Mulpha going big abroad

By THE STAR

Lee Seng Huang

PETALING JAYA: Mulpha International Bhd has emerged as the largest Malaysian real estate investor and developer in Australia with assets worth RM2.2bil.

They include the Sanctuary Cove and Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove, both in Queensland, and the InterContinental Hotel in Sydney.

The company also owns the Hilton Melbourne Airport, Bimbadgen Estate in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley.

Its Malaysian properties are worth about RM1.1bil.

Executive chairman Lee Seng Huang said Mulpha’s overseas operations contributed about 75% of total revenue, with the rest from Malaysia.

He said Mulpha was strengthening its overseas position through smart partnerships with selected companies to do major projects.

“We believe this approach will help us understand the local market better,” he said, adding that Mulpha was also keen on India.

He said one of the company’s strengths was its ability to identify properties and land that have commercial potential. “For instance, we were already in Vietnam in 1991 when only now people are investing there,” he told StarBiz.

Lee expects revenue growth to come from Mulpha’s overseas operation as its investments abroad is bigger than in Malaysia.

He added that the group’s investments in Malaysia would eventually “balance out” by increasing its revenue contribution.

“We’ve maintained a low profile but we have been around for sometime and have been involved in many large property developments locally and abroad,” he said.

Mulpha’s RM2bil Leisure Farm Resort in Gelang Patah, Johor, boasts a 36-hole golf course.

Mulpha has recently been looking for more property projects in Malaysia, attracted by the revival of the property sector.

Locally, its most prestigious project is the 1,371-acre freehold RM2bil Leisure Farm Resort in Gelang Patah, Johor, that boasts a 36-hole golf course, clubhouse and equestrian facilities. It is within the South Johor Economic Region (SJER).

Lee said the resort’s latest launch was the 22-acre Bayou Water Village with a “Kampung Ku” concept.

“The project will attract more people to Leisure Farm with its back-to-nature concept once the development of the IDR is completed,” he said.

He said Mulpha has another 700 acres of land that has yet to be developed in SJER, making it one of the largest landowners in south Johor.

Analysts believe the company is gearing up to acquire more land in the economic region.

“We view the SJER, especially the IDR, very favourably and expect properties in our Leisure Farm Resort to do well,” Lee said.

Mulpha’s other local property projects are the RM400mil Desa Aman in Kulim, Kedah (via its 100%-owned subsidiary Golden Cignet Sdn Bhd) and Bandar Seri Ehsan near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Lee said Mulpha was focusing on building its brand.

“We are also looking to revive some of the projects put on hold during the 1997 Asian economic crisis such as the Section 16 mixed development in Petaling Jaya and the Jalan Sultan Ismail project,” he added.

Meanwhile, on last Tuesday’s sale of 75 million treasury shares of Mulpha worth RM144.5mil, Lee said they were sold via an off-market transaction.

He said in a statement that the entire placement of 75 million shares were taken up by foreign institutional investors.

“Mulpha shares were very well supported by foreign funds and we will continue with the management strategy to institutionalise our shareholder base,” he said.

He added that the placement was well received and substantially oversubscribed.

A local analyst said the fact that Mulpha shares were fully snapped up by foreign institutional investors showed their confidence in the company.

“These investors must believe they’re buying into a company with quality assets,” said the analyst.

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