TPM set to house AI park

  • Corporate News
  • Monday, 14 Oct 2019

(From left) G3 Global Bhd executive chairman Datuk Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, SenseTime Group Ltd founder Prof. Tang Xiao'ou and China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd chairman Lin Yi Chong after the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the setting up of an AI park in Malaysia at SenseTime's office in Beijing in April 2019. - Filepic

PETALING JAYA: G3 Global Bhd and its partners have secured a piece of land in Technology Park Malaysia (TPM) to build their iconic artificial intelligence (AI) park, sources said.

A property industry executive, who declined to be quoted, said the board of Technology Park Malaysia Corp Sdn Bhd last week made a decision to award the piece of land to G3 Global and its partners to build their planned AI park.

“There were a number of other bidders for the land but one of the reasons the board decided on the AI park was due to the iconic nature of the project and the big international names that are participating, ” said a source.

Notably, G3 Global’s share price continued its climb last week, possibly on the back of rumours that the group will be securing the land at TPM.

From Thursday’s open, G3 Global’s share price was up 7.4% to Friday’s close at RM3.38.

In April this year, G3 Global had inked an agreement with China’s SenseTime Group Ltd and China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd to develop the AI park, with a total investment of US$500mil (RM2.09bil).

SenseTime is one of the world’s high-value AI company, recently achieving a valuation of more than US$7.5bil (RM31.4bil) on the back of new funding from investors like SoftBank Group Corp.

Following that, StarBiz recently reported that other big names from Japan and South Korea are to be roped in as G3 Global’s partners for the AI park. Sources said these could include Japan’s SoftBank and South Korea’s SK Telecom Co Ltd.

Recall that G3 Global is 32%-owned by GREEN PACKET BHD. Green Packet, in turn, has had SK Telecom as a partner previously, via its subsidiary Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd (P1).

P1 and SK Telecom formed the strategic alliance back in 2010, where the latter acquired a substantial stake in P1 and collaborated on the nationwide rollout of WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access).

Apart from financing, the collaborating parties in the AI park are expected to contribute their relevant expertise.

G3 Global’s role in the development of the AI park will be to coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities and regulators, form local partnerships as well as promote and develop the AI park project.

On the other hand, SenseTime will serve as the AI technology provider for the partnership, while China Harbour Engineering will provide infrastructure engineering and construction services as well as management and maintenance of the park.

According to consultancy firm JLL, the exclusive marketing agent for Phase 3 of TPM, land owner TPM Corp had in April launched a request for proposal (RFP) for the development of its institutional and industrial land in Phase 3 of TPM in Bukit Jalil.

It is understood that the AI park could be in this Phase 3, which will have an estimated gross development value of RM20bil.

TPM has a total land area of 686 acres, of which Phase 3 measures 315 acres.

Phases 1 and 2 of TPM are already developed, hosting a variety of tenants since its establishment in 1996. It is estimated that more than 3,000 technology companies have benefited from TPM’s facilities and infrastructure.

When contacted, G3 Global executive chairman Datuk Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad declined to elaborate on the matter.

Wan Khalik, who received his Datukship over the weekend in conjunction with the 80th birthday of Melaka’s Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob, had earlier espoused the importance of the AI park to the country.

In April, after G3 Global had inked an agreement with SenseTime, Wan Khalik had said that the AI park was vital as it would house the necessary AI research-related public service infrastructure as a base to promote AI technology in Malaysia.

He also predicted that the AI park would be a place for talent to be trained on AI and machine learning.

The AI park will serve as a platform for the development of AI solutions such as speech recognition, robotics and smart city technology. It is also planned to be a regional epicentre for data management and commercial ecosystem.

Early this year, Wan Khalik had shot into the corporate scene after he emerged with substantial stakes in G3 Global and DWL Resources Bhd and became the executive chairman of both companies.

Since his entry into G3 Global, the company had inked the collaboration with Sensetime.

In addition, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, accompanied by several Malaysian ministers had visited SenseTime’s Beijing office where they got a first-hand experience of the latest AI technologies and its application in smart city solutions, autonomous driving technology and remote sensing.

It is expected that these are among the technology projects which will drive activities at the AI park in the future.

G3 Global saw its net loss narrow to RM4.2mil for the first half of financial year ending Dec 31,2019, from RM5.6mil in the corresponding period last year.

During the period in review, the group posted lower revenue of RM15.1mil, compared with RM17.3mil, and its loss per share narrowed to 1.01 sen from 1.35 sen previously.

Commenting on its prospects, G3 Global said it expected its ICT business to continue to show growth potential despite incurring losses, as the group prepares to move into the field of AI, which would be a new and innovative area of growth for the group.

“The setting up of various subsidiaries to undertake new and related businesses in the ICT sector which will place the group at the forefront of the industry, ” it said in its note earlier.

“The group will be well positioned to take advantage of improving prospects of the ICT industry for the current and next financial year, ” it added.

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