China urges Malaysia to address project woes through talks
China said Tuesday that Malaysia should handle any problems it has with multibillion-dollar Chinese-backed infrastructure projects through talks, a day after Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his government wants to cancel such deals. The foreign ministry in Beijing defended China’s projects in Malaysia, saying such deals have brought tangible benefits to the two countries. Dr Mahathir took his toughest stance yet on Chinese-backed energy pipelines and a rail project along peninsular Malaysia’s eastern coast that were struck by his predecessor. The projects are part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative to build ports, railways and other trade-related infrastructure across Asia, often built by Chinese contractors and financed by loans from Chinese state banks. Malaysia’s new government has already suspended work on the projects and called for drastic cuts to their ballooning cost, which it estimates at more than US$22 billion. (NST Online)

PHB to develop RM1.5bil worth of properties
Pelaburan Hartanah Bhd (PHB), a property investment company and fund manager of Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera (AHB), is developing four property projects with an estimated GDV of RM1.5 billion. There were two projects each at Jalan Bangsar and Jalan Conlay and a private hospital development in Penchala, and shopping centres in Terengganu. The move to diversify its business portfolios with the development of the property projects was to increase revenue sources to its managed unit trustees. PHB manages 19 property assets comprising commercial buildings, hospitals and logistics worth RM4 billion. (NST Online)

Tenant market growing as rental drops on rising supply
The rising supply of residential properties, particularly condominium and apartment units, has expanded the rental market, but owners are taking “discounts” from renters as the glut continues to hit the sector. Many landlords, especially in the central region, have also opted for short-term rental, like homestays and Airbnb-type of rental, to chalk up reasonable returns. It is currently a market for tenants as rates continue to be under pressure. The drop in rental rates were not only due to the glut and bad market, but also because of older properties that are difficult to compete with new units. According to a recent Knight Frank Malaysia report, rentals of most high-end condominium or serviced apartment projects continue to hold steady, but asking rental growth in Bangsar is generally lower. (The Malaysian Reserve)

MK Land, Perak MB Inc in talks to jointly develop mixed project
MK Land Holdings Bhd is teaming up with Menteri Besar Inc (Perak) (MB Inc) to jointly develop a piece of land totalling 226 acres, belonging to the Perak state government, into a mixed development consisting of affordable housing and commercial units. The land comprises a 62.73ha piece of land in Kampar and a 28.73ha plot of land in Kinta. The proposed development is expected to be carried out and completed in phases over a period of 10 years. Under the MoU, both parties will agree upon an investment structure where MB Inc holds a 15% stake in the proposed development, while MK Land is responsible for the entire development financing, which will be funded by internal funds and/or bank borrowings. (The Edge Markets)

Scientex to acquire Melaka land for mixed property development
Scientex Bhd is buying two contiguous pieces of freehold agriculture land comprising a combined 208.9 acres in Alor Gajah, Melaka for RM68.25 million. It plans to develop the land into a mixed property development. “However, it is currently too preliminary to ascertain the exact total gross development value, development cost, the expected commencement and completion dates of the development and the expected profits to be derived from the development of the land,” it stated. The group noted that the proposed acquisition will enable it to boost and expand its existing land bank in Melaka. (The Edge Markets)