EPF set to remove 30% cap on investments
Effective Aug 1, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will remove its 30% foreign fund exposure cap on investments by its members, allowing them to invest in unit trust funds that are fully focused on investing overseas, as long as they are funds recognised by the EPF. Currently, members can use part of their EPF savings — money parked under Account 1 — to invest in unit trust funds, including those with no more than 30% foreign exposure, with a 5% allowance. The relaxation of this limitation to allow for asset diversification means that more investment options are now open to members. According to the EPF, 47 new unit trust funds with overseas exposure have been approved for the EPF-MIS under the new amendment. Fund managers welcome the removal of the cap, saying it would liberalise the investment industry. Aside from lifting the cap on overseas exposure, the EPF also raised the score of simple average rating for consistent returns (SACR) to 2.33 and above, from 2.00 currently, to provide further protection for investors as it screened out the bottom performers. (The Edge Markets)

Prasarana adds 4,000 parking bays along extended LRT line
Rail operator Prasarana Malaysia Berhad is working to increase the number of parking bays along its Light Rail Transit (LRT) network. The new parking bays provided by Prasarana along the recently-extended Sri Petaling and Kelana Jaya LRT lines are 2,200 and 2,036 respectively with charges of RM4 per entry after the first month of operations. Azhar Ghazali, the head of Prasarana’s media affairs, noted the national target was to boost the percentage of commuters using public transport as their main mode of transport from the current 21 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030. Not all of the 23 new stations along the extended line have parking facilities, as there are stations where Prasarana does not have excess land to build parking areas. Azhar also said that Prasarana hopes that “more people will leave their private cars at home and use the feeder bus services” provided by the company to connect commuters to LRT stations. (The Malay Mail Online)

Prasarana's multi-storey Park N Ride facilities (Image from MyRapid)

Prasarana’s multi-storey Park N Ride facilities (Image from MyRapid)

RM4bil worth of projects lined up for Penang this year
Kuala Lumpur and Penang-based property developers are launching projects totalling GDV RM4.04 billion in Penang this year to ensure variety in the market. Eco World Development Group Bhd (GDV of RM280mil), Mah Sing Group Bhd (GDV of RM651mil), Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd (GDV of RM2.72bil) and IJM Land Bhd (GDV of RM393.7mil) are some of the well-known property companies with projects planned for this year. Penang-based Ivory Properties Group Bhd is also taking on RM1.8bil worth of projects on the island this year. (The Star Online)

REITs regaining popularity this year
The mundane but relatively stable stocks of real estate investment trusts (REITs) are back in style this year, especially following the surprise cut in interest rate by Bank Negara last week. Since the start of this year, REIT investors have enjoyed capital appreciation compared to other stock markets. All 17 REITs stocks of Bursa Malaysia have outperformed the FBM KLCI’s 2% drop, while the 10-year Malaysian Government Securities yield is at about the 3.7% level. One of the biggest gainers so far is Pavilion REIT, which has risen more than 22% on a year-to-date basis, trading at RM1.77 a share. Among the REITs that offer the highest yield are MRCB-Quill REIT with 7.0% and YTL REIT with 7.4%. The largest REIT in Malaysia by asset size, KLCC Stapled REIT, carries a yield of 4.6%. (The Star Online)

Johor property market set to boom
Property developer IJM Land Bhd is optimistic about the Johor real estate market, in view of the several upcoming catalysts such as the Johor Baru-Singapore Rapid Transit System (RTS Link) and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project. The improved connectivity and weaker ringgit are likely to attact Malaysians working in Singapore, Singaporeans and expatriates looking for properties in Johor Baru. IJM’s Sebana Cove integrated township near Pengerang and Austin Duta township have received good response from potential buyers. Nasa Land Sdn Bhd also believes the Johor property market has big growth potential, thanks to strong backing from the government as a result of Johor’s contribution in the region’s development, infrastructure and economic landscape. (The Star Online)

Tadmax acquires full control of subsidiary for RM42mil
Tadmax Resources Bhd has raised its stake in subsidiary Wawasan Metro Bina Sdn Bhd (WMB) from 55% to 100% to secure and boost its foodhold in propein March, and recently signed an agreement with Inas Angkasa Sdn Bhd, Impiria Jaya Sdn Bhd and Global Showcase Sdn Bhd to acquire the remaining 45% for RM42 million. The acquisition is an opportunity for the group to consolidate Wawasan Metro’s earnings in full as its wholly-owned subsidiary, which will in turn improve the group’s future earnings. (The Edge Markets)