EXCITING times beckon for I-Bhd , with the property developer presently laying foundations for its next level of growth beyond the iconic i-City development.
At a recent Bursa Malaysia event, Datuk Eu Hong Chew, deputy chairman of I-Bhd says the company is in talks with various parties over land deals which will build on the successes of i-City and 8Kia Peng.
I-Bhd is once again readying itself to make another indelible mark on the property scene under the stewardship of its chairman, Tan Sri Lim Kim Hong.
Who would have thought that the land on which the present-day i-City sits on, which was purchased back in the 1990s and with an initial RM1.5bil gross development value (GDV) then, would be worth as much as RM9bil (or more, as anticipated by the group) today. The age-old adage of fortune favouring the brave is none-the-more epitomised by Lim’s foresight in purchasing the land in his personal capacity that many years ago, and reaping the rewards many-fold.
“The next step is the further enhancement of i-City’s GDV. We reckon the RM9bil that we know of today is not the end of the story; there is probably another RM2bil in the tank,” Eu says, who also shared that the group is already looking forward to launching its next project.
“I-Bhd is always on the lookout for land, be it in and out of the Klang Valley, as would most other developers who are hungry for continued successes. We are in no hurry however, as we will only (and always) do transactions which bring greater value to all shareholders.”
“With the current development in i-City still lasting another 10 years, our shareholders can rest assured that the long-term earnings sustainability of I-Bhd is at the foremost of our minds, and will drive us to continue enhancing our intrinsic value. Though plans have not crystallised as yet, we are open to any future projects being another urban development or even a complete township if the conditions are right.”
“Ideally, we would like to follow the same asset-light strategy and integrated development model which has been so successfully employed with the development of i-City, doing it as a joint venture rather than just an outright land purchase which will obviously be cash-draining,” Eu adds.
“In 2014, we did an RM800mil corporate exercise to fund our property investment portfolio and we expect the revenue from this initiative to kick in by 2018. By then, we will have a billion-ringgit property investment portfolio generating RM50mil in additional income to I-Bhd assuming a conservative yield of 5%. That is going to be another leap for us, earnings-wise.”
The on-going construction of Central i-City, a 1 million sq ft mall in collaboration with the Central Pattana Group of Thailand and a 4-star hotel by DoubleTree Hilton are just a few of the many exciting developments unfolding in this 72-acre freehold ultrapolis township. Various efforts are currently being undertaken to ensure I-Bhd doubles its current property development revenue and hit a steady-state of RM500mil to RM600mil per annum by 2018. The RM743mil in unbilled sales at the end of March 2016 is reflective of steps taken in the right direction.
Many other value-enhancing initiatives are in the pipeline, which will likely tip the scales over and see its GDV exceed RM10bil. Moving forward, i-City will not only be about property development but it will also be abuzz with leisure-related activities and a property investment portfolio providing rich streams of recurring income.
The full story of i-City is only just unfolding. With a successful track record (in enhancing the GDV as well as creating value for its buyers), the company is going into the current property headwinds on an extremely strong financial footing with zero bank borrowings, providing it with precious land-banking firepower should the need arise.
I-City: A connectivity success story
I-Bhd has already entrenched itself as a key and leading player in the property sector with I-City. Today, a flyover connecting the transit-oriented development and the busy Federal Highway is in operation. Owned by Mentri Besar Incorporated and built by PKNS Infra Bhd at a cost of RM45.9mil, the flyover which opened early this year is expected to alleviate heavy traffic entering the area from both Kuala Lumpur and Klang.
As-is, i-City is already pulling in sizeable tourism numbers, making the opening of this flyover timely and especially important to improve its accessibility.
According to Ho Chin Soon, a Malaysian map specialist and researcher, the opening of the new flyover can only mean good things for i-City. “I am excited for the years to come in terms of transportation infrastructure and accessibility,” he says. “This highway will give people direct access into i-City.”
“There are so many new methods of transportation. I think there will be even more choices for transportation in the future, so much that we may not even need cars anymore,” he adds. i-City, in this respect, is forward thinking in creating a transit-oriented development that will minimise the need for its residents and visitors to possess a car to get around the entire development as well as out of the area.
i-City residents will get to reap the benefits of an eco-friendly, car-less mode of travel once the third line of the light rail transit system (LRT 3) is completed. The RM9bil line is expected to naturally ease congestion along the Federal Highway and have a total of seven stations within the Shah Alam area: Bukit Raja, i-City, UiTM, Sirim, Section 14, Persiaran Hishamuddin and Stadium.
The i-City LRT station will connect commuters to the Padang Jawa KTM station, which is located about five minutes away from i-City. It will also be seamlessly connected to the Klang Valley MRT 1 line at Bandar Utama, the Kelana Jaya LRT line at Station 3 (extended LRT), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) stations at SIRIM and Stadium as well as the KTM Komuter (Port Klang-Batu Caves) line at Klang station.
That’s not all! In addition to the LRT system, commuters to and from i-City can look forward to the 34km long bus rapid transit (BRT) KL-Klang line, which is slated for completion in 2018. The BRT is planned to be built in the middle of Federal Highway, which will incidentally be widened to accommodate the BRT employing all-electric buses at ground level. About 80% of the KL-Klang BRT line will be connected to the LRT (Light Rail Transit) and KTM Komuter rail lines, with all stops linked to other bus services. The closest station to i-City will be located in Seksyen 7, just a stone’s throw away.
Last but certainly not least, this RM9bil integrated ultrapolis development is also made accessible through many highways such as the Federal Highway, the Shah Alam Expressway (KESAS), the Lebuhraya Kemuning-Shah Alam (LKSA), the upcoming West Coast Highway, the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), the Shah-Alam Puchong Highway (HICOM), the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) and the North-South Expressway Central Link (ELITE).
On the cards is the construction of the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (Dash), which will strengthened the link between Damansara and north Shah Alam, with a proposed allocation of RM4.2bil announced by the Prime Minister in his Budget 2016 speech.
Indeed, the number of highways connecting i-City to the rest of Kuala Lumpur attests to its strategic location. Getting anywhere by car from i-City is not only extremely convenient, but comes with plenty of options to the different parts of Kuala Lumpur. It does not matter if the destination is in the east, west, north or south of Kuala Lumpur, or if you follow the proverbial yellow brick road or chase the end of the rainbow, i-City has access to all channels that will bring you right up to its doorstep.
With the existing transportation infrastructure, i-City is a mere 30-min drive from the KL International Airport, Westports and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, and a 10-minute drive from the Subang airport
In short, residents of i-City will have full access to a myriad of options for easy access to the rest of Kuala Lumpur and beyond given the multiple options available.
Accessibility and transportation infrastructure will continue to play a huge role in the success of i-City in the years to come. i-City is endorsed as a Tourism Destination by the Tourism and Culture Ministry as well as an MSC Malaysia Cybercentre-certified development and a world reference site for Cisco’s Smart+Connected Community. i-City is also set to become a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) hub for business and leisure travellers.
i-City currently sees an average of about 90,000 visitors a week, but which is targeted to swell to 36 million by 2020 with the improved connectivity and its various other on-going initiatives. One such effort is the RM850mil Central i-City mall with a 1 million sq ft floor space, which is envisioned to fill a gap that is sorely lacking - a modern lifestyle shopping centre and an entertainment hub for people in the Greater KL region.
In anticipation of higher visitor numbers to the area, hotels have been or are in the process of being built. Best Western i-City opened its doors in 2015 and early-2016 saw the groundbreaking ceremony of a second world-class hotel in i-City – the 300-room DoubleTree by Hilton, opening for business in 2019.
For purchasers – it is an integration of work, play and life in a 24-hour vibrant lifestyle. For shareholders – it is a combination of potentially vast capital gains and healthy dividend flows in a timelessly dynamic investment. When completed, the entire i-City landscape will be a fully integrated intelligent (and international) city comprising a shopping mall, corporate office towers, cyber office suites, serviced residences, hotels, apartments, leisure attractions, as well as a data centre and innovation centre, a landmark and the ultrapolis it envisioned itself to be.
So why not i-City, with the offering of a fully-integrated lifestyle township which will cater to the maturing and gradually urbanising Klang and Shah Alam folk? Location, location, location!