DEVELOPER CONFIDENT OF SUSTAINING MOMENTUM
Country Garden takes long-term view to project
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