Company officials speak on latest developments
RECENT news allegations in Australia have put Mulpha International Bhd in the spotlight.
Once a darling of investors, Mulpha is now hardly followed by investors although it remains an asset-rich company with its prized assets mostly Down Under.
Among these assets are a few five-star hotels such as the InterContinental Sydney, a resort-styled property development called Sanctuary Cove in northern Gold Coast, and Hayman, a five-star private island destination in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
However, it is Mulpha’s 22.6% strategic stake in Aveo Group Ltd – Australia’s largest owner-operator and manager of retirement communities – that has thrust the diversified company onto the radar screen, albeit for the wrong reasons.
What happened early this week was this: ABC News’ Four Corners and Fairfax Media wrote an expose that claimed, among others, that Aveo was prone to exploiting its residents when running its retirement villages.
The report stated that the company was slipping through regulatory loopholes, noting that a series of recommendations and reforms that came out of an inquiry into the sector about 10 years ago were not implemented.
Mulpha’s controlling shareholder Lee Seng Huang, who is also the chairman of Aveo, has denied the allegations.
He says the issue has been blown out of proportion and that “we do not exploit our residents”.
Successively, it has found itself in another spot when a buyback of Aveo shares by Mulpha and an Aveo director ahead of the company’s A$145mil share buyback plan raised eyebrows. The Australian corporate watchdog has been called on to investigate the recent trading of Aveo’s shares, it was reported there.
Aveo shares on the Australian stock exchange plunged 11.5% on Monday following the expose. On Tuesday, Aveo announced a buyback of 9% of its stock after an emergency weekend board meeting, news reports stated.
On a larger scale, there have since been calls for a federal inquiry into the Australian retirement village sector.
Commenting on the share buyback move, Lee tells StarBizWeek that it was done in observation of trading windows and rights.
He retorts that there was no board meeting held on the weekend as alleged by some reports.
“The first that the directors heard about a potential buyback was in the afternoon (after the close of trading) on Monday, when the management suggested putting in place a buyback programme in case the stock should keep falling.
“That was voted on by circular in the evening and announced on Tuesday,” he says, pointing out that the stock continued to fall after the announcement before recovering later in the day.
“So, I am not sure how price-sensitive that news even was.
“It is in the public domain and common knowledge that companies will buy back shares if they become grossly undervalued, and the panic-selling caused by the irresponsible reporting obviously led to the company doing something about it,” the 42-year-old executive chairman of Mulpha says.
Going back to the Aveo model, he says it has been in operation for several decades in both Australia and New Zealand, and that its returns are consistent with the vast majority of listed and unlisted operators across the Australian retirement industry.
“So, Aveo is not unique on this front and Mulpha is surprised to have been singled out as a shareholder in Aveo, where 77% of the shareholders (many of whom are Aveo residents) and the majority of the Aveo board are independent.
“Furthermore, all of Mulpha’s board nominees are non-executives and not actively running the business. So, why pick on Mulpha?”
Mulpha had bought into Aveo and the other assets in Australia between 2002 and 2004.
Aveo’s return on its retirement assets last year was 6.3%. It operates over 11,000 retirement units there.
He points out that the complaints raised in the expose were related to the old contracts and not the new ones.
“Can Aveo do things better? Of course they can and everyday the management is tasked with trying to improve our service levels as we do at all of Mulpha’s investment properties.
“That is why they have come up with a simpler and better contract under the Aveo Way.”
JP Morgan notes that Aveo has made changes to simplify its contracts and provide a guaranteed outcome for its residents under its Aveo Way contract, which it has been rolling out as its standard contract over the past two years.
“Whilst the fees Aveo is charging under the Aveo Way contract are at the upper end of the market, they are not materially ‘out of whack’ with the market,” the research firm notes in a report released on Tuesday.
It says the complexity of retirement contracts and questions about whether the fees are appropriate is an industry-wide issue, of which Aveo has been singled out.
“If the retirement industry was such a profitable industry, there would be more players pushing into the sector – this is not happening.
“In fact, the returns for ownership of retirement villages are lower than most other property asset classes due to it being a very management-intensive asset class.”
Mulpha’s 22.6% stake in Aveo is valued at A$374.43mil (RM1.23bil), higher than its own RM719.14mil market capitalisation on Bursa Malaysia.
Unlike Mulpha, Aveo appears to have a better following too.
Six research houses covering the stock on the Australian Securities Exchange or ASX have “buy” calls, Bloomberg data shows.
On the other hand, market observers say that Mulpha has not attracted much institutional interest mainly due to a lack of analyst coverage and low corporate visibility, coupled with volatile earnings.
Lee, through the family’s privately held vehicles, controls a 44.96% stake in Mulpha – an investment holding company engaged in the property development and investment, hospitality, retirement and healthcare sectors in Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, besides Australia.
In Malaysia, the company is the developer of the 1,765-acre Leisure Farm in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor.
Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, it has a strategic investment in the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, which is located in London’s Mayfair district.
Elsewhere, Mulpha also has a 19.84% stake in power, infrastructure and construction company Mudajaya Group Bhd.
As at March 31, Mulpha’s net tangible assets stood at RM9.60, while its share price was RM2.19 at the close yesterday.
The company was loss-making in financial year 2012 (FY12) and FY13, before turning around with a net profit of RM124.15mil in FY14.
For FY16 ended Dec 31, the company made a net profit of RM16.8mil as compared to RM165.12mil in the previous year.
Its profits were mainly because of a higher share of associates/joint-venture profits, including a better performance by Aveo.
Total borrowings stood at about RM2.75bil, while its total cash and cash equivalents were at RM355.5mil as at year-end.
Notably, Mulpha is one company which believes in rewarding shareholders through share buybacks rather than dividend payments.
The company’s chief executive officer Gregory David Shaw says that there are no concrete plans to implement a dividend policy or pay any dividends now, as the board is of the view that the share buyback scheme is a more efficient form of returning excess capital to shareholders instead of paying a dividend, given the current undervalued share price.
“Over the last few years, Mulpha has implemented a share buyback scheme, as the market did not fully reflect the value of its shares, and will continue to do so.
“However, the board will continue to assess the payment of dividends as part of its capital management strategy, and will do so when it feels that there are no other more accretive uses of capital across our businesses,” says the Australian head honcho, who was appointed in December last year.
The stock’s depressed valuation has linked it to talk that the company may be privatised.
But this, according to Shaw, is a shareholder matter, which the management and board of Mulpha are not privy to.
To improve its capital structure, the company recently proposed a share consolidation involving the consolidation of every 10 existing shares into one.
The exercise is expected to increase its earnings per share and net asset per share due to a reduction in the number of Mulpha shares, but without affecting the shareholders’ stake in the company.
Prior to this corporate exercise, Mulpha shares were trading in wide-ranging prices from RM0.195 per share to RM0.550 per share over the past three years.
This, according to Shaw, represented a 64.5% change in Mulpha’s transacted price from the highest to the lowest price. Consolidating the shares would lead to a reduction in the number of shares available in the public market and could potentially reduce the volatility of the trading market for Mulpha shares.
Operationally, to deliver profit growth, Shaw says the focus is on three strategic pillars.
One is to optimise value in the group’s strategic assets with a medium to long-term view on value creation. Second is to improve the performance of its resort hotels and operating businesses, and thirdly, to introduce new investments that will benefit from Mulpha’s management expertise.
“With a strong balance sheet and a strategically located and geographically diversified asset portfolio, the group has been able to steer through the current global economic uncertainties.
“The solid performance of our Australian assets in 2016 has compensated for the difficult trading conditions experienced in the Malaysian property sector in the same period,” he says.
While it has sizeable assets overseas, Mulpha will continue to explore investment opportunities in Malaysia and will make an investment if the right opportunity, timing and return targets are met, he adds.
Would the group unlock some of its assets? To this, Shaw says that the group’s investment strategy is built around leveraging on its strengths and making investments where it believes it has a strategic advantage.
“Our strong balance sheet has left us well placed to continue to explore and take advantage of any attractive investment opportunities that may arise.
“On the flip side, once we believe any of our assets has reached its optimum value, we may realise the asset when an appropriate offer is received and we will then recycle our capital and reinvest the sale proceeds into another investment opportunity.”
As for Leisure Farm, he says the focus in 2016 was to reach out to overseas markets via roadshows, notably in China and Indonesia in addition to its ongoing focus on Singapore.
These roadshows have been successful in increasing Leisure Farm’s sales with purchasers from China, and he anticipates that the roadshows will generate further sales in 2017.
KUALA LUMPUR: The small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in Malaysia has been urged to grab opportunities to create new sales channels, capture new markets and expand their client base through the ‘Now! In Season’ (NIS) campaign.
NIS, a global campaign by the Victorian State Government and Horticulture Innovation Australia, aims to promote various Australian fresh fruits and vegetables at their peak quality and availability.
Commissioner to South-East Asia, Government of Victoria, Australia, Brett Stevens, said Malaysia imported A$5.3million (RM71.3 million), or 871 tonnes of Australian fruits, in 2015.
He said between 2011 and 2015, the value and quantity of imported Australian fruits grew by approximately 30 per cent per annum respectively.
“This is a clear demonstration of the high demand for top quality Australian produce in a very competitive market. We expect the growth to further increase due to this campaign,” he told Bernama in an email interview recently.
Stevens said throughout the year, the Now! In Season campaign will educate consumers on the seasonality of the commodities, health and nutritional benefits of Australian produce as well as how to select and store the seasonal commodities.
The campaign involves four seasons — summer fruits and cherries (December-March), grapes (April-June), citrus (July-September) and veggies (year-long).
He said Malaysians can look forward to more premium quality, healthy and safe Australian produce this year as a new campaign takes off at leading retail outlets.
“In the first year of the campaign in Malaysia, we are investing resources to really create this awareness and among participating retailers, including AEON, Isetan KL, Jaya Grocer and Village Grocer.
“We will be expanding this list and our reach as the programme gains momentum, both on the supply side (sourcing/growers) and demand side (retail),” said Stevens.
He said Malaysian SMEs are also able to take advantage of the NIS campaign by leveraging on the education and promotional campaigns that are being delivered within the country.
“Malaysian consumers are sophisticated buyers, with a desire to learn more about the provenance of their food. People want to know where it is from and how it is grown.
“Consumers are increasingly health conscious and looking for nutritious, quality and safe products to feed their families and Australian produce is able to offer this,” he said. – Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Sapura Energy Australia has successfully completed plug removal activity for Shell’s Prelude light well intervention (LWI) campaign in the offshore Browse basin, north of Broome, Western Australia.
The campaign, awarded in June 2016, was part of the Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) project.
The intervention vessel Sapura Constructor retrieved eight suspension plugs from seven wells on the Prelude field, using a riser-less LWI system and a recently upgraded subsea intervention device and intervention compensation system, was deployed for the project.
Sapura Energy executed the work in collaboration with another of the company’s Australian subsidiaries, Total Marine Technology, which was responsible for managing the equipment used and upgrading it to comply with Shell’s specifications.
Under the same five-year call-off agreement, Sapura Energy Australia is currently working another Shell LWI campaign that involves severance and retrieval of seven wellheads. This involves use of the AXE severance system, a high-pressure water jet cutting tool designed for environmentally friendly removal of subsea wellheads that dispenses with explosives or rig-based mechanical cutting tools. Work is expected to be completed in July.
Earlier this month, Sapura Offshore won a subcontract from PT. Gunanusa Utama Fabricators on behalf of PTTEP International for the Zawtika field development in the Gulf of Moattama, 290 km (180 mi) west of Tavoy on the Myanmar coast, in water depths of 120-160 m (394-525 ft).
The work scope covers EPCI of pipelines, transportation, and installation of new offshore wellhead platforms, brownfield modifications to existing platforms, and installation of a telecommunication and control system integrated to existing facilities.
Subcontract works should be completed next March.
Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) yesterday entered into an Innovation Cooperation Agreement with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to further promote innovation in financial services in their respective markets. Under the agreement, SC and ASIC will work closely to share information on emerging trends and regulatory issues in digital finance. Both regulators will also facilitate referrals of innovative businesses seeking to operate in each other’s jurisdictions, as well as explore potential joint innovation projects relating to the application of new technologies.
SC Chairman Tan Sri Ranjit Ajit Singh signed the agreement with the ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft on the sidelines of the Salzburg Global Seminar on Finance that was co-chaired by the SC Chairman.
Ranjit said that the cooperation agreement is an important milestone for Malaysia’s digital finance sector and was a positive development for innovative fintech businesses seeking to expand and reach greater scale.
“Even as we continue to enable new forms of innovation in capital markets, we must not lose sight of the need to manage digital risks, by taking a strategic approach to risk management, recruiting digital talent and improving IT architectures.
This collaboration between SC and ASIC in the realm of digital finance will further strengthen the cooperative arrangements between Malaysia and Australia in capital market development and regulation,” said Ranjit.
Medcraft said:” International cooperation on fintech is essential. This agreement will help local businesses grow beyond our borders, and improve our understanding of fintech in the region. We look forward to working more closely with our colleagues at the Malaysian Securities Commission”.
As part of SC’s digital agenda, the regulator has in recent years introduced regulations and initiatives such as equity crowdfunding (ECF), peer-to-peer (P2P) financing, digital investment management (DIM) services, and launched the alliance of FINtech community (aFINity) to engage with the growing financial technology community in Malaysia.
After successfully consolidating its position in the Indian market over ten years, BankBazaar is steadily expanding its foothold across South East Asia. In line with this vision, last month BankBazaar announced an investment of rupees 5 crore in the Malaysian market and an additional rupees 10 crore in its Singapore business. As part of its international expansion strategy, the company also plans to begin its operations across Australia, Hong Kong, UAE and the Philippines over the next couple of years.
With over 70% active internet users along with the Malaysian Government’s commitment to digitize the financial ecosystem has led to the adoption of advanced financial technologies to equip customers to shift towards digital transactions. Furthermore, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) recently issued licenses to emerging fintech companies with an aim to improve quality, efficiency and accessibility of financial services in Malaysia, thereby presenting a huge potential for growth and expansion in this market.
Adhil Shetty, cofounder and CEO, BankBazaar.com said, “Buoyed by the positive business sentiment and a progressive regulator, Malaysia’s banking industry is poised towards the next phase of disruption. This complements BankBazaar’s vision to enable, simplify and improve the financial services value chain for consumers. Backed by the company’s paperless finance vision and under Vipin’s leadership, we are confident that BankBazaar International will play a pivotal role in transforming Malaysian financial services market.”
Vipin Kalra joins BankBazaar.com from Visa where he held various senior level positions. In his previous role, Vipin was Senior Vice President of Merchant Sales and Solutions for Asia Pacific. Prior to this, Vipin was the Country Manager for Visa’s Australia business. He was instrumental in not only accelerating Visa’s revenue growth, but also making Australia a leading global marketplace for payment innovation. Under his leadership, Visa Australia successfully rolled out Visa’s contactless payment (Visa Paywave) and mobile NFC payments. He also led the proliferation of credit, debit and prepaid payment products with Visa’s clients and partners. Vipin is a seasoned global payments expert who brings over 25 years’ experience in transactional business, hardware and software industry in Asia Pacific and Australia.
BankBazaar will deploy a team of 30 people to support its expansion in Malaysia in addition to the 40 member Singapore team. In his new role, Vipin will be responsible for growing and establishing BankBazaar’s presence in international markets starting with Malaysia and Singapore. Further, he will focus on forging strategic partnerships with financial institutions as well as product development for international markets.
Commenting on BankBazaar’s international expansion, Vipin Kalra, CEO of BankBazaar International added, “Technological landscape across the globe is changing rapidly. I believe companies focused on innovation, clubbed with agility are sure to make an impact, irrespective of their business scale and scope. After successfully shaping India’s Fintech space through customer-focused innovations, BankBazaar is now taking this legacy across new markets. I am excited to be a part of BankBazaar and partner with them in this new journey.”
Kota Kinabalu: Sabahans who often travel to Australia and those planning to migrate to the country should look up an upcoming housing development called Yarra One that offers 268 units of luxury apartments in Melbourne.
The residential property that will rise above Melbourne's most exclusive locale is being developed by Australian developer, Eco World – Salcon Y1 Pty Ltd, and will be completed by mid-2020 with its construction works commencing at the end of this year.
Yarra One is to be developed in South Yarra, an inner suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, and home to some of Melbourne's most prestigious residential addresses.
Potential buyers have a choice of one bedroom (56 square metres), two bedrooms (75 square metres) and three bedrooms (100 square metres) in the project.
Its sole property agent, SGP Esteem Pte Ltd's General Manager for Marketing, Vincent Tee, said the property is now left with 80 units as 70 per cent of the units have been booked.
"This luxury apartment is situated in a very strategic and great location in the city's most exclusive address at Claremont Street that connects Yarra Lane to Daly St to the Chapel Street. It is also near to a shopping area in Toorak Road and a shopping street known as Phrahan Market.
"Those owner occupiers of the units would be fortunate as they could meet their home shopping needs, including for daily essentials, at Chapel Street which is a high-end shopping area with restaurants, eateries and high-end fashion. It is also minutes' walk to the South Yarra train station with two stops into the Central Business District (CBD).
"Those who have children can also send them to Melbourne High School which is a top school in Melbourne and only children who live two kilometres within the vicinity can register at the school besides other prestigious education institutions," he said.
Tee said this to Daily Express during its two-day property exhibition at Function Room 6, Pacific Sutera Hotel from 10am until 6pm, beginning Saturday.
On June 20 and 21, he will be in Sandakan and Tawau, respectively, and can be contacted at 013-3336618 for appointments.
Tee said the apartments are fully renovated and will come with quality kitchen cabinets and equipped with Miele (high-end brand name) appliances like dishwasher and induction cooker, built-in wardrobe, interior design bathroom, timber flooring to living and dining, among others.
The apartment building, he said, would have a lobby concierge, a yoga room, gym, private kitchen/dining, a library, a wine cellar for the owners to keep their wines, public piazza/state of art podium at the ground floor and a roof top garden with BBQ area.
"Among our target customers for the project are businessmen, investors and those who have families and wish to send their children for schooling in Australia as well as those who plan to migrate there.
"The Australian Government allows foreigners to own property as it is a land of migration except for the aborigines.
In fact, the net migration to Australia is about 80,000 people," he said.
Tee said those who are interested to buy the units are encouraged to decide fast as after July 1 this year, they would be subjected to pay stamp duty that has been increased by five per cent for its contract of sales.
Hence, he said they could enjoy huge stamp duty savings when they buy or book the units before July 1.
Furthermore, he said those who invest in the units would generate high rental return of five to six per cent as South Yarra is the top choice of the locals there and has strong capital growth and rental demand.
With the coming China One Belt, One Road initiative which also involves Australia and completed in 20 years' time, Tee said the commodities investment will grow in Australia and the economic spin-offs will include the property sector, including the Yarra One project.
To a question, he said the property exhibition is being held in Sabah this month as they wish to facilitate the people in Sabah rather than them having to travel to Kuala Lumpur to browse for upcoming Australian properties to invest or to own.
He said those interested to buy the units need to pay the booking fee and 10 per cent deposit, while the rest can be paid after the completion of the project.
Tee said they can apply for bank loans either in Malaysia, Australia and Singapore and a mortgage consultant would be engaged for them to consult which bank loans suit their needs. - Hayati Dzulkifli
KUALA LUMPUR: Tien Wah Press Holdings Bhd (TWPH) will cease its remaining printing business in Australia, which is represented by 51% owned subsidiary Anzpac Services (Australia) Pty Ltd.
In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the cigarette carton and consumer goods packaging printer said the proposed cessation would hit its consolidated earnings by RM15.75mil, which translated into an 11 sen reduction in earnings per share.
The exercise will involve stopping all its printing business activities, disposing assets except the freehold land and office/factory building, computer equipment and furniture fittings, and settling the liabilities of Anzpac.
TWPH said that based on preliminary review, the exercise would cost Anzpac A$9.56mil (RM31.02mil), comprising employees redundancy and related costs and asset impairment costs.
The assets to be disposed of are valued at A$4.6mil (RM14.91mil).
Anzpac will retain its freehold land and building in New South Wales, which had a net book value of A$13.76mil (RM44.6mil) as at March 31, in order to generate rental income. However, these may be disposed of at a later date when the price is right.
TWPH noted that the group had begun the transfer of production volume of gravure printing since September 2014 from Anzpac to its existing wholly-owned operation in Vietnam, Alliance Print Technologies Co Ltd (APT).
“The above was with a view to improve the group’s strategic position to service the customers and reduce the group’s operating cost over the longer term.
“After the transfer of the production volume to APT, and despite Anzpac management’s efforts to reorganise Anzpac’s remaining lithography printing business in its non-tobacco customers, the board is of the view that Anzpac’s business is no longer viable or sustainable,” it said.
The TWPH group’s performance is highly correlated to the tobacco industry as the key customers and majority of sales are tobacco-related printed cartons.
Anzpac, in which TWPH acquired a stake in October 2008, incurred losses in the last two financial years. For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016, Anzpac posted an after-tax loss of A$7.24mil (RM23.44mil).
TWPH said the proposed cessation, expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year, would affect the group for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2017, as a result of the one-off redundancy cost and impairment loss on plant and machineries to be incurred.
“The impact to consolidated earnings, earnings per share and net assets per share are a cost of RM15.75mil, reduction of 11 sen per share and reduction of 11 sen per share respectively,” it said.
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/06/16/twph-to-cease-remaining-printing-ops-in-australia/#vSMikDkDbxPZxcUg.99
AUSTRALIA – Cycliq Group Ltd (ASX:CYQ) is tapping customers in Singapore and Malaysia through an agreement with Lazada, Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce website.
The agreement allows Cycliq, the leading brand in HD camera and lighting combinations for cyclists, to sell its products to customers in the two Southeast Asian countries.
“This will allow us to connect to cyclists in Singapore and Malaysia while maintaining fast delivery times and customer support through a trusted portal,” said Cycliq Chief Sales Officer Terence Yap.
The agreement with Lazada builds on Cycliq’s rapidly expanding global sales network, as the company seeks to reach more customers in new territories.
Yap said Southeast Asia is a significant market for the company.
“There are more than 620 million people in this region and they are becoming increasingly comfortable with shopping online,” Yap said.
READ ALSO: Chinese Investors Eye Southeast Asia As Next Destination
Cycling has evolved to become a strategic priority for Southeast Asian Governments. The Singaporean Land and Transportation Authority has committed to developing 700 kilometers of cycling paths.
“As recreational cycling increases in popularity, we would expect tech-savvy customers in this region will be attracted to our HD bike camera and safety light devices,” Yap added.
A key feature of the devices is their long battery life. The Cycliq Fly12 is the only camera and light device that can record in full HD for the length of a Tour de France stage.
“Cycliq’s device make cyclists more visible on the roads, while also functioning as a bike dash cam if something were to happen. Our device gives cyclists peace of mind,” he added.
Cycliq is a Perth-based tech company that has sold its products to almost 50 countries around the world.
AFTER its maiden international project in Australia was successfully completed two years ago, TH Properties Sdn Bhd is gearing up to undertake more developments overseas.
Besides strengthening its position and brand in Australia, the property developer was looking at opportunities in the United Kingdom and Indonesia, said chairman Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman.
In the UK, Azizan said TH Properties, the property development arm of Tabung Haji, was about to finalise an agreement to acquire a site in Baywater, Queensway, in London.
“We are going to sign the agreement soon. We plan to develop an apartment project with a total of 28 units jointly with the landowner,” he said, adding that it would have a gross development value (GDV) of more than £70 million (RM387.24 million).
“We want to try a modest type of development first. We are confident of this venture. We feel that it is a good location and are upbeat on the prospect of selling the apartment units,” said Azizan.
The planned project is located between Queensway and Notting Hill, which is one of London’s prime areas. It is within walking distance of Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.
In Indonesia, Azizan said there was huge potential for property development — thanks to growth in the middle-income bracket.
There is now pent-up demand for middle-class housing.
“We are still looking at suitable sites, locations and partners before we proceed,” he said.
Azizan was speaking to NST Property at the recent Asia Pacific Property Awards 2017-2018 in Bangkok, Thailand, where TH Properties bagged three awards.
The awards are for projects in Bay Pavilions, Sydney, in the “apartment” category, TH Hotel and Convention Centre Kuching (THHCC Kuching) in the “new hotel construction and design” category, and Islamic Complex Putrajaya in the “office development” category.
THHCC Kuching has been nominated for the regional title for the International Property Award (IPA) event, to be held in London at the end of this year.
Azizan said TH Properties made the right move to enter the Australian property market as developments there were growing rapidly.
“The timing is very good. For the last two years, our projects in Australia have been giving us good returns. In fact, our overseas investment contributed close to 50 per cent of our group profit,” he said.
Azizan hopes the trend will continue this year as far as profit contribution is concerned.
The A$220 million (RM696.51 million) Bay Pavilions is TH Properties’ maiden project in Australia.
Undertaken by its wholly-owned subsidiary, THP Bay Pavilions Corp, the project comprises 273 units and was launched in late 2013.
Located at Burns Bay Road Lane Cove, the units were all sold out and the key handover ceremony was held last year.
“I think we made the right decision to go into Australia. We have successfully completed one project and we are moving on to others,” said Azizan.
Bay Pavilions, which previously won the Architecture-Residential-Constructed category for last year’s Sydney Award, is Australia’s first syariah-compliant property development.
It was funded via a A$96 million Islamic term financing provided by Maybank Islamic Bhd.
“This was the first syariah-compliant financing facility ever structured for a property development project in Australia and since then, many developers have approached us to partner with us. They see the advantages of Islamic financing, which provides stability as far as financing cost is concerned,” said Azizan.
TH Properties has two other ongoing projects in Sydney. The first is Imperial in Hurstville. The project is undertaken by THP Australia Corp, also a wholly-owned unit of TH Properties, and comprises 227 apartment units and eight units of retail shops with a GDV of about A$200 million.
The second project is One The Waterfront at Wentworth Point. This project comprises 678 units of apartment and it would be completed in 2019.
In New South Wales, TH Properties is working on a residential development in North Strathfield (GDV of A$110.5 million), Rockdale (GDV of A$56.9 million) and Lindcombe (GDV of A$90.68 million).
Melbourne, Australia — Film and bioplastic manufacturer Secos Group Ltd. has completed the divestment of its half share in a Malaysia film coating business and is about to start marketing its bioplastic pet products in the United States.
Melbourne-based, publicly listed Secos formed though the April 2015 merger of Melbourne-based Cardia Bioplastics Ltd. with Melbourne-based privately held Stellar Films Group Pty. Ltd.
The merger included Stellar's 50.8 percent interest in Akronn Industries Sdn Bhd, which manufactures silicone-coated paper and film products in Nilai, Malaysia.
Secos sold its Akronn share to Itasa Servicios Generales SL, a Spanish release liner manufacturer.
Secos Group Managing Director Steve Walters said the sale price is confidential.
Secos, an acronym for "sustainable eco solutions," also operates resin, film and bag production facilities in Nanjing, China; Stellar Films (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, which operates a film manufacturing plant at Port Klang, near Kuala Lumpur; and and a film and bioplastic production plant in the Melbourne suburb of Deer Park.
Walters said Secos will launch its pet product range in the United States via a new website within six months. The range includes food bowls and throwing sticks manufactured from Cardia Biohybrid, a mix of renewable thermoplastics, mainly corn starch, and traditional resins, which can include polyethylene or polypropylene. Cardia produces eight resins for varied applications.
The range also includes pet training pads, made with Stellar films, which Walters said are very popular in Japan, and dog waste bags made from compostable plastics. A social media campaign will support the website launch.
"The U.S. will be a mass test market," he told Plastics News. "Based on its success, we'll roll it out across the world."
Walters said the group's remaining Malaysian plant is now achieving consistent profitability but running at about 60 percent capacity, so there is scope for growth. Secos will introduce new technologies over the next six to nine months and be "more aggressive" in seeking new markets. Walters will not detail the technologies planned. The plant predominantly manufactures release liners for the hygiene market.
Walters said Secos's China operation is "under review" but there are no plans to close it. "We will always have a base there. We're streamlining operations to make it more efficient and looking at opportunities to automate what is currently a labor-intensive process."
He confirmed the Chinese arm is the only business unit not returning a profit.
The market for Secos's compostable and biohybrid resins is "not growing as fast as we would like" in Australia. Walters blames consumer confusion about oxo-biodegradability and compostable bioplastics, which he said "tarnished the image" for all bioplastics.
Walters expects the company's sales for the fiscal year ending June 30 to be similar to 2016's A$21 million (US$15.6 million).
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