Govt, EPF to discuss higher housing withdrawal
The government is in talks with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) to provide flexibility to first-time home buyers in withdrawing more from their account help finance their home purchases. Currently, EPF members can only withdraw from their account two to finance their home purchases. Reports suggested that the Government revised the percentage of funds in EPF accounts one and two. By increasing the funds in account two from the current 30% to 40% of EPF balances, contributors can have more funds in account two to pay the downpayment of their property. However, it is confirmed that this will be limited to first timers of affordable home purchase. (The Star Online)

YTL Hotels acquires three UK properties
Malaysian hospitality group YTL Hotels is expanding its portfolio in the UK, following the acquisition of three properties in Edinburgh, Berkshire and London, bringing the group’s presence worldwide to a total of 29 properties. The three new additions to the portfolio include The Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh, Monkey Island in Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire, and The Academy Hotel in London’s West End. YTL expects the properties to be particularly attractive to its customers from Singapore. (Business Traveller)

The Paradigm Mall brand of shopping malls by WCT will be part of the portfolio under its REIT that will be launched in 2H next year. (Photo from LocatedAt)

Paradigm Mall will be part of the portfolio under its proposed REIT. (Photo from LocatedAt)

WCT upbeat on business prospects
WCT Holdings Bhd is upbeat on its prospects for the financial years 2016 and 2017, driven by its outstanding order book of RM4.3 billion and planned real estate investment trust (REIT) listing. Besides a busy order book, WCT is also bidding for RM5 billion worth of projects consisting of infrastructure, civil works, building and highway jobs. The company is keeping close tabs on the progress of the Tun Razak Exchange and Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development Project, as well as actively looking for contracts in Qatar, UAE, as it sees huge opportunities in terms of infrastructure projects in the country as it is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The company plans to first list its two malls — Aeon Bukit Tinggi and Paradigm Mall Petaling Jaya — with a valuation of RM1.2 billion into the proposed REIT. (New Straits Times Online)

Atrium REIT buys Shah Alam industrial property for RM23mil
Atrium REIT has entered a sale and purchase agreement to acquire an industrial property in Shah Alam, Selangor for RM23 million. The property, which comprises of a double storey office with two adjoining single storey factories, features net lettable area of approximately 85,000 square feet, and sits on freehold land measuring approximately 140,000 square feet. The asset is currently 100% occupied by a single tenant known as Nagatron Engineering Sdn Bhd. The proposed acquisition is expected to be accretive to Atrium REIT’s distributable income. (REITs Week)

Crescendo records RM44mil in 2Q net profit
Crescendo Corp Bhd saw its net profit for 2QFY17 jump almost 14 times to RM44.1 million from a year ago, thanks to a one-off fair value change of investment properties. Minus the fair value gain, net profit was actually almost unchanged at RM3.01 million, compared with RM3.087 million a year ago. Revenue rose 20.4% to RM49.22 million, due to higher properties sales. The group will be cautious in its launches to avoid holding high stock, as it expects the current financial year to be a challenging one, with an uncertain global economic scenario, tightening credit control by banks and increase in cost of doing business. (The Edge Markets)

Applicants for low-cost housing cry foul after offers pulled
Twelve applicants for low-cost homes in Penang are demanding that the state government reinstate the offers they received for units at Taman Seri Anggun in Sungai Nibong that were previously given to them. The group claimed the offers were rescinded by the state government without justification. They had applied for the units between 2013 and 2014, and subsequently received official letters from the state housing department offering them units at Taman Seri Anggun in September 2015. When contacted, state executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo said the units at Taman Seri Anggun were meant for relocation of squatters with compensation agreement, and the group could re-apply through the normal process with a waiting list. (Malay Mail Online)