Fajarbaru JV buying 44ha site in Balik Pulau

Kuala Lumpur: A joint venture (JV) between Fajarbaru Builder Group Bhd and Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd is on the verge of buying 44ha of land in Balik Pulau, Penang, via a private tender, people familiar with the matter said yesterday.

At least two people with direct working knowledge of the two companies independently confirmed the JV's plan to acquire the land from a local non-government organisation in a cash deal valued at around RM200 million.

According to land brokers, land in Balik Pulau sells at between RM16 per sq ft (psf) and RM35 psf, depending on the type of land.

Among factors taken into consideration are if the land is leasehold or freehold, and whether it is agriculture, industrial, estate, orchard or housing land.

Business Times was told that an announcement by the JV on the matter will be made by as early as next month.

It is understood that the JV intends to undertake medium- to high-end property development projects, which collectively boast a gross development value exceeding RM3 billion.

Securing the project will be a critical boost for Fajarbaru, which is partly controlled by Datuk Low Keng Kok, former managing director of Road Builder (M) Holdings Bhd.

Fajarbaru is a successful medium-sized construction company, but it has been facing a margin squeeze as construction margin here is not as lucrative as before.

For the nine months ended March 31 2011, Fajarbaru posted a lower group level pre-tax profit of RM15.75 million versus a group pre-tax profit of RM19.31 million in the same period a year ago.

This is despite revenue for the period under review growing marginally to RM126.01 million from RM121.27 million before.

Analysts said construction margins are currently between 8 per cent and 12 per cent, while margins for property development vary from 18 per cent to as high as 30 per cent.

The planned township, which will take five to 10 years to develop, will comprise landed and high-rise residences, a commercial hub, mall and leisure properties, a source said.

Zerin Properties founder and chief executive officer Previn Singhe said with strong demand for landed properties in Penang Island, the project will be well-received if given the approval.

"Penang is a strong market. If you build good condominiums, people would buy. We expect sales to be very domestically-driven," he said.

Fajarbaru's partner in the JV, the privately-held Sagajuta, recently gained prominence after it emerged that the Sabah-based company had identified Robert Kuok Hock Nien's Jerneh Asia Bhd as a possible reverse takeover target.

Both companies are now in the midst of trying to finalise the deal, Jerneh Asia's filings to the stock exchange show.

One of the key driving forces of Sagajuta is its managing director Datuk Chan Boon Siew.

In Sabah, Sagajuta is famous for its 1Borneo development project, the first and largest lifestyle hypermall in the land below the wind.

SOURCE: Business Times

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