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Better ties between M'sia and S'pore boon for Iskandar

posted 2 Oct 2011, 05:32 by Straits View

JOHOR BARU: Fund managers in Singapore see the improved bilateral ties between the island state and Malaysia as the major driver of development in Iskandar Malaysia.

HwangDBS Vickers Research Sdn Bhd analyst Quah He Wei said feedback from fund managers showed that many of them would recommend that their clients invest in the economic region.

Quah pointed out that the Singapore government was sending out a strong signal to its investors to look at Iskandar through initiatives such as Temasek Holdings' joint venture 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 told StarBiz in a telephone interview.

He said that based on a survey, 53% of the fund managers had a positive view on Iskandar's development progress, while 41% were neutral.

Quah added that 64% had indicated they would likely invest in Iskandar properties or in related stocks within the next two years.

He said the trip focused solely on the 9,712ha Nusajaya, one of Iskandar's five flagship zones, as it was considered “the most happening zone”.

Located on the southernmost part of Johor, Iskandar covers 2,217 sq km. The other four flagship development zones are Johor Baru City Centre, Eastern Gate Development Zone, Western Gate Development Zone and Senai-Kulai.

Quah said 72% of the Singapore fund managers said they preferred to buy landed properties in Nusajaya as the area would house several major projects.

He added that the pricing and quality of residential properties in Nusajaya were the main 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,” said Quah.

However, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) chief executive officer Ismail Ibrahim said Iskandar was not only about Nusajaya as the other flagship development zones also offered investment opportunities.

Referring to the fund managers' views compiled by HwangDBS Vickers Research, he said: “While we are thankful for the positive report on the progress made by Iskandar by an independent party, fund managers should not limit their visits to Nusajaya.”

He said this after hosting about 100 government officials and businessmen from Wenzhou, China, to Iskandar.

“We have been sending a clear message since day one that investment flows to Iskandar should be well spread out.”

Ismail said Chinese investors had shown strong interest in Iskandar following a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Malaysia in April.

He added that Irda had hosted about 400 visitors from China since 2010 including government officials, trade and investment delegations, entrepreneurs and commercial groups.

“A Chinese investor is currently in talks with a party in Iskandar. We'll announce a major investment,” he said, but declined to divulge details.

- The Star