Subsidised rent-to-own scheme may boost home ownership
One developer is stepping forward to propose solutions as part of efforts by the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda) to make homes more affordable for Malaysians. Paramount Corporation Group CEO Jeffrey Chew believes that subsidised rent-to-own schemes can free aspiring house buyers from large down payments and help people take the first steps towards home ownership. “This scheme will be good for the M40 category who can generally afford monthly mortgage payments, but cannot raise the initial down payment for a house,” he said. “After a period, for example five years, the rent that has been paid, either in part or full, goes toward the price of the house. Subsidised rent-to-own is a hybrid of purely renting and immediate home ownership. This helps Malaysians own homes in a structured manner.” This scheme would also address the problem of unsold units for developers, which have to bear interest of 5% a year for every unsold unit, thus adding to the affordability issue. (The Star Online)

‘Equanimity’ may be sold off, says Finance Minister
The Finance Ministry plans to sell off the super yacht ‘Equanimity’ which is reported to arrive in Malaysia today. Minister Lim Guan Eng said the ministry was eyeing to dispose of the vessel at the highest price to enable Malaysia recover some US$250 million (RM1 billion) – the vessel’s reported price tag. “It (the yacht) will be under the custody of the government of Malaysia. The ministry’s concern is to get the best value for the ship.” Attorney-General Tommy Thomas would prepare the relevant documents so that proper controls could be imposed over the super yacht. He noted that the luxury yacht would be displayed to the public before being sold off. “Probably not the entire ship, at least a portion of it,” he said. The super yacht is reported to be owned by fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who is wanted by the authorities for his involvement in 1MDB. (NST Online)

Penang to build LCCT within two years
The government announced yesterday that it was looking to build a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) next to the Penang International Airport (PIA) in Bayan Lepas in one to two years, to cope with the increasing number of air passengers to the state. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the federal government is in talks with AirAsia and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) on the proposed project. The current Penang airport has approached its maximum capacity of 6.5 million passengers per year, handling about 7.1 million in arrivals. Guan Eng said the government is also looking at the LCCT option as the proposed project would be fully funded by private companies, lessening the burden of the federal government. The proposal bodes well for AirAsia, whose CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes had been lobbying to the Penang state government for a LCCT to be built in Penang as early as 2009. (The Edge Markets)

SKH to diversify into property development, investment
SKH Consortium Bhd has proposed to diversify its business to include property development and property investment, as part of the group’s business plan to improve its financial performance as well as its shareholders’ value. The proposed diversification will allow the group to reduce reliance on its existing business in the information technology (IT) and information and communication technology (ICT) industries, as well as its construction activities. SKH is proposing to acquire an 80% stake in Kepayang Heights Sdn Bhd for RM13.6 million, which will owns a 19.5-acre piece of land in Bentong, Pahang. It is also looking to acquire a 70% stake in Rimbun Gabungan Sdn Bhd (RGSB) for RM12 million. For property investment, SKH has acquired eight properties in Johor and Selangor. (The Edge Markets)

Putrajaya shuts down Saudi-backed anti-terrorism centre
The government has ordered the closure of the Saudi-backed King Salman Centre for International Peace (KSCIP) with immediate effect. Defense minister Mohamad Sabu said the centre’s role would now be absorbed into the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security, which comes under the Ministry of Defence. The centre’s office at Menara HLA in Jalan Ampang was also ordered to shut down immediately. KSCIP was first proposed following the visit by Saudi monarch Salman Abdul Aziz to Malaysia last year. The Barisan Nasional government had then agreed to allocate a massive plot of land in Putrajaya. (Free Malaysia Today)