Sime Darby to dispose property assets worth RM2bil
Sime Darby Berhad, the world’s largest listed palm oil producer by market value, is planning to sell over RM2 billion worth of real estate assets in Australia and Singapore to combat cash flow issues and falling palm oil prices. The conglomerate had also put on hold earlier plans to raise funds to reduce its debt, which stands at RM19.7 billion at the end of September. It is exploring various deleveraging options, including “a prudent approach toward capital expenditure spending, refinancing of debts, working-capital management and various monetization options of the group’s assets, including a real-estate investment trust”, said a company spokesman. The heavily diversified conglomerate, which also sells cars, runs hospitals and develop townships in Malaysia, has been affected by the drying effects of El Nino and a prolonged drought, leading to lower palm oil and fresh fruit bunch production for FY15/16. (The Malaysian Insider; Wall Street Journal)

Chew: Developers should include nurseries in new housing projects
The Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry has proposed housing developers to include children’s nurseries in new housing developments. Deputy minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the proposal was a result of discussions by various parties, including government agencies, NGOs and the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia (ARCPM). It was suggested that developers identify a suitable corner lot when drawing up new housing development plans, which can apply for dual usage – residential and nursery. This will ensure that new housing projects have sufficient lots for the purpose, and nursery operators can buy these lots. A nursery would also be a selling point for developers, and reduce the hassle of operators applying for licence from local authorities and neighbours. (New Straits Times Online, Bernama)

UEM Sunrise-Mulpha sign RM5bil JV in Iskandar
Property developers UEM Sunrise Bhd and Mulpha International Bhd have entered a joint venture (JV) to develop three parcels of land with GDV of RM5 billion near the Malaysia-Singapore second link in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor. The companies have an equal share in the JV company to develop the project for up to 20 years. The JV’s landbank include UEM Sunrise’s 129.79 acres in Gerbang Nusajaya and 65.48 acres belonging to Mulpha in Mukim Pulai. The parcels are located next to Leisure Farm, a 1,765-acre gated project owned by Mulpha. The first phase of the JV project will be launched in 2018 and there will 12 phases in total. (The Star Online)

Suria Capital to head RM800mil Sapangar Bay port expansion
Sabah-based port operator and property developer Suria Capital Holdings Bhd will be heading the RM800 million Sapangar Bay Container Port SBCP) expansion, allocated by the federal government under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP). Construction for the first stage of the development will begin early next year and expected to complete by 2019. Suria Capital said RM7 million would be used within the first year and another RM365mil in 2017. The first phase will involve the expansion of its berth length from the current 500m to 1.2km and stacking area from 15ha to 60ha. The expansion works will more than double SBCP’s handling capacity to 1.25 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) from 500,000 TEUs. (The Edge Markets)

78% employees opt for 8% EPF cut
According to the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), most employees have opted for the 3% reduction in their contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF). MEF executive director Shamsuddin Bardan revealed that 78% had opted for the new rate of 8%, while the remaining 22% opted to retain the 11% EPF contribution rate. However, he advised employees who contribute less than RM6,000 per year to retain the 11% rate. “The extra money will only be a small sum for a contributor from the lower-income bracket or one who earns less than RM5,000 a month,” he said. (Free Malaysia Today)

TRC Synergy sells Melbourne office suite to MD
TRC Synergy Bhd is selling an office suite in Melbourne, Australia to its managing director Tan Sri Sufri Mohd Zin for A$1.06 million (RM3.14 million). The office suite includes car spaces, and is currently under construction and expected to be completed in January 2018. The property has a built-up area of 147.6 sq m, and is located in Burnley, Victoria. It is considered a related party transaction, and the sale is in its ordinary cause of business. (The Edge Markets)