High-speed rail MoU in July, says Najib
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project is expected to be signed in July by Malaysia and Singapore. The project had received worldwide attention as it would cut travelling time between the two countries to about 90 minutes. The proposed 350km HSR line will begin in Bandar Malaysia and end at Jurong East in Singapore, reducing the current rail journey of eight hours. It was reported that construction work on the HSR was scheduled to begin in 2017 and completed by 2022. (The Sun Daily)

CBRE acquires 49% in WTW, forms joint venture
New York Stock Exchange-listed real estate services provider CBRE Group, Inc has acquired a 49% stake in Malaysia-based WTW – comprising C H Williams Talhar & Wong Sdn Bhd, WTW Real Estate Sdn Bhd and WTW Property Services Sdn Bhd – to form a joint venture company to enhance both companies’ services to their existing clients. The business will be rebranded as CBRE | WTW. The JV will allow both companies to leverage on each other’s expertise in local and foreign markets, increase foreign investments into Malaysia, and attract more corportate clients. (Deal Street Asia)

CBRE and WTW joint venture to form CBRE | WTW (Photo from DealStreetAsia)

CBRE and WTW joint venture to form CBRE | WTW (Photo from DealStreetAsia)

Perak to compel more developers to build affordable homes
The Perak state government is proposing a new policy for housing developers in the state to build affordable homes for projects that cover an area of two hectares and above. At present, only projects on 8ha and above were required to build such units. The state government will also lower the ceiling price for such homes to RM220,000 from the present price of RM300,000 per unit. Developers are also encouraged to build low-cost houses capped at RM70,000 with a 1,000 sq ft built-up area. The state government would meet stakeholders, including the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia, to discuss on the matter before implementing the new policy next month. a special board would also monitor the development of affordable houses after the Perak Housing and Real Property Board Enactment 2016 was approved at the recent state legislative assembly sitting. (New Straits Times Online)

Land disposal boosts Boustead Plantations 1Q net profit
Boustead Plantations Bhd saw its net profit for the first quarter ended March 31, 2016 grow almost sixfold to RM42.59 million from a year ago due to RM34.6 million gains on disposal of land. Revenue for the quarter rose 3.86% to RM136.98 million from RM131.89 million a year ago. The group’s fresh fruit bunch production during th quarter fell 13% due to El Nino, land disputes in Sarawak and labour shortage for tall palms. This year, the group expects its crop production to be affected to some extent by El Nino and uncertainties pertaining to the enforcement of its rights over certain estates in Sarawak. (The Sun Daily)

Penang to build affordable housing next to Juru workers’ village
A proposed workers’ village in Juru has been halved to 6.3 acres to make way for the Penang state government’s plan to build more affordable housing for the people, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. the Pakatan Harapan state government has asked its development arm, Penang Development Corporation (PDC), to draft plans for the proposed housing project aimed at low- and medium-income households. He said the state decided on the change following objections from residents nearby to the original plan for a 12,000-bed dormitory for workers on a 12.6-acre land. About 300 residents in Perkampungan Juru had held a peaceful demonstration against the workers’ village project, citing worries of increased social problems from it. (The Malay Mail Online)

SMTrack in JV to bid for SEA construction jobs
Track and trace solutions provider SMTrack Bhd has entered into a strategic agreement with Cherish Words Sdn Bhd and China’s Anhui Construction Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd to jointly bid for construction projects in Southeast Asia (SEA). SMTrack said the joint venture’s business and affairs shall be limited strictly to construction projects. In March, it had announced a joint venture with Cherish Words to take on subcontracting works to build 300 houses for the Federal Land Development Authority in Negeri Sembilan. (The Edge Markets)

umw oil and gasUMW Oil and Gas cuts 300 jobs
UMW Oil and Gas Corp Bhd (UMW-OG) has revealed that it had retrenched some 300 employees as part of a group-wide cost-cutting exercise, a necessary move to address operating costs and due to lack of new jobs. President Rohaizad Darus said the headcount reduction comprised workers who were on a contractual basis. The company currently has 736 employees, about a third of which comprise contract staff. Its rationalisations include reduction in manpower, rengotiations with vendors, and reduction in capital costs, which Rohaizad says have helped save about RM18 million in expenses during the first quarter alone. On the other hand, Rohaizad maintained that he is confident that the recent rebound in crude oil prices marked an upturn for the oil and gas industry, and will pave the way for a better earnings performance for the company this year. (The Star Online)