Jack Ma to launch Alibaba regional distribution hub in Malaysia
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Limited plans to set up a regional distribution hub in Malaysia to cater to its fast-growing business in the region. The hub would be sited within KLIA Aeropolis, a 24,700-acre development by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) that is expected to generate more than RM7bil worth of domestic and foreign investments. This would mark Alibaba’s first investment in Malaysia. The company invested $1bn last year to control Singapore-based e-commerce platform Lazada, and increased its shares in Singapore Post and Thai e-payment service, Ascend Money. Sources said the distribution hub would be part of Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), also slated to be launched during Ma’s visit next week. (The Star Online)

73.8% approval rate for housing loans in 2016
According to the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM), the approval rate for housing loans by Malaysian banks stood at 73.8% last year. The rate took into account housing loans approved by banks and accepted by the borrowers, as well as those approved, but subsequently cancelled. The statement was released to clarify recent comments regarding the different statistics on housing loan rejection rates as reported by banks and developers. Factors that contribute to a higher chance of success in obtaining a housing loan are having a good credit record, as well as fully and accurately disclosing all financial information to prove that they are able to make monthly repayments. (Malay Mail Online)

(Photo from Securities Commission Malaysia)

(Photo from Securities Commission Malaysia)

IOSCO launches Asia-Pacific hub in Malaysia
The International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), the world’s leading body of capital market regulators that oversees markets worth over US$140tril, has launched its first-ever Asia-Pacific hub in Malaysia. The IOSCO Asia Pacific hub, the first outside its Madrid headquarters in Spain, will be fully operational by the middle of this year. Besides playing a major role in developing capital markets on a collaborative basis, the hub is also expected to strengthen regulatory capabilities in the region. It will run capacity building programmes, carry out specific regulatory focused initiatives for Asia-Pacific and definite regulatory-themed workshops, among other things. (The Star Online)

TSR Capital signs MoU for high-end development in Langkawi
TSR Capital Bhd has signed a MoU with Terusan Al-Maju Sdn Bhd to develop 76 acres of land in Langkawi into a high-end mixed development. The project will include residential units, a resort, hotels, and commercial and corporate buildings to cater to the tourism and service industry. Terusan Al-Maju is principally involved in property investment and is the owner of the land. A joint-venture company could be established to undertake the project. (The Edge Markets)

Vizione awarded RM63.7mil contract for PPR works
Vizione Holdings Bhd has bagged a contract worth RM63.7 million for the People’s Housing Programme (PPR) in Lahad Datu, Sabah. Its wholly owned subsidiary Vizione Construction Sdn Bhd (VCSB) will supply material, labour, necessary tools and equipment to carry out design, building and delivery of 410 low-cost walk-up flats. It will undertake the main building works (except for earthworks) for the project. The total contract cost is RM61.02 million, and expected to complete within 26 months. (The Sun Daily)

Gabungan AQRS unit to sell land for RM34mil
Gabungan AQRS Bhd’s 52%-owned subsidiary Prestige Field Development Sdn Bhd (PFDSB) has proposed to sell a piece of leasehold land measuring 5.15ha in Petaling to Ara Indah Development Sdn Bhd for RM34.73 million. The proposed sale is part of its ongoing monetisation programme to dispose of selected pieces of land to raise funds as working capital for its construction order book, as well as repay bank barrowings. (The Sun Daily)

Housing project for civil servants launched in Sarawak
The 1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing Project (PPA1M) was launched in Muara Tuang in Kota Samarahan, Sarawak yesterday with the state government planning to build at least 15,000 such houses for civil servants in the future. The prices of the PPA1M houses are expected to be 30% below market price, and anyone in the civil service (federal, state, local government and government-linked companies) can apply for it. A total of 246 unit of town houses and 94 units of terrace houses will be built under the PPA1M @ Muara Tuang project developed by Blessed Builders Sdn Bhd on an 18-acre plot of land. (The Borneo Post)

Edra on track to build pilot solar power plant in Kedah
Independent power producer Edra Power Holdings Sdn Bhd, is on track to build its pilot large-scale solar photovoltaic plant in Kedah by early 2018. Project Kedah Solar, which will bring immense economic spillover benefits to the state, would be undertaken by Edra’s wholly-owned unit, Edra Solar Sdn Bhd. It will be built on 104ha at Bandar Kuala Ketil in Baling, Kedah, and is expected to generate approximately 80,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year. (Astro Awani)

Blackstone to put Sime Darby Singapore property on sale
Blackstone Group LP plans to sell one of the office and retail assets it acquired last year from Sime Darby Bhd. The New York-based private equity firm expects to fetch about S$300 million ($214 million) for the Sime Darby Centre in the Bukit Timah area, which it bought for just under S$200 million. Located in an aging commercial block on Dunearn Road, a residential artery lined with upmarket condominiums, the Sime Darby Centre is spread across 250,000 square feet of which about 80% is office space and the rest is retail. Blackstone owns a 70% stake in the Sime Darby Centre and Sime owns the rest. (Bloomberg)