It has been a great year for Malaysia's property counters and 2004 promises to be even better. For comparison, the KLSE Property Index has risen by nearly 40% so far this year, outstripping the Composite Index, which has risen by 24%.
Today's CEO Outlook features Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal of MK Land Bhd, Datuk Seri Liew Kee Sin of S.P. Setia Bhd and Datuk Jeffrey Ng of Asia Pacific Land Bhd.
Malaysian developers (the big ones, that is) have come a long way from their predecessors of the 1970s and 1980s. They are more professional and innovative. They don't build houses but townships. They compete aggressively among themselves, each trying to establish a niche with product designs and lifestyle choices.
MK Land began as an affordable homes builder and is still a big producer of such homes. But today it's developing one of the most sought after townships in the Klang Valley – the Damansara Perdana project, close to Taman Tun Dr Ismail and Bandar Utama.
With MK Land's share price rising 70% this year, Mustapha is probably a billionaire – in ringgit.
At first, many people thought Liew was pulling a fast one when he announced on April l, 2002 that S.P. Setia was paying nearly RM600mil for 3,900 acres of estate from See Hoy Chan Plantations.
But now, he is having the last laugh: through a couple of cleverly structured moves, he has secured reputable partners to develop Bandar Setia Alam. Eventually, S.P. Setia will get half the land at Bandar Setia Alam virtually free of charge.
Ng has skilfully, but not without difficulties, steered Asia Pacific Land out of the recent economic recession. After a phase of disposals of low-yielding assets, AP Land is now poised to expand its land bank for property development, while its hotels are expected to enjoy better times ahead.
On his own, Ng founded The Cellarium, a niche importer and distributor of Australian wines. The success of The Cellarium earned him the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from the Malaysian Australian Business Council last October.