Ekovest seeks strate­gic part­ners for high­way

> Ap­proached by some funds for stake in Se­ti­awangsa-Pan­tai Ex­press­way

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ - BY LEE WENG KHUEN

KUALA LUMPUR: Ekovest Bhd is look­ing for strate­gic part­ners for the Se­ti­awangsaPan­tai Ex­press­way (SPE), for­merly known as DUKE 3, fol­low­ing the dis­posal of its 40% stake in DUKE 1 and 2 to the Em­ploy­ees Prov­i­dent Fund (EPF) for RM1.13 bil­lion cash.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Datuk Seri Lim Keng Cheng said the group has been ap­proached by some funds for a stake in SPE, but it is still de­pen­dent on the as­set val­u­a­tion.

“We must keep on grow­ing, so we need strong part­ners to come in,” he told a press con­fer­ence af­ter Ekovest’s AGM here yes­ter­day.

SPE, which is es­ti­mated to cost RM5.05 bil­lion, is slated for com­ple­tion by 2020. It is now 5% com­plete. The high­way will link MRR2 at Univer­siti Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man to the Fed­eral High­way/Ker­inchi Link as well as pro­vid­ing con­nec­tiv­ity to ex­ist­ing high­ways such as DUKE, Ak­leh, MEX and NPE.

Ac­cord­ing to Lim, DUKE 1 and 2 are ex­pected to break even next year. DUKE 1 brings in over RM100 mil­lion for Ekovest a year.

The group, which is ten­der­ing for projects worth over RM10 bil­lion, has a RM7.2 bil­lion con­struc­tion order book in hand, which will keep the com­pany busy for three to four years.

“This is a record high for Ekovest, we used to have RM1 bil­lion to RM2 bil­lion, but this year we’re a bit lucky, we’ve DUKE 3, River of Life and our prop­erty projects are also do­ing very well.

“We do ten­der for LRT 3, Pan Bor­neo jobs, as well as one pack­age of Pu­tra­jaya’s 1Malaysia Civil Ser­vants Hous­ing Pro­gramme. We’re wait­ing for re­sults from the gov­ern­ment,” he said.

Lim said he be­lieves that mar­ket de­mand for prop­er­ties priced be­low RM1 mil­lion in Greater Kuala Lumpur is still re­silient.

“If you stay in Greater Kuala Lumpur, then you’ll save on trans­port cost. Peo­ple are still look­ing at prop­er­ties slightly above RM500,000 and RM600,000,” he said.

Ekovest’s EkoCheras and EkoTi­ti­wangsa have gar­nered take-up rates of about 60%. Its un­billed sales stand at RM576 mil­lion.

The group has a to­tal of 76 acres of land­bank in the Klang Valley, Johor Baru and Kuan­tan with an ex­pected gross devel­op­ment value of RM7.8 bil­lion.

Asked if there is any land­bank re­plen­ish­ment plan, Lim said the group prefers sites that are ad­ja­cent to its ex­ist­ing land in order to have bet­ter plan­ning for its fu­ture projects with higher plot ra­tio.

“Be­sides work­ing ex­pan­sion, pro­ceeds from our deal with EPF will go for land­bank­ing ac­tiv­ity,” he added.

For the fi­nan­cial year ended June 30, 2016, Ekovest’s net profit jumped more than eight­fold to RM156.44 mil­lion from RM18.51 mil­lion a year ago.

Lim (left) with Ekovest se­nior man­ager (cor­po­rate) Ah­mad Nasir Mohd Said with the com­pany’s an­nual re­port dur­ing the press con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

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