Ekovest seeks strategic partners for highway
> Approached by some funds for stake in Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway
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.