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WCT targets RM300m property sales this year

KLANG: WCT Bhd is targeting RM300 million in property sales this year versus RM220 million in FY10 ended Dec 31, banking on its real estate investments in retail and hospitality assets to spur the company's earnings.

Meanwhile, the construction outfit had tendered for about RM10 billion worth of jobs, said its chairman Datuk Capt A Suffian.

"We hope to do better than last year and we are bidding for more projects," he told reporters after the company's AGM on Wednesday, May 18.

Suffian said the company's new real estate sales comprised residential and commercial entities in the Klang Valley, Johor and Sabah.

"We are exploring more landbank," Suffian added.

As at Dec 31, WCT had a gross development value of RM7.81 billion, of which about 40% or RM3.05 billion had been sold. The group has an undeveloped landbank of 120ha, according to Suffian.

Among WCT's property projects are Bandar Bukit Tinggi township in Klang, and The Paradigm mix commercial job in Petaling Jaya.

The company is also the developer of the d'Banyan Residency luxury homes in Kota Kinabalu, apart from projects in Johor's Iskandar Malaysia enclave.

Looking ahead, he expects the company's property investment operations, especially in retail and hospitality assets, to play a more crucial role in sustaining WCT's earnings.

Apart from Malaysia, he said the plan was also to expand the company's real estate in Vietnam where the company had already obtained an investment certificate in 2008.

For that, WCT undertakes the RM1 billion Platinum Plaza mix development that includes a shopping mall and hotel, two office towers and a residential portion.

"Property investment is the next wave of growth," Suffian said, adding that WCT was eyeing the resilience of the retail and hospitality markets to boost the company's recurrent income base.

"There is an oversupply of offices. But during a downturn, retail and hospitality assets go down last," he said.

In Malaysia, WCT's real estate assets are the AEON Bukit Tinggi Shopping Centre in Klang, office and retail units at the yet-to-be-opened The Paradigm project located opposite the Giant hypermarket along the Damansara Puchong highway.

WCT, also owner of the Première Hotel in Klang, holds a 25-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession for the KLIA-2 Integrated Complex, which includes 350,000 sq ft of retail space at the departure and arrival levels.

The portfolio of investment properties and concessions offer WCT a stream of recurrent income, deemed crucial to mitigate cyclical construction and property development earnings.

WCT co-owns three highway concessions in India on a BOT basis. These include the RM258 million Durgapur Expressway and RM219 million Panagarh-Palsit Expressway undertaken in collaboration with Gamuda Bhd in West Bengal, India. The joint venture between Gamuda and WCT is on a 70% and 30% basis.

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