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RRI land deal to be sealed soon

KUALA LUMPUR (June 12): The Employees Provident Fund Board (EPF) is set to complete its acquisition of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRI) land in Selangor from the federal government by month’s end for over RM2 billion, a property industry executive close to the deal said.

"The land, about 2,200 acres [890ha] of which are available for development, is to be bought as agricultural land for over RM2 billion," said an executive who asked not to be identified. Under the proposed plan, the federal government will be entitled to a further share of the profit should certain tracts of land be tendered out are sold for higher than expected prices, the executive said.

"Announcements in relation to RRI should come by end of the month," he said, adding that only 890ha are available for development after taking into account land retained by the Malaysian Rubber Board as well as what is earmarked for the mass rapid transit (MRT) system and other infrastructure needs.

Details on the tracts of land available for sale and joint development — long awaited by property developers — will be made public after the signing of the agreement with the government. The land transfer deal will make the EPF the landowner and master developer of the 1,215ha of land earmarked for phased development over 15 to 20 years.

"[The land parcels] are expected to be a mix of freehold and leasehold," said the executive. The state government will benefit from the conversion of land titles and receive higher income from development land than agricultural land," he said.

Kwasa Land Sdn Bhd, the EPF's wholly-owned unit tasked with spearheading the preparation of the overall layout of the RRI development, is said to be ready to share details of its master plan. It is understood that Kwasa Land will soon be calling for tenders for land parcels slated for outright sale and make requests for proposals (RFPs) for parcels set aside for joint development that could give the EPF a higher income yield in the longer term.

The redevelopment of the RRI land in Sungai Buloh forms part of the greater Kuala Lumpur Strategic Development initiative, a project under the 10th Malaysia Plan. The southern portion of the RRI land, which includes parcels bordering the upmarket Tropicana Golf & Country Resort development, falls under the jurisdiction of the Petaling Jaya City Council. The northern portion, which houses the MRT depot, comes under the purview of the Shah Alam City Council.

Earlier this year, EPF CEO Tan Sri Azlan Zainol was reported to have said each phase of the RRI land parcels would be in portions of 12.15ha and 20.25ha. It was also previously reported that the Malaysian Rubber Board will retain about 217ha of the RRI hand while the MRT Depot would take up about 72ha.

This story appeared in The Edge Financial Daily on June 12, 2012.

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