Eco World to launch RM1bil corporate exercise

PETALING JAYA: Eco World Development Group Bhd, the property developer controlled by former executives of S P Setia Bhd, is planning to launch a new asset acquisition and fund-raising exercise worth about RM1bil, sources said.

Trading in the shares of Eco World was suspended yesterday after the counter hit a record high. The company said the suspension was to make way for “a material announcement”.

Sources said Eco World would acquire RM400mil worth of land for shares.

It would also propose a rights issue to raise RM400mil cash to be used for working capital purposes.

Shares in Eco World had risen 48% since the start of January to RM5.40 yesterday, boosting its market value to RM1.37bil.

Eco World had paid RM1.40 a share for the majority stake in Focal Aims Holdings Bhd, which owns a 1,000ha township in Kota Masai near Johor Baru.

The company later changed its name to reflect the identity of its new controlling shareholder.

There has been speculation about Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin joining his son, Tian Xiong, at Eco World. Tian Xiong owns majority shares in Eco World.

The outgoing chief of S P Setia, however, has so far kept mum on the subject.

Reports have indicated that the elder Liew had already sold his entire stake in S P Setia ahead of his departure on April 30 from the company he founded.

While Eco World is a relative newcomer to the local property scene, the people behind the company are some of the respected figures in the industry.

Eco World is helmed by Datuk Chang Khim Wah (pic), one of Liew’s top lieutenants at S P Setia.

Interestingly, some observers have noted that the eco-branding of projects by Eco World was first made successful by S P Setia.

Earlier this month, Eco World showcased nine projects located in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor.

The EcoCity project in Kuala Lumpur, has a gross development value of RM1bil, while the company’s biggest township – EcoMajestic – is a 1,000acre development in Semenyih.

Chang told StarBiz last week that the company would start the project at the remaining 404.5ha of undeveloped land in Kota Masai by September this year.

Despite having so many projects in the pipeline, Eco World is still busy adding to its landbank.

Last month, the company acquired 128ha, part of the Canal City project in Selangor, from Tropicana Corp Bhd for RM470.6mil.

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