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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

(The Star) Berjaya Assets looks to raise RM1bil for reclamation works in JB

KUALA LUMPUR: Berjaya Assets Bhd (BAssets) is looking to raise close to RM1bil via the equity markets to fund reclamation works for its 55-acre piece of land in Johor Baru, although the timeline is still fluid.

BAssets executive director Koh Huey Min said at an investors briefing that BAssets had obtained the rights to reclaim 55 acres of seabed for development, situated beside its existing development Berjaya Waterfront Sdn Bhd.

Reclamation works are expected to begin in 2018 after the necessary approvals are obtained.

BAssets intends to establish a mixed development comprising hotels, high-end residential units and a hospital on this piece of reclaimed land.

It will have freehold status upon completion and will be launched in phases in accordance to market demand.

Koh also said that BAssets is mulling the potential listing of Berjaya Waterfront in via a real estate investment trust (REIT).

BAssets has set a target to increase Berjaya Waterfront’s existing occupancy rate of 50% to 70% by the end of the year.

It is understood that BAssets would like Berjaya Waterfront to first achieve higher occupancy rates and yields before the Reit exercise is considered.

BAssets owns entities such as Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, Berjaya Waterfront in Johor Baru, Sarawak-based numbers forecast lottery company Natural Avenue Sdn Bhd and car assembly company Oriental Assemblers Sdn Bhd, among others. It also owns a 3.95% stake in 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

Meanwhile, BAssets is in talks with an Asian automotive manufacturer for the assembly of its cars under Oriental Assemblers.

Koh explained that the automotive brand was already present in Malaysia, although the company is not satisfied with its current franchise holder.

“We have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the automotive brand and shall announce plans for Oriental Assemblers in six months’ time,” she said, adding that Oriental Assemblers was currently carrying out assembly works for Chinese automotive models.

In May 2017, BAssets completed the acquisition of the entire stake in Oriental Assemblers for RM32.5mil, which comes with a 14.74-acre plot of leasehold land and manufacturing licence.

As for its stratified retail mall Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, BAssets’ new strategy is to monetise its shoplots via a sale to ‘one or two interested parties’. Previously, BAssets had been selling the units to the open public.

Koh also said the company had plans to convert an existing IMAX theatre to a performance theatre to cater to the demand for performing arts venues.

“We target to open the performance theatre to the public by March 2018 in conjunction with our mall’s 15th anniversary.

“The theatre, when completed, will measure 25,000 sq ft in size and seat a total of 500 people.

“This shall also help increase Berjaya Times Square’s footfall,” said Koh.

The mall currently has an 85% occupancy rate and a footfall of 2.5 million visitors a month.

Apart from that, BAssets is also reviewing to place its gaming entity, Natural Avenue, under another Berjaya company for BAssets to attain syariah-compliant status.

Natural Avenue is the exclusive agent for Sarawak Turf Club’s special cash sweep numbers forecast lotteries.

While illegal gambling activities have hampered the gaming sector’s revenue, BAssets has assured that it is working closely with the local councils, state government, and police force in Sarawak to crackdown on illegal gambling activities.