Malaysian passport 4th most powerful in Asia, world’s 12th
The Malaysian passport is the fourth most powerful in Asia, maintaining its position for two consecutive years. According to the Henley Passport Index, holders of the Malaysian passport can travel to 166 countries visa-free. Malaysia, which was placed behind Singapore, Japan and South Korea in Asia, is also ranked 12th overall in the world out of 199 countries. The country was placed 13th in the world in 2017. The Henley Passport Index itself ranks passports of the world according to the number of countries its holders can travel to visa-free, based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), with additional in-house research. (The Star Online)

OSK Property to launch three projects worth RM4.65bil in 2018
OSK Property Holdings Bhd will launch three residential properties this year with GDV worth RM4.65 billion. The three property projects are Ryan & Miho in Petaling Jaya, Iringan Bayu in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and Hika in Cheras. Ryan & Miho and Iringan Bayu, each with a GDV of RM593 million and RM3.6 billion respectively, will be launched in the first quarter of 2018 while Hika with a cost of RM460 million will be launched in the second half of this year. (NST Online)

‘Building materials not the cause of high housing prices’
The prices of four most-utilised building materials, namely steel, cement, ready-mixed concrete and sand, are not the contributing factors in rising housing costs, says the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC). The MyCC had conducted a market review on building materials in the construction industry due to concerns raised regarding the rising cost of living and the availability of less affordable housing in the country. Several areas that may restrict the competitiveness of local industry players are the high financial barrier to entry for upstream steel and cement manufacturing, import of steel from China, as well as the common vertical integration and territorial-based operational structure among industry players, it noted. (The Edge Markets)

Ayer expects property demand rebound in 2H
Real estate developer Ayer Holdings Bhd, formerly known as TAHPS Group Bhd, expects property demand to rebound in the second half of this year on better consumer sentiment and economic growth. “The property market is (currently) looking at consolidation because there are many unsold stock being carried by developers. Thus, developers need to be smart in launching new projects, taking into account demand for the right product, location and pricing,” said group CEO Eugene Khoo. The company, through its property arm Bukit Hitam Development Sdn Bhd, plans to launch affordable landed and high rise homes in Bukit Puchong vicinity. Ayer is also currently in the midst of finalising its masterplan for the Bukit Puchong development consisted of the 600 acres of undeveloped freehold land it owns. (NST Online)

The Exchange 106 at TRX

Big tenants for Exchange 106
The Exchange 106 has signed up some large institutions to be its tenants as it populates the floors of the country’s tallest tower, which will be completed by the end of this year. All of the prospective tenants who signed up are “big space users” and are predominantly from the local financial and lending sector, a source said. They will take up between two and eight floors, with each level having a floor space of about 34,000 square feet, the largest column-less floor space in the country. Up to 47% of the 2.6 million sq ft of the floor area of Exchange 106 has been formally signed, and 9% under negotiation. The 106-storey building is being constructed by one of Indonesia’s largest commercial property developers Mulia Group and has an asking rent of RM17 psf. (The Star Online)

IEV Holdings to sell Malaysian HQ in cost-cutting drive
IEV Holdings is selling off its corporate headquarters in Malaysia, in a “cost rationalisation exercise”, said the Catalist-listed offshore engineering and gas company. Its office unit in Petaling Jaya will go for a cash consideration of RM9.2 million (S$3.06 million), excluding tax, to Malaysian property and contruction company Vizione Holdings. It also plans to move its Singapore headquarters to a smaller, leased office in the area, as the property being sold has more office space than the group needs. (The Business Times)

US interest rate hike will have minimal impact on Malaysia
Malaysia’s exposure to the global economic vulnerability following the steep rise in US interest rates will be mitigated as the majority of the government and economy’s debt is financed domestically through stable sources. Panellists during Moody’s: Asia Pacific (APAC) sovereign outlook for 2018 teleconference said the impact of an interest rate shock would be most acutely felt by countries that had high gross borrowing needs, especially if they relied significantly on market borrowing and foreign-currency funding. However, Malaysia has mitigating factors to buffer the impact of a US interest rate hike, such as measures to develop onshore foreign exchange markets, deep domestic capital markets, and strong domestic institutional investors. (The Star Online)