MMC acquiring 49% of Penang Port for RM200mil
Utilities and infrastructure company MMC Corp Bhd is buying a 49% stake in Penang Port Sdn Bhd for RM200 million in a related party deal. MMC had entered into a conditional share SPA with Seaport Terminal (Johore) Sdn Bhd – a major MMC shareholder – for the acquisition. The acquisition is in line with the company’s initiative to make further strategic investments in one of its core business – ports and logistics. The acquisition is also expected to contribute positively to the future earnings of the MMC group. Penang Port is involved in the operation, maintenance, management and provision of port facilities and other related services. It also maintains, develops, operates and administers a free commercial zone and provides warehousing services. (The Sun Daily)

PCCC wants BNM to ease lending measures for property sector
The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) is urging Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to ease lending measures affecting the property sector, particularly loans for the affordable housing segment, in view of the overnight policy rate cut. The association also suggested the authorities to reintroduce the developer interest bearing scheme (DIBS) for the affordable housing segment. It will be a win-win situation where buyers will be able to lessen their burden and ensure survival of the housing industry. Under the DIBS system, developers absorbed the home loan interest while the property was being built and loans would still be disbursed during construction. It was abolished as property consultants observed that such schemes or variants of it tended to attract speculation from buyers. (The Star Online)

Asian Pac makes cash call to expand land bank
Property developer Asian Pac Holdings Bhd has proposed a renounceable rights issue to raise up to RM99.26 million, which will be mainly used to expand its land bank. The company current has 543.87 acres of undeveloped land bank, and is looking to build up its land for continuous long-term growth. Its focus will be in choice locations and areas with growth potential in the Klang Valley, Kota Kinabalu, Johor and Penang. However, the company will only begin negotiations and acquisitions with a stronger position once it has the funds in place. (The Star Online)

KPRJ to build 3,000 houses by 2018
Kumpulan Prasarana Rakyat Johor (KPRJ) Sdn Bhd is expected to build 3,000 Rumah Mesra Rakyat Johor (RMRJ) by 2018, which gives opportunity to people who have land but could not afford to build houses. RM20 million has been allocated to build the RMRJ houses. A total of 500 houses will be built this year, 1,000 more next year and the rest in 2018, said KPRJ Chief Executive Officer Abd Razak Mohd Yusoff. The houses will range from 750 to 1,000 sq ft with prices starting at RM64,000 to RM85,000 after subsidies. (The Sun Daily)

Over 15,000 PPR units completed in Sabah
A total of 23,114 People’s Housing Program (PPR) units have been completed, or in the process of being built, in Sabah so far. Through the National Housing Department (JPN), the state government has completed 15,956 housing units, whilst 7,158 units are in the middle of construction. Those eligible for PPR housing units are local Malaysian squatters, single mothers from the low-income group, persons with disabilities (OKU), fire victims (subject to availability) and those having a monthly household income of less than RM3,000. (The Borneo Post)

Malaysia among Top 2 Asian countries with high English proficiency
Malaysia is ranked the second Asian country with high English proficiency, after Singapore, according to a survey by the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI). Malaysia was ranked 14th out of 70 countries in the English proficiency survey, with the only other Asian nation ranked higher being Singapore, at 12th place. Singapore, Malaysia and Argentina are the only non-European countries to feature in the top 15 of the survey. (New Straits Times Online)