MALAYSIA Debt Ventures Bhd (MDV) will be allocating an undisclosed amount from its RM1.6bil fund to 50 local and foreign information communication technology (ICT) companies and content providers to facilitate the Aquaria project at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).
MDV managing director and chief executive Jiro Suzuki told StarBiz that it would meet 100 content and technology providers beginning next month to pick the companies for the project, valued at RM60mil.
The interest rates for loans may vary from one to another as it depends on the business risks. However, we would provide them active financing support, he said, adding that he has yet to allocate a budget for the companies.
Suzuki said he was looking for companies specialising in technology hardware, education and science content, artificial intelligence, 3D animation and special effects.
The project would be carried out by Aquawalk Sdn Bhd, which is owned by New Zealand-based Aquawalk International Ltd and Capping Corp Ltd. Aquawalk International is principally involved in the development, design, construction and operation of commercial aquariums.
Speaking at a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Suzuki said MDV had extended an RM50mil five-year term loan to Aquawalk Sdn Bhd for the development and operation of the Aquaria project.
It would be joined by local and international project partners such as Marine Scape Ltd to design, build and operate the underground see-through aquarium with edutainment facilities.
The complex would cover about 55,000 sq ft in basement one and two of KLCC and is expected to open its doors to the public in early 2005. Aquawalk has a 24-year lease term with KLCC.
Chairman of Aquawalk International, Terry O'Boyle said: The Discovery Zone will promote Malaysia's rich and diverse ecology and marine life. It will educate visitors on all aspects of ecology, nature and the environment its evolution, current state and the importance of its preservation.
He added that the Discovery Zone is a flexible area which can be altered to suit, or create a rapport with, visitors.
Suzuki said that among the main attractions is the do-it-yourself virtual breeding of marine life for visitors.
He projected more than one million visitors would visit the aquarium in the first year of operation, and expected this figure to rise significantly due to repeat customers and expected increases in tourist arrivals in the country.
On a different note, Suzuki told StarBiz the trend for MDV's loan disbursement this year would benefit companies involved in the smart school, e-government and general office environment projects, and e-procurement and mobile technologies.
To date, it has more than RM9mil worth of applications in its credit assessment pipeline, and allocated more than RM400mil worth.
MDV already has 92 applications worth RM462mil in the business and technology building stage.