PNB, EPF buy Battersea Power Station for £1.6 billion
Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will jointly buy the Battersea Power Station building in London for £1.6 billion (RM8.8 billion). The exclusive transaction is aimed at reorganising ownership of the building to create a long-term asset management and ownership structure. The deal will not affect the shareholdings of Sime Darby Property Bhd, SP Setia Bhd and EPF in Battersea Project Holding Company Ltd (BPHC). The Battersea Power Station Grade II listed building is about halfway through a comprehensive refurbishment or reconstruction that will complete in late 2020. The five-year project is the largest historic building project ever undertaken in the UK. (NST Online)

Short-term property rentals now require DBKL registration
Residential property owners or operators who are renting out their property for short-term stays via AirBnB and the like are now required to register with DBKL. DBKL said it was taking the proactive measure of registering and studying the feasibility of such activities in different parts Kuala Lumpur so that operators could rent out their property legally. Failure to register will be considered as an offence, and action will be taken by DBKL. The registration programme for short-term rental activity starts now and will continue throughout the year. Those wanting to register can visit (The Star Online)

First phase of Iskandar Malaysia BRT to be ready by 2021
Work on the Iskandar Malaysia Bus Rapid Transit (IMBRT) is expected to start in the first quarter of next year and phase one of the project is slated for completion by mid-2021. Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) CEO Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said the focus this year would be on development planning, land acquisitions, designs of the stations and public engagements. The project will cover almost 90% of Iskandar Malaysia with over 300km routes, of which 50km were trunk routes and the remaining were feeder routes. (The Star Online)

Sogo shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur -NSTP/MUHD ASYRAF SAWAL

Retail supply likely to remain strong
Structural changes in technology, socio-demography and consumer shopping habits are impacting the retail sector and industry players. However, according to research firm Nawawi Tie Leung Property Consultants Sdn Bhd (NTL), the commercial property segment will continue to grow despite weak consumer sentiment. In its report entitled “Retail Sector: Time for a re-rating?”, NTL states that new supply continues to be strong and is expected to remain so in the next three years with no loss of enthusiasm commercially by developers to build more. Key factors that contributed to struggling retail occupancy rates include the rise of e-commerce, consumers shifting to digital experience from conspicuous consumption, ageing population which has an impact on retail spending and the emergence of driverless mobiles stores. (NST Online)

IBS, affordable housing offer boost to steel sector
The industrialised building system (IBS) and affordable housing projects offer great opportunities for Malaysian steel manufacturers to grow and perform better this year. The two areas would be the main focus for the construction industry this year, which would augur well for steel industry players. 2018 is expected to be a good year for the local steel industry following production cuts in China, as well as the booming infrastructure and property development projects that would further spur demands. China has already reduced its global exports by 25% from 100 million metric tonnes to 75 million metric tonnes, which has also stabilised the price of steel. Local steel supply and demand are expected to stabilise, while price would improve as a result of the capacity cut from China. (The Malaysian Reserve)

Centralised quarters for construction workers to improve workplace safety
The government is hoping to eventually phase out temporary housing shelter for workers in the construction industry by centralising their living quarters. The primary aim is to improve the overall workplace safety for the industry, as well as to provide proper amenities. “The government is ready to listen to the proposals from key players of the construction industry on how to house their workers. If they have a site to build labour quarters they can also do so by applying a license through us and the ministry of Human Resource,” said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof during the launch of the first Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ). The quarters will be open to Malaysians labourers who come from other states. (Malay Mail Online)

Attractions to boost Johor tourism
Tourism industry players have been urged to develop tourist packages to boost tourism in Johor. The state government is committed to turning Johor into a high value regional tourism destination by year 2023, according to Johor’s 10-year Tourism Master Plan. Johor had recorded 7.4 million domestic tourist arrivals in 2016, making it the top tourism destination in Malaysia for locals, with 2.6 million international tourist arrivals, making it the third largest destination for international visitors in the country. (The Sun Daily)

Kuala Terengganu debuts electric buses, the first in Malaysia
Kuala Terengganu will become the first city in the country to incorporate the use of electric buses as the state gears up to transform its public transport service through the myBAS service. This service improvement is part of the Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD) Stage Bus Service Transformation programme. The service, which is expected to start in the second quarter of 2018, will be rolled out in three phases. Charges for the electronic bus service will match existing bus fares of between 90 sen and RM2.50. The first phase will cover most of the city centre and some of its outskirts, which will enable tourists access to more of the state’s attractions. About 30 new buses will be deployed in Terengganu’s myBAS service, with 30% of them being electric buses. (The Star Online)

Electric buses used in Kuala Terengganu