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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Land & General's next big township as early as 2016


KUALA LUMPUR: Land & General Bhd (L&G), which posted its highest revenue and net profit last financial year ended March 31, 2014 (FY14), is working on plans to launch its next township project in Lembah Beringin, Selangor, by 2016.

"We have 2,500 acres of estate land. We have just started to plan and convert it into a township development. It will not be so immediate, as planning approval for a 2,500-acre scheme will take many months or even one to two years for approval to be obtained. Nevertheless, we have started looking at some planning proposals for this land," managing director Low Gay Teck told reporters after its AGM yesterday.

He said the project will have residential, commercial and industrial components, and are looking at various options to develop it, including bringing in joint venture partners.

"The currently planted oil palm and rubber, for those areas not affected by the Phase 1 launch, will be retained for harvesting. We won't clear all 2,500 acres at one go. Eventually at the end, when fully completed, all the trees will be felled. Currently it is fully planted. Once done we won't have anymore oil palm or rubber," he added.

Meanwhile Low said it is looking at buying more land in the Klang Valley, Johor and Penang but has no concrete deals yet.

"Prices in Johor have gone up quite a fair bit over the last two to three years and we'll be more cautious when we look at that," he said, adding that most of its projects are residential developments.

"Our cash in hand is currently in excess of RM300 million. For every acquisition there will also be borrowings. I think the appetite to acquire land can be fairly substantial based on our cash reserve. Our gearing ratio is 0.17 times," Low added.

The company's projects so far are mostly located in Greater Kuala Lumpur and Seremban. It also has land in Johor and Kedah. In Johor, it is drawing up a planning proposal but has no plans to launch it yet.

"In Sungai Petani at the moment there is no plan to develop it because it's a little bit far for us to develop. Unless we've got another more sizeable project there then perhaps we will set up a team to run the projects. In addition to that, the land may be more appropriate for development in the next couple of years."

The company's current unbilled sales stands at RM470 million, of which a large portion will be recognised this financial year ending March 31, 2015 (FY15).

On its education division, Low said it is exploring the opportunity to set up an international wing to cater to higher demand for international curriculum. Its current school, Sri Bestari, is a private school running on local curriculum.

In FY14, the company declared dividend for the first time since the Asian financial crisis. The 2 sen per share represents about 30% of the group's net profit attributable to the company, after deducting minority interest and Low said it aims to declare dividend for at least a few years before firming up a dividend policy.

"We certainly hope to sustain that kind of growth momentum with the few new projects in the pipeline which we are aggressively promoting to kick start by first quarter of next year. When that takes off, we hope with the sales, it will be able to sustain our growth momentum."

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