Coun­try Gar­den takes long-term view to project

New Straits Times - - Business - AH­MAD FAIRUZ OTH­MAN bt@me­di­

MAS­TER de­vel­oper Coun­try Gar­den Paci­ficview Sdn Bhd is con­fi­dent of sus­tain­ing its mo­men­tum in at­tract­ing prop­erty buy­ers and in­vestors from Asia and be­yond into its US$100 bil­lion (RM447 bil­lion) mega project in Jo­hor.

Coun­try Gar­den Paci­ficview ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Datuk Md Oth­man Yu­sof said the buzz over For­est City was far from over, de­spite tighter re­stric­tions by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment on cap­i­tal out­flow for res­i­den­tial pur­chases over­seas and less than favourable spec­u­la­tion from prop­erty an­a­lysts.

He said par­ent Coun­try Gar­den Hold­ings Co Ltd took a long-term view to its projects.

“Down­turns and up­turns are part of the prop­erty cy­cle as well as the econ­omy, and we have ex­pe­ri­enced th­ese in our 20 years as a prop­erty de­vel­oper. We feel ques­tions about a po­ten­tial over­sup­ply or prop­erty glut are over­hyped,” said Oth­man in an in­ter­view on Satur­day.

He is ad­dress­ing the at­ten­tion For­est City re­ceived re­cently fol­low­ing the clo­sure of some of Coun­try Gar­den’s sales cen­tres pro­mot­ing the project in China.

The Guang­dong­based group on Fri­day said it was go­ing global with its mas­sive For­est City project in Jo­hor as it was switch­ing strat­egy to ex­pand its sales reach.

In a state­ment, it said that it was con­duct­ing an over­haul of its sales cen­tres in main­land China to bet­ter fit with cur­rent for- eign ex­change poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions in that coun­try as it looked to di­ver­sify its de­vel­op­ment strat­egy.

Coun­try Gar­den, which is China’s third largest de­vel­oper by sales, re­port­edly sold around 18 bil­lion yuan (RM11.5 bil­lion) worth of apart­ments in For­est City last year, with Chi­nese na­tion­als ac­count­ing for 70 per cent of buy­ers.

Oth­man said as one of China’s largest de­vel­op­ers, Coun­try Gar­den had a com­mit­ment to build and sell qual­ity houses.

“If there is a slow­down in de­mand due to eco­nomic fac­tors, we have the cash flow and enough hold­ing power to weather such sit­u­a­tions,” he said.

Cit­ing an ex­am­ple, Oth­man said while other de­vel­op­ers were sell­ing by us­ing unit mod­els, the com­pany was sell­ing by show­ing the ac­tual houses.

“For­est City is a sig­nif­i­cant project that will take years to com­plete, so it also stands to rea­son that we will re­lease the sup­ply of houses in phases as it takes time to build them,” he said.

Oth­man said de­spite spec­u­la­tion by prop­erty an­a­lysts and stricter reg­u­la­tions on cap­i­tal out­flow for Chi­nese buy­ers wish­ing to buy prop­erty over­seas, the com­pany was still forg­ing ahead with its goal of mak­ing For­est City the world’s big­gest “green” smart city.

“The For­est City project has been grossly mis­un­der­stood. When we chose to en­ter Malaysia and build a new town­ship of this size in the Iskandar re­gion, we did so by eval­u­at­ing sev­eral fac­tors.”

He said land prices, sup­ply and de­mand, costs of build­ings ma­te­ri­als and labour, trans­port con­nec­tiv­ity and good lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­la­tions con­trib­uted to Coun­try Gar­den’s de­ci­sion to set­ting up a flag­ship project in Jo­hor.

“Ad­mit­tedly, the scale of this project is un­com­mon in Malaysia, South­east Asia and else­where, but we have a track record of suc­cess­fully de­vel­op­ing more than 500 town­ships in China, some­thing few de­vel­op­ers have,” said Oth­man.

He said as a world-class city where peo­ple could live and work, For­est City’s mas­ter plan com­prised eight busi­ness hubs in ed­u­ca­tion, e-com­merce, for­eign in­vest­ment, tourism, meet­ings, in­cen­tives, con­fer­ence and ex­hi­bi­tions, en­trepreneur­ship and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, as well as a re­tire­ment des­ti­na­tion.

Last year, For­est City be­gan col­lab­o­ra­tions with 36 part­ners from th­ese in­dus­tries to build the first smart and green city in Malaysia.

“Some of our part­ners in­clude For­tune 500 com­pa­nies such as Ac­cen­ture, Bank of China (Malaysia), Cisco, China Con­struc­tion Steel Struc­ture Cor­po­ra­tion, Deutsche Bank (Asia Pa­cific) Huawei and Midea,” he said.

“We are in the ma­ture phase of dis­cus­sions with a few more part­ners, in­clud­ing a ma­jor telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions provider, to de­velop and man­age the tech­no­log­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture and know-how for our smart city, as well as the ecogreen con­cepts at the res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial ar­eas,” said Oth­man.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the For­est City in Jo­hor. Coun­try Gar­den sold around 18 bil­lion yuan worth of apart­ments in For­est City last year, with Chi­nese na­tion­als ac­count­ing for 70 per cent of buy­ers.

Datuk Md Oth­man Yu­sof

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