Tuesday, December 30, 2008

RM300m Lancang stem cell centre

KUANTAN: A stem cell research and treatment centre will be set up in Pahang next year.

The RM300 million centre in Lancang, Temerloh, will conduct stem cell transplants on rabbits to study and provide an alternative form of treatment for diseases.The centre will have an animal research laboratory, a closed-colony rabbit farm, stem cell culturing facilities and medical treatment area. It is a joint project by Pahang Bioscience Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Pahang Technology Resources Sdn Bhd -- a state owned agency -- and BCRO Stem Cell Transplantation Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of US-based Bio-cellular Research Organisation (BCRO).

At the launch of Pahang Bioscience here yesterday, BCRO Stem Cell Transplantation executive director, Amir Ismail, said Lancang was an ideal site for the centre because of its "essential natural environment".

Pahang Bioscience and International Islamic University Malaysia also signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a clinical research initiative on "Fetal Precursor Stem Cell".The clinical research will focus on four diseases which do not have a cure.

They are AIDS, Down's syndrome, diabetes and autism.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

LCCT in Labu part of Sime's Negri vision

LCCT in Labu part of Sime's Negri vision
By Kang Siew Li
Published: 2008/12/25

THE new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Labu, Negri Sembilan, is crucial to the development of Sime Darby Bhd's (
4197) Negri Sembilan Vision City to attract investment and facilitate economic development, says a senior official.He said the new LCCT, which would cost RM1.6 billion in construction alone, will promote economic activity, particularly in the construction industry, and create jobs."It will also bring infrastructure improvements to the surrounding areas, attract more tourists and the development of ancillary facilities such as cargo facilities and hotels," he told reporters at a briefing in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

The Negri Sembilan Vision City development is the second part of a bigger national development project called Central Vision Valley (CVV), which spans 415,000 acres. The first part is known as the Selangor Vision City."Sime Darby is the master planner for the CVV due to the fact that we are the biggest landowner in this area. Of the total 415,000 acres in the CVV, 80,000 acres belong to Sime Darby," the official said.

The group expects to complete the development of the two vision cities by 2025."Being a massive development (CVV), we need to attract regional investors. The primary target is the Asean region with a population of 600 million, and the secondary target is the Asian market with a four billion population."That's why the LCCT is an integral catalyst to the overall development because we've got to bring in all these visitors from all over the region," he said.

Where the catalyst for the Selangor Vision City is the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, the official said, the new LCCT will be Negri Sembilan Vision City's.The Negri Sembilan Vision City, covering 13,000 acres, comprises six property components. They are the Nilai high-tech park, the 500-acre Bandar Gemilang - an affordable housing township, a healthcare and wellness city, an educity, a sports city, the KLIA East@Labu and a tourism and entertainment area, which will be anchored by a waterfront resort development."

Eventually, we hope to have a direct access road from the KL International Airport (KLIA) main terminal building to the KLIA East@Labu, a distance that is slightly longer to the existing LCCT."We also hope to be able to extend the express rail link (ERL) from KL Sentral to KLIA East@Labu. And there is a possibility of creating another KTM Komuter stop at the Sepang Circuit and onwards to KLIA East@Labu," the official said."However, all these proposals are still at the conceptual stage," he added.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

EPF consortium likely to buy government land around KL

EPF consortium likely to buy government land around KL

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — The Employees Provident Fund could end owning three of the best pieces of real estate in the Klang Valley — and in the process boost government coffers by several billion ringgit.

Government sources told The Malaysian Insider that an EPF-led consortium is a cusp away from snaring the 204 acres in Jalan Cochrane while the EPF with its unmatched financial muscle is the clear favourite to buy a tract of land at the sought-after Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia in Sungai Buloh and Jalan Ampang.

In November, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the government would be monetising some of its assets, including pieces of valuable real estate. For a start, government-owned land in Jalan Cochrane, Sungai Buloh and Jalan Ampang would be placed on the market.

This news created a buzz in the market because the land in Jalan Cochrane and Sungai Buloh has been eyed by prominent politicians and well-connected businessmen for years. Property consultants have valued the three pieces of land at between RM8 and RM12 per square foot (Sungai Buloh); RM150 and RM250 (Ampang) and RM100 and RM200 (Jalan Cochrane).

In a recent article in the Edge Financial Daily, a few property developers gave the Cochrane land the thumbs-up for its location and size, expecting the land value to increase to RM250psf if it is parceled into smaller plots while several others favoured the Ampang Hilir land, noting its proximity to the exclusive U Thant area puts a premium on this tract.

Government sources said that the EPF and several property players including MRCB have submitted a master plan to the government to develop the Cochrane area. With crude oil price hovering around US$50 per barrel and the drop in palm oil price, the government's ability to collect revenue will be severely challenged in 2009.

At the same time, the government will have to spend more and consider launching more stimulus packages to boost domestic demand and cushion the impact of the global economic crunch on the Malaysian economy. Faced with these twin challenges, the administration is looking at monetising its assets to raise funds. Property developers have valued the three pieces of land at about RM3 billion.

Analysts: AirAsia clear winner in LCCT relocation

Analysts: AirAsia clear winner in LCCT relocation
By Kang Siew Li
Published: 2008/12/23

AirAsia Bhd (
5099) is expected to emerge as the main beneficiary from the move to set up and operate a new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) in Labu, Negri Sembilan, due to potential savings from lower airport charges, say analysts.

On the flip side, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) stands to lose the most, with some analysts estimating the airport operator could forego as much as RM175 million in aeronautical revenue per year.AirAsia shares rose as much as 3.8 per cent to an intra-day high of RM0.965, before closing unchanged at RM0.93 yesterday, after the government on Friday gave its nod to the new LCCT by conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd and AirAsia.MAHB shares closed up three sen or 1.4 per cent to RM2.23.

A source close to the matter told Business Times that AirAsia could grow its business faster by having its own airport."The carrier has been growing its business successfully with passenger numbers increasing by double digits each year. However, it could have grown at a significantly faster rate were it not for the limitations on capacity at the current LCCT (which can only handle 10 million passengers)," the source said.

It is understood that the LCCT in Labu could also be ready earlier than MAHB's proposed expansion plans in Sepang."It takes much longer for MAHB to move its permanent LCCT plan forward because it is dependent on the government for funds. However, that won't be the case for the new airport in Labu since it is a private sector-driven initiative," the source added.

OSK Research Sdn Bhd analyst Ng Sem Guan sees AirAsia as the clear winner from the latest move."AirAsia may bring down the cost of running the new airport based on its low operation costs model, but with current budget passengers already enjoying lower passenger service charges (PSC) and passenger service security charges (PSSC) from MAHB, we are doubtful that the quantum of savings will eventually be passed on to the passengers," he wrote in a report yesterday.

On top of that, AirAsia also enjoys various incentives in the form of lower or free landing and parking fees for introducing new routes."Thus, the new airport may not necessarily result in significantly lower cost although we would rather think that the company may continue to lower operating costs similar to the previous years," said Ng, upgrading AirAsia's fair value to RM0.93 and its recommendation to "neutral" from "sell".The AirAsia group (comprising AirAsia Bhd, Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia and AirAsia X) is currently the major user of the present LCCT-KLIA (in Sepang), having carried 7.6 million passengers last year, a combination of domestic and international traffic."As the figures are likely to exceed 10 million (passengers) this year or later next year, and continue to grow by double digits based on (AirAsia's) aggressive aircraft purchases, we estimate that MAHB may lose as much as RM80 million in revenue solely on PSC and PSSC," Ng said, adding that the number would be greater if landing and parking charges were included.

Ng believes the airport operator will not merely sit back and will seek government compensation if the new airport in Labu is to be operated by AirAsia upon completion."While there is no immediate impact on MAHB's bottomline in the near future as the new airport is only expected to commence operation in February 2011, this may eventually affect the company's long-term cash flow if the operation rights are loosened."In addition, there are still many uncertainties surrounding the new proposal by Sime Darby Bhd and AirAsia (to run the new LCCT), and we think this may negatively affect market sentiment on MAHB and investors may switch to value the immediate profitability," said Ng, downgrading MAHB to "neutral" with a fair value of RM2.39.

Aseambankers Malaysia Bhd senior analyst Khair Mirza expects MAHB's earnings to dip in 2011 and 2012 by over 20 per cent at the EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level with the opening of the new LCCT."Based on the estimated 10 million passengers at the existing LCCT in 2008 and a 50:50 split between international and domestic passengers, we estimate the loss of LCCT to MAHB's revenue to be RM125 million from passenger service charges, and about RM50 million from aeronautical charges," Khair said in his report yesterday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tenders to extend RapidKL LRT may be out in Q1

Tenders to extend RapidKL LRT may be out in Q1
By Sharen Kaur
Published: 2008/12/22

Key players like UEM Builders, IJM Corp, YTL Corp, Ho Hup Holdings, and Loh & Loh Construction are expected to bid

SYARIKAT Prasarana Negara Bhd (SPNB), a unit of the Ministry of Finance Inc, may call for tenders to extend the RapidKL Light Rail Transit (LRT) system by as early as the first quarter of next year. The LRT covers two lines, namely the Ampang Line (previously, Star LRT) and Kelana Jaya Line (formerly Putra LRT). The assets are own ed by SPNB.

The tenders, worth over RM1 billion, is for
track and civil works,
fare collection, and
systems work involving
power supply,
signaling and
communication, industry players said.

Under the plan, the Ampang line will be extended from Bukit Jalil to Puchong, heading towards Subang Jaya, and linking up to the Kelana Jaya line.

The extension will involve
32km of double track and
around 24 new stations, a source said.

Currently, the Ampang Line runs from Ampang to the city centre, and then from Sentul Timur towards the National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil, while the Kelana Jaya Line starts from Terminal Putra Gombak up until Kelana Jaya."The extension will allow for a more complete integrated rail network.

The project may be government-funded or implemented through private finance initiatives," the source added.

Key players like UEM Builders Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, YTL Corp Bhd, Ho Hup Holdings Bhd, and Loh & Loh Construction Bhd are expected to bid.

It is learned that low-profile railway engineering firm Global Rail Sdn Bhd will make submissions for the systems work, in collaboration with its foreign technology partners. It is eyeing a portion which is worth RM80 million.

The government is also expected to pump prime part of the RM500 million allocation under the RM7 billion economic stimulus package announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on November 4, to kick-start the project.The allocation will also cover KTM Bhd's requirement for new three-car electronic multiple unit sets to cater for the Klang Valley. KTMB has 60 sets now, but only half can be used. It needs 112 sets."Tenders for the train sets are under evaluation as the government is looking at an option to lease the trains to reduce its capital investment on the assets," the source said.The tenders or lease options will attract manufacturers from Korea, China, Japan and Europe.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Air Asia's own airport

Sunday December 21, 2008
AirAsia: We can give better deals with own airport

AirAsia’s budget fares will go even lower with at least a 15% reduction in prices when the airline’s proposed low-cost terminal opens in Labu, Negri Sembilan, in February 2011.
A senior AirAsia official said the airline’s plan was always to look for a cheaper venue to lower costs as it was paying about RM100mil in airport fees yearly to Malaysia Airports Bhd.
“We have been looking for another place for a long time, whether it was to buy or build a new airport,” he told The Star yesterday.

The official said the current terminal in Sepang was only a temporary measure as it could comfortably handle only 10 million passengers yearly. “By March next year, it would reach 15 million. AirAsia needs an airport that can handle more than 15 million by 2011,” he said.

The Cabinet on Friday gave the greenlight for the new RM1.6bil airport to be developed under a private finance initiative between conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd and AirAsia on a 2,800ha plot in Labu, which is between Nilai and Bandar Enstek.

The new terminal will be large enough to handle some 15 million passengers yearly and will feature a wider array of shops as part of an integrated city in Labu, comprising five townships and facilities for education, health, sports, high technology and entertainment.

Closer to the nation’s capital than the current low-cost carrier terminal, a 7km link to the North-South Expressway was also slated to be built, along with an Express Rail Link to KL International Airport. “We will provide shuttles between the main terminal and LCCT. The road and rail links between KLIA and the new LCCT would also be privately financed,” he said.

The AirAsia official said the cost of operating the new airport would be lowered by incorporating advanced technology and it being run privately. “The airport will be built entirely by us. The latest technology and better retail facilities will mean more money. More money will mean lower airport tax and fares.”

Asked if MAB would be involved in the deal, the official said MAB was not involved in the project but did not discount the possibility that it would be made a shareholder. According to him, the proposal was brought up by Sime Darby in the first place as they wanted an airport in the centre of a large development project – to turn the area into an Asean community hub.

Sunday December 21, 2008

MALACCA: There is a need to expand the current low-cost carrier terminals (LCCTs) or set up new ones in the country to cater to the anticipated rise in the number of passengers flying budget airlines. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said this was because the current facility in Sepang would not be able to handle the sharp rise in the number of passengers that is expected to hit almost 30 million by 2014.

Malaysia Airports Bhd (MAHB) had its own plans to extend its existing low-cost carrier terminal, with the possibility of building another one, he said. “Even so, it would only be able to cater to some 15 million passengers by 2014,” he told reporters here after attending a closed-door dialogue session with state MCA leaders yesterday.

Ong was asked whether the proposed RM1.6bil joint venture between Sime Darby and AirAsia, to develop the KLIA East @ Labu new low-cost carrier terminal in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, would be redundant. The new airport is to be built on a 2,800ha area located between Nilai and Bandar Enstek and will be larger than the current LCCT in Sepang. “The question of redundancy does not arise with regard to the need for such facilities as the homegrown LCC such as AirAsia and AirAsia X have breached their 10 million-passenger mark,” he said.

Based on statistics, it is anticipated that by span >2014 there would be some 27 million budget travellers per annum.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sime plans mega project,12,000ha

Friday December 19, 2008
Sime plans mega project,12,000ha multi-themed scheme to kick off next year
The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: SIME Darby Bhd will carry out a massive development project at the Negri Sembilan-Selangor border covering some 12,120ha, with the first launch expected next year.
The development will be based on five themes – health, education, sports, hi-tech and recreation – and will be located at its present Labu and Tanah Merah estates. Each theme will be developed as an integrated city and the cities will be interconnected.

The first to be launched next year will be the Medical City, which will encompass training colleges, a medical centre of excellence, teaching hospitals and even housing units built for the elderly and infirm.

“We will even invite other medical companies, especially international ones, to set up their facilities in this city.

“We will also be building a nurses training centre to produce 15,000 nurses a year,” said Sime Darby president and chief executive Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid. He was speaking at a media briefing to announce that the Goverment had agreed in principle to Sime Darby’s proposal to buy up to 51% of IJN Sdn Bhd, which operates the national heart institute, Institut Jantung Negara.

Zubir said a second IJN would be built at the Labu Medical City which would also see four other “centres of excellence,” including one for cancer treatment. He said the five cities would be like “multiple Subang Jaya(s),” which was also developed by Sime Darby.

On the purchase of a majority stake in IJN, he explained that it made sense because the group’s healthcare division’s long term plan was to set up several centres of medical excellence. However, he stressed that “it was not yet a done deal” as due diligence of IJN had yet to be done. He also denied that IJN made more money than Sime Darby’s medical services business.
“Last year IJN made RM20mil while (Sime Darby’s) SJMC made RM25mil. This is a marriage and not a takeover. The synergy from this win-win situation is tremendous,” Zubir said.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gamuda Q1 net profit falls 38pc

Gamuda Q1 net profit falls 38pc
By Sharen Kaur
Published: 2008/12/18

GAMUDA Bhd (5304) , Malaysia's second-biggest builder by market value, said its first-quarter net profit fell 38 per cent due to slower construction activities and weaker profits from its property division.Nevertheless, Gamuda expects earnings for the remaining three quarters to remain stable due to its existing order book.Managing director Datuk Lin Yun Ling had warned that profits in the first quarter will dip as projects get delayed.Although higher income from its Middle East projects will offset any drop in turnover, it will not help earnings because of low margins from the foreign jobs, he said on Tuesday.

Its net profit for the quarter to October 31 2008 was down to RM55 million from RM88.1 million in the same period a year ago.Revenue was also down 27 per cent to RM614 million.Gamuda said profit fell because of slower construction activities, led by the RM12.5 billion electrified double-tracking project as the authorities in Penang were slow to hand over land.Gamuda should have been given over 95 per cent of the total land instead of 61 per cent since the project started.It said the project faces a potential delay because of this.

In addition, sales of certain commercial parcels to investors at its RM8 billion to RM10 billion central district project in Hanoi, Vietnam have been delayed due to difficulties in obtaining financing.

It also said it is still in negotiations with Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand for a new tariff agreement which will take into account the increase in construction cost due to the delay in project implementation by the client.

Contribution from its water-related and expressway concessions was also lower than previously.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Exports weakening Shipments likely to decline well into next year

Monday December 15, 2008
Exports weakening Shipments likely to decline well into next year

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s exports are expected to decline well into 2009 after a dismal performance in October which saw the effects of falling consumer demand kick in. “The sharp reversal in merchandise exports, from a 15.1% year-on-year increase in September to a 2.6% contraction in October, suggests exports in November will slump further,” an economist said. He said the gloomy outlook was also premised on the forecast that demand in recession-hit developed economies would take a “deeper-than-expected hit”. Malaysia’s exports in October fell 2.6% to RM53.5bil from a year earlier, the first decline in 15 months.

The economist forecasts about a 5% drop year-on-year in Malaysia’s exports in November and sees further contraction going into 2009 as the full impact of the slower global growth takes its toll on the country’s exports.

CIMB Research chief economist Lee Heng Guie concurred. “It will not be good,” he said. For next year, Lee said he expected exports to contract up to 3% year-on-year against the Government’s forecast of 1.5%. “We are likely to see a more pronounced price effect of the commodity fallout in the first half of next year, coupled with continued sluggish demand for electrical and electronics (E&E) products due to reduced consumer spending.” he said.
Year-to-date, the E&E exports were the country’s top revenue generator, accounting for RM217.8bil or 38.5% of total exports. Palm oil and palm oil-based products were second with a combined value of RM56.3bil, or 10% of total exports.

Meanwhile, the sentiment among export-oriented local industry players appeared to be mixed, according to observers. An industry source noted that certain major multinational corporations (MNCs) such as Intel, Dell and Motorola used local E&E-related companies as their main materials and equipment suppliers.
This could mean these companies are highly dependent on MNCs.
“If the economic crisis becomes worse, there will be a drastic reduction in demand. Equally important is the possibility that future investments or re-investments would also come to a halt,” he said.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

2 get nod in principle for Bakun, cable jobs

2 get nod in principle for Bakun, cable jobs
Published: 2008/12/04

Malaysia has given approval in principle to Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Sarawak Energy Bhd to carry out the Bakun Dam and undersea transmission projects, Energy Commission chairman Datuk Pian Sukro said.

Pian spoke at a luncheon organised by Citi Investment Research in Singapore on Monday."However, given the slower demand outlook now, first transmission from Bakun is now expected only by 2015 instead of 2013," Citi analyst Ng Yong Yin said in a report yesterday.In addition, there are plans to govern the electricity supply industry under one ministry or under one body.This will help facilitate a smoother and faster administration.

"The governance of the electricity supply industry is fragmented, with several ministries and government agencies overlooking different but related segments of the power industry."For example, the Economic Planning Unit approves new power projects and independent power producers (IPPs) and the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (to whom the Energy Commission reports) overlooks energy efficiency, tariff and capacity planning," Ng said.

The government is also unlikely to reintroduce the windfall tax. The tax had been a way to prompt contract renegotiations between the IPPs and Tenaga.The Energy Commission will now lead any renegotiation of power purchase agreements, if any.Malaysia's spare power capacity, currently around 40 per cent, will rise to 47 per cent next year when new plants in Jimah and Port Dickson, both in Negri Sembilan, are commissioned.

Bina Puri to build Unimas buildings

Bina Puri to build Unimas buildings
Published: 2008/12/04

Bina Puri Holdings Bhd has signed a deal with Variasi Baru Sdn Bhd to carry out the construction of buildings for Universiti Malaysia Sabah (Unimas) for RM161.6 million.

The buildings include a lecture hall and a student centre. Work is due to be completed in 30 months, it said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia. Bina Puri now has orders worth some RM2 billion.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

SEGi: Slowdown will not hamper student intake

SEGi: Slowdown will not hamper student intake
By Zuraimi Abdullah
Published: 2008/12/03

SEG International Bhd (SEGi) (9792) is confident that student intake at its campuses will not be hampered by the slowing economy.Main-board listed SEGi now has over 18,000 students at its six campuses and has projected the number to hit 20,000 in 2009.Its president Datuk Dr Patrick Teoh said the company has also not dropped plans to build a hospital. "It is still something in our wish list. But there are a lot of things to be done."

SEGi chief operating officer K.C. Lee said it is in the process of developing the curriculum for its medical and healthcare courses."This work alone should easily take one to two years," he said.Lee said education is typically the last sector to be affected by an economic downturn."Education is different from many other sectors. During the economic slowdown, people will cut spending on many things but not education," he said.

Teoh and Lee spoke after the signing of a lease agreement with Tirai Prospektif Sdn Bhd in Kota Damansara yesterday.SEGi is leasing two of the three Cova Villa apartment blocks from Tirai Prospektif for three years initially.The apartments will house some 2,100 students from SEGi's flagship campus, SEGi University College, in Kota Damansara.The campus began operation in June last year with a capacity for 12,000 students. It should have 4,300 students by the end of 2008 before rising to 7,000 next year, Lee said.

Meanwhile, Tirai Pros-pektif director Othman Merah said the whole Cova project should rake in a gross development value of RM340 million. Besides Cova Villa, the project also includes a Cova Square commercial centre and Cova Suites condominiums.Cova Square has been completed, while Cova Villa and Cova Suites are due in January and by September next year respectively.The Cova development is owned by the Andaman group, while Tirai Prospektif is its sales and marketing agent.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

AZRB wins RM115m complex job

Published: 2008/12/02

Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd (AZRB) has won a RM115.64 million contract to design, build and operate a maternity specialist complex at Kuala Terengganu Hospital.
The contract was given by the Works Department, the company told Bursa Malaysia in a filing yesterday. Works for the complex are due to start on December 18 and be completed on December 14, 2011.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Works to modernise Subang airport impress ICAO

Published: 2008/12/01

THE International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) council has given the modernisation works at Subang airport, Selangor, the thumbs up during a technical site survey visit of the airport.Speaking during his recent visit to Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the 45th Conference of Directors General of Civil Aviation, Asia and Pacific Regions, ICAO president Roberto Gonzalez said SkyPark Subang Terminal has all the modern trappings of an international world-class airport for a community airport of this size."I am impressed. SkyPark Subang Terminal is heading for glory as a destination discerning travellers would enjoy," he said.Gonzalez was given a full technical site survey of both the SkyPark Subang Terminal and the new corporate jet fixed base operation SkyPark FBO Malaysia.

Also present were Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) managing director Datuk Seri Bashir Ahmad and senior general manager of corporate planning, Datuk Mahat Samah."SkyPark FBO Malaysia is also one of the finest and largest I have seen for a fixed base operation," Gonzalez added.SkyPark Subang Terminal will be a new dominating landmark at the refurbished Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang when it rolls out a new design that accentuates the airport as a modern and contemporary icon under an urban rejuvenation programme."The overall goal is to transform the airport, maximising on assets through design intervention, into a vibrant destination point for travellers," said Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Ravindran Menon.The main infrastructure of SkyPark Subang Terminal is being refurbished at RM40 million, while refurbishment by the tenants is estimated at another RM5 million."The refurbishment is geared to cater to the initial 2.5 million passenger traffic anticipated in 2009. We are working closely with MAHB to meet passenger expectations and delights," said Ravindran.SkyPark Subang Terminal is made up of Skypark FBO Malaysia, corporate aviation facilities and community airline facilities.The refurbishment works of SkyPark Subang Terminal are slated to be completed early next year.

KEB nears RM4.5b loan deal for highway project

KEB nears RM4.5b loan deal for highway project
By Azlan Abu Bakar
Published: 2008/12/01

Kumpulan Europlus Bhd (3565) is close to securing a RM4.5 billion loan from a group of banks to build the West Coast Expressway (WCE), which links Banting in Selangor to Taiping, Perak. "The current weak global economy has affected efforts in getting the money earlier," a company official said, declining to disclose further details.However, it is unclear if KEB will get to keep the highway. The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) declined comment when contacted.On November 12, EPU director Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob said the WCE could be re-tendered as the consortium involved had failed to secure financing in time.

It was reported that the WCE would cost around RM3 billion. However, the fact that KEB wants to borrow a lot more could be due to the rise in cost of raw materials.KEB's 60 per cent subsidiary, Konsortium LPB Sdn Bhd (KLPB), was awarded the WCE concession on May 25 2007.KLPB's other shareholders are Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd and Putera Capital Bhd, each holding a 20 per cent stake.

Construction work on the 250km highway was supposed to start last June."We have already checked the status of the highway project with the Works Ministry and were told it has not been cancelled," the company official said when contacted by Business Times.Phase 1 which involves the stretch between Tanjung Karang and Banting was targeted to be completed by 2011, while Phase 2 that involves the stretch between Taiping and Sabak Bernam is initially scheduled to begin in 2010 and completed by 2013.The highway will run parallel to a stretch of the North-South Expressway.Under the concession agreement, the WCE will be built and tolled by KLPB for 33 years before the highway is transferred to the government.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Putera Capital bidding for RM9b local jobs

By Zurinna Raja Adam
Published: 2008/11/29

DESPITE its status as a financially-troubled group, Putera Capital Bhd (2895) has bid for construction jobs worth about RM9 billion in Malaysia.The group, which had its first restructuring proposal rejected by the authorities, is awaiting response to its second revamp plan."If all goes well, than we can embark on these projects with our strategic partners," chief executive officer Wan Azman Wan Salleh said after the group's annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.However, he declined to comment further on the revamp plan.

The group has not made money in seven years and it faces the threat of having its shares taken off the stock exchange.For the financial period ended May 31 2008, the group posted a loss of RM9.2 million on revenue of RM1.5 million.Putera Capital has closed its loss-making textile division and it wants to focus on the construction and infrastructure business.

It holds a 20 per cent stake in the West Coast Expressway, a multi-billion-ringgit project that has yet to take off.On its partnership with Melewar Industrial Group Bhd to build a proposed RM2.2 billion monorail system in George Town Penang, Wan Azman said the group remains hopeful of the project.They are still waiting for a response from the state government, he added.

Sime Darby posts 44pc surge in Q1 net profit

By Rupinder Singh
Published: 2008/11/29

SIME Darby Bhd (4197) , the world's largest listed palm oil producer, said first quarter net profit jumped 44 per cent but it halved its full year earnings forecast due to lower palm oil prices and concerns of an economic slowdown.It now expects net profit for the year ending June 30 2009 to reach RM1.9 billion, from its initial target of RM3.7 billion.Chief executive officer Ahmad Zubir Murshid said the current year will be "very challenging", as global economic growth is expected to weaken significantly.

The lower full year earnings is based on the assumption that CPO price is traded at RM1,700 per tonne, he told reporters after announcing the company's results in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.Currently, CPO price is about RM1,500 per tonne or about half the average CPO price of RM2,962 per tonne which the group realised for the quarter ended September 30 2008."The sharp decline in CPO prices and the current economic uncertainty are expected to adversely affect the performance of the plantation, property and motors divisions," it said.

For the first quarter, net profit to September 30 rose mainly because of higher palm oil prices.Operating profit from the industrial division was also up by 39 per cent, but profits from the property division fell by 30 per cent.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Parking and Putrajaya

1. I got a parking summon near Parcel B in Putrajaya recently.
2. Parking woes in some parts of Putrajaya has been well known for at least two years. By some parts, I mean the EPU, MOT, MOHE areas. I remember in 2006 when I went to JPA to enquire about students scholarship, there was not a single parking space in the complex. Then I saw an empty space left vacant by a bus and I park there. Before long I was involved in an exchange with a very rude security guard.
3. JPA staff then told me stories of difficulties by people especially sickly pensioners who had to walk form the road side to Jabatan Pencen. But this was in 2006. It may not happen now.
4. MOT - almost all my colleagues who went there complained of not only lack of parking space, but rudeness of security guards. The cars in the underground park are double parked, almost without order.

5. The question that keeps haunting me as I drove back from Pj to KL that day was - what have PPj done to alleviate these parking problem. It seems to be getting from bad to worse.
6. My simple suggestion is just build two six-storey car park blocks; one near Parcels B and C and another one near D and E. These four blocks are the most visited. The car park blocks can be half underground and clad in Moorish architecture to blend in with the prevailing design of existing buildings.
7. But of course Perbadanan Putrajaya (PPj) has other ideas and tied by the policies of the government. PPj wants to have a 70:30 ratio of public to private mode of transport. So they have introduced "park and ride" and they have mentioned "Putrajaya Sentral" when I called up.
8. If I knew that Putrajaya Sentral and park and ride existed and running well, I would certainly opt for those. Are there signboards or gantries telling me how to go Putrajaya Sentral, like what they did for KL Sentral? I normally enter Pj through Maju Expressway. There is one little sign that says "park and ride", then nothing. Can we have a logo of Putrajaya Sentral posted on signboards going back as far as immediately after Maju Expressway exit?
9. People like me has to go to Pj for obvious reasons. It's not that I like to go there. The comparison may be unfair, but look at Genting Highlands and how they provide car parks. For another example, look at Ampang Jaya Council - they converted every available space in commercial areas into parking lots. Now if I opt to park on non-parking areas, I am truly recalcitrant and deserve to be issued a ticket. But when there was no available pakling lots in the vicinity, and still I got the ticket, it's only natural that I muttered "all you know to do is to issue parking tickets".
10. Putrajaya is a beautiful city. When people in Berlin were rebuilding their city, some of them told our city planners that "we want to beat your Putrajaya". Putrajaya by itself is a world class benchmark. Let us keep it that way.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pahang-Selangor water transfer hangs in balance

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 – The Pahang-Selangor water transfer project hangs in the balance over the question of whether the Malaysian government or Japan has the final say on which consortium is awarded the lucrative contract to bore a 45km tunnel through the Titiwangsa Range. At stake also is a RM2.5 billion soft loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the Cabinet and officials from the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications are resisting attempts by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency to influence the choice of the successful bidder for the contract. Government officials have been tight-lipped about the behind-the-scenes wrangling but Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum’s comment in Parliament last week gave a hint of the seriousness of the issue.
When asked to give an update on the soft loan from Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the status of the water transfer project, he remarked: “Malaysia is a sovereign country and will not sell its dignity and name…the government already has plans if the money is not channelled to us due to certain reasons.”

Checks show that three bids for the project were received from: Shimizu-Nishimatsu-UEM-IJM; Taisei-HRA Teguh and Kajima Construction. From the start, the government made it clear that tender for the water transfer project should be a benchmark for open tenders in the country. The Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications came up with an international competitive bidding scheme to select a international consultants who would scrutinise the bids. It is understood that two of the bidders submitted conditional bids.

Under the international tender process, any company or party that submits a conditional bid should be disqualified. This is because the price quoted in the conditional bid could change substantially. For example, the lowest bidder for the 45-km tunnel job submitted a conditional bid that was based on a particular rock strength of the tunnel. But independent reports obtained by the government suggest that the rock strength is higher than what the cost estimates are based on.

As such, the government believes that it could be saddled with a variation order of several hundred million ringgit if it awards the contract to the consortium with the lowest bid.
It is in favour of awarding the contract for the project to the company which had submitted the second lowest bid, which was also the only bidder who did not submit a conditional tender.
But JICA is insisting that the contract be awarded to the lowest bidder.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Cabinet was briefed on the stand off and supports the decision of the Energy, Water and Communications ministry to award the contract to the second bidder.

A government official told The Malaysian Insider: “The terms in the bid documents state clearly that we are not bound to accept the lowest bid but must take into account all factors in the tender. Accepting a conditional bid could be disastrous for the government. Based on our research, there is every chance of a variation order between RM200 million to RM400 million.” It is understood that the difference between the lowest and second bid is RM150 million. JICA has apparently asked the government to negotiate with the party with the lowest tender and get them to remove the “variable component” of the bid.

Government officials believe that going down this path could lead to suits by the two other companies that took part in the tender process. The reason: there is a clause which states that no party can alter, correct or withdraw anything from their bid documents once it has been opened and evaluated.

So the standoff continues. But it is learnt that government officials are willing to forego the Japanese loan. “This is an issue of sovereign rights. Malaysia will be a joke if we have a open tender but don’t follow the rules of the game.” It is unclear how the government plans to raise the RM1.5 billion for the tunnel project if the loan falls through.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Malaysia to start giving out RM600m jobs soon

Published: 2008/11/25

By March 2009, about 80 to 90 per cent of the people-centric infrastructure projects will have been awarded to contractors, says the Implementation Coordination Unit

THE government will, from next month, start awarding to contractors RM600 million worth of small infrastructure projects identified under the RM7 billion economic stimulus package.Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, director-general of the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU), said the projects are people-centric, involving the building of basic infrastructure such as roads, jetties and drains.As such, he said, it is vital that they be implemented immediately."Speed is of the essence. You're talking about stimulating domestic growth, so it's very urgent that the projects are implemented fast.

"I'm determined to see part of this RM600 million kick off in December," Khalid said in an interview yesterday.He anticipates that by March next year, about 80 to 90 per cent of these projects would have been awarded to contractors.The ICU, which falls under the Prime Minister's Department, has specifically been tasked to ensure implementation of these projects."We're talking about a vigorous pace of implementation. So perhaps after December, January, February, all these projects must be awarded by this time. Then only you get the effect," he said.Projects will be awarded in several ways, including procurements, tenders and quotations, he added.

Malaysia to start giving out RM600m jobs soon

Published: 2008/11/25

By March 2009, about 80 to 90 per cent of the people-centric infrastructure projects will have been awarded to contractors, says the Implementation Coordination Unit

THE government will, from next month, start awarding to contractors RM600 million worth of small infrastructure projects identified under the RM7 billion economic stimulus package.Tan Sri Khalid Ramli, director-general of the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU), said the projects are people-centric, involving the building of basic infrastructure such as roads, jetties and drains.As such, he said, it is vital that they be implemented immediately."Speed is of the essence. You're talking about stimulating domestic growth, so it's very urgent that the projects are implemented fast.

"I'm determined to see part of this RM600 million kick off in December," Khalid said in an interview yesterday.He anticipates that by March next year, about 80 to 90 per cent of these projects would have been awarded to contractors.The ICU, which falls under the Prime Minister's Department, has specifically been tasked to ensure implementation of these projects."We're talking about a vigorous pace of implementation. So perhaps after December, January, February, all these projects must be awarded by this time. Then only you get the effect," he said.Projects will be awarded in several ways, including procurements, tenders and quotations, he added.

Contruction boom is over for Dubai

Published: 2008/11/25

DUBAI:The United Arab Emirates (UAE) began to bail out and consolidate Dubai's rattled banking sector and curb a building frenzy yesterday as the former boomtown started cutting state spending in the face of the global crisis. In a major policy shift, the federal government will inject capital into Emirates Development Bank, a newly created rescue vehicle preparing to absorb merging Islamic lenders Amlak and Tamweel. And in what marks the end of an era for Dubai, Mohamed Alabbar, a member of the emirate's ruling council, said the emirate would now pare its construction ambitions back in anticipation of waning demand after spending the past five years building as much property as fast as possible. He assured investors the Gulf's regional financial hub of Dubai was able to meet its sovereign obligations. - Reuters

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Changi wins 6-year Saudi contract

Changi wins 6-year Saudi contract

Published: 2008/11/19

Changi Airports International Pte, a unit of the owner of Singapore’s main airfield, said it won a S$65 million (US$43 million) contract to operate and manage an airport in Saudi Arabia, its second success in the Middle East.The agreement to run the King Fahd International Airport for six years is the largest it has won in terms of value, the Singapore-based company said in a statement yesterday. Changi Airports beat nine competitors in a bidding process that started in June, it said. - Bloomberg

Blogger's note : That's USD7 million a year to run an airport.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Malaysian builders plan RM11b China development

Malaysian builders plan RM11b China development
By Hamisah Hamid
Published: 2008/11/18

A GROUP of Malaysian builders plans to build commercial and residential properties with development value of up to RM11 billion in Shenyang, China.The consortium signed a memorandum of understanding with the Shenyang Province authorities in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.A special purpose vehicle, known as Shenyang-Malaysia Development Sdn Bhd (ShenMas), has been formed to undertake the conceptual planning, land acquisition, funding issues and feasibility studies.The project will take place in the Shenyang Finance and Trade Development Zone (SYFTD).

The proposed development, themed "Modern Islamic Lifestyle", is expected to be completed within five years.ShenMas executive director Datuk Lim Kim Wah said a definitive agreement was expected to be signed in June next year."The project is expected to start by the end of next year. We will form a consortium and Bina Puri will be one of the companies," he told a news conference after the signing between ShenMas and the Administrative Committee of Shenyang Province.At the signing, ShenMas was represented by its chairman, Senator Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng, and the Shenyang authority, by vice-director of SYFTD administrative committee, Sui Zhong Qing. The signing was witnessed by the Economic Planning Unit's head of special unit for overseas project, Tan Sri Zaini Omar, and the Chinese embassy's head of mission, Gu Jing Qi.

The project will be developed on a 17.96ha site in one of the most centralised Muslim community living areas in China.Shenyang is the capital city of Liaoning Province. The province is located south of northeast China, which has about 100,000 Muslims.Lim, who is the former group chief executive officer (CEO) of Bandar Raya Development Bhd and Magnum Corp Bhd, said that about 30 per cent of the commercial properties will be sold to foreigners and the rest to locals when the development is completed.

Meanwhile, Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM) managing director and CEO Datuk Dr Adnan Alias said he did not expect any problems in financing the project.He said the project will use syariah-compliant financing. To date, AmInvestment Bank Group and CIMB Islamic Bank Bhd have issued letters of support for the project.IBFIM is the syariah adviser to the proposed development.The project was made possible because of the close rapport between the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall (KLCAH) and the Shenhe district authority in Shenyang.In August this year, the KLCAH organised a trip to Shenyang, which was led by Adnan.The Shenhe authority said it chose the Malaysian group instead of groups from Singapore and Hong Kong which had approached the authority to develop the land because of Malaysia's leadership in the international Islamic finance sector.

Monday, November 17, 2008

GOVT looking at assets to raise revenue

Malaysian Insider
Government looking at assets to raise extra revenue

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 - Desperate times call for unusual measures of raising revenue and drumming up investment. This appears to be the mantra of the Economic Council as it readies the country for slower growth and tougher times, and revisits areas and policies long considered sacred.

For a start, the government is:
# Surveying all the assets it owns – lands, shares in government-linked companies, infrastructure – and assessing which can be monetised.
# Planning to overhaul the Malaysia My Second Home programme to make it easier for foreigners to buy property here. It is also considering allowing those with professional qualifications and above 50 years old to work on a part-time basis. In this way, Malaysian industry can benefit from the skills and knowledge of some of these foreigners who have settled here under the programme.
# Going to make it easier for knowledge workers and their spouses to obtain permits to work in Malaysia. This move will address the lack of talent in several fields including biotechnology which has held back the inflow of investments from abroad.

The Economic Council, which consists representatives from the Cabinet, public sector and corporate captains, was set up a few months ago to come up with strategies to cushion the impact of the global economic turmoil on Malaysia. The 40-member council met yesterday to discuss the state of the economy and structural changes that the country needs to make.
The Malaysian Insider has learnt that the Finance Ministry is conducting an audit of assets that it owns or has a stake in. This will not be the first time that the government is mulling the possibility of raising cash by disposing of its assets. In the past, senior government officials also raised this possibility but it was shot down by more conservative elements who argued that there was little need for such a drastic approach given the steady flow of revenue from Petronas and other sources of growth.

But with crude oil prices slumping, revenue from palm oil likely to be flat and the budget deficit slated to become the highest the in the region at 4.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the administration has little choice but to generate revenue from idle assets.
In the stimulus package unveiled by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week, the government said that it would develop several tracts of land in Sungai Buloh, Jalan Cochrane and Jalan Ampang Hilir. Under this plan, private developers or government-linked companies can bid for parcels of land and then develop it according to a masterplan for the whole area.

Only after the first parcel has been developed, will the government consider selling or leasing the second parcel, presumably at a much higher price than the first parcel. At a roundtable discussion organised by The Edge last week, Datuk Azman Yahya, a member of the Economic Council, said that the government should have a listing of the assets it owns.

“Monetising these assets means many things… it could include selling and leasing back of buildings, sale of property or through leases, you know…It also can be done in a way that the government does not lose ownership in the long run,’’ he said.

Apart from land, the Finance Ministry, Khazanah Nasional and Perbadanan Nasional Berhad also own stakes in companies and government-linked companies including Sime Darby, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Maybank.

RM350m boost for Danga Bay

RM350m boost for Danga Bay
By Sim Bak Heng
Published: 2008/11/17

Johor Baru's iconic development at the Danga Bay will be given another boost with a marina, an international convention centre, a boutique hotel, a budget hotel and an office block scheduled to be completed by 2011.

Announcing this yesterday, Datuk Lim Kang Hoo of Limbongan-Ekovest Management Sdn Bhd, the project manager of Danga Bay, said the company has pumped in RM350 million for this latest development which will take place mainly at the existing sites of the International Restaurants and the Bay Leaf Restaurant.The project, once completed, is set to transform the waterfront into both a business and recreational hub.He said the marina development could provide berthing facility for about 250 yachts, making it the largest marina in Johor and the nearest to the Johor Baru city centre.Boasting strategic location and competitive pricing, this development, scheduled for completion by middle of next year, is set to become a new spot for international sailing boats.

It will stretch for 500 metres along the seafront."Level One of the existing double-storey International Restaurants will be transformed into a Marina Club with a bistro. Level Two and a piece of land just beside the building will be the site of a 60-room boutique hotel offering lifestyle accommodation for tourists with a taste for class."This seafront boutique hotel is the first of its kind in the south. It will be ready in two years."To make Johor Baru a convention hub in the south, we are transforming the existing Bay Leaf Restaurant into a three-hall Bay Leaf International Convention and Exhibition Centre with a capacity for 3,600 people."Also to be featured at the convention centre are meeting rooms, seminar rooms, VIP rooms and a mini-theatre. It is expected to be ready by next January," he said.

Another project coming up at Danga Bay is a 120-room Tune Hotel, a budget hotel, which will be built next to the existing Danga Bay sales office.Following land acquisition as a result of coastal road construction, a multi-storey car park with a capacity for 1,000 vehicles will be built at the existing Celebration Square. An office block to house Danga Bay Sdn Bhd's corporate office will also be built in the vicinity.Danga Bay is a Johor privatisation project involving the state government's development arm Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor which is the landowner, and the developer Danga Bay Sdn Bhd.It is jointly managed by Ekovest and Pembinaan Limbongan Setia Bhd.To be developed in phases over 15 years, the massive project covers over 562ha of waterfront land at the estuary of three rivers - Sungai Danga, Sungai Skudai and Sungai Melayu.

Builders: Don’t make us wait

Builders: Don’t make us wait
By Ooi Tee Ching
Published: 2008/11/17

Late payments in construction jobs may be a thing of the past as contractors are pushing for Parliament to pass a law to ensure faster payments and quick resolution of disputes.
Currently, although payments should be made within 30 to 60 days, which is the industry practice, it is often not the case.Contractors are now worried that as the economy is expected to slow further, they may have to wait longer for their money.They are now banking on the Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication (CIPA) Bill. Unfortunately, the draft, which was given to the Attorney General's Chambers in early 2007, has not made its way to Parliament.

Clients like government agencies and property developers, architects, engineers, and surveyors have all given their backing.However, the Bar Council, which is not a direct stakeholder in the construction industry, has yet to give its consensus.

"We've initiated this in June 2003 but until now the Bill has yet to be presented to lawmakers in Parliament," said Master Builders Association of Malaysia president Ng Kee Leen.Payment default is still a major problem because payment terms are usually on credit rather than on delivery. This means payment will be made after a certain period, after work is done.Ng said it is ironic that Malaysia has world-class construction standards and yet "mundane" things like timely payments are still not being practised.

"When there is late payment, projects are delayed, squeezing profits along the way. In the case of financially weak contractors, they may face bankruptcy," he told Business Times in an interview."Chronic problems of late and non-payments affect the entire delivery chain of consultants, contractors, building material suppliers, transporters and financiers. A rough calculation will show claims running up to billions of ringgit," he said.On average, construction jobs run into the millions and span over three years. With each progress payment involving big sums, Ng said the enactment of the CIPA Bill is vital to protect contractors' interests."This law will help to minimise payment defaults via timely and cost-efficient recourse to adjudication," he said.

Similar laws are already in practice in the region. Among them are Australia's Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002, New Zealand's Construction Contracts Act 2002 and and Singapore's Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2004.In a separate interview, Malay Contractors Association, representing some 7,000 Bumiputera contractors, strongly support the CIPA Bill to be enacted as soon as possible.The association secretary general Datuk Osman Abu Bakar said traditionally payment disputes have been resolved via arbitration.Although the intent of arbitration was for a fast, cheap and binding resolution, the reality is different."A typical arbitration on construction dispute could take from a year to five. Payment disputes are rarely solved in less than a year," he said.

The CIPA Bill provides for contemporaneous resolution via adjudication within 14 to 42 days.Pending enactment of the CIPA Bill, the association appeals to banks and financial institutions not to take drastic action against Bumiputera contractors."Credit lines are vital to facilitate completion of construction projects. We appeal to the banks to be more understanding," he said.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why China's Stimulus Plan Will Change the World

Why China's Stimulus Plan Will Change the World
By Bill Mann and Tim Hanson
November 12, 2008

Brazil's President Lula told his country in September, "People ask me about the [financial] crisis, and I answer, go ask Bush. It is his crisis, not mine."

Fifty days later, British Treasury Secretary Stephen Timms told a conference of G-20 nations gathered in Sao Paulo, Brazil: "We are in extraordinary times, the global economy is facing shocks which are wholly without precedent and we need a new approach. … It is a global crisis. It therefore requires an international response."

In other words, what goes around, comes around. Global schadenfreude toward a stupid and greedy United States and its subprime mortgage meltdown has rapidly become global concern about how to rescue the world from an all-encompassing financial disaster. Here's just a smattering of companies large and small that recently announced lowered outlooks for the year: Under Armour (NYSE: UA), News Corp. (NYSE: NWS), Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Vodafone (NYSE: VOD), Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS), ADP (NYSE: ADP), and Hormel (NYSE: HRL). (Yes, in these tough times, even the outlook for Spam is grim.)

And if that were not enough, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently lowered its outlook for the entire global economy.

One country's plan to step up
Against that backdrop, China announced a 4-trillion-yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package for its domestic economy this past Sunday. It plans to fund extensive infrastructure construction, aid poor farmers, and cut export taxes.

While China's plan has clear beneficiaries, and should help keep more laborers in their jobs and prop up domestic consumer spending, the most important (and underreported) aspect of the plan is how it will fundamentally change the economic relationship between the U.S. and China.

Here's how it was
One of the big debates over the past half-decade was whether China had reached a point in its economic development at which its internal economic gravity would allow it to "decouple" from the global economy. If so, it could continue along its fantastic growth trajectory, even as growth in the U.S. or Europe ceased or reversed.

That may sound like gobbledygook, but it's important. The U.S. has a $20 billion monthly trade deficit with China. It's funded by China's willingness to hold U.S. treasuries in its Central Bank (essentially, we're borrowing the money). China manages the arrangement by pegging its currency (the yuan) to the dollar at an artificially low rate, and by not worrying so much about certain niceties like environmental regulation and labor protection.

It's a mutually beneficial arrangement -- a weak yuan supports Chinese exporters, helping the country industrialize and quickly integrate rural migrants into its urban workforce, with the salutary effect of keeping inflation and potential political unrest low. For its part, the U.S. has gotten dirt cheap financing, by virtue of China parking more than a trillion dollars in U.S. government securities. That has supported the dollar and allowed the Federal Reserve to fuel consumer spending by keeping interest rates low.

China's stimulus package heralds the unwinding of this relationship.

Here's how it will be
This is why the decoupling argument matters. Many analysts have pointed to the thousands of factories that have shut down in China in these past few months as evidence that a slowdown in American spending will cause a depression in China -- potentially even leading to regime change. But in fact, our trade imbalance with China is artificially preserved by the aforementioned currency peg, and by the decision of China's state-run banks to make uneconomic loans to businesses it deemed worth propping up.

China has paid heavily for this relationship. Rather than invest its surplus cash in its own country, the Chinese poured money back into the U.S. to further spur our debt-fueled consumption. (Put less artfully, some poor Chinese guy in Shaanxi province was essentially helping you pay your mortgage.)

The announced stimulus package reverses that. Hundreds of billions of dollars that would have gone to propping up the greenback are now being reinvested in China, helping it to transition from its reliance on exports to a self-sustaining economy. So while China isn't yet decoupled from its export markets, this new spending plan will help it along that path.

What you need to do to survive China's huge currency reserves are about to be put to use, and while there will be some real and perhaps severe bumps along the way, the China that comes out on the other side will be a heck of a lot stronger, more independent, and more decoupled than the one we've seen up to now.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao called his country's stimulus the "biggest contribution to the world." We don't know whether that's true, but we do know that China's ability to reach deep into its huge coffers to finance further growth gives it a significant advantage over the rest of the world's struggling economies. This is why we continue to believe in the Chinese miracle, and why we think more American investors should be taking advantage of this current temporary downturn to diversify their portfolios into previously expensive Chinese stocks.

We've recommended some Chinese companies at our Motley Fool Global Gains service that can help you do just that. A few of them are now poised to profit mightily from China's domestic bailout plan. You can read all about them by clicking here to join Global Gains free for 30 days.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

West Coast Highway shelved

The RM3.12 billion West Coast Highway project has been shelved as the consortium involved failed to secure financing in the stipulated time.
The Talam/Europlus Bhd consortium had been awarded the project to build a 250km road linking Taiping in Perak to Banting in Selangor."We will probably need to re-tender because the company offered the job could not finalise the deal as the financial (part was not done) in time, which is after almost 15 months," Economic Planning Unit (EPU) director Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob said yesterday.He was speaking at a question-and-answer session at the briefing and panel discussion, "Towards Sustained Economic Growth to Counter the Global Economic Slowdown", in Kuala Lumpur.On the Selangor-Pahang water transfer project, Sulaiman said that tenders were being called. - Bernama

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

IJM set to ride on pump-priming measures

Wednesday November 5, 2008

IJM set to ride on pump-priming measures

SUBANG: IJM Corp Bhd sees potential of replenishing its present order book of RM4.6bil as governments around the world pump prime their economies.

“Apart from putting money directly into the people’s pockets via tax reduction and rebates, governments will stimulate construction activities. If that happens, there will be more construction projects,” managing director Datuk Krishnan Tan said after the company EGM yesterday.

IJM will continue to scout for opportunities in its existing markets including India, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. “We’re talking about 66,000km of roads to be created in India and only 13,000km of that had been completed. The key is the availability of funding.
Private participation will be difficult because of scarcity of cash, so it must be via government spending,” Tan said.

The Middle Eastern countries were likely to maintain their level of investments as “they’re still making a lot of money with oil price at US$70 per barrel,” he added.

“We have a fairly sizeable order book of about RM4.6bil and a chewing rate of RM200mil per month. Our businesses are still very strong even if there is margin comprehension issue relating to construction.”

While domestic fuel prices have been re-adjusted and steel prices come off from almost RM4,000 per tonne to RM2,850, prices of other materials like cement have seen little change.
Prices of oil, bitumen and cement in India were unchanged, hence keeping pressure on margins, he said.

Meanwhile, Industrial Concrete Products Bhd (ICP), a subsidiary of IJM which provides pretensioned-spun concrete piles and ready-mixed concrete for Malaysia, India and China, is enjoying relatively strong pricing. Tan said demand for concrete piles and ready-mixed concrete was still positive, driven by regional port expansions and major infrastructure works. However, if material prices were to dip, ICP’s pricing would have to decline too. “We don’t think there will be major impact in margins as it’ll be driven by reduction in input cost,” he added.

Given the credit tightening in various markets that the group operates in, IJM may see a delay in payments for its construction jobs. “So far, we have not seen the situation (of delayed payments) but, considering that liquidity may be an issue in some of our markets going forward, I won’t be surprised if we see a level of difficulty in some of our clients,” Tan said.
Contractors were usually the first to be hit by credit tightening, he said, given that the construction sector tended to be a high risk one.

“We are very careful with whom we deal and, therefore, we do not see defaults as far as payments are concerned but we can expect some delays,” he said, adding that progress of existing construction projects, however, would be on schedule. Building material transactions in India, meanwhile, were mostly in cash, hence limiting payment risks, Tan said. Meanwhile, the group’s property segment may delay launches for medium-cost housing in the cities due to pressure on disposable income.

Yesterday, IJM secured shareholders’ approval to proceed with the privatisation of ICP. It is offering to buy the remaining ICP shares it does not own via a combination of cash and issuance of new IJM shares. As at Monday, it had already increased its ICP stake to 83.9%. Today is the deadline for ICP shareholders to accept IJM’s offer.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

IJM remains a sell: Research

IJM remains a sell: AmResearch

Published: 2008/10/29

The research firm also revises the construction group's target price to RM2.60

IJM Corp could be hurt by an accident at its building site in India last week, raising uncertainty on the project, AmResearch says. The stock remains a "sell" at AmResearch, which revised the target price to RM2.60.IJM Corp fell five per cent to close at RM3.04 yesterday, after losing 64.7 per cent this year. This compares with a 42.4 per cent fall in the benchmark Kuala Lumpur Composite Index this year.IJM, which has substantial projects in India, last Friday said an accident occurred at one of its building projects in Bangalore. IJM was awarded the civil work contracts worth an equivalent of RM99 million in March 2006.

"Management revealed that the project is insured under the comprehensive 'Constractors All Risks Insurance Policy and Third Party Liability Policy'," AmResearch wrote in a note to client yesterday. "Nevertheless, we believe sentiment on the stock could be further weighed down by lingering uncertainties surrounding the project's status and any subsequent delay in work flows," AmResearch said. It maintained the construction firm's profit assumptions pending further updates from IJM.

An unexciting earnings outlook, weakening order flows and rising concerns over the tight balance sheet are likely to keep IJM's shares valuation compressed at fiscal 2010 and 2011 forward price-earnings ratio of between eight and nine times, AmResearch said.Its earnings forecast for IJM in the next two years are 18 to 29 per cent lower than consensus estimates.IJM's foreign shareholding level also remains relatively high at more than 20 per cent, the research said.Malaysian shares with high foreign shareholding are more vulnerable in the current bearish market as overseas investors tend to sell emerging market assets to bring money home or switch to safer investments.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marubeni gets Malaysian order for 30 train cars

Marubeni gets Malaysian order for 30 train cars
Published: 2008/10/28

TOKYO: Marubeni Corp, the Japanese trading house that is helping build a rail tunnel under the Bosporus strait, has won a RM240 million order for 30 train cars from Malaysia, the Nikkei newspaper said here.

The cars will be used on a new 180km rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, Nikkei reported without saying where it got the information.
Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp and South Korea's Hyundai Rotem Co will manufacture the cars for delivery by 2010, the newspaper said.
None of the companies were available for comment. - Bloomberg

Blogger's Note: RM240/30=RM8mil per car

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Global crisis will slow UEM's growth

UEM: Global crisis will slow growth
By Zaidi Isham Ismail
Published: 2008/10/23

INFRASTRUCTURE and property group UEM Group Bhd expects slower growth in the months ahead because of the global economic slowdown.Managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Pardas Senin said, however, that UEM Group, which has up to RM5 billion worth of projects in the country and overseas, will not be severely affected by the crisis although slower growth is expected."We don't feel the impact just yet, but there will definitely be slower growth."But our projects in Iskandar Malaysia and India are proceeding as planned," Ahmad Pardas told Business Times at the group's Hari Raya gathering in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The diverse group, which has interests in construction, property and highways, among other sectors, controls UEM Builders Bhd, Pharmaniaga Bhd and UEM Land Bhd, which is expected to be listed by month-end.UEM Group in turn is wholly owned by government investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

On the second Penang bridge, Ahmad Pardas said the group was still awaiting word from the government on any new development.The government last month withdrew the second bridge concession awarded to the group.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scomi aims for more monorail jobs

Scomi aims for more monorail jobs
By Marina Emmanuel
Published: 2008/10/22

The company is preparing technical and financial proposals for Bangalore as well as looking at monorail systems for Patna and New Delhi

SCOMI Engineering Bhd, which won its first overseas job for a monorail system in Mumbai last week, is eyeing two more Indian cities for monorail projects worth RM4 billion over the next two years.Scomi Group Bhd's senior vice-president of group marketing, Kanesan Velupillai, said the company is looking at Bangalore in the state of Karnataka and Patna in Bihar.It is also believed to be looking at a monorail system for New Delhi."We are working concurrently in preparing technical and financial proposals for Bangalore.

"The technical proposal is expected to be submitted to the Bangalore Metro Rail Corp (which oversees the implementation of metros and monorails in Karnataka) by next week, while the financial proposal should be sent by the end of November," Kanesan told Business

According to Kanesan, Scomi was invited to work with Indian Railway Construction Co (Ircon) on a feasibility study for the implementation of a monorail system in Patna following the working visit of India's Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to Kuala Lumpur in May this year."The feasibility report should be ready by the middle of next year," Kanesan said.

Apart from the Indian subcontinent, Scomi has also set its sights on Nigeria.Kanesan said the company has sent an advance team to Nigeria to work on an accelerated implementation and execution plan for a monorail system in Lagos."The plan is to be completed and submitted by the end of November," he said.

Scomi's new-generation monorail, employing the Scomi Urban Transit Rail Applications technology, will be featured in all the overseas monorail projects.Each car can carry 142 passengers, and each train will have four to six cars.On the feasibility study Scomi is undertaking for a monorail system in Hanoi, Vietnam, Kanesan expects it to be completed by the end of next month. "The next phase for Vietnam will be to carry out a detailed project report for implementation," he said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Funds to buy undervalued stocks raised to RM10bil

Tuesday October 21, 2008
Funds to buy undervalued stocks raised to RM10bil
Malaysia ideal as hub for international dispute resolutions

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has doubled the amount of money available to buy undervalued stocks to RM10bil and will also continue with its spending to boost the country’s economy. Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that these two moves were part of the Government’s plan to ensure that the economy would not be affected by the global financial crisis caused by the meltdown of banks in the United States. “The country is not in a financial crisis and we certainly should not talk ourselves into one,” said Najib during his keynote address at the Khazanah Megatrends Forum yesterday.

However, he warned that the country should brace for a lower economic growth next year in view of the global slowdown.
Among the measures Najib touched on were:
> INJECTION of RM5bil to double the size of Valuecap Sdn Bhd that was set up by the Government in 2003 to invest in undervalued companies;
> REVIEW of some foreign investment committee guidelines to make it more attractive for foreign investors, especially in the property and commercial sectors;
> LIBERALISATION of the service sector to attract more investment and generate more local employment;
> RE-PRIORITISING projects with focus on those that can be implemented expeditiously and with high economic multiplier effects; and
> STRENGTHENING of small and medium-scale enterprises through new initiatives by financial institutions and access to special Bank Negara funds.

Najib, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said he would give more details in Parliament on Nov 4 during his Budget winding-up speech. On Valuecap, Najib said the funds were being pumped in given the current opportunities for value investing. “The stock market has many fundamentally strong companies. Many companies are presently trading at attractive valuations, creating opportunities for value investing.”

On re-prioritising projects, Najib said some “lumpy projects” with little economic multiplier effects could be postponed but promised that the Government would continue with its spending.
“The planned expenditure for 2009 will continue and there will be no financial cutbacks. This position was agreed upon by the National Economic Council executive council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.”
He said short-term measures to tackle external financial turmoil should not come at the expense of the country’s long-term development and global competitiveness. Najib also slammed the West who “incessantly lectured and hectored us to adhere to their advice (10 years ago during the Asian financial crisis).” “Ironically, they have now unfortunately failed to live up to their own high standards of lending and regulatory functions they had expected of us,” said Najib.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Transhipment cargo rise drives Malaysia port development

12 May 2008
Transhipment cargo rise drives Malaysia port development
By Huang Seeda
Kuala Lumpur

Despite strong competition, Malaysian ports, driven by strong growth in container transhipment traffic, are continuing to expand. Transhipment accounts for about 50 per- cent of Malaysian ports' total container trade.

At the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in Johor - the country's largest container port with a throughput of 5.4 million TEUs last year, up 14.5 percent over 2006 - is adding four berths to the existing 10, which will enable it to handle 12 million TEUs by 2011. Construction works for berth 11 and 12 will begin soon and are expected to be completed by the second quarter of next year while building of berths 13 and 14 will begin next year and be completed by the first quarter of 2010.PTP chairman Mohd Shaik Osman said: "The total cost of the expansion plan, which will also involve the construction of container yards and installation of equipment, will be about US$126.9 million."

PTP expects to see a surge of throughput this year with the port's recent signing of an agreement with Malaysia's top shipping company, MISC, for the setting up of a joint venture company so MISC vessels can use the port. PTP will hold a 70 percent stake in the venture and MISC the balance. MISC will become the third major shipping line to use PTP as their hub in the region following Maersk and Evergreen's move to PTP in 2000 and 2002 respectively. MISC said that the agreement would benefit the shipping company greatly.

"Besides being within Iskandar Malaysia, which promises a growing hinterland cargo, PTP is also strategically located at the confluence of the world's shipping lanes; and this is a crucial factor for our transhipment operations.''PTP chief executive officer, Harun Johari, said that the deal would contribute towards PTP's rapid growth and enhance the port's connectivity by at least 20 percent.

In central Malaysia, Port Klang, in the state of Selangor, comprises Westports and Northport. The two ports together handled a combined container throughput of 7.2 million TEUs in 2007, compared with 6.3 million TEUs a year earlier. But taken individually, PTP remains the top port, with Westports handling 4.34 milllion TEUs in 2007, a growth of 18 percent, and Northport 2.86 million TEUs, up 7.5 percent on 2006. The two Klang Valley ports were planning to merge but so far no decision has been reached. Westports executive director Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said: "Westports continues to show strong growth in throughput and we expect to become a five-million TEU port by year-end." Westports handled a record 1.16 million TEUs in the first quarter of this year, up 19 percent year-on-year. Transhipment business reached 730,101 TEUs, a 13.6 percent year-on-year growth. Westports has embarked on a $253.86 million three-year expansion plan which includes construction of two additional berths to beef up annual capacity by 30 percent from the existing six million TEUs to eight million TEUs. The new berths will be able to accommodate 13,400 TEU vessels.Northport posted a strong 17 percent growth in the first quarter of this year to 730,452 TEUs compared with a year ago.Northport managing director and chief executive officer Basheer Hassan Abdul Kader said: "We are confident the growth will be sustained since we are also witnessing a surge in regional transhipment. New feeder networks are also contributing towards more transhipment." Northport has allocated $185.64 million for a three-year expansion, which includes the re-development of a multi-purpose berth into a dedicated container terminal.

On the eastern seaboard of Peninsular Malaysia, Kuantan Port handled 127,600 TEUs in 2007, up two percent over 2006. In January and February, the port recorded a throughput of 22,009 TEUs, up 13.49 percent over the same period last year.Kuantan's goal is to transform itself into a megaport with the building of container berths with a 14 km quayline and draught of 18m as well as constructing a 120 hectares container yard, said managing director Wong Soon Fah of port operator Kuantan Port Consortium.

Penang Port, which operates a 900m container terminal handled 926,000 TEUs last year, up nine percent over 2006. The port aims to handle over one million TEUs this year.

In East Malaysia, Sabah container ports, comprising facilities at Tawau, Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, handled a total 268,000 TEUs in 2007.

Malaysian firm in US$2b Kerala port project

Malaysian firm in US$2b Kerala port project
By Kamarul Yunus
Published: 2008/10/20

Pembinaan Redzai, which has some 40 per cent stake in Westports Holdings, will develop an international container transshipment hub with India's Lanco group

A CONSORTIUM comprising India's Lanco Group of Companies and Malaysia's Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd has secured a US$2 billion (RM7 billion) deal to develop the Vizhinjam International Transshipment Terminal Port in India.Last month, the Kerala state government issued a Letter of Intent to Lanco, and the licence agreement for the project is expected to be signed next month.In a statement, Lanco said the licence agreement will be signed between the Kerala state government and the Special Purpose Company (SPC) to be incorporated by the Lanco-Pembinaan Redzai consortium members.The Kerala state government will hold a 24 per cent equity stake in the SPC, while the balance equity will be held by the consortium.

Lanco said the port project was awarded to the consortium of Lanco and Pembinaan Redzai after the Indian government formally granted the security clearance to the consortium earlier last month.Pembinaan Redzai owns some 40 per cent stake in Westports Holdings Sdn Bhd, the holding company for Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd that runs Westports at Port Klang.

The Vizhinjam port project involves the development of an international container transshipment port. The port was put on tender by the Kerala state government in August last year. In February this year, Pembinaan Redzai teamed up with Lanco to submit a bid for the port project, along with four other consortium bidders.The project is envisaged to be developed in four phases, with an ultimate capacity of 6.5 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). The port will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, equipment and highest industry service standards.Lanco said the project has distinct advantages of being a transshipment hub, given its 15-18 metre natural draft and proximity to international sea routes.Lanco will commence preparation of a detailed project report and start the process of obtaining clearances for the project and financial closure, which is expected to take about 12 to 18 months.The construction activities will start thereafter in order to commence commercial operations of Phase 1 by end of 2012.The port, when developed, will attract a major share of the container transshipment traffic of India from the ports of neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore."Indian companies engaged in exports and imports will save substantial foreign exchange outflow, time, risks and transshipment costs at foreign ports," Lanco said.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

MMC may clinch US$5b Saudi job

MMC may clinch US$5b Saudi job
By Sharen Kaur
Published: 2008/10/16

The infrastructure group is awaiting the completion of the bid for an independent water and power project and will know the result by December

INFRASTRUCTURE group MMC Corp Bhd is in the running to win a US$5 billion (RM17.6 billion) independent water and power project (IWPP) in Saudi Arabia.Director and chief executive officer Hasni Harun said MMC is part of a consortium with a Saudi Arabian and an international firm that has been named preferred bidder for the project, which will have capacity to produce one million cubic metres (m3/day) of water per day and 1,100 megawatts (MW) of electricity ."We are close to completion (of the bid) and will know the result by December. We are now waiting for the financial close," Hasni told reporters after its shareholders meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. "Looking at the liquidity in the Middle East, we are quite confident that there are funds available in Saudi Arabia to make the project bankable," he added.

MMC and its two partners have an equal shareholding in the consortium that will hold a 25- to 30-year concession for the plant, which will take four years to build.The project follows MMC's achievements in power and water projects in the Middle East.MMC, via 51 per cent-owned unit Malakoff Bhd, has a concession in the 900MW and 1,030,000 m3/day Shuaibah IWPP in Saudi Arabia and a 200,000 m3/day seawater desalination plant in Algeria. It also has interests in Central Electricity Generation Co in Jordan and Dhofar Power Co in Oman.In July this year, it won exclusive rights to undertake a study to build a US$2 billion (RM7 billion) coal-fired power plant of up to 1,000MW in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates.MMC is tipped to win the Ajman job, subject to a technical and economic feasibility study it is undertaking.It is learnt that MMC will form a consortium to operate and maintain the plant for 20 years, which will contribute positively to its financial figures.

Meanwhile, Hasni said MMC's offer to acquire more than 50 per cent equity in Aliran Ihsan Resources Bhd (AIRB) for up to RM238.6 million will spearhead plans to bid for more lucrative utilities and infrastructure projects overseas, especially in the Middle East.AIRB is a Johor-based water treatment plant operator with 16 plants under its belt, supplying about 70 per cent of the state's water needs."The acquisition will be our spring board to hold more water assets. We may take some equity stakes, get involved in water treatment plants and form joint ventures," Hasni said.He said the acquisition is the first move by MMC to be involved in the water business domestically and will be a strategic fit.It will complement MMC's global power generation business, particularly in the Middle East and North African regions, where power project bidders are invariably required to provide water solution proposals in their bids."We intend to keep AIRB's listing status and grow the business in terms of size, people and market capitalisation," Hasni said.

MMC's debt stands at RM20 billion, of which RM1.3 billion comes from the holding company and another RM16 billion from subsidiary Malakoff Bhd.

About Me

A seeker of success (whatever that means) treading on a path, searching, to return to the wholesomeness that was him when he was launched into this big school called Earth.