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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

(The Star) High speed rail terminal project intact

PETALING JAYA: The construction of the station for the high-speed rail (HSR) project in Bandar Malaysia will not be affected by the changes in the status of the master developer of the project.

A consortium led by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) is still in negotiations with Bandar Malaysia – wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance Inc (MoF) – to build an integrated transportation terminal to cater to the HSR project.

“The consortium signed an agreement directly with Bandar Malaysia, which is wholly owned by the MoF. Negotiations are ongoing on the design and details of the project and it depends on the alignment of the HSR,” said a source close to the authorities handling the project.

“The agreement to build the terminal is directly between the MRCB-led consortium and MoF and not affected by the developments with regard to the rest of Bandar Malaysia.”

Sources said the size of the land and the project requirements to build an integrated transport terminal allowed MRCB to replicate the KL Sentral project in Bandar Malaysia.

“They can build KL Sentral 2 in Bandar Malaysia,” said the source.

On Jan 27 this year, MRCB announced to the stock exchange that it had entered into a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Wondrous Vista Development Sdn Bhd and Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd (now TRX City Sdn Bhd) to collaborate to develop the integrated transportation hub terminal at Bandar Malaysia.

Wondrous Vista is believed to be a private vehicle linked to Tan Sri Bustari Yusof from Sarawak. Bustari has several infrastructure projects, including the Pan-Borneo Highway, under his belt and is the major shareholder of Petra Energy Bhd.

The agreement in January came a day after an earlier MoU that MRCB-Wondrous Vista had signed with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd-China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd (IWH-CREC) lapsed. The MoU was signed in June 2016 and was valid for six months.

According to the announcement in January, the MRCB-led consortium signed the agreement with Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which in turn is a 100% shareholder of Omega Cartel Sdn Bhd.

Omega Cartel is the registered owner of the 486 acres in Bandar Malaysia, out of which 60 acres have been earmarked for the purpose of an integrated transportation terminal.

MRCB said that together with Wondrous Vista and Bandar Malaysia, it intended to form a strategic alliance for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, developing and operating the transportation hub.

Sources said a decision has not been made whether MRCB would have an option to purchase the 60 acres outright from Bandar Malaysia, or the rail terminal project be undertaken on a public-private partnership basis.

“It could even be a deal financed by a land swap. The negotiations are still ongoing and are expected to be finalised by the expiry of the MoU,” said a source.

The MoU will remain valid for a period of six months.

Yesterday, MRCB was heavily traded, closing the day up 12 sen to RM1.68 on a volume of 34.65 million shares.

Bandar Malaysia, located in the former Sungai Besi air force base, will house the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR terminus and become a central transport hub with connections to the mass rapid transit lines, KTM Komuter, Express Rail Link and 12 other highways.

A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia showed that Wondrous Vista was incorporated on Jan 15, 2016.

Its nature of business is real estate activities, whereby it is involved in the buying, selling, renting and operating of self-owned or leased real estate, among others.

The directors of the company are Feroz A.S. Moidunny and Mohammed Rashdan Mohd Yusof.

Rashdan, better known as Danny Yusof, is perhaps best known for his colourful 10-month stint as deputy group CEO of Malaysia Airlines. Rashdan had previously helmed Bina Fikir Sdn Bhd, a boutique financial advisory firm, and was the CEO of Maybank Investment Bank.

Last Wednesday, the MoF announced that its agreement with IWH-CREC to be the master developer of Bandar Malaysia had lapsed because the latter had failed to fulfil payment obligations. IWH’s Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo (pic) contended that all obligations had been met and is disputing that the agreement has lapsed.

Following the announcement, Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWC) was suspended from trading for two days.

As expected, when the shares were requoted yesterday, it hit limit down, falling 30% to RM2.16 on a volume of 4.05 million shares.

The fact that IWC announced on Friday evening that there would be an injection of 3,598 acres worth RM4.3bil in relation to its proposed merger with IWH made no difference to investors.

They panic sold the stock, as without Bandar Malaysia, investors see no light.

On the other hand, Tan Sri Desmond Lim’s companies, WCT Holdings Bhd and Malton Bhd, which have been deemed to be interested parties in the bid for the Bandar Malaysia project, saw a pullback in their share prices yesterday after the companies announced that they were not in any discussions to bid for the Bandar Malaysia project.

The announcement came about after it was reported that the Malton group, together with the Dalian Wanda group of China, could bid to be the master developer of the project. This came about as Desmond was said to have put up a strong bid for Bandar Malaysia in 2015 when the competitive bid was won by IWH-CREC.

It has been speculated that the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) could also be roped into the bid for the Bandar Malaysia project.

“The EPF is already in MRCB. It is not keen on the Bandar Malaysia master development job,” said a source.

Malton, which reached a high of RM1.89, ended up closing the day down five sen to RM1.50. WCT Holdings was also affected, closing the day lower by nine sen to RM2.22.