Cement producers lost RM1b, insist cement price not linked to expensive housing
Three of Malaysia’s biggest cement producers have been suffering losses close to RM1 billion over the past nine quarters, a cement group said today. The Cement and Concrete Association of Malaysia refuted claims that the price of cement is behind rising house prices. It shared a chart showing the losses suffered by three public listed cement manufacturers — Lafarge Malaysia, HUME Industries and Tasek — since 1Q17 up to 1Q19 which amounted to nearly RM1 billion. The result of the losses incurred has forced cement companies to take actions to lower their operating costs by mothballing kiln lines, cutting staff benefits and retrenching staff. Suppliers had previously said that cement prices would be increased by between 40% and 50% on June 15 or July 1. (Malay Mail)

Paramount sells education ops; plans to be property group
Paramount Corp Bhd is slowly monetising its assets in the education business and entrenching itself in the property sector, in line with its strategic plan of becoming a pure-play property group. It is selling its K-12 education business for more than half a billion ringgit but will still maintain a minority stake in the three entities it is divesting. Paramount will receive a cash consideration of RM540.5mil for the sale of its share in Paramount Education Sdn Bhd, Paramount Education (Klang) Sdn Bhd and Sri KDU Sdn Bhd to Two Horses Capital Sdn Bhd. It plans to use 32.7% of the proceeds or RM177mil as a special cash dividend for shareholders. The group also plans to use RM150mil to replenish its land bank and RM133.66mil to repay its borrowings. (The Star Online)

UDA to launch mixed development project in Kota Tinggi next year
UDA Holdings Bhd (UDA) will be launching its multi-million ringgit mixed development project in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, in the first-quarter of next year. “We are upbeat on the property market in south-east Johor due to developments taking place in Desaru and Pengerang,” said acting president and CEO Zahrin Zakaria. The project located near Desaru, on a 40ha site with a GDV of about RM800mil, is expected to be completed within five to six years. Among the components in the project included 135 units of single-storey terrace houses under the Johor Affordable Housing Scheme. There would also be 350 apartments, 69 double-storey link houses and 28 shop offices. It is the first joint-venture project between UDA, South-East Johor Development Authority (Kejora) and IR Security. (The Star Online)

I-Bhd has RM800mil worth of projects lined up in 2H2019
I-Bhd, which is likely to see the contribution from its property development segment impacted this year as the property developer did not have any launch in 2018, has lined up property launches worth RM800 million in GDV over the next six months. The group is also planning to upgrade and relocate some of its theme park rides and attractions at i-City in Selangor in order to attract new groups of visitors, as well as to free up land for property development. I-Bhd said its strategy is to build up three core segments, namely property development, investment property and leisure. (The Edge)

Home ownership low not because of loans but prices just too high, says think tank
The real reason Malaysians aren’t buying property nowadays is because the units are priced beyond their pocket rather than the banks’ refusal to offer loans, the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) said. It added that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s latest exhortations to commercial banks to loosen their home financing regulations is “dangerous” as it could create a mortgage crisis with the debt being passed around when the buyers default on their loans. “There is a huge mismatch between property prices and the average buyer’s income,” it said. It added that even middle-income Malaysians would have to scrimp as a large portion of their income would go towards paying their mortgages. (Malay Mail)