Hello Investors, Welcome to Johor Iskandar Investments!

Hello Investors, Welcome to Iskandar Investments!

Why Invest into Iskandar Johor?

– Warm ties between the Malaysia and Singapore governments after the settlement of the past KTM land issues has led to the exchanges of land parcels and the joint development of strategic land parcels between the 2 neighbouring countries.

Sep 12, 2011 – HomeGuru.com.my

Fund managers in Singapore see the enhanced bilateral relationships between Malaysia and the city state as the key driver of development in Iskandar Malaysia.

According to Quah He Wei, an analyst from HwangDBS Vickers Research Sdn Bhd, feedback from fund managers revealed that most of them would encourage their clients to invest in the region.

He added that the Singapore government has been asking its investors to look at Iskandar through initiatives such as Temasek Holdings’ joint venture (JV) with Khazanah Nasional Bhd to develop a “wellness township” in Nusajaya.

“About three week ago, we organised a field trip to Iskandar for the first time for more than 40 fund managers from the republic,” Quah informed the StarBiz.

He added that based on a survey, 53 percent of the fund managers approved the Iskandar’s development progress while 41 percent were neutral.

The survey also revealed that 64 percent would likely invest in Iskandar properties within the next two years and that 72 percent chose to acquire landed properties in Nusajaya, as the area can accommodate various major projects.

Quah noted that the quality and pricing of housing properties in Nusajaya were the primary attractions.

“But Nusajaya still lacks critical mass and investors are likely to come in only in 2012, which is the tipping point with the completion of the projects,” he said.

Situated in the southernmost part of Johor, Iskandar has a total land area of 2,217 sq km. The other four flagship development zones are the Eastern Gate Development Zone, Johor Baru City Centre, Senai-Kulai and Western Gate Development Zone.

– A proposed MRT link between Johor and Singapore, expected to be ready in 2018.

Fresh off the news on 23/5/2012 : For those wondering when the JB – SG Rapid Transit System (RTS) link will materialize, it just got one step further!

American urban planning consultancy company AECOM (NYSE: ACM) has been awarded with the US $42 million contract to look into plan and design of the proposed Rapid Transit System between Johor Bahru and Singapore. The huge contract was awarded by Malaysia’s Land Public Transport Commission and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority.

– The growth of Iskandar Corridor has created much international awareness.

A special report by HwangDBS Vickers Research, On Saturday 10 September 2011

During our recent site visit to Iskandar Malaysia, we drove around the project sites for EduCity, Medini, SiLC, Horizon Hills, Setia Eco-Gardens, and Johor Premium Outlet, and made stops at the state administrative centre in Kota Iskandar, Columbia Hospital, and Puteri Harbour sales gallery. We also met up with representatives from the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Iskandar Investment Bhd (IIB), UEM Land Bhd, S P Setia Bhd and Eastern & Oriental Bhd (E&O).

The feedback from fund managers was encouraging — 53% and 41% of our survey respondents were positive or neutral on Nusajaya’s development progress. Respondents were generally satisfied with the progress on infrastructure, security, foreign and private investments, government policies, awareness and marketing, and property prices. Fund managers rated infrastructure, security, and government policies as the top three factors required for Iskandar to be a success.

On security, IRDA highlighted that a Safety and Security Blueprint is in place and thecrime index had fallen by 21% and street crime by 47% compared with last year. Police manpower has been increased from 6,172 in 2007 to 9,115, and Iskandar now has five police districts compared with only three previously. An additional 273 mobile police vehicles and 12 mobile police stations have been deployed as tactical command centres in Iskandar’s five flagship zones — Johor Bahru City Centre, Nusajaya, Western Gate Development, Eastern Gate Development and Senai-Skudai).

We are encouraged that 64% of our survey respondents are keen to invest in Iskandar-related shares and properties within the next two years, of which 72% are interested in landed properties. Tourism should be a low hanging fruit as 67% of respondents would consider Iskandar as a weekend getaway, while 72% would likely visit the theme parks. The Johor Premium Outlet — the first Premium Outlet in Southeast Asia — should also be well-received based on our 89% positive response.

Some 49% of the fund managers are also interested in patronising Iskandar’s healthcare facilities. This concurs with our observation of the activity level at Columbia Hospital, which is positioned as a suburban/community hospital (41 beds). Since its launch in July 2010, Columbia Hospital has treated over 8,000 patients, of which 30% to 40% were foreigners. Occupancy rate is 80% to 90% and average length of stay is two days. This can be attributed to the scarcity of reputable private hospitals in Johor and relatively cheaper medical fees compared with Singapore (the single-bed room rate is only RM180 against S$498 (RM1,230) at Gleneagles Singapore). EduCity, however, needs more promotion (only 11% of respondents would consider sending their children there).

2012 tipping point on track

According to IRDA, committed investments in Iskandar Malaysia have reached RM76 billion as at 1H11 (about 59% from foreign investors), of which 40% or RM30 billion has been realised. Most of the infrastructure and catalyst developments in Iskandar are on track for completion from 2012 onwards, which should help to draw in critical mass to Nusajaya.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, RM6.3 billion has been allocated to upgrade existing road infrastructure and build new roads to improve connectivity (four out of six road projects are in various stages of progress). The Coastal Highway, which will cut travelling time from Nusajaya to Johor Bahru by half to 20 minutes, looks on track for completion by December this year. Newcastle University (first in EduCity) is expected to commence enrolment by October this year, although hostels are still under construction and the food courts and retail facilities seem rather sparse for now.

Although construction of Legoland seems to be in the initial stages, we were assured that its September 2012 launch date is still achievable as fabrication of rides will be done concurrently offsite. We also noted several large projects slated for completion in 2012 (some of which have been overshadowed by other higher profile projects), as shown in Table 1.

Medini: Central business district of Nusajaya

IIB provided some insights on development plans for the 902ha Medini, which was acquired by a Middle East consortium comprising Kuwait Finance House, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co and Saraya Group in August 2007 for RM4.1 billion (RM43 psf). Medini is divided into four components for mixed development: Medini North, Business, Central and South. To date, about RM4 billion has been committed and spent on infrastructure and building works.

There are robust development activities at Medini North to leverage on the September 2012 opening of Legoland, which is targeting one million visitors per year. Various listed construction and property players are keen to get a piece of the action:

• WCT Bhd is scheduled to launch its first phase (300 condo units) 1Medini residential project in Medini North this month at US$150 (RM450) psf (GDV RM200 million), with targeted completion by 2013. WCT will also be developing a RM688 million commercial project in the Medini Business District, just minutes away from Medini North;

• UEM Land Bhd is developing Lifestyle Retail Mall and Residences@Medini North, which will be directly connected to Legoland. Phase 1A, comprising 200,000 sq ft gross floor area, has been targeted for completion by September 2012, although the entire development of two million sq ft GFA will be spread over eight years;

• Bina Puri Holdings Bhd is scheduled to complete a RM500 million SOHO and retail development (Medini Square) at Medini North by 2013. The first phase of 1.05 million sq ft GFA is expected to be completed in 2012; and

• Pantai Holdings Bhd plans to build a 300-bed private hospital, Gleneagles Medini Hospital, on a 6ha site at Medini North, scheduled for completion in 2014.

For Medini Central, E&O will jointly develop 85ha at the iconic wellness township in Medini Central with Pulau Indah Ventures (Temasek-Khazanah joint venture). E&O has been appointed the project manager and sales and marketing consultant for the RM3 billion-GDV mixed development.

The project should do well given:

• its strategic location near the Second Link and public golf course, and Medini is the only area within Iskandar with special incentives (10-year tax exemption, no bumiputera quota, freedom to source capital and labour globally);

• Temasek’s stamp of approval which should see strong interest from Singapore buyers; and

• E&O’s strong execution track record (master plan likely to be similar to its flagship Seri Tanjung Pinang Phase 1).

Rising interest in Johor property

We saw an increase in landbank transactions at Iskandar recently, with Mah Sing Group Bhd and Dijaya Corp Bhd acquiring large parcels over the past five months. Nusajaya’s land price has continued to set new benchmarks, surpassing other areas in Johor, including Johor Bahru city centre. For example, Puteri Harbour was transacted at RM220 psf in June 2011 against Johor Bahru’s RM117 psf in August. Recent transactions at SiLC industrial land had touched RM35 psf, with UEMLand targeting RM60 psf in the longer-term as Senai Industrial Park is already asking for RM45 to RM60 psf. We understand SiLC buyers are required to construct their factories within two years of purchase, failing which UEMLand has the right to buy back the land at 90% of the purchase price.

Property launches are expected to pick up at Nusajaya and set new price benchmarks. UEMLand will be launching Imperia Condo at Puteri Harbour (700 to 1, 200 sq ft built-ups) soon at RM600 to RM700 psf, while WCT is aiming to launch 1Medini at RM450 psf. These prices are much higher than UEMLand’s Ujung apartments that were launched in 4Q09 at RM300 psf. The latest launches of link and semi-detached houses at Nusajaya are already touching RM800,000 and RM1.2 million per unit, almost comparable to property prices in some areas within the Klang Valley. Based on KGV Lambert Smith Hampton’s survey (highlighted in The Edge weekly), average prices of 2-storey terraced houses and semi-d/cluster houses at Nusajaya have appreciated by 21% and 48% since the start of 2009.

S P Setia remains market leader in Johor

SP Setia has seen consistent sales at its Johor projects, growing at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 17%. Sales for 9MFY11of RM798 million have surpassed FY10’s sales of RM607 million. Johor currently accounts for about 35% of S P Setia’s total sales (was about 70% prior to launch of Setia Alam and Setia Eco-Park in 2004). Johor will continue to feature prominently in S P Setia’s plans after the recent acquisition of two large parcels near Tebrau — Setia Eco Cascadia (105ha @ RM15 psf) and Setia Business Park 2 (106ha @ RM11 psf) for a combined RM295 million. S P Setia now has 608ha of land in Johor with RM8 billion potential GDV.

About six months ago, S P Setia ventured into industrial properties — a low hanging fruit given its established presence in Johor since 1997 and rising private/foreign investments at Iskandar. Setia Business Park (adjacent to Setia Eco Gardens) is well sought after with Phase 1 and 2 fully sold (80% to 90% locals). Phase 1 is completed and we will see Singapore-based companies such as Old Chang Kee, SYY Pte Ltd, Huiji and Windwell move in. S P Setia has also started to launch apartments in Johor to tap into the affordable homes segment, for example, Sky Gardens Residences at Setia Tropika and Sky Loft at Bukit Indah.

Genting Plantations’ Johor Premium Outlet (JPO)

JPO, a 50:50 joint venture between Genting Plantations and US-listed Simon Property Group, is strategically located at the intersection of the North-South Highway and Second-link Expressway, and will span 18ha with approximately 175,000 gross lettable area.

It will be the first Premium Outlet in Southeast Asia, boasting 80 to 90 outlet stores with an average size of 1,800 sq ft per lot. There will be 3,000 parking bays and 30 bus bays to cater for four million visitors per year (first year target). Located between Resorts World Genting in Genting Highlands (3.5 hours drive) and Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore (one hour drive), JPO is likely to be packaged as part of the Genting Group’s travel packages/bus programme to attract more visitors to the shopping haven.

– With the new Johor Masterplan, there is a more coodinated approach to developing by landowners and developers in Johor.

– Relatively much cheaper real estate compared to Singapore.

-Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) government program receives  new waves of buyers especially from Singaporean/PRs. High living, retirement and healthcare costs in Singapore have prompted many Singaporeans to search outwards. Johor Iskandar provides the cheaper alternative for an improved lifestyle at a lower cost, just 10-20 minutes from Singapore by car. This has resulted in capital appreciation of Iskandar housing, especially mid to high end properties.

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