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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Building on a flying startRelaxed laws

Building on a flying startRelaxed laws and advent of low-cost long-haul carrier spark hope of more foreign ownership

The foreigners are coming, and at least two prominent township builders are suiting up to welcome them as purchasers.

Recent relaxations of foreign ownership laws, the expected increase in tourist arrivals this year due to efforts by the Tourism Ministry and the evolution of AirAsia into the first lowcost long haul carrier in the region are the fodder TH Properties Sdn Bhd and Setia Haruman Sdn Bhd are feeding on to drive sales in their townships.

"The expansion of the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal(LCCT) in Sepang together with AirAsia's move into the long-haul sector should increase tourist arrivals to our shores," said TH Properties chief executive officer Syed Mohamed ibrahim.

"With the more liberalised package to attract foreigners to own a second home here (under the Malaysia My Second Home plan), I'm confident this increase will translate into better sale of properties."

Syed Mohamed pointed out that his township, the 5,116-acre Bandar Enstek, is "only eight minutes from the LCCT and 15 minutes from KLIA" and besides having lifestyle residential units, also contains educational, medical and commercial properties that would suit foreign requirements.

For Setia Haruman, developer of Cyberjaya, its chief operating officer Lao Chok Keang said the development is "poised to enjoy a spillover of foreign IT firms currently operating in india".
"Indian developers are now coming here to build ITcentres for their (foreign) clients who are expanding into Asia," he said (see sidebar).

"Their top choice is of course Cyberjaya as we have the most modern technological infrastructure in the country."

Lao said with the move, he expects the townships's foreign working population of 3,600-making up 20 per cent of the area's total IT workforce-to grow by another 1,200 by the end of this year.
To tap into their wallets, Lao said he is modifying some up-and-coming launches so that the products are "in tune with foreign tastes and expectations".

"We have converted some condo projects into upmarket villas to cater to middle-management individuals, priced between the RM300,000 and RM400,000mark," he said.
"For the top-management, they can choose from bungalow plots priced between RM75psf and RM80psf."

Lao said in india's IT hotspots such as Hyderabad and Bangalore, foreigners have had to put up with paying exhorbitant rents for old buildings that are often in poor state of repair.
"In Cyberjaya, however, they can look forward to occupying and even owning state-of-the-art property at a fraction of the price."

To educate both locals and foreigners on the offerings and incentives available in the township, he said Setia Haruman will be conducting an investment seminar in April.
"Locals should also consider investing in Cyberjaya as they will be able to rent their properties to foreigners who may not want to buy," Lao said, adding that returns of seven per cent is achievable for shop and condominium units and up to eight per cent for the villas.
Meanwhile, in Bandar Enstek, Syed Mohamed said the spreading of AirAsia's wings means "even middleclass Europeans who want to escape their country's cold winters can now own a home in a warm sunny country".

"We are extremely excited AirAsia has gone long haul, and we're already working with them for mutual benefit," he said.

Syed revealed that the first tie-up will take the form of a Tune Hotel in Bandar Enstek.
Tune Hotel was founded by AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes.
"I can say that we are in an advanced stage of discussion and are close to finalising the deal," said Syed Mohamed.

"Hopefully this will be the first of many joint endeavours between our two companies."

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