businessmen, professionals and retirees who chose to stay in a highly secured enclave.

The new phase of project offers 31 premium units and consists of double-storey link house and three-storey town house.

One Residency received the Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developer Association (Sheda) excellence awards for its design and concept.

SkyVilla Residence was awarded Outstanding Residential High Rise Development by Sheda. It is built on a 4.45ha site surrounded by green landscaping at the serene edge of the township.

Currently, Bella (third block) and Ohanna (fourth block) of the five-block residential development, are open for sale.

SkyVilla Residence project, with each unit boasting a built-up area of up to 128sq m, is completed with facilities such as the six-point security features, mini theatre, rooftop garden, aqua-therapy swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, children’s pool and children’s playground and a gymnasium, which comes with a function hall.

The final phase of MJC’s commercial hub, Papillon New Street Mall, boasts 8,070 sq m of retail space. Street-mall units on the ground and first floors of the complex are available for leasing, while apartments on the second and third floors are sold out.

“The ground floor commercial units have highly visible frontage, an advantage for retailers and consumer products, particularly for ‘grab-and-go’ eateries,” the company said.

MJC City Sales Gallery will open as usual during the Chinese New Year period from Jan 31, and the weekend of Feb 4 to Feb 5, between 8.30am and 5.30pm.

Those interested can contact MJC City consultants Chin at 014-992 3226, Voon (014-681 0824), Lau (017-885 9610), Gan (016-891 0877), Goh (016-887 5971) and Jae (013-818 4335)

(The Star) Strong demand for budget hotels in the state

KUCHING: Cooperatives should participate in the budget hotel industry as it is a vibrant market in the state amid strong number of tourist arrival, said state Industrial and Entrepreneur Development, Trade and Investment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

The state, he said, received over four million tourists last year and about 4.5 million the previous year.

Budget hotels across the state increased to 169 with ratings between one and three stars.

“The positive number in tourist arrival and the emerging budget hotels across the state goes to show that the market potential in the budget hotel industry is promising and viable.

“Based on these facts and figures, added with other strengths of a cooperative, it is one of the best business model and mechanism to counter economic, social and environmental challenges,” Awang Tengah said when closing the cooperative opportunities and potential in budget hotels seminar here recently.

His speech was read by the ministry’s Small and Medium Industry and Entrepreneur’s Development Unit director Samad Junai.

Quoting a study by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) based on World Cooperative Monitor 2016, Awang Tengah said the turnover of the global top 300 cooperatives was US$2.5bil.

The ‘Co-operative and Employment: A Global Report’ revealed that the cooperative movement was able to generate 250 million jobs worldwide.

He encouraged the public to participate in cooperatives and involve in the budget hotel industry.

With most budget hotels concentrated in urban areas, he cited the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) growth nodes as areas to be considered to open budget hotels.

Awang Tengah said among issues to be addressed to have a successful cooperative are financial instability, unfair profit distribution, growing gap of administrative standards and lack of interest in the cooperative movement among the younger generation.

To ensure that cooperatives continued to develop, he advised participants to practice innovative culture and utilise the digital revolution era.

He also called on cooperatives to provide access to capital and give back to the community to ensure their business venture remained significant to the community.

“These steps ensure that the cooperative movement will become more significant and the best model for the development of the local society especially the rural community,” he added.

Awang Tengah, who is also Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister, urged all cooperatives in the state and country to establish a strong network with local and foreign cooperatives to share knowledge and relevant technologies to improve their business activities.

Cooperation should also include sharing knowledge and technical know-how including financial management, production and manufacturing, and marketing.

“I hope the cooperatives in the country will be bold and willing to take risks to be involved with other movements in high impact businesses and create variation to their activities,” he said.

(The Star) Month-long RM8,888 rebate for buyers

Sime Darby Property is ushering in the Year of the Fire Rooster with a special promotion for all its valued customers.

Those who purchase selected properties are entitled to receive a rebate of RM8,888 on the initial 10% down payment, plus a family dinner for 10 at China Treasures in Sime Darby Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

The special promotion is applicable from Jan 28 to Feb 28.

Sime Darby Property managing director Datuk Jauhari Hamidi said, “We are delighted to offer this special promotion to all our valued and trusted customers this Chinese New Year.

“Sime Darby Property’s customer philosophy is founded on building and celebrating communities, and we understand and share in the importance of such occasions.

“It is hoped that with this promotion, we are able to bring joy and happiness to our customers during this auspicious festive period.”

Selected properties for this promotion comprise a wide range from Sime Darby Property’s sought-after townships such as ALYA Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Jelutong, City of Elmina, Ara Damansara, KL East, Bandar Bukit Raja, USJ Heights, Putra Heights, Saujana Impian and Serenia City, as well as those outside the Klang Valley such as Bandar Ainsdale, Chemara Hills, Nilai Impian and Planters’ Haven.

The Tiana Twin bungalow at City of Elmina, Shah Alam.

Sime Darby Property townships offer more than just homes – the townships are built to offer tranquillity, serenity, relaxation and efficacy, in addition to good location, design, township planning, innovation, lifestyle, security, accessibility to major highways, natural surroundings and facilities.

“Sime Darby Property does not limit itself to being just a builder of brick-and-mortar real estate, but also develops vibrant and sustainable communities, neighbourhoods and homes.

“We hope through this special promotion covering more than 1,500 residential units across our townships, we are able to provide our customers an investment opportunity as well as give first-time homebuyers a chance to own a home,” Jauhari concluded.

For details, call 1800-88-1118.

(The Star) Sisters open their third dim sum eatery at Pavilion Elite

A dim sum meal would be a great way to celebrate this Chinese New Year with friends and family.

To extend its unique dining experience, Dolly Dim Sum has opened its third restaurant at Pavilion Elite, Kuala Lumpur, offering a variety of classic dim sum made with quality ingredients, heartfelt service and inviting ambience.

Dolly Dim Sum co-founder Lim Meng Lu aims to strengthen the brand’s presence in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

“Personally, I love dim sum but it’s hard to get some whenever I feel like having them, especially for afternoon tea as dim sum is usually served only in the mornings.

“When my sister and I started Dolly Dim Sum, we wanted to create an all-day dim sum dining experience for Malaysians so that they can enjoy this yummy delicacy anytime they wish.

“Our dim sum is made in two batches every day by well-trained chefs to ensure freshness.

“We don’t want to just serve traditional dim sum in a contemporary setting; we also want to serve our diners top-notch dim sum,” Lim said.

Dolly is a Suzie Wong-like fictional character created with straight black hair and a cheongsam who loves dim sum.

Like the other two restaurants at Nu Sentral and Avenue K which feature Dolly’s house with a beautiful garden and Dolly’s teahouse, the one in Pavilion Elite was modelled after Dolly’s traditional kitchen as her favourite place to tinker over new recipes and breathe life into new dim sum varieties.

At Dolly Dim Sum, one can expect to get traditional pork-free favourites such as har gao and siew mai dumplings, roasted BBQ buns, baked mini egg tarts, yam croquette and pan-fried radish cakes.

During this festive period, Dolly Dim Sum is also serving Chinese New Year specials such as prosperity salmon and happiness jellyfish yee sang, three treasure crab parcels in superior scallop sauce, homemade fish ball with fatt choy, rooster sweet green bean dumplings, steamed sweet nian gao happiness kuih, seaweed-wrapped glutinous rice rolls with fish and stir-fried chicken in Dolly Special sauce topped with green mango.

Additionally, diners can get a 10% discount voucher and free fortune cookies when they spend a minimum of RM100 and RM150, respectively.

This Chinese New Year promotion is available at all Dolly Dim Sum restaurants until Feb 11.

For details, visit

(The Star) Malaysia-China deal to boost local bird’s nest prices

It is expected to happen in April or May when exports get green light

KUCHING: Domestic prices of bird’s nests, which have stabilised for months, are expected to get a boost once the much awaited exports of the raw and uncleaned nests to China get the go-ahead soon.

And that is anticipated to happen in April or May this year,according to local industry players.

This follows the recent signing of a deal between Malaysia and China to ship raw edible nests to China.

Under the deal, known as Protocal of Inspection,Quarantine and Veterinary Hygiene Requirements for the Exportation of Raw,Uncleaned Edible Nests, it sets the standards for Malaysia’s 10,000 bird’s nest farmers to sell their raw product to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry.

The ministry will then export the raw nests untouched to China where it will be processed and cleaned up in Qinzhou and then sold to the Chinese market.

According to media reports, Malaysia has a RM22mil joint quarantine,processing and testing plant with China in the Qinzhou Industrial Park.

Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek was quoted last November as saying that the Malaysia-China deal could bring about RM1.5bil in profits to the local bird’s nest industry .

“Once the raw bird’s nests are allowed to enter China, the general expectation of the industry is that there is potential for prices to go up by 15% to 20% from current levels depending on the grades,” said Wong Hie Yong, a Sarikei-based pioneer swiftlet breeder and trader.

He said top grade raw bird’s nest price had stablised at the RM2,800 per kg level although the price of the super grade (constitutes merely 2% to 3% of total production) could go up to around RM3,300 per kg.

Currently, the super grade processed nests fetches between RM5,500 and RM6,000 per kg when exported.

“At current price levels, the demand is good. There are several licensed traders, mostly from Peninsular Malaysia, and Chinese nationals who are going around to buy the raw nests from local farmers.

“They are said to stock up the edible nest in anticipation that prices will go up once Malaysia starts to export the unprocessed nests to China,” Wong, whose family own some 15 stand-alone swiftlet houses, told StarBiz.

The price of Malaysia’s bird’s nest plunged when China banned imports in 2011 after the detection of nitrate in some of the nests. In Sarawak, unprocessed nest fell to around RM1,300 per kg from the peak of RM4,500 per kg while top grade processed nest dropped to some RM3,000 per kg from RM7,000 per kg.

A strong recovery in the prices came in 2015 when China resumed importing Malaysia’s processed bird’s nest while Indonesia started sourcing the delicacy from Malaysia due to drastic drop in production after the severe haze that hit several swiftlet production regions in that country.

According to Wong, a new trend – auction market – has emerged in Peninsula Malaysia where traders/buyers, including those from Indonesia, China and Thailand, are invited to tender for edible nests on a big scale.

“Trading of edible nest in Malaysia is moving towards the international standard. This is encouraging and supporting the local swiftlet industry,” he said.

He said bird’s nest production in Sarawak’s central region had dropped by between 30% and 40% following the recent El Nino and dwindling feeding grounds for the swiftlets.

“The feeding grounds have been affected due to environmental changes because of development or floodings which have caused damages to the habitats.

“It is thus more difficult for the swiftlets,which feed on insects, to find food even in the coastal areas.

“It is reported that swiftlets from towns have migrated to new and greener areas,like oil palm plantations in the rural, where they can find food easier.”

Sarawak is estimated to produce an average of 8,000kg of raw nests per month. There were some 4,000 to 5,000 bird houses, mostly in central region,about seven years ago. The figure could have dropped in recent years when prices declined, making it less lucractive to invest in swiftlet farming. Many of the bird houses are not registered with the authorities.

Wong said similarly in the peninsula,bird’s nest production has declined,especially in matured breeding areas due to the depleting habitats for the birds.

(The Star) Market uptrend may continue, lukewarm retail participation likely

Against a flat 2016, the recent uptrend on the KL stock market was a minor relief but will it sustain after Chinese New Year?

“Yes, it is likely to continue but retail participation may be lukewarm. Liquidity has improved but is hardly abundant,’’ said Pong Teng Siew, head of research, Inter-Pacific Securities.

Deposits in the banking system only grew 2.2% year-on-year in November 2016, Pong noted. “It is still possible for continued uptrend but my conviction is that the KL Composite Index (KLCI) will move higher up to April or 1,740 points, whichever comes first.”

“If it does hit that target next month, it can run up to 1,800 points. We see a potential selldown in May or June,’’ said Chris Eng, head of research, Etiqa Insurance & Takaful.

“The market will likely peak at the 1,750-1,800-point level in the first half before easing back to the 1,730 level at the end of the year, as investors refocus on Malaysia’s fuzzy long-term economic and corporate earnings trend,’’ said Vincent Khoo, head of research, UOB Kayhian.

Is it just a rebound? “Unless a strong recovery in earnings comes along, the current uptrend is just a recovery from the selldown last year,’’ said Danny Wong, CEO, Areca Capital.

By the middle of this year, it may not be so good as risks from European elections and US policies come to the fore. In fact, some analysts cite concerns on the market outlook on possibly uninspiring fourth quarter earnings, bottoming of the global interest rates cycle and Trump-induced volatility.

Overall, this year is likely to be better than 2016. “Current buying may continue,’’ said an analyst, citing catalysts such as the cheap ringgit, low foreign holdings and a low base from 2016.

Besides, earnings which have not grown for three years, may be set to rebound. “Plantation earnings are expected to rebound while banks are holding up,’’ said Bernard Ching, head of research, AllianceDBS Research.

Genting Plantations and TSH Resources are among the favoured planters for maturing acreages. When it comes to talk of trade wars, some are bracing for a potentially fierce one between the US and China as well as potentially some other countries.

How nasty can it get and how may the rest of the world be impacted? “It is possible that it could get nasty although cooler heads can prevail. Asean members sell 10% to 13% of their exports to China; if a trade war does break out, that could come down as the US hits China with import duties,’’ said Eng.

Inflation and global recession are high on the danger list with trade wars and border taxes. “A bruising trade war with China will likely stoke a potentially massive bout of inflation which may kill growth as interest rates will have to be raised in response, something that a heavily indebted world cannot work with,’’ said Pong, adding that inflation is already making its strongest comeback since the 1980s.

Prices will rise while incomes fall. “Prices of goods in reserve currency economies will spike. Currencies in export-dependent economies will slump along with demand for their goods.

“Amidst the resultant slowdown in consumption everywhere, prices will be rising in response to trade barriers and retaliatory measures. Domestic stimulus may work for a while.

“Such stimulus amidst lower exports will weaken the currencies of export dependent economies. Incomes in domestic currencies will rise, so will their imports, resulting in a weakening of the external trade balance.

“Over time, that local currency will weaken, negating the rise in purchasing power of people in that stimulus dependent country,’’ said Pong.

Global trade will be affected by trade wars. “It will have a knock-on effect on those countries that have deep intra and inter-trade with China and the US, not only via direct trade channels but also indirectly along the production supply chain.

“There may be opportunities for countries in direct competition with China in the US market, such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam but the integrated global chain will ultimately, to some extent, impact these countries,’’ said Lee Heng Guie, executive director, Socio Economic Research Centre.

Currency devaluation cannot be ruled out. “This is a possibility. Although China is in transition from external dependence to internal consumption, it remains manufacturing centric. Hence, a reasonable level of yuan is needed to support its trade.

“A weaker yuan means struggling Asian exporters and this does not augur well for Asian economies, some of which are already facing domestic headwinds.

“The US also needs strong Asian economies for its trade to flourish. This is especially true at a time when the strong greenback has, to some extent, taken a toll on US exports,’’ said Nor Zahidi Alias, chief economist, Malaysian Rating Corp.

Trade wars lead to currency wars that increase uncertainty, give rise to other economic problems and erode business confidence.
Columnist Yap Leng Kuen quotes from ‘Mending Wall’ by Robert Frost: ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’