Friday, 31 March 2017

(The Star) Upgrade for old runway

ROMPIN: An abandoned runway in Lanjut here will be back in operation by the end of this year after being upgraded by a private aviation company.

Rompin MP Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin said the runaway had been abandoned since its owner, a coal mining company, ceased operations in 1960.

Hasan said it was timely for the runway to be restored to boost tourism as Rompin was quite far from the Sultan Ahmad Shah Airport in Kuantan.

The upgraded runway could also cater to Pulau Tioman-bound flights which would only take 20 minutes.

“This provides an alternative for small groups of tourists to travel to the island without having to take a ferry.

“During the monsoon season, the ferry services from Mersing and Tanjung Gemuk are closed because of strong waves.

Hasan launching the groundbreaking ceremony at the airstrip.

“The flight services from the Lanjut runway can be an alternative form of transport,” Hasan said after the groundbreaking ceremony for the upgrading work here on March 28.

Also present were state Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin, Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Johari Hussain, Tourism Pahang general manager Datuk Ishak Mokhtar and Systematic Aviation Services (SAS) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Ismail Asha’ari.

Ismail said the upgrading works, which started two years ago, had entered its third stage and the runway was ready to receive light aircraft.

“Phase four involves the construction of a lounge and hangar for aircraft maintenance. The project should be fully completed in 2019.”

The runway could accommodate a 12-seater plane and the upgrading cost RM8mil.

Mohd Sharkar said Rompin had a number of products to draw tourists including the International Royal Billfish Competition, Sultan Ahmad Shah Tioman International Eco Challenge competition and the Taman Negeri Endau-Rompin park’s activities.

He added that flights from Batam Island, Pekan Baru, Indonesia and Singapore could land in Lanjut, which would boost foreign tourist arrivals.

He said a flight from Singapore will take about 30 minutes and a few minutes longer from Batam Island.

(NST) Progress on SSP Line on schedule, 5.3pct completed: MRT Corp

KUALA LUMPUR: Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) has completed 5.3 per cent of its Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) Line, said its project director today.

This progress to date, SSP Line project director Datuk Amiruddin Ma'aris said was worth RM2 billion, comprising of underground works, electrical and mechanical systems, and Northern and Southern elevated alignment.

He assured that everything was moving according to schedule.

"This is quite an achievement as full construction work only began in September last year," he said in a media briefing at the site of the Kepong Baru station today.

The construction of this line was officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on September 15, last year during a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of the future S37 Putrajaya Sentral MRT station.

Of the 69 total tenders, 31 have been awarded, with a total value of RM30 billion.

The balance of 38 tenders were for the construction of stations, depots, multi-storey park and rides, designated contractors or suppliers and connectivity enhancement.

With this progress, Amiruddin was positive that the first phase of the SSP Line, between Kwasa Damansara to Kampung Batu stations, would commence operation by July 2021. The entire line was expected to be fully operational by July 2022.

(The Edge Financial Daily) China capital curbs push US$100b Forest City to seek buyers elsewhere

SINGAPORE (March 31): Country Garden Holdings Co Ltd is looking to attract homebuyers from Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East for its US$100 billion Forest City project in Malaysia, hoping to reduce its reliance on China amid Beijing's capital controls.

The mixed-use development, which will include office towers, malls and schools, is the most high-profile project in Malaysia's ambitious Iskandar special economic zone and is being built over 20 years on four man-made islands covering 14 square kilometres.

The project has sold thousands of apartments so far, with Chinese accounting for 70% of the buyers.

Forest City wants to diversify its client base, as Beijing looks to tighten its grip on funds moving out of the country after the yuan plummeted to more than eight-year lows.

"The capital controls will have an impact on Forest City," Yu Runze, chief strategy officer of Country Garden Pacificview, said in a email to Reuters, adding it was an "opportunity to shift our sales strategy to be more international."

He said the company will recruit local staff in the targeted markets and increase its advertising budget there.

Country Garden said this month it had shut some mainland China sales centres promoting the project for renovations amid the capital controls.

For 2017, the developer aims to attract companies in the tourism, education and healthcare sectors to set up shop in Forest City, Yu said.

He expects to sign memorandums of understanding with about 30-40 companies from these sectors in July and another 30-40 companies by December.

(The Edge Financial Daily) MAHB gets RM1.5m out-of-court settlement from HSS Integrated

By Ahmad Naqib Idris

KUALA LUMPUR (March 31): Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) and HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd (HSSI), a unit of HSS Engineers Bhd, have agreed to an out-of-court settlement of RM1.5 million, relating to a dispute over a contract for the proposed development of a new low-cost carrier terminal and associated services at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

"The settlement was reached via the negotiation and/or mediation process between the parties as the parties have mutually agreed to withhold the arbitration proceeding. In light of this settlement, MAHB will withdraw the notice of arbitration against HSSI.

"After weighing all circumstances, the company, upon the advice from its solicitors, are of the view that the amicable settlement is [in] the best interest of the company," said MAHB in a bourse filing today.

To recap, MAHB had issued a notice of arbitration to HSSI on Dec 22, 2016, relating to a memorandum of agreement signed between the parties dated April 13, 2010. MAHB had claimed an estimated sum of RM64.62 million, after previously failing to resolve the dispute amicably last year.

MAHB fell 11 sen or 1.56% to RM6.95, giving a market capitalisation of RM11.65 billion.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Pavilion REIT sees ‘flattish’ 2017 rental reversion for Pavilion KL

By Anette Appaduray

KUALA LUMPUR: Pavilion Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) expects its main income earner Pavilion Kuala Lumpur (Pavilion KL) mall to record rental reversion rates of between 2% and 3% — compared with 7% achieved last year — as most of the lots that are expected to have their tenancy renewed this year are smaller-sized ones.

The pending renewals are part of the mall’s tenancy renewal exercise that began in the third quarter of last year.

“[For 2017,] we expect rental reversion rates for Pavilion [KL] to be slightly flattish [at between 2% and 3%] due mainly to the fact that the majority [of the remaining tenants] are smaller [lots] such as storerooms,” said Pavilion REIT Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Philip Ho Yew Hong when speaking to reporters after the group’s annual general meeting here yesterday.

Nevertheless, Ho said he is confident that Pavilion KL will see better growth numbers this year, as over 60% of its retail tenants — based on net lettable area (NLA) — renewed their leases in 2016.

Tenancy renewals pending this year are for some 23% of the mall’s retail tenants, based on NLA. The group is expected to conclude its renewal exercise by the second quarter of 2017.
Ho said Pavilion KL will continue to be the REIT’s main portfolio contributor moving forward. It currently accounts for about 90% of the group’s income contribution, based on the group’s Annual Report 2016.

Meanwhile, he updated that the group is revamping its tenant mix at its Da Men Mall in Subang Jaya, besides working on increasing the occupancy level of Intermark Mall in Kuala 
Lumpur, which stood at 76.5% as at Dec 31, 2016, according to its annual report.

On whether the REIT still plans to acquire more assets, Ho said if the opportunities and timing are right, the group will be looking at expanding its portfolio. However, it has nothing planned at the moment, he added.

Pavilion REIT shares closed one sen higher at RM1.74 yesterday, with a market capitalisation of RM5.27 billion.

(The Edge Financial Daily) CMMT remains cautious about FY17 outlook

By Wong Ee Lin

KUALA LUMPUR: CapitaLand Malaysia Mall Trust (CMMT) remains cautious about its outlook for financial year 2017 (FY17), due to rental reversion pressures amid an increasing supply of retail space.

Low Peck Chen (pic), chief executive officer of CapitaLand Malaysia Mall REIT Management Sdn Bhd, which manages CMMT, said the scheduled completion of new retail supply, especially in the Klang Valley, will intensify the competition level among shopping malls.

The advent of e-commerce, which is reshaping traditional retail and consumer behaviour, is another challenge for CMMT, she said.

“Headline growth will be somewhat impacted by rental growth. The latter is expected to be under pressure amid the challenging operating market and consumer sentiment,” said Low.

For 2017, it expects a portfolio lease expiry of 50.6% — by gross rental — largely due to the expiry of key anchor tenants compared to the norm of about 30%, said Low.

When asked if lease renewal will become an issue for CMMT this year, Low said: “So far, it’s manageable. Rental reversion is happening industry-wide, which will continue in the short term.”

As such, she maintained that CMMT will still see growth in rental reversion, albeit a “muted” one.

“Some of our Klang Valley assets are subject to unfavourable micro property market conditions. So, the pressure remains [in those areas]. It will take a longer time to fill up the vacancies,” said Low. Still, the occupancy rates of CMMT’s Klang Valley assets are still above 90%, she noted.

CMMT’s net property income (NPI) for FY16 climbed 7% year-on-year to RM242.49 million, from RM226.39 million, but the laggard that continued to drag on its performance was Sungei Wang Plaza, where NPI fell about 27% to RM27.26 million, from RM37.2 million, due to ongoing mass rapid transit (MRT) construction works and redevelopment of Bukit Bintang Plaza.

Though Low said shopper traffic has now stabilised to about one million to 1.5 million per month, there is unlikely to be a pickup in Sungei Wang Plaza’s NPI this year, as it is still going through a “rental adjustment” period.

“But I do see a reconfiguration opportunity,” said Low, highlighting the completion of the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line in the second half of 2017, which is anticipated to benefit the mall in the long term.

She said CMMT will spend RM5 million to improve pedestrian connectivity at Sungei Wang Plaza, with a link bridge and external escalators to be built by the third quarter of 2018.
Despite ongoing economic uncertainty and rising competition, Low said the retail outlook remains positive in the long term, given the favourable demographic pattern and stable economic fundamentals.

“On the leasing front, we will continue to broaden [our] retail network through the introduction of more experiential elements and entertainment facilities to ensure our malls remain relevant and attractive,” added Low.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Genting’s new SkyCasino opens its doors

By Joyce Goh 

GENTING HIGHLANDS: Genting Malaysia Bhd’s new casino — SkyCasino — opened its doors to the public yesterday.

The Edge Financial Daily chanced upon this during a day visit to the highlands resort. This confirms The Edge Malaysia weekly’s story in the March 13-19 edition that the casino will be opening its doors soon.

The new gaming area, comprising three floors, had its soft opening at 11am. The SkyCasino drew a sizable crowd with local and foreign visitors in the first two hours of operation. The existing gaming area was also filled with visitors.

Genting Malaysia’s stock has been on an uptrend recently. The stock climbed to its all-time high of RM5.75 on Tuesday. It retreated to RM5.55 yesterday.

Gaming analysts say the run-up in the stock price is partly to do with the expected opening of the new casino.

“This is fuelled by the optimism of new revenue from the expected opening of the new casino. The news that the new casino has opened is good, but it remains to be seen if they can grow earnings. The opening is at a time when consumer sentiment is weak but to be fair, there is a tourism boom in Malaysia now and that might offset the local weakness,” says a gaming analyst with a local bank.

He noted that the new gaming space would be able to cater for the increase in tourist arrivals from China. “Chinese tourists like to visit it [the casino] when they come to Malaysia,” the analyst said. “There has also been a lot of foreign buying of the stock as this is one of the few Malaysian stocks with [a] structural growth story,” he added.

Responding to The Edge Malaysia weekly report, Genting in an email response noted: “The SkyCasino was said to open sometime in January. However, the management had wanted to ensure it had the all necessary components ready to give maximum impact to its customers.

Nevertheless, with a successful simulation exercise conducted daily on its facilities before opening, the resort’s latest casino is expected to open its doors soon.”

In its response, Genting Malaysia also revealed updated figures noting that it already has seen 1.19 million passengers boarding its new 2.8km Awana Skyway cable system from the time it officially opened on Dec 22, 2016 to Feb 28, 2017.

For its financial year ended Dec 31, 2016, Genting Malaysia’s revenue grew 6% year-on-year to RM8.93 billion. Its net profit soared 125% to RM2.8 billion in 2016 from RM1.24 billion a year earlier. The jump in earnings was partly due to the RM1.27 billion gain it made from the disposal of its Genting Hong Kong shares. Craving out the one-off gain from its investment, Genting Malaysia still saw its earnings higher at RM1.53 billion compared with RM1.24 billion net profit in 2015.

(The Star) Taiwanese hotpot in historical setting

Despite its unobtrusive, dark grey exterior, the first Chun Ciou Hot Pot in Malaysia in Jalan Kelang Lama boasts a very nice ambience, and more importantly, an interesting array of meats and dumplings on its menu.

The name of this Taiwanese restaurant chain in Mandarin is Chun Ciou Zhan Wo or Spring Autumn Warring Pot – with chun ciou referring to the historical Spring-Autumn period (770-476BC) in China, and zhan wo (warring pot) being a play on zhan quo or the Warring States period (475-221BC) that followed it.

I found this an interesting combination of historical information.

A spacious interior and ample seating for patrons makes Chun Ciou's dining room an enjoyable one

Chun Ciou’s serving style differs from your regular steamboat or hotpot buffet in that you get to order the ingredients you like rather than have everything bundled in pre-determined sets.

After sampling the appetisers – currently kimchi, mango lotus and salted green soybean – you pick the soup for your hotpot from a choice of six.

For this review, the focus was on the signature sukiyaki and lake salt soup, which according to Chun Ciou’s managing director Ethan Liew, are hugely popular in Taiwan.

Local crowd favourite tonkotsu, spicy soup (with some mild Szechuan peppercorns), tomyam and herbal round up the soup selection.

In between bites, a waitstaff clad in authentic looking armour, walks by with a trolley full of off-menu items for patrons to try out – such as deep-fried tofu-coated chicken.

A side dish worth sampling is the Pork Rice, a simple combo of white rice topped with intensely braised pork. It is just the thing to whet your appetite with before the main event.

While the sukiyaki is solid in terms of taste with its savoury sweet aftertaste, the lake salt version starts off clear, but then slowly morphs from just mildly salty to a richer protein taste. The more ingredients you cook in it, the more it takes on a solid colour.

The menu will definitely not leave meat-eaters wanting, what with a selection of chicken and pork slices to stew in your pot, followed by slivers of duck and imported lamb, ribeye and striploin.

The array of meatballs on offer is also extensive – with a choice of prawn, pork, fish and even wasabi-filled ones, which you will want to eat with caution. The liquid in the wasabi ball can be scaldingly hot.

In between, a waiter, speaking classical Mandarin, offers off-menu items for you to sample. We were offered chicken pieces deep-fried with stinky tofu.

Another novelty item would be the small packets of mochi filled with black sesame paste, which you are supposed to cook for a couple of minutes in your boiling soup before eating. There is something to be said for how the sweetish sesame paste inside comes through in contrast to the soup-infused rice cake.

Upon entering the reception area, you're immediately greeted by two terracotta warrior replicas, harkening back to China's imperial past

Right by the free-flow drinks counter, Chun Ciou lays out an array of ingredients – ranging from sesame seeds, crushed peanuts and brown sugar, to sliced spring onions and coriander, chillies and garlic paste – to allow you to create your own dipping sauce.

You can even mix a raw egg into your sauce.

To settle the stomach, the restaurant offers dessert items such as red bean paste, lime slices topped with liberal amounts of brown sugar, or dollops of creamy coconut ice-cream.

Adults dine for RM75++ (evening hours, public holidays and weekends), senior citizens get a discount of 20%, while children dine at half-price.

CHUN CIOU HOT POT, 306, Batu 3 Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 012-688 2860 / 016-545 4348). Business hours: Noon to 3pm, 5pm-midnight. Non-halal.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

(The Star) Hai-O’s latest financial results in line with expectations

PETALING JAYA: Hai-O Enterprise Bhd’s latest financial results are in line with Affin Hwang Capital Bhd’s expectations.

“Hai-O reported a nine months to Jan 31, 2017 core net profit improvement of 63% year-on-year to RM41mil, in line with our estimates but above consensus, accounting for 74% and 80% of full-year estimates.

“The group’s multi-level-marketing (MLM) division continued to drive earnings as the number of distributors continued to grow strongly. We maintain our earnings and ‘buy’ with a target price of RM3.93 post the company’s recent 1-for-2 bonus issue,” Affin said in a report.

The research house said the group’s 9M17 results continued to be driven by its MLM division (75% of revenue) where turnover and profit before tax for its MLM segment increased by 59% year-on-year and 80% year-on-year to RM213.3mil and RM42.3mil, respectively.

“We attribute this to the group’s growing distributor force which is currently growing at an average of 6,000 distributors per month and has reached over 100,000 distributors year to date.

“We believe its ‘small ticket’ items in the personal and household, beverage and healthcare segments and the launch of two new products in the food and beverage category during the financial year also have contributed positively to earnings,” Affin said.

It added that the wholesale division (14% of revenue) recorded a decrease in revenue of 4% year-on-year due to the increase in average selling price which affected sales volume, but saw earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) rise strongly by 42% year-on-year to RM6.9mil due to higher margin sales from premium products.

The retail division posted a slight drop in revenue by 3% year-on-year due to weak consumer sentiment but an increase in EBIT by 42% to RM1mil due to the rationalisation of non-performing outlets.

(The Star) Oldtown expands business in China

PETALING JAYA: Oldtown Bhd is expanding its business in China by appointing a local partner, with the first outlet in Fujian targeted for opening in the third quarter of this year.

The company entered into a territorial licence agreement yesterday with Xiamen Kuaike Investment Management Co Ltd, which will give Xiamen Kuaike the rights to operate the restaurant business under the “Oldtown White Coffee” brand name in Fujian, China.

The deal also allows Xiamen Kuaike the rights to sub-licence to third parties to operate the business in Fujian.

Oldtown said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday that the initial five-year agreement can be extended up to a total of 15 years.

Xiamen Kuaike is also given the first right of refusal to take up territorial licences for Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai, “Oldtown and its subsidiairies plans to open more licensed outlets in strategic locations within China,” it said.

As at December 31, 2016, Oldtown has a total of 234 café outlets; 198 in Malaysia, eight in Singapore, 25 in Indonesia, one in Australia, one in China and one in Hong Kong.

“The execution of the agreement is not expected to have any material effect on the earnings or net assets of Oldtown and its subsidiary companies for the financial year ending March 31, 2018.

“Having considered the execution of the agreement, the directors of Oldtown are of the opinion that it is in the best interest of Oldtown Group,” said Oldtown.

For the third quarter ended December 31, 2016, Oldtown posted a revenue and net profit of RM115.81mil and RM24.35mil, respectively, bringing its cumulative nine month revenue and net profit to RM318.24mil and RM50.86mil.

During the quarter, its revenue derived from the manufacturing of beverages segment rose 31% to RM66.52mil from the corresponding period last year due to higher export sales generated.

Meanwhile, the group’s cafe chain operations saw a slight 1% increase in revenue to RM49.29mil during the period.

Oldtown closed 1.9% higher at RM2.70, traded on a volume of 651,400 shares.

(The Star) BCorp Q3 earnings surge to RM22.8mil

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd’s (BCorp) saw its net profit surge 44.6% to RM22.88mil in the third quarter ended Jan 31, 2017 compared with RM15.82mil in the same period last year.

The group saw its revenue rising to RM2.22bil from RM2.16bil in the previous corresponding period. Its earnings per share for the quarter rose to 0.47 sen compared with 0.37 sen previously.

The group attributed the rise in revenue to the higher revenue posted by its property investment and development business segment as well as the marketing of consumer products and services segment as compared to the previous corresponding quarter. The property investment and development business registered higher revenue mainly due to the sale of several units of residence in Japan.

In the first nine months, BCorp posted a net profit of RM136.7mil or 2.67 sen earnings per share on revenue of RM6.9bil.

BCorp said the increase was mainly due to a higher contribution from the property investment and development business segment, as well as the marketing of consumer products and services segment.

“The higher revenue by the property investment and development business was mainly due to encouraging sales of apartments and higher progress billings from a property project in China in the period under review, as well as the sale of several units of residence in Japan,” BCorp said in a separate statement.

It said the marketing of consumer products and services segment contributed higher revenue as the motor distribution business reported higher revenue arising from higher sales of volume of new cars coupled with certain new models available for sale by HR Owen.

However, this was dampened by the lower revenue from the retail distribution business, which was affected by unfavourable economic conditions in the Greater China markets and the closure of non-performing stores.

In addition, BCorp said the hotel and resort business reported a higher revenue mainly due to revenue contribution from a new hotel which started its operations in October 2016.

Commenting on its prospects, BCorp expects the operating environment to be very challenging.

“Given the prevailing economic conditions and global financial outlook, the directors are of the view that the group’s operating environment for the remaining quarter of the financial year ending April 30, 2017 will be very challenging,” it said.

(The Star) Goldis gives IGB more time to consider

PETALING JAYA: Goldis Bhd’s major shareholders will have to wait for another month to know whether their proposal to take over IGB Corp Bhd will be put up for consideration.

In an announcement yesterday, IGB said Goldis had agreed to its request for an extension of time to April 28 for the group to evaluate the proposed offer.

“The board of directors of IGB wishes to announce that IGB had on March 30 written to Goldis requesting an extension of time up to 5pm on April 28 to evaluate the proposed scheme,” IGB said.

“The board of directors of Goldis had on March 30 agreed to the extension of time,” it added.

IGB’s shares closed one sen higher at RM2.95, while Goldis’ shares fell two sen to close at RM2.83 yesterday.

Goldis currently owns a 73.43% stake in IGB.

IGB – which is principally involved in property development and management, construction, and retail and hotel operations – last month received an offer from Goldis to acquire the outstanding shares it did not already own in IGB at RM3 each.

Goldis, whose private equity arm has investments in a number of high-growth industries, controls IGB, a property developer, and IGB REIT, both listed on Bursa Malaysia.

IGB REIT owns The Gardens Mall and Megamall in Mid Valley City.

The proposed offer by Goldis represented a 19% premium to IGB’s share price of RM2.52 when the offer was launched on Feb 23.

IGB was supposed to announce its decision on the offer on March 30.

In a letter to IGB, Goldis said the takeover offer would be satisfied in either cash or a combination of cash and shares in Goldis. The corporate exercise would eventually lead to the delisting of IGB and making it a unit of Goldis.

Goldis said the move was to eliminate its holding company discount on IGB.

Goldis said the corporate exercise was to provide it with greater flexibility to plan and decide on the strategic and business directions of IGB, and therefore increase its investments in a profitable group. IGB invests in and manages a diverse portfolio of long-term commercial, retail, residential and hospitality assets in Asia, Australia, the United States and Europe.

IGB saw its net profit increase 37.4% to RM298mil for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016 from RM217mil in the preceding year on higher operating income.

The group’s revenue fell 1% to RM1.15bil last year from RM1.18bil in the preceding year on lower contributions from its property development and property investment divisions.

IGB’s earnings per share rose to 22.32 sen from 16.25 sen.

As at Dec 31, 2016, its net asset per share stood at RM3.37, while its cash and cash equivalents stood at RM992mil.

(The Star) Retirement fund KWAP buys into E&O project in RM877mil deal

PETALING JAYA: Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) has taken up a stake in Eastern & Oriental Bhd’s (E&O) flagship property project in Penang and acquired a substantial equity interest in the listed developer in a deal worth a total of RM887.7mil.

Under the agreement, KWAP will purchase 20% in E&O’s second phase of Seri Tanjung Pinang (STP 2A), a township being developed on reclaimed land with an estimated gross development value of RM17bil.

Apart from taking a direct stake in the development project, KWAP will also subscribe to 66.1 million new shares in E&O. The price of the shares to be transacted is between RM1.84 and RM1.94 each, costing KWAP at least RM121.6mil.

The transaction gives KWAP an additional 5.26% equity stake in E&O. According to analysts, it will raise KWAP’s stake in E&O to 6.75%.

Shares in E&O were halted from trading yesterday and will resume today. The stock was last traded at RM2.12 on Wednesday, its highest level in two years.

Commenting on the investment, KWAP chief executive officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said it was the start of an exciting journey and inaugurates their first equity participation in property development.

“E&O’s record of accomplishment in the industry as well as the quality of its delivery will assure the success of this project,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, E&O managing director Kok Tuck Cheong said that the proceeds from the stake sale would be used for reclamation and infrastructure works, as well as for working capital and the repayment of borrowings.

Under the deal, KWAP’s interest would be in STP 2A, which is undergoing reclamation work. The area involved is 252.8 acres, out of which the amount which can be developed after surrendering a portion of the land for infrastructure will be 169.9 acres.

KWAP’s 20% equity interest effectively translates to 33 acres or about RM530 per sq ft. The transaction values the entire phase 2A of the STP project at RM3.83bil.

According to E&O, based on independent valuations, the price that KWAP has proposed to pay was a discount of 3.5% or RM26.8mil.

E&O said that the STP 2 project would span over 15 years and is targeted to be launched in 2019.

When the deal is completed, KWAP will join its peers such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in taking a direct stake in property development projects.

The EPF has taken direct stakes in projects in Eco-Setia Park in Setia Alam, the Battersea project in London and it recently went into three property development joint ventures with Eco World Development Group Bhd.

The STP project is essentially a seafront development situated along Penang’s north-east coast, which is located at Tanjong Tokong. The total area to be reclaimed under the project is 980 acres.

Last year, E&O received an extension of three years up to 2022 to reclaim the remaining portions.

The project was originally approved by the state government back in 1992. Phase one of the project comprises 240 acres and is almost completed.

The reclamation project on phase 2A of the STP project has already started with dredging works after all the necessary approvals were obtained. Approximately 34% of STP 2A has been reclaimed, and E&O is targeting to complete it by the second half of 2018.

Aside from the reclamation of 760 acres under the project’s concession agreement, which is slated to be completed by June 2018, E&O is reclaiming a further 131 acres at its own cost along the Gurney Drive foreshore for the Penang state government.

The Gurney Drive area is next to Tanjong Toking and a popular spot for locals and tourists.

In 2015, E&O had secured RM1.1bil in financing facilities to part-finance the reclamation and infrastructure works of the STP 2A project.

(The Star) Opportunities aplenty in India

CHENNAI: With India’s new initiatives of Make in India, Digital India, Start Up India, Smart Cities and Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation taking shape, there are plenty of opportunities for Malaysian and Indian businesses.

Today, in the Tamil Nadu capital, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will meet a group of Indian businessmen brought together by the Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI).

Twenty-five Chennai-based businessmen will hear first-hand from Najib what Malaysia has to offer.

Besides pitching for a bigger slice of India’s economic cake, Najib is likely to touch on Malaysia’s success stories and his vision for the future, including Iskandar Malaysia, the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and the National Trans­formation 2050 (TN50) plan which will pave the way ahead for Malaysia.

Consortium of Indian Industries in Malaysia (CIIM) founder chairman Datuk Umang Sharma said Najib’s visit could not have come at a better time.

“This is especially so from the business perspective. Indian businesses are mostly private-sector driven.

“It is bonanza time for Malaysian entrepreneurs seeking to invest or do business in India,” he added.

Initiated by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), CIIM is an industry apex body in Malaysia comprising Indian companies with investments from India.

Sharma, who was part of the CII’s CEO delegation to Kuala Lumpur in 2011 when the landmark Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (MICECA) was signed, said there were tremendous opportunities for Malaysian firms in states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

“Most of these states make their own decisions without any need for federal approval.”

Sharma, who is the CEO of Bry-Air Malaysia, said attention should also be given to India’s second and third-tier cities.

“There is great potential for collaboration in technical know-how and investments in the smaller industrial cities, which have SME entrepreneurs.

“The cost of doing business is also far lower. To really engage the businesses of both countries, the SME sector is of utmost importance.”

Sharma called for more air connectivity between both countries.

“On many occasions, we have had to travel via Singapore or Bangkok since no seats were available on limited flights on the KL-Delhi-KL sector.

“Ease of getting visas and faster processing for Indian nationals, especially for the ICT sector, will also greatly help,” he added.

Besides Chennai and New Delhi, Najib, will also travel to Jaipur in Rajasthan state where infrastructure development is big.

The Prime Minister was hosted last night to a reception by Acting Tamil Nadu Governor Vidhyasagar Rao at his official residence.

Talk is abuzz in this cinema-crazed city that Tamil movie mega star Rajinikanth, who shot parts of his hit movie Kabali in Malaysia last year, will call on Najib.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to roll out the red carpet for Najib in Delhi.

Modi is upbeat with his BJP party securing a massive victory in the recent high-stakes assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.

(NST) E&O unit to dispose of 20 per cent of STP2A land to KWAP for RM766.02mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Eastern & Oriental Bhd's (E&O) unit, Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, will dispose of 20 per cent of its land in Penang to Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) for RM766.02 million.

"The 1.45 million sq ft land is in Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 2A (STP2A)," E&O and KWAP said in a joint statement today.

STP2A, which has a total gross area of 100 hectares, is the first phase of the 304-ha STP2 reclamation project at Tanjung Tokong.

TPD has been granted the concession rights to reclaim and develop.

Meanwhile, the statement said, Tanjung Pinang Development will also jointly develop the entire STP2A development land with KWAP via a special-purpose vehicle (SPV).

The SPV, Persada Mentari Sdn Bhd, will be 80 per cent-owned by Tanjung Pinang Development and 20 per cent by KWAP, it said.

It said the reclamation works for STP2A, started in early 2016, were in progress.

These works are scheduled to be completed within the second half of 2018, it said.

"The proceeds from the proposed transaction will be used towards reclamation and infrastructure costs, working capital and the repayment of borrowings for the project," said E&O Managing Director, Kok Tuck Cheong.

"Entering partnership with E&O is an exciting journey and inaugurates our first equity participation into property development," KWAP Chief Executive Officer Datuk Wan Kamaruzaman Wan Ahmad said. — BERNAMA

Thursday, 30 March 2017

(NST) Puncak Alam to see greater development

PUNCAK Alam is rapidly transforming itself into a self-contained township in Kuala Selangor from being just an agricultural or industrial area.

Property players believe this new growth area is destined for bigger things.

Worldwide Holdings Bhd (WHB), one of the pioneer developers in Puncak Alam, has been there for almost 12 years and has developed 258ha in total.

Its first project was Puncak Bestari, and now, it is coming up with Rumah Selangorku houses as well as some commercial units.

WHB chief executive officer Datin Paduka Norazlina Zakaria told NST Property more developers were coming to Puncak Alam but she was not worried about the competition.

“We have been around for the last 24 years. We have our own strategies and concepts and our customers are also different. We started with Seksyen 7 in Shah Alam, and we went to Cheras and then Subang Bestari.

“Now we are in Puncak Alam. So we are widening our urbanisation map in Selangor. This is our contribution to the state government,” she said.


According to Norazlina, house prices have doubled since 2010 when the developer launched the first phase of double-storey terraced houses priced below RM300,000 each.

Its latest offering in Puncak Bestari called Cendana comprises two-storey terraced houses priced below RM600,000 each, with a built-up area of 2,290 square feet.

“Previously, the area lacked landed properties. When we came in, we took advantage of that situation and came up with nice architectural designs and told our team we had to prove, it to the public that we could do this.

“This area is considered a suburb. We have to make sure we do not compromise on the quality. The Quality Assessment System for Building Construction Works score for our projects is about 80 per cent,” said Norazlina.

As the trend at that time was affordable luxury coupled with low-density development, WHB’s strategy worked, thus helping it to create its product branding, she said.

Norazlina pointed out that people were attracted to properties in Puncak Alam because they were considered value for money.

“We went there because the price of land was reasonable. However, today, the land price is the main factor that determines the final price of the property. We can’t compare Shah Alam with Puncak Alam.

“When we first came to Puncak Alam, land price was low, around RM130,000 per acre. Now, if you go to the town centre, people are selling land at about RM1 million per acre, and that of agriculture status too,” she said.


There was still a lot of room for improvement, especially regarding infrastructure, said Norazlina.

She said accessibility was the main issue a few years ago but the situation had improved with the opening of the Guthrie Corridor Expressway and Jalan Batu Arang-Kuala Lumpur-Kuala Selangor Expressway (Latar).

“In a way, the infrastructure is in place but we need more of it. Latar has definitely helped open up new developments in southern Kuala Selangor such as Puncak Alam, Ijok, Tasik Puteri, Kuang and Kundang. As a developer, we will focus on that route and make sure there is easy access to major highways.

“The improvement in infrastructure and amenities had attracted many players to Puncak Alam and its surrounding areas. The early developers include IJM Land and MKH Bhd while the new players are LBS Bina and Eco World.

“What is good about these developers is they are coming in with their own product types, and helping to relocate some of the industrial activities to Puncak Alam.”

Norazlina said basic amenities such as a mosque, schools, hypermarket and community centre were in place.

The township is also close to Universiti Teknologi Mara Puncak Alam campus.

What Puncak Alam is still lacking is a decent neighbourhood mall for the residents and younger generation.

The nearest medical facility is the Sungai Buloh Medical Centre, which is 27km away.

Norazlina said with the construction of a new hospital in Puncak Alam, more people would be attracted to the township.

She hopes that the Selangor State Development Corporation would venture into Puncak Alam and build a private hospital to cater for the lower- and middle-income group.


Norazlina related some challenges WHB faced, such as a mismatch between the product pricing and affordability of buyers, stricter lending guidelines and real property gains tax.

“The increase in raw material costs is also affecting us, especially for certain Rumah Selangorku houses. If we use the Industrialised Building System, it is still not cheap as this concept works well only when you are building a large quantity of houses. We are just building 200 to 250 houses each time, so this is affecting our bottom line,” she added.

To mitigate that, Norzalina said WHB had to be creative with the marketing and sales of its products in reaching out to its target buyers.

(NST) Serenia City, the growth catalyst

BUILDING a large township from scratch isn’t like playing SimCity or Minecraft.

The township should be well planned to boost the standard of living of the people in the area and provide businesses and job opportunities.

An example of a township that does this is Serenia City, which is located within Salak Tinggi in Kuala Lumpur.

The 959ha township is a development by Sime Darby Property Bhd, a company that has a total landbank of 2,832ha to be developed in Salak Tinggi.

Serenia City features six precincts with diverse components, making it a complete city on its own. The precincts are Aman Serenia (residential), Bayu Serenia (high-end residential), Cipta Serenia (light industrial), Citra Serenia (town centre), Puncak Serenia (public space, park, residential) and Suria Serenia (education).

With residential components complemented by commercial and industrial development plans in place, the township was set to enhance economic growth through job creation, capital appreciation, enhanced socio-economy and much more, Sime Darby Property managing director Datuk Jauhari Hamidi told NST Property.

The township development began in 2013 and is expected to be fully developed by 2035. The gross development value is about RM9 billion but it could exceed the amount in years to come.

Jauhari said Serenia City was an ideal township that presented a different yet complimentary lifestyle experience.

He said it would be set as a centre of world-class education, with the establishment of Xiamen University Malaysia Campus within the township.

Xiamen University enrolled its first batch of 600 students in February last year.

Jauhari said these developments and facilities including Serenia City’s easy access to and from Maju Expressway (MEX) and Elite Highway via the Serenia City Interchange (completion next year) would definitely help boost the economic activities and job opportunities within the township and Salak Tinggi.

“Serenia City is a catalyst that would mature and see advance growth due to its strategic location and connectivity via air, railway and major highways within the area,” he said.

To date, Serenia City has launched four phases of industrial and commercial developments amounting to a gross development value of RM690 million. According to Jauhari, the remaining phases are targeted for launch periodically within 10 to 15 years.

Serenia City is expected to accommodate more than 14,000 residential units within about 287.73ha of residential land. These units will include affordable homes and a combined 206.3ha for commercial and industrial developments, he added.

The first product in Serenia City is Cipta 1 which was launched in July 2016. Cipta 1 is the first phase in Cipta Serenia, a 57.87ha light industrial zone branded as the Centre of Innovation at Serenia City.

To support the bustling infrastructure development surrounding Serenia City, an additional 28.9ha of land in Cipta Serenia has been allocated as industrial land lots, with sizes to suit different needs. The land and its zone is suitable for logistics, warehousing, incubator, mechanical, electrical and automobile service.

“Salak Tinggi has enormous potential in being an international gateway, offering a lifestyle based on the principles of a smart, livable and sustainable city,” said Jauhari.

“We believe that Serenia City will add a new dynamism to Salak Tinggi through our philosophy of building sustainable communities by bringing true integration, which includes the transit-oriented development.

“We expect this development to serve as an economic and transportation hub and catalyst for the surrounding areas, which also includes the Sime Darby Business Park,” he said.

(The Edge Financial Daily) New amendments to bankruptcy law passed


KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat yesterday passed the Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill 2016, which has been hailed as more borrower-friendly, after the second and third readings that took place on the same day.

Under the amended law, debtors will be granted an automatic discharge from bankruptcy after three years, though they may still have to settle part of the debt termed target contribution, which is an amount set by the Insolvency Department’s director-general (DG) based on the total debt, which the DG has the power to order the debtor to repay.

The third reading took place after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said satisfied Beruas member of parliament (MP) Ngeh Koo Ham’s query on whether granting debtors automatic discharge from bankruptcy would compromise creditors’ positions.

Earlier, Azalina also highlighted that though the discretion to not impose bankruptcy on an individual lies with the Insolvency Department DG, creditors have the right to file their opposition to such an act through the court, even under the current law.

“Therefore, the DG’s decision will still have to depend on the court’s decision,” she said in response to Pandan MP Mohd Rafizi Ramli’s concern about possible abuse of power by civil servants to rescue an individual from bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, among the amendments to the original Bankruptcy Act 1967 that were passed under the bill were the prevention of bankruptcy actions against social guarantors and raising the minimum debt threshold for the initiation of bankruptcy proceedings to RM50,000 from the present RM30,000.

“From the government’s point of view, we are trying to protect social guarantors because these people are guaranteeing for things like education loans. I agree that we need to teach our youth the responsibility to repay their debts, but social guarantors are innocent — they are not doing it (guaranteeing the loan) for a profit,” Azalina explained.

She also revealed that Malaysia had recorded 169,927 bankruptcy cases since the economic crisis in 2008, until end-2016.

The bill was passed after a majority vote on completion of the third reading.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Little impact on premium segment — BMW


SHAH ALAM: BMW Group Malaysia said it does not see the premium automotive segment being significantly impacted by subdued consumer sentiment amid the current uncertain economic climate.

The group has been recording strong double-digit growth across all brands, namely BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad last year, despite the overall decline in total industry volume (TIV) in the same period, according to BMW Group Malaysia corporate communications head Sashi Ambi.

“Last year, we saw strong double-digit growth for BMW Group Malaysia, with 16% sales growth across all brands, particularly for the BMW brand, which grew 20%. This year, obviously the market is a bit cautious, but then again it was the same sentiment last year,” he said.

In 2016, BMW Group Malaysia reported its highest sales growth ever with the delivery of 10,906 units. A total of 9,000 BMW vehicles were delivered during the year, while MINI delivered 902 vehicles, and BMW Motorrad delivered 1,004 motorcycles.

“If you look across the board, the premium segment actually grew, which is a [good] sign. We are still launching new products and services in the current economy and we are really pushing the market in a dynamic way,” he said.

In January, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) reported that the industry registered a TIV of 580,124 units in 2016, down 13% from 666,677 units in 2015. The association forecasts a mild recovery in 2017, on expectation that TIV would rise slightly to 590,000 units. Similarly, Sashi said BMW Group Malaysia is expecting TIV to grow slightly this year, with no significant spike in total units sold.

Sashi was speaking to the media yesterday after the launch of the latest iteration of the BMW 5 Series sedan, the BMW 530i M Sport, which has been dubbed “the business athlete”.

The BMW 530i M Sport also marks the first time BMW is introducing a car under the “M” range at launching.

“Since its first introduction in 1972, the BMW 5 Series sedan has created a lasting legacy in the automotive premium segment, embodying unrivalled performance, elegance and combining cutting-edge engineering with sophisticated innovation.

“Now, the new seventh generation all-new BMW 5 Series is destined to continue this remarkable success and ambition of the most successful premium business sedan in the world,” said BMW Group Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Han Sang Yun at the launch.

(The Star) Mall opens indoor wall climbing area

AEON Co is aiming to provide a new dimension to the shopping experience at Aeon Mall Shah Alam with the launch of an indoor rock climbing arena, the Rocky BaseCamp (RBC).

Opened this month, the RBC at Lot T05 on Level 3 of the mall is a fun-filled fitness zone designed for people of all generation with no special skill or training.

“Users of this safe and secure 5,300sq ft indoor climbing centre will be guided and assisted by our well-trained and certified trainers,” said RBC consultant Mahdi Parsafarid.

Aeon Co executive director Poh Ying Loo said the company felt there was a need to adapt to the changes in Malaysians’ lifestyle.

“The year 2017 is a starting point for Aeon to stay relevant in the changing business environment and address consumer lifestyle demands,” he said.

“Consumers are opting for relaxed and experiential shopping, so this climbing camp gives them a whole new experience in shopping,” he added.

Several children trying out the climbing wall.

Selangor Youth and Sports Department director Mohd Nor Md Said said the camp fitted perfectly with today’s emphasis on fitness, education and entertainment.

Poh said the ultimate objective of the camp was to provide an avenue for bonding between parents and children.

“We want to help encourage communication among family members and peers in a fun, safe and secure climbing centre as well as turning Aeon Mall into a shopping destination of choice,” he stressed.

The RBC boasts the first indoor 15m Speed Climbing Wall in Malaysia.

It also offers a bouldering or traversing wall for low-height climbs.

“These walls can be conquered without the use of harness, rope, helmet or other gears, as it is much closer to the ground and supported with well-cushioned landing platforms,” pointed out Mahdi.

Also present at the launch were Malaysia Mountaineering Federation president Jamaluddin Mohemed Yusuff, Leisure & Recreation Council president Datuk Abdullah Kassim, Aeon Co (M) Bhd executive director Hiroyuki Kotera, Aeon Credit Service Malaysia managing director Kenji Fujita, Malaysia Mountaineering Federation secretary-general Mohd Zaidi Kamaruddin and Malaysia Mountaineering Federation vice- president Mohd Akbal Amin Asain