Genting plans theme park, hotel in Iskandar

KUALA LUMPUR: Genting Bhd plans to build a theme park and hotel within the Iskandar region in Johor to complement the group’s Resorts World Sentosa attraction in Singapore, said its chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay.

Lim said for a start, Genting would build a mall in the region in a joint venture with Simon Property Group, the largest mall operator in US, with Genting’s portion of the project cost estimated at RM200 million.

“The cost of the whole project is yet to be finalised as the planning is still going on,” he told reporters after the launch of Genting’s 45th anniversary logo here on Tuesday Jan 19.

“We aim to complete the mall in two years’ time and at the moment, all 60 outlets in the mall have already been taken up. Things are very positive,” he said, adding the group had already obtained state and federal approvals for the mall project.

Lim said the group, under Genting Plantations Bhd, had 10,000 acres in Kulai, Johor and this landbank would make it easier for the group to expand its Iskandar plan later.

“Iskandar will work as a mid point for two-way flow of visitors to our highland and Sentosa,” he said.

He noted that the response to the mall would determine the implementation of the theme park and hotel plan.

Lim said that by having a hotel in Iskandar, it would give visitors the choice of cheaper accommodation compared to hotels in Sentosa.

“Look at places like Florida, it’s the castles and theme park that grow the place, so this can happen in Iskandar too,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said Genting was looking at various opportunities in the US that emerged in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

“There are a number of opportunities that offer good value for our investment,” he said.

Asked if Genting would need to raise fund in order to grab such opportunities, Lim said: “At this point of time, I don’t see the need to raise more funds, but having said that, if the markets are favourable, it’s always prudent to strengthen the balance sheet.”

He also said that it was his family-owned companies like Kien Huat Realty, not Genting, that had made a loan to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe that had wanted to set up a casino in Massachusetts.

“As for Genting, we are looking for larger prospects for investment there,” he said.

On the group’s US$4.4 billion (RM14.7 billion) attraction in Singapore, Lim said Genting Singapore plc was ready to open its casino at Resorts World Sentosa as soon as the republic issues the licence.

“There were speculations by some reporters in Singapore that we are getting the licence before the Chinese New Year but what I can say now is we are still waiting,” he said.   

Resort is being opened in stages, beginning with Festive Hotel on Jan 5, followed by five-star hotels Hard Rock Hotel and Hotel Micheal. Lim said the six-star hotel Crockford Tower would be opened today (Jan 20).

“As for the second phase of the project, we will open another two hotels, Aquarius and Spa hotels, in the middle of 2011,” he added.

In conjunction with the 45th anniversary celebration for the group, customers can enjoy various offers such as special discounts on hotel rooms, lucky draws and special gifts.

This article appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, January 20, 2010.
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