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20/03/2015

Eco World names Liew chairman

KUALA LUMPUR: Former SP Setia Bhd President and Chief Executive Officer Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin has been appointed chairman of property developer Eco World Development Group Bhd. Joining him is his right-hand man Datuk Voon Tin Yow, who has been appointed executive director. Liew joined Eco World’s board as a director last May. Voon was formerly Acting President and CEO of SP Setia and took over from Liew last May following Liew’s departure. Liew’s son Tian Xiong, also a board member, has a 35.05% stake in Eco World. The other appointment to the board was Datuk Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, a lawyer and judge who has served with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Commonwealth Secretariat. Liew replaces Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Manaf, who remains on the board as a nonexecutive director. These appointments take effect today.

“Tan Sri Liew would be very hands-on in advising the group on the expansion of its businesses,” said Eco World president and CEO Datuk Chang Khim Wah.

He said Rashid would ensure the company “is working within the parameters and make sure that it expands accordingly” while Voon’s and Farida’s experience would be crucial to their responsibilities in advising Eco World. Meanwhile, Chang said at a briefing that Eco World International Bhd, which would be the first property focused special purpose Acquisition Company (Spac) listing on Bursa Malaysia, was still awaiting the outcome of the initial public offering application to the Securities Commission. The listing of the Spac would be one of the largest so far in the country and looked to raise RM1.87bil with Eco World looking to acquire a 30% stake. Besides Liew, the Spac’s management line­up include Datuk Teow Leong Seng and Datuk Heah Kok Boon.

Liew and Voon plan to inject three London property projects, in which they have a 75% stake, into the Spac. The projects have been collectively valued at £2.2bil (RM11.9bil). A British company, Ballymore Group, owns the remaining 25% in the joint venture company Eco World Ballymore Holding Co Ltd.

“No decision has been made as we are working closely with the relevant authorities and we await for the SC’s decision. There should not be a conflict of interest at this point of time,” Chang said.

On another matter, Chang said Eco World “is on track to achieve its RM7bil sales target over the financial years ending Oct 31, 2015 and 2016. He said the sales would stem from six ongoing and four new projects in the third quarter of 2015 as well as several others planned for launch next year.

“We want to achieve RM3bil sales for this year and RM4bil for next year,” he said, adding that this was in spite of rising construction costs. In a statement, Eco World said that as at Feb 28, sales amounted to RM621.1miI, with RM290.5mil contributed by projects in the Klang Valley and RM330.6mil by Iskandar Malaysia. Chang expects property prices to be stable.

“Input factors such as labour cost and land prices have escalated, while raw material prices have maintained, ensuring property prices to be stable,” he said.

Chang noted that the property market’s outlook next year was largely dependent on how the goods and services tax (GST) impacted the market this year. With one ­and half weeks left for GST to be implemented, Eco World chief operating officer Datuk S. Rajoo said the implementation would not have an impact on property prices as there would not be a slowdown in demand.

“There might be minimal impact for one or two months before and after the implementation of GST but it would normalize quickly,” he said.