Subscribe:

Pages

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

(The Star) Discount for civil servants to buy property

JOHOR BARU: Civil servants will get a 10% discount when they purchase a unit at Bukit Saujana Apartment here.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said this move was to give an opportunity for them to own a property in the city.

“There are some tenants in Bukit Saujana who have been renting government property for almost 19 years,” he said during a visit to the apartment.

He added that since early 2016, the state government, through Permodalan Darul Ta’zim (PDT), had offered sales of the apartment to the tenants.

“As of April, 2017, 138 offer letters were issued to the tenants and 123 of them agreed to buy the units,” he said.

The site of Bukit Saujana Apartment was previously a settlement area for government quarters along Jalan Abdul Rahman Andak, Jalan Yahya Awal and Jalan Bendahara comprising eight blocks of buildings with 1,565 units and 43 shop lots.

A total of 234 units were given to the government to turn into quarters for rent to both state and Federal Government civil servants.

Mohamed Khaled said the value of units sold to civil servants were between RM130,000 and RM160,000 per unit.


(The Star) Taib: Digital economy is the future

KUCHING: The government’s digital economy agenda will spur economic growth and ensure Sarawak remains on the right track to become a developed state by 2030.

Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud urged the people to fully support the digital economy transformation agenda, which is set to change the working environment and way of life of people in the state.

“The government is committed to prioritising the people’s interest in its development plan.

“I believe our economy will enjoy a mega leap through the digital economy initiative that provides a new dimension to the state’s economic activities,” Taib said at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly special sitting to commemorate its 150th anniversary here yesterday.

Taib added that the shift towards digital economy will open many opportunities to the younger generation especially in entrepreneurship and business.

He expressed confidence that the creative and innovative thinking of today’s young minds would perfectly fit the needs of the digital era and advised the younger generation to equip themselves with appropriate knowledge and skills.

He also lauded the setting up of the Development Bank of Sarawak, Petroleum Sarawak Bhd and Sarawak Multimedia Authority, which will become the catalyst to economic growth.


The Governor commended Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for continuing to fight for Sarawak rights and interest, especially in the context of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 including territorial boundaries and minerals.

Taib advised the state’s multi-ethnic community to continue to maintain racial harmony and tolerance to strengthen solidarity.

On socio-economic growth, he said the state Gross Domestic Product had grown from RM550mil in 1963 to RM124bil in 2016.

In the same period, exports had reached RM77bil compared to RM373mil after the state’s independence 55 years ago.

Taib said the workforce was only 294,000 in 1963 but had reached 1.2 million in 2016 while the unemployment rate was below 4%.

The poverty rate had also been reduced from 56% in 1976 to 0.6% in 2016.

The Governor also opened the exhibition gallery at the State Legislative Assembly building which was organised in collaboration with the Museum Department.

It will be opened to the public on weekdays from 9am till 4pm.

The state legislature was formed by Raja Muda Charles Brooke and first convened on Sept 8, 1867 in Bintulu, which makes it the oldest in the country.

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly had previously commemorated its 100th anniversary, which was led by the first Sarawak Governor Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee.

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly currently has 82 members.


(The Star) New road to ease congestion near school

SIBU: A road will be built from Lane 38A to Jalan Ulu Sungai Merah here as a temporary measure to ease traffic jams in the area.

“The road can be used by parents to drop off or pick up their children from SJKC Nang Sang,” said political secretary to the chief minister, Michael Tiang.

He said this was a temporary measure to ease traffic congestion before a permanent solution is found.

“Sibu Municipal Council had included the proposal to upgrade the road in the Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan.

“It had requested for funding from the state government to resolve traffic congestion there,” he said.

Tiang added there were many complaints from motorists, especially when parents send and pick up their children.

He pointed out there were three factors causing traffic congestion, especially at the intersection.

“There is only one road to handle all the traffic, resulting in congestion during peak hours.

“Road users park illegally and the roads have not been upgraded to accommodate the growing population and subsequent increase in traffic,” he said.


(The Star) New township coming up in Seremban

OSK Property has launched a 308ha development in Seremban, its third project in Negri Sembilan, after the success of its Seremban 3 and Mont Jade ventures.

Known as Iringan Bayu, the new development located along the Seremban-Port Dickson trunk road just after Mambau, will have a gross development value of some RM3.6bil and slated for completion in stages in 10 years.

OSK Group executive chairman Tan Sri Ong Leong Huat said the company decided to venture into Negri Sembilan to be part of the ambitious Malaysian Vision Valley project and due to the cheaper cost of doing business here.

“Negri Sembilan has been experiencing rapid development in recent years and the state’s economy has a bright outlook.

“We at OSK do not want to miss this,” he said at the launch of the first phase of the Iringan Bayu project by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

Ong said more than 3,000 houses would be built in the new gated township which would also have a 8.8ha park for the residents.

He said Iringan Bayu was designed along the lines of a safe city or “Bandar Selamat”.

“The concept of Bandar Selamat is a set of design principles used to prevent crime such as installing a safety green buffer walkway, designated bicycle tracks and driveways to create a traffic-free environment.

“Iringan Bayu will be an ideal township envisioned with a country living concept and where residents can enjoy suburban serenity with urban design and comfort,” he said.

Ong said 221 units of 20ft by 60ft double-storey terrace houses would be built under phase one of the project to be called Pastura.

The layout of these four-bedroom-four-bath units, to cost RM435,000 onwards, would range from 1,997sq ft to 2,020sq ft. Bumiputra lots would cost from RM390,000.

“The construction of these units should be completed within two years,” he said.

He said the township would also be accessible via the North-South Expressway, Kajang-Seremban Expressway and the Elite Highway

“The upcoming construction of the KL-Singapore high speed railway with the station located a short distance away in Labu will be another advantage,” he said.

Mohamad commended OSK property for helping the state build more affordable homes.

“Under our new housing policy, every developer has to make sure half of all houses built in their development consist of affordable homes.

“This is very important as property prices have surged in recent years and not many people can afford to own a house,” he said.

Mohamad said under a housing policy introduced by his administration in December 2015 and revised recently, all developers must ensure 20% of all houses they built cost RM80,000 and below.

Another 20% should cost less than RM250,000 and 10% should be less than RM400,000.

“OSK will build 831 houses, which will be landed properties, and cost less than RM80,000 and this will help us help more people to own houses,” he said.

Mohamad said his administration was proud to work with OSK Property as it was a reputable developer and one which has made forays abroad.

“Many good things are happening in and around Seremban and you have made a very wise decision to invest here.

“Iringan Bayu is also strategically located, being flanked by two big townships of Seremban 2 and Seri Sendayan, and new industrial areas which are home to major high-tech industries,” he said, adding that the KLIA-Seremban Expressway would also have an exit at the new township.

In conjunction with the launch, a month-long celebration with the theme “Playground of the Wind” where people can visit the Green Building Index-certified show village and experience 20,000 colourful pinwheel garden in Iringan Bayu.

There will also be a parade of fun-filled activities throughout the month including during the Wind Festival on Feb 10 and 11.


(The Star) Dutch coffee company JDE gets green light to privatise Oldtown

PETALING JAYA: The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has granted its clearance for Dutch coffee company Jacobs Douwe Egberts’ (JDE) offer to privatise coffee manufacturer and cafe outlets operator Oldtown Bhd, thus fulfilling all pre-conditions needed for a takeover offer to be made.

A notice of the offer will now be made to shareholders of Oldtown.

On Dec 11, 2017, JDE first made an offer to buyout Oldtown at RM3.18 per share or RM1.47bil. In order to privatise OldTown, JDE required a total stake of at least 90%, along with approvals from the CCS and any other antitrust regulators.

The offer notice is from Jacobs Douwe Egberts Holdings Asia NL BV, an indirect unit of JDE, which is a leading global pure-play consumer packaged goods coffee company.

JDE serves customers in over 120 countries through brands including Jacobs, Tassimo, Moccona, Senseo, L’OR and Douwe Egberts.

The OldTown Group is involved in cafe chain operations and the manufacturing, marketing and sales of coffee and other beverages, including instant coffee mix, instant milk tea mix, instant chocolate mix and roasted coffee powder.

Its products are sold in more than 17 markets including in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, the US, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines.


(The Star) Pintaras gets RM68.5mil job

PETALING JAYA: Construction outfit Pintaras Jaya Bhd has been awarded a contract worth RM68.5mil by Bina Puri Holdings Bhd to undertake piling and substructure works for a project located in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

The company said in a stock exchange filing that the contract would involve piling and substructure works for a project comprising a 54-level office suites with rooftop recreational facilities, two blocks of 63-level service apartments with rooftop recreational facilities, a food court, commercial lots and car parks.

“The said works are to commence on Jan 29, 2018 with a completion period of 31 months,” it added and will contribute to the company’s earnings.


(The Star) Local and foreign investors snapped up SP Setia's share placement within three hours

Local and foreign investors snapped up SP Setia’s share placement within three hours

PETALING JAYA: The brisk take-up of SP Setia Bhd’s share placement, which saw the developer raising RM1bil from the sale of 10% of the company’s existing share capital, seems to brush aside claims that the property market is in a slump.

The shares were snapped up within three hours, with bankers involved in the deal describing it as a new record considering that it was also the largest real estate equity placement in Malaysia corporate history.

“There was strong demand from domestic institutions. There was also interest from foreign investors who took up close to 20% of the offering,” said a source familiar with the deal.

Trading in SP Setia shares was halted yesterday between 9am and 10am, in conjunction with the share placement announcement.

The property developer fixed the issue price for the 325 million new placement shares at RM3.07 each to raise RM997.75mil.

One analyst said the take-up was good because the issue price was at a discount to SP Setia’s market price.

“The placement involved a block of shares. As it was below the current market price, it was deemed attractive to investors,” he said, adding that investor-interest was whetted by roadshows that the company had organised since the start of the year.

“The company has been doing local and foreign roadshows to attract investors.”

SP Setia shares ended 14 sen lower at RM3.11 yesterday.

In its filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, SP Setia said the issue price for the placement shares had been fixed at RM3.07 per share, representing a discount of 5.8% to the five-day volume-weighted average price of the company’s shares up to and including Jan 29, 2018 of RM3.2607.

“The total number of placement shares to be issued pursuant to the book-building exercise is 325 million placement shares, representing 9.5% of SP Setia’s issued share capital as at Jan 29, 2018. Accordingly, the gross proceeds to be raised from the placement will amount to RM997.75mil.

“Maybank Investment Bank Bhd and BNP Paribas (acting through its Singapore branch) are the joint placement agents for the exercise,” said SP Setia.

The corporate move came following SP Setia’s acquisition of its sister company under the Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) umbrella – I&P Group Sdn Bhd.

One analyst said the share placement exercise was timely, adding that the take-up rate was not surprising.

“The placement will help fund the property developer’s growth and expansion strategies post I&P acquisition.”

SP Setia announced in April last year that it was taking over I&P from PNB for RM3.65bil in cash, shares and borrowings.

The property company had also proposed to buy 342 acres in Bangi from PNB.

These corporate exercises saw SP Setia’s total landbank increasing by almost 80% to 9,728 acres.

SP Setia, majority-controlled by PNB, recently scaled down its participation in the second phase of the Battersea Power Station development in Britain.

Two weeks ago, SP Setia and Sime Darby Bhd


, through Battersea Phase 2 Holdings Co Ltd, entered into a heads of terms with PNB and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to explore the terms of a potential sale of the commercial assets currently being developed within phase two of the Battersea Power Station project.



The exercise allows SP Setia to remain as a property developer, while PNB and the EPF will be owners of the second phase of the project, which entails development of commercial property.

SP Setia has targeted sales totalling RM4bil for 2017. In November, the company announced that net profit in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 had jumped 89% to RM253.22mil from RM134.07mil a year earlier, spurred by higher contributions from its property development division.

The company launched projects with a combined gross development value of RM2.03bil in the fourth quarter.

The property developer said revenue in the third quarter, however, had dropped to RM842.49mil from RM1.26bil a year earlier, weighed down by lower earnings from the property development and construction segments.

For the nine-month period, meanwhile, SP Setia’s net profit increased to RM494.72mil from RM383.24mil in the previous corresponding period, while revenue dropped to RM2.58bil from RM3.19bil a year earlier.

The company achieved sales of RM2.82bil for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2017.

Local projects contributed RM1.66bil or 59% of the total sales, while international projects contributed RM1.16bil or 41%.

The sales secured locally were largely from the central region with RM1.17bil, while the southern and northern regions combined contributed RM495.6mil.

In its notes accompanying its third-quarter earnings results, SP Setia said it would focus more on the launches of mid-range landed properties in the Klang Valley.


(The Star) Liow: Malaysia can now operate air freight route from China to India

BEIJING: Malaysia Airlines can now operate cargo services from China directly to India, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said the national carrier was chosen to operate the new air freight route from Malaysia to Zhengzhou city, China, and then continue to India’s capital New Delhi, under fifth freedom rights granted by China.

Previously, from Zhengzhou, flights had to return to Kuala Lumpur before proceeding to New Delhi, he said.

Fifth freedom rights, under the Convention on International Civil Aviation, allowed a commercial airline to transport revenue traffic from its home country to a foreign destination, then pick up from there and proceed to other international destinations.

Liow said the move was a new step forward in the bilateral relationship between China and Malaysia.

“Malaysia would like to extend our sincere gratitude. We managed to open up more routes for passengers and cargo. We are looking forward to closer collaboration in strengthening our logistics sector,” he said.

Liow said Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) is expected to start the service soon.

Liow is here to attend the inaugural Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Civil Aviation, which starts today.

Some 30 nations are attending the conference.

“This ministerial meeting creates a platform for us to engage the experts, forge better networks and enhance cooperation. It is very important because Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region in the aviation sector with an annual passenger growth rate of 4.7% and has become the world’s largest aviation market,” he added.

During his three-day working visit here, Liow – who is also MCA president – will meet with leaders of the Communist Party of China and attend bilateral sessions with transport ministers from other countries in the region.

Members of his delegation include Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Hou Kok Chung, treasurer-general Tan Sri Kuan Peng Soon and deputy treasurer-general Datuk Seri Chuah Poh Khiang.

Yesterday, Liow made a courtesy call on China’s Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng. They talked about several issues related to aviation, railway development and port alliance as well as the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

He said China proposed a collaboration in search and rescue operations in the South China Sea, adding that Malaysia welcomed the offer to train and develop capacity building in this area.


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

(The Star) Business leaders in Malaysia most optimistic since 2014

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian business leaders’ overall optimism surged to 6% in the fourth quarter of 2017, a sharp rebound from a negative 36% a year ago, according to Grant Thornton’s quarterly business survey.

Country managing partner at Grant Thornton Malaysia Datuk NK Jasani said more than half of the business leaders are expecting higher profits in their long-term growth.

“Confidence has boomed in Malaysia. Our optimism level is at the highest since 2014, despite being the lowest level among Asean countries. In Malaysia, signs of confidence can be seen as the survey revealed that 62% business owners are expecting an increase in revenues, up 22 percentage points from the third quarter (Q3) of 2017,” he said.

Also 44% of business owners are expecting an increase in exports for the year ahead, up 10 percentage points from Q3 2017 and this is the highest in Asean,” he said.

The International Business Report (IBR) survey , which covered 2,500 businesses in 36 economies, showed the Asean region’s optimism level was performing at its best at 58%, the highest since 2011. 

The survey reveals that high levels of confidence are driven particularly by surges in Indonesia, 100% and the Philippines, 86%, where optimism has risen by 12 percentage points and six percentage points, respectively, over the same period. 

Global business optimism is at a positive level too, being at its highest ever level at 58%.

On Malaysia, Jasani said the survey revealed that 44% of business owners are expecting an increase in exports for the year ahead, up 10 percentage points from Q3 2017 and this is the highest in Asean. 

Jasani said 58% business owners are also expecting an increase in profits, up 46 percentage points from Q3 2017 and 30% of business owners are looking to increase in selling prices, up 14 percentage points from Q3 2017.

He added that as optimism improves, firms in Malaysia are thinking about the future and investing in their long-term growth. 

Malaysian business owners are planning to spend more on plant and machinery, up 16 percentage points to 54% from Q3,2017. This is the highest among Asean countries and way above the global average of 36%. 

Despite a positive picture overall, there is some areas of concern for business owners in Malaysia. “Business owners have expressed some constraints in their business for the year ahead. Lack of skilled workers is a concern, at 46%, up 12 percentage points from Q3 2017. 

“Besides that, half of the business owners surveyed (54%), and the highest number in Asean, have mentioned the exchange rate fluctuations is a major constrain to them,” Jasani added.

When asked about growth initiatives that businesses are most likely to implement during the next 12 months, they have answered to improve salesforce effectiveness (50%), as well as improve productivity improvements (48%) and expand business domestically (36%). “There are signs that 2018 marks the peak of the business and economic cycle. The US is expected to increase its interest rate further, which means the cost of borrowing will rise for many businesses. At the same time, inflationary pressure is a strong possibility, with wages and prices also increasing.

“Forecasts suggest that global GDP will fall away from 2019 onwards,” he said.


(The Star) SP Setia to raise up to RM1bil via share placement

Bankers say deal will be well-received despite sluggish market

PETALING JAYA: Fresh from acquiring its sister company I&P Group Sdn Bhd, SP Setia Bhd has launched a placement exercise to raise close to RM1bil by placing out around 10% of its stock.

Bankers said the deal should be well-received, despite sluggish sales in the domestic property market.

“The pitch to investors is that this is to fund SP Setia’s accelerating growth post-I&P acquisition,” said a banker.

Recall that in mid-April, SP Setia had announced that it was taking over I&P from Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) for RM3.65bil in cash, shares and borrowings.

The property company had also proposed to buy 342 acres in Bangi from PNB.

These corporate exercises saw SP Setia’s total landbank increasing by almost 80% to 9,728 acres.

SP Setia is raising close to RM1bil from the placement of 9.5% of its existing share capital.

The placement involves an issue size of up to 325 million shares offered between RM3.07 and RM3.11 per share through a book-building exercise.

The lead manager for the issue is RHB Investment Bank while Maybank Investment and BNP Paribas are joint global coordinators, placement agents and joint book runners.

The expected issue price of the placement is a discount to SP Setia’s market price of RM3.25 per share at the close today.

According to bankers, the proceeds are to be used for ongoing development projects and general working capital requirements.

SP Setia is majority-controlled by PNB and recently, it scaled down on its participation in the Battersea Phase 2 development.

Two weeks ago, SP Setia and Sime Darby, through Battersea Phase 2 Holdings Co. Ltd, had entered into a heads of terms with PNB and the EPF to explore the terms of a potential sale of the commercial assets currently being developed within phase two of the Battersea Power Station project.

The exercise allows SP Setia to remain as a property developer, while PNB and the EPF would be owners of Phase 2 of the project, which entails development of commercial property.

SP Setia is targeting sales totalling RM4bil for 2017. Net profit in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 jumped 89% to RM253.22mil from RM134.07mil a year ago, spurred by higher contributions from its property development division.

The group said it was launching projects with a combined gross development value of RM2.03bil in the fourth quarter.

For the nine-month period, SP Setia’s net profit increased to RM494.72mil from RM383.24mil in the previous corresponding period, while revenue dropped to RM2.58bil from RM3.19bil a year earlier.

The group achieved sales of RM2.82bil for the nine months ended Sept 30, 2017.

Moving forward, the company said it would focus more on the launches of mid-range landed properties in the Klang Valley.


(NST) Malaysia's trade to grow at moderate pace this year


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s trade performance is expected to continue its growth momentum but at a moderate pace this year due to a high-base forecast in 2017.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said while this year’s trade volume is expected to be big, the growth percentage is projected to be smaller compared with last year as 2017 trade performance was forecast to be at RM1.8 trillion.

“If we look at the comparison of trade figures, 2017-2016 can be assumed as lower based, as 2016 recorded only about RM1.4 trillion in trade.

“For this year, our comparison based (2017) is expected to be at RM1.8 trillion. The volume is big, but the growth percentage would be lower,” he told reporters after delivering a keynote address at the Export Day 2018, an event for exporters and trade-related agencies to gather network, here today.

He said that this year’s trade performance would be supported by positive economic indicators domestically and globally.

Meanwhile, Mustapa said the strengthening of the ringgit would not have a big impact on the export performance, as only certain companies were using the local currency for trade.

“We expect no major impact (on exports), some industries, such as rubber companies, will be slightly affected as they exporting using the ringgit (for trade),” he said, adding that however, the stronger ringgit would give a major impact on total trade this year.

Organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), the Export Day 2018 is aimed at informing local companies on the latest export opportunities around the world, strategies to win global market demands and current issues in international trade.

MATRADE Chief Executive Officer Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros said the event was an embodiment of MATRADE’s effort to create a conducive platform for the Malaysian business community to congregate and network and relish upon each other experiences in global business and entrepreneurship.

“It is crucial for the local business fraternity to meet so that they can compare notes and most importantly identify what are the things they could do differently to help them become export champions,” he said.

– BERNAMA

(The Star) New attraction in Johor

JOHOR BARU: Laman Serene is slated to be another tourist attraction in the state.

The new park was officially launched by Johor state secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani, representing Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

Laman Serene, located next to Jalan Skudai, is one of the transformations to the development of the urban landscape and the green lung besides giving added value to the state’s economy.

The park was developed for the purpose of adding to the state’s tourism destinations besides providing space for recreation and family activities, especially for the community in Johor.

Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) mayor Amran A. Rahman said the development of Laman Serene, on 1.13ha of land, was a continuation of the development of Laman Mahkota and Laser Fountain inspired personally by the Sultan of Johor.

“The name of the park located opposite Istana Bukit Serene was approved by Sultan Ibrahim.

“We hope the new icon for Johor will raise socio-cultural value among the community and become one of the icons that will be the pride of the state,” Amran said after the official launching of the park here.

Amran said the council had allocated RM6.8mil to set up and beautify the area while the construction works took eight months to complete.

“Serene Garden will be open 24-hours, with enforcement officers monitoring the premises.

“These officers will monitor the area every night while patrolling duties will be carried out during the day to ensure public safety,” he said.

The site, he added, carried the concept of the star and moon while the towers were designed based on an adaptation of Istana Bukit Serene towers.

Amran said the public must maintain the cleanliness of the area at all times and not litter or vandalise the property.


(The Star) 4DX theatre opens in JB

JOHOR BARU: Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) has opened its latest theatre at Paradigm Mall after a few years of absence in Johor.

GSC Paradigm JB costing RM44mil is the largest cinema in the state with 16 screens and 2,000 seats, which takes up a 60,000 sq ft area in the mall.

It is also the first cinema in Malaysia and Singapore to feature 4DX, the leading 4D cinematic technology developed by South Korea’s CJ 4DPLEX, which brings movies to life through motion and environmental effects.

Its chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee said the cinema was a flagship multiplex and the first in Malaysia to offer some of the most advanced cinematic technologies.

“Together with WCT Holdings Bhd, GSC Paradigm JB is well-equipped to meet the needs of our customers for an enjoyable experience.

“We want to make a big comeback by setting up the first 4DX theatre here,” she said at the media launch ceremony here.

Koh said that while GSC was still looking for more places to expand in Johor and other parts of the country, it would focus on renovation and refurbishment this year.

“We opened three new cinemas in 2017.

“If the response is good, we will consider rolling out more 4DX theatres at key sites around the country,” she said.

She added that the 4DX theatre was designed to transform the traditional film-viewing experience and bring to life over 20-signature motion and environmental effects.

“4DX will leave the audience even more engaged than before, as it intensifies high-energy movies and delivers an unforgettable sensory experience,” she said.

Koh added that the cinema here featured their proprietary large screen format - GSC Maxx, which claims the record for being the largest cinema screen in the southern peninsula region.

“GSC Maxx is equipped for Dolby Atmos and in GSC Paradigm JB, is powered by end-to-end Dolby integrated audio solutions.

“Additionally, our D-BOX motion seats are available in GSC Maxx.”

Beyond GSC Maxx, those who seek comfort and a little luxury can opt to experience the premiere class halls, which comes with a shared premium lounge that has a special reading corner for guests to enjoy before their movie starts.

To celebrate the official launch, Koh announced a special reward for moviegoers at GSC Paradigm JB on top of its ongoing “Ticket to Drive” contest.

“GSC Paradigm JB customers who purchase tickets specifically at the newly-opened cinema will be in the running to win a brand new Nissan Almera.

“This is part two of our ‘Ticket to Drive’ contest, which will see two more lucky winners walking away with a brand new Nissan X-Trail,” she said.

To participate in the contest, customers simply need to watch a movie at GSC Paradigm JB and submit their ticket stub details via ticket2drive.gsc.com.my.

For details, follow GSCinemas on Facebook or visit their website at www.gsc.com.my


(The Star) Building a sanctuary in Bukit Jelutong

Sime Darby Property held a soft launch of Rimbun Sanctuary, its first development of boutique apartments and townhouses in the award-winning township of Bukit Jelutong.

The development comprises 68 apartment units with a built-up area from 907sq ft to 1,091 sq ft (with dedicated units for disabled residents on the ground floor) and 40 townhouses with a built-up area from 1,511sq ft to 2,151 sq ft, making it an exclusive low-density development.

Offering freehold ownership, the Rimbun Sanctuary Apartments start from RM677,888 before bumiputera discount.

The 2.19ha development caters to first-time homeowners, singles and young families as well as retirees or couples who want smaller, more exclusive and private spaces with the convenience of 24-hour surveillance and amenities.

It also offers a private clubhouse and facilities such as a jogging track, playground, infinity pool and gym, as well as a BBQ area for its residents.

Rimbun Sanctuary sits next to a forest reserve and is enhanced by three-tier security features.

It is a modern-day sanctuary located away from the township’s mainstream activities.

The official launch of Rimbun Sanctuary will take place in early March.

Sime Darby Property general manager Appollo Leong said, “We are proud to showcase Rimbun Sanctuary, a modern-day low-density sanctuary located away from the hustle and bustle of city life, where residents can experience and appreciate the vast amount of green spaces provided.

“Bukit Jelutong was envisioned as a township with parks, gardens and green open spaces for residents to enjoy, and Rimbun Sanctuary fits perfectly with the overall concept of this self-contained township,” said Leong.

“Our focus on developing sustainable townships with vibrant communities for future generations is evident through matured townships such as Bukit Jelutong,” she added.

This township is one of the most sought-after addresses in Greater Kuala Lumpur, spread over 890ha of prime freehold land.

Bukit Jelutong is a township that has formed close-knit neighbourhoods, with amenities and public spaces that are accessible and inviting.

The result is a low-density township surrounded by lush greenery and wider streets that help reduce congestion, preserving the peace and harmony of its community.

This promotes interaction among the residents of Bukit Jelutong and has resulted in an active Bukit Jelutong Residents Association.

Bukit Jelutong is strategically located between popular suburbs within the Klang Valley such as Subang Jaya and Shah Alam, and is well-served by an excellent road network. It is easily accessible via the New Klang Valley Expressway, Guthrie Corridor Expressway, Federal Highway and Elite Highway.


(The Star) Lacklustre first half seen for property market

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian property market is expected to remain lacklustre in the first half of 2018, amid flagging demand ahead of the upcoming general election.

In its report entitled, “Real estate highlights for the second half of 2017”, Knight Frank Malaysia said the sluggish property market this year followed the weak oversupplied position in the second half of 2017.

“The second half of 2017 continued to see developers shifting their focus to the middle-income and affordable housing segments to cater to a wider target catchment amid challenges in the high-end market.

“As for the tenant-favoured office market, there is mounting pressure on occupancy and rental levels as the increasing high supply pipeline continue to overshadow low absorption.”

Despite the current challenges in the retail industry, Knight Frank said the mid to longer term prospect remains positive as more retailers embrace the concept of “clicks and mortar” amid the e-commerce boom.

It added that owners and mall operators continue to undertake asset enhancement initiatives to reposition their assets in the changing retail landscape.

Commenting on the Kuala Lumpur high-end condominium market, Knight Frank said the secondary market pricing and rental remained flat during the second half of 2017.

“Despite the weak market sentiment, sequels to selected projects were launched at higher pricing but with more discounts. More developers are diversifying their target market to other overseas countries / territories such as Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan following China’s capital control.

“The 50% tax exemption on rental income amounting up to RM2,000 a month as announced under Budget 2018, may improve demand for this category of investment properties.”

On the Klang Valley office market, Knight Frank said the market continues to self-correct as increasing supply shadows low absorption.

“Negative absorption of Kuala Lumpur office space comes following downsizing and consolidation of the oil and gas and its related sectors. Demand for Multimedia Super Corridor certified space however remains resilient.”

Separately, Knight Frank said the recent completion of circa 0.78 million sq ft of net lettable retail space brings Klang Valley’s retail cumulative supply to 57.4 million sq ft per capita - which is one of the highest in the region.

“Growing e-commerce market sees more retailers embarking on ‘click and mortar’ concepts. On a separate note, while the recent property freeze may provide a breather to the oversupplied markets, it is not expected to correct the oversupply situation in the short to medium term.

“The property market will continue to self-correct as it looks to find its equilibrium.”

Knight Frank meanwhile said the Penang office property market remained relatively healthy in the second half of 2017, with both occupancy rates and rentals holding steady.

“The condominium sub-sector is still consolidating whilst the retail sub-sector is expected to face further challenges with additional incoming supply poised to come into the market in 2019.”

Knight Frank also noted that some developers are postponing new residential project launches in Johor, whilst clearing existing stocks by offering attractive discounts and incentives.

“Notable developments and catalytic projects in other sectors such as the Coastal Highway Southern Link, Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex and Golf Course in Desaru Coast are expected to help support the growth in residential, commercial and retail sub-sectors in Iskandar Malaysia and Johor, in general.”

Separately, Knight Frank said the high supply pipeline of residential properties in Kota Kinabalu, particularly high-rise units from recently completed and soon to be completed projects, is expected to exert pressures on the capital and rental market.

“There is no new incoming supply of purpose-built office and the market has plateaued with overall occupancy hovering at a healthy level.”


(The Star) TMC Life plans more mergers and acquisitions

PETALING JAYA: Healthcare provider TMC Life Sciences Bhd (TMC Life) is planning for more mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the medical and healthcare-related business for the financial year ending Aug 31, 2018 (FY18).

Group chief executive officer/executive director Roy Quek said the group was eyeing more M&A activities in both Malaysia and overseas, especially South-East Asia and China, to expand its scale and to serve more patients.

“I am a big believer in scale because the operations cost per unit could be much lower with a bigger company, and this is what we are going to focus on in the next three to five years,” he told reporters after the company's annual general meeting here.

Meanwhile, Quek said TMC Life was not interested in acquiring Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC), although it had plans for more M and As in FY18.

It was reported that IHH Healthcare Bhd is currently in talks with Petronas for the acquisition of PCMC as the hospital was not the national oil company's core business.

On the development of the RM1.2bil Thomson Iskandar medical hub project in Johor, Quek said the company was in the final stage of obtaining the approvals from the authorities.

“I believe we will get the approvals between the first and second quarter of this year,” he said.

Aside from the Thomson Iskandar project, TMC Life had also spent nearly RM400 million to expand the Tropicana Medical Centre in Kota Damansara, which is expected to be completed and operational in the second half of 2020. — Bernama


(The Star) Alibaba to take on KL traffic

E-commerce giant pushes to grow cloud computing business

KUALA LUMPUR: Alibaba Group will set up a traffic control system harnessing artificial intelligence for Kuala Lumpur, its first such service outside China, as the e-commerce giant pushes to grow its cloud computing business.

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, said yesterday it planned to make live traffic predictions and recommendations to increase traffic efficiency in Kuala Lumpur by crunching data gathered from video footage, traffic bureaus, public transportation systems and mapping apps.

It is partnering state agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) and city hall (DBKL) to roll out the technology, which would be localised and integrated with 500 inner city cameras by May.

The partnership comes after Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak launched an “e-hub” facility last year, part of an initiative aimed at removing trade barriers for smaller firms and emerging nations.

Alibaba Cloud, which set up a data centre in Malaysia last year, is considering a second one to further develop a local ecosystem, its president Simon Hu said yesterday.

He declined to elaborate on the company’s total investments made and planned for in Malaysia, but said it was “no small amount” and that the investments would continue if there was demand for cloud computing technologies.

MDEC chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said there was no estimate of City Brain’s impact on traffic in Kuala Lumpur yet. The traffic management system in the Chinese city of Hangzhou had resulted in reports of traffic violations with up to 92% accuracy, emergency vehicles reaching their destinations in half the time and overall increase in traffic speed by 15%.

Najib has forged close ties with China in recent years. Last year, the Malaysian leader announced a slew of infrastructure projects, many funded by China, as he worked up momentum towards a general election he must call by the middle of this year. — Reuters


(The Edge Financial Daily) OPR hike positive for RHB

(Subtitle) Bank to announce its revised BR, BLR in next few days — MD

BY SYAHIRAH SYED JAAFAR

KUALA LUMPUR: Last week’s interest rate hike impact on RHB Bank Bhd will be a “small positive” after the bank readjusted its lending and deposit rates, said RHB Banking Group managing director (MD) and chief executive officer Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli.

Khairussaleh said RHB Bank will announce its revised base rate (BR) and base lending rate (BLR) in the next few days.Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced last Thursday an increase in its overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.25%, the first hike since May 2016.

“While we can raise our BR and BLR, we would also correspondingly have to increase our deposit rate as well. The impact would be a small positive,” Khairussaleh told reporters during the launch of the RHB Corporate MyDebit Card yesterday.

The card was introduced by RHB Bank and RHB Islamic Bank to provide a cashless method for business owners to pay government agencies.

Khairussaleh said the product is an initiative to reduce cheque and cash payments at agencies such as the Inland Revenue Board, Employees Provident Fund, Social
Security Organisation and Customs Department.

It is also in line with BNM’s Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020, which targets to reduce the use of cheques to 100 million by 2020 from 205 million cheques in 2011, he said.

The central bank recently said since the implementation of the blueprint, the use of cheques had fallen 42% to 120 million.

Khairussaleh said the new debit card is more cost-effective for businesses, with lower fees and merchant discount rates. To ensure the security of our customers’ financial portfolio, the card is pin-enabled and has been set with a daily limit of RM15,000, which can be raised at the discretion of the cardholder.

The card will be made available to RHB’s corporate customers who can make payments via the bank’s 210 branches nationwide.

To apply for an RHB Corporate MyDebit Card, companies will need to open or maintain an RHB company current account.

Moving forward, RHB executive vice-president and acting head of group retail banking Nazri Othman said the group continues to place importance on encouraging cashless transactions as part of its digital transformation footprint.

“Last year, we received 1.5 million cash and cheque payment transactions meant for government services. We managed to reduce this by 290,000 transactions and instead channel them into digital means, such as our RHB Reflex online cash management. We were given a target by BNM to reduce them by 260,000 actually, but we exceeded that. With this new product, we should be able to reduce further this year,” Nazri told reporters.

RHB shares rose four sen or 0.73% to RM5.54 yesterday, bringing it a market capitalisation of RM22.2 billion.

(The Edge Financial Daily) Hong Leong, OCBC raise base rates after OPR hike

BY SANGETHA AMARTHALINGAM

KUALA LUMPUR: Hong Leong Bank Bhd and OCBC Bank (M) Bhd, and both their Islamic subsidiaries, will raise their base rate (BR) by 25 basis points or 0.25%.

In a statement, OCBC and OCBC Al-Amin Bank Bhd will raise their BR from 3.83% to 4.08% starting Feb 2. At the same time, their base lending rate (BLR) and base financing rate will also be raised by the same quantum from 6.76% to 7.01%.

“Similarly, all fixed deposit board rates will also be increased by 0.25% on the same day,” it added.

Meanwhile, Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Islamic Bank Bhd’s BR/Islamic BR, as well as fixed deposit rate/fixed deposit-i rate would be raised today.

The same can be expected for its loans and financing, based on the BLR and Islamic financing rate that would also go up by 0.25%.

Both OCBC and Hong Leong said the rate adjustments were in line with Bank Negara Malaysia’s overnight policy rate (OPR), which was raised by 25 basis points to 3.25% from 3% last week.

(The Edge Financial Daily) ‘Lowering housing loan interest hides market problems’

BY AHMAD NAQIB IDRIS

KUALA LUMPUR: The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) said the suggestion to lower the interest rate on housing loans by the government would hide the issues faced by the local property market.

The proposal was made last Thursday, the same day that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced a 25 basis points hike in the overnight policy rate (OPR) to 3.25%.

“Artificial lowering of the interest rate will hide the fact that a speculative wave and a supportive credit policy took place, and will result in further supporting [of ] the growth of a market which probably reached its saturation a few years ago and, therefore, now has to experience a readjustment crisis,” said IDEAS senior fellow Dr Carmelo Ferlito in a statement yesterday.

He said the interest rate is a price that communicates the present or future orientation of economic factors, which helps participants coordinate their plans without the need for any central coordinating authority or coercion. He went on to say that the fixing of interest rates by a monetary authority leads market participants to make the wrong choices.

“The world economy experiences the strange situation where, even in those countries where the central role of prices emerging from the free market forces interplay is understood, one of the key signals for the economic system, the interest rate is centrally fixed by a monetary authority. Such a system easily drives market participants towards wrong choices,” said Ferlito.

He said the best solution to mitigate speculative investment and malinvestment — such as what happened in the Malaysian property market — would be to abolish political power and the central bank’s authority over the interest rate and leave it to market forces.

“Only in this way, investment decisions would be based on a signal consistent with the inter-temporal preferences of market participants,” he said.

Last Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi proposed the reduction of interest rates of housing loans to ease the burden of homebuyers, which was discussed at a committee meeting on housing issues.

Ahmad Zahid said the high interest rate was among the reasons behind the 3,605 unsold housing units in the RM250,000 to RM500,000 range last year. Based on a comparative study, he said Malaysia’s interest rates are in the mid range among the developed and developing countries.

Besides the issue of interest rates, the committee also discussed the temporary suspension of new housing projects valued at RM1 million and above, issues surrounding the People’s Housing Project and BNM’s proposal to develop integrated databases and implement centralised initiatives for affordable homes.

(The Star) New connection to Pontianak

KUCHING: Sarawak has a new flight connection to a regional destination with the introduction of Indonesian airline Wings Air’s Pontianak-Kuching route.

The inaugural flight, carrying a full load of 72 passengers on an ATR 72-600 aircraft, landed at Kuching International Airport at noon.

The aircraft was greeted with a water salute while passengers received a traditional welcome.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the new flight would help to meet Sarawak’s expectations of increasing the number of tourist arrivals this year, along with recent new routes.

“In the past month we’ve seen new flights coming to Sarawak. On Dec 27, we had the first flight from Shenzhen to Kuching as well as Singapore to Bintulu.

“We will continue to improve connectivity in efforts to develop the tourism industry in Sarawak,” he said after presenting bead necklaces to Wings Air passengers.

Abdul Karim also said the new Pontianak-Kuching flight would boost tourism and economic opportunities between Sarawak and West Kalimantan.

“Many Indonesians come here for health tourism, so we hope to increase the number of visitors besides promoting our tourist attractions.

“At the same time, Pontianak is an important gateway to Indonesia. With this new flight, visitors from Sarawak can travel to other cities in Indonesia via Pontianak,” he said.

Indonesian consul-general in Kuching Drs Jahar Gultom said the new flight increased the connectivity between Pontianak and Kuching, giving more access to Sarawakians and Indonesians to visit each other.

“Xpress Air and AirAsia are already serving this route, showing that airlines see a strong relationship between Sarawak and Indonesia,” he said.

Noting that both Sarawak and West Kalimantan recorded an increase in tourist arrivals from 2015 to 2016, he hoped the new flight would boost tourism cooperation between the countries.

Wings Air flight operations director Capt Redi Irawan said Kuching was the airline’s first international destination.

“This is a special occasion for us. Kuching is our 107th destination, after 106 domestic destinations in Indonesia.

“After this, we plan to fly from Pontianak to Miri,” he said.

Wings Air is a low-cost airline under Lion Air Group.

There are flights twice a day from each destination.

Flights depart Pontianak at 9.45am and 6pm while the planes leave Kuching at 7am and 11.55am.


Monday, 29 January 2018

(NST) Local property market continues to self-correct: Knight Frank Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s property market is expected to remain sluggish in the first six months of the year, leading property consultant Knight Frank Malaysia said.

The firm also said while the recent property freeze may provide a breather to the oversupplied markets, it is not expected to correct the oversupply situation in the short to medium term.

“The property market will continue to self-correct as it looks to find its equilibrium, Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said in its latest research report “Real Estate Highlights for 2nd Half of 2017” released today.

The report looks into the market performance across the various property mix namely residential, office and retail, and highlights the trends and outlook in key markets of Malaysia namely Kuala Lumpur, Klang Valley, Penang, Johor Bahru and Kota Kinabalu.

The firm said the market continued to be weak in the second half of last year with oversupplied position in the main sub-sectors such as high-end residential, office and retail.

“Amid flagging demand ahead of the upcoming general election, overall market performance is expected to remain lacklustre going into the first half of 2018,” Subramaniam said.

He noted that the second half of 2017 continued to see developers shifting their focus to the middle-income and affordable housing segments to cater to a wider target catchment amid challenges in the high-end market.

As for the tenant-favoured office market, there is mounting pressures on occupancy and rental levels as the increasing high supply pipeline continue to overshadow low absorption.

Meanwhile, despite the current challenges in the retail industry, Knight Frank Malaysia said the mid to longer term prospect remains positive as more retailers embrace the concept of “clicks and mortar” amid the e-commerce boom.

Owners and mall operators, meanwhile, continue to undertake asset enhancement initiatives to reposition their assets in the changing retail landscape.

Knight Frank Malaysia’s highlights of the second half half 2017:

Kuala Lumpur high-end condominium market

* Secondary market pricing and rental remained flat during the review period.

* Despite the weak market sentiment, sequels to selected projects were launched at higher pricing but with more discounts.

* More developers diversifying their target market to other overseas countries/territories such as Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan following China’s capital control.

* The 50 per cent tax exemption on rental income amounting up to RM2,000 a month as announced under Budget 2018, may improve demand for this category of investment properties.

Kuala Lumpur and beyond Kuala Lumpur (Selangor) office markets

* The office market continues to self-correct as increasing supply shadows low absorption.

* Negative absorption of KL office space following downsizing and consolidation of the oil and gas and its related sectors.

* Demand for MSC-certified space remains resilient.

Klang Valley retail market

* Recent completion of 0.78 million sq ft net lettable area of retail space brings Klang Valley’s cumulative supply to 57.4 million sq ft per capita, analysed at seven sq ft per person, one of the highest in the region.

* Growing e-commerce market sees more retailers embarking on “click and mortar” concepts.

Penang property market

* The office-sector continues to remain relatively healthy with both occupancy rates and rentals holding steady.

* The condominium sub-sector is still consolidating while the retail sub-sector is expected to face further challenges with additional incoming supply poised to come into the market in 2019.

Johor Bahru property market

* Some developers are postponing new residential project launches whilst clearing existing stocks by offering attractive discounts and incentives.

* Notable developments and catalytic projects in other sectors such as the Coastal Highway Southern Link, Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex and Golf Course in Desaru Coast are expected to help support the growth in residential, commercial and retail sub-sectors in Iskandar Malaysia and Johor, in general.

Kota Kinabalu property market

* The high supply pipeline of residential properties, particularly high-rise units from recently completed and soon to be completed projects is expected to exert pressures on the capital and rental market.

* There is no new incoming supply of purpose-built office, and the market has plateaued with overall occupancy hovering at a healthy level.

ends