Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Interview: Mr. Christian Schindler, General Manager Korea, Lufthansa German Airlines,

Lufthansa German Airlines' representation in Korea began in 1966 with the signing of a General Sales Agency agreement between Lufthansa and Hyopsung Shipping. However, it was not until November 1984 that Lufthansa commenced its own flight services, flying from Seoul via Anchorage to Frankfurt.
Since then, as noted by Mr. Christian Schindler, General Manager Korea, Lufthansa German Airlines, the company has grown as a major partner in Korea's air-travel sector. Currently it offers a total of 11 weekly flights between Korea and Europe with six weekly flights on the Seoul-Frankfurt route and five weekly flights on the Busan-Munich route (via Seoul).
“Today, we are the largest European airline on the Korean market and are enjoying a growing number of Korean customers. We are also the only European carrier to operate from Busan, he told Infomag.
It also helps that Lufthansa is a founding member of the world's largest aviation network, Star Alliance, which has 28 international airline partners including Asiana Airlines, connecting six continents.
Mr. Schindler joined Lufthansa in 1991, being assigned the networking planning manager for domestic and Benelux passenger services, and as network planning manager and coordinator for the Munich Hub. In 1998, he became business partnership manager and in 2001 was promoted to global corporSince then, as noted by Mr. Christian Schindler, General Manager Korea, Lufthansa German Airlines, the company has grown as a major partner in Korea's air-travel sector. Currently it offers a total of 11 weekly flights between Korea and Europe with six weekly flights on the Seoul-Frankfurt route and five weekly flights on the Busan-Munich route (via Seoul).
“Today, we are the largest European airline on the Korean market and are enjoying a growing number of Korean customers. We are also the only European carrier to operate from Busan, he said.
It also helps that Lufthansa is a founding member of the world's largest aviation network, Star Alliance, which has 28 international airline partners including Asiana Airlines, connecting six continents.
Mr. Schindler joined Lufthansa in 1991, being assigned the networking planning manager for domestic and Benelux passenger services, and as network planning manager and coordinator for the Munich Hub. In 1998, he became business partnership manager and in 2001 was promoted to global corporate key account manager. Since 2004, he was general manager of Morocco until being assigned to Korea last year.
The airlines' success can be largely attributed to the fact that it has localized its operations to cater better to the Korean customers, he said.
Lufthansa provides a choice of Korean cuisine, including bibimbab, cup noodles with kimchi and red-pepper paste as well as a wide selection of beverages including beer and wine.
First and Business Class passengers can indulge themselves in the new Star Chef menus created by Chef Park Hyo-nam of the Millennium Seoul Hilton with wines specially selected by the World's Master of Sommeliers, Markus Del Monego.
Other amenities include various Korean magazines and video/audio entertainment offerings, all tailored for Korean travelers. Upon arrival at Frankfurt and Munich Airports, a ``Korean Welcome Service'' is provided with Korean personnel on hand to meet and greet travelers and assist them with all their needs and information.
We are considered to be the most Korean of all European carriers that fly from here. Moreover, our strong brand and large network of connections makes us the preferred choice of flight,he said.
While the economic slump last year did affect operational revenues, 2010 is expected see a strong rebound. More so, since the Korean economy has displayed an amazing recovery on the back of strong exports.
Speaking on the challenges that foreign carrier face in Korea, he noted that language is a major issue. It is very important to cater to the local needs to meet the various demands of korean customers. For this reason, Lufthansa has deployed many websites and link sites in Korean offering specialized services and has been providing a variety of online promotions for the Korean and foreign customers.
“We see the Internet as the future. Within the next five years, 3 out of every 4 passengers will use the Internet for their travel. The market is seeing a big shift, with more and more people moving towards web portals. This is the worldwide trend, and we hope to doubled our share of web presence.
The strategy is to offer competitive pricing, with attractive high end products. The airline is therefore averse to scaling down its services. It guarantees that economy class pasenger can book seats, special meals with alcoholic drinks all for free and at very competiitve prices.
In this context he noted that the budget carriers do not offer any competition to Lufthansa's operations in Korea.
“The long-haul business has always been low cost, so there is no scope for further price cuts by the budget cariers. It is only in short-haul routes that the budget carriers can prosper. This has been very much evident in Europe, where carriers like Ryan Air and EasyJet have a 40 percent market share in short-haul routes. The same is the case in Asia,he said.
Lufthansa passengers on long haul routes have access to a comprehensive program of entertainment with the extended Lufthansa Media World, 65 video options with 30 cinema films in up to eight languages, 25 TV programs and 10 music magazines from all over the world, 100 CD's, a selection of audio books, 24 radio programs with many international channels, games of skill, action-, board and strategy games as well as 11 language courses. So naturally, passengers prefer these premium services for long trips.
He was also full praise for the quality of services offered at Incheon Airport and said that most of the foreign carriers are appreciative of the facilities. Recent talks of privatization of the airport are welcome
The government announced recently, as part of its budget proposal to sell a 49 percent stake in the airport operator next year. Incheon International Airport Corporation is assessing the share value and sales price with investment bank advisers who will manage the initial public offering. However, an amendment to a related legislation that would authorize the privatization is still pending in the National Assembly after it was introduced last year. A majority of opposition party lawmakers are against the plan.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs justify the privatization by arguing that the airport must be supervised by an agency with operating expertise and the ability to attract more financial and capital support so Incheon International Airport can develop further as a leading global airport hub..
“Overall privatized infrastructure is the way to go for the future. It will be a triple win situation for the airport, carriers and passengers. One can expect reduced prices and improvements in services, he said.

Interview: Mr. Lee Sang-min, Fund Manager, FRM/ Alternative Global Investments Team, KFCC

On June 10th, this year, 333 Market Street, a 33 storey San Francisco office tower occupied by Wells Fargo & Co. sold for $333 million, the city's biggest commercial property deal in three years. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo occupies 100 percent of the rentable space and has a lease that runs to 2026.
The deal was put together by Goodwin Gaw, a Hong Kong-based investor and developer who recently bought 550 Montgomery St. in San Francisco for $12.65 million. The seller was Des Moines, Iowa-based insurer Principal Financial Group Inc., which bought the tower from Wells Fargo for $370 million in 2006 before a collapse in commercial property values. The last single San Francisco office building to change hands for a comparable price was 650 California St., which sold for $300 million in July 2007.
The buyers included Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives (KFCC)
which along with the Korean TeachersCredit Union (KTCU) surprised other bidders by coming on top, to pay about $507 a square foot from the prime office building in the financial district.
By all accounts, this was an excellent foray for the Korean funds, as the Market Street high-rise combined with a long-term lease with Wells Fargo makes this an extremely attractive asset.
As noted by Mr. Lee Sang-min, Fund Manager, FRM/ Alternative Global Investments Team, KFCC, the 657,115-square-foot Market Street high-rise is expected to provide stable cash flow. More than 7% average dividend rate is expected during the investment period.
However, Mr. Lee, who played a key role in finalizing the transaction and putting in place the club deal said it was not an easy win for the Korean funds, especially since it was his first foray in overseas real estate markets.
He pointed out that KFCC has traditionally had a very small footprint in overseas real estate investments and has concentrated on other alternative investments including hedge funds. However, as a result of the financial crisis, the institutional investor has been actively rebalancing its protfolio in order to enhance its returns.
KFCC is a major financial institution in the Korean market, and was established by the Community Credit Cooperative Act to realize the goal of developing Community Credit Cooperatives (CC) as a solid financial organization as well as to take a supervisory role in the promotion of mutual growth with CC. The major responsibilities of KFCC include supporting the development and improvement of local communities through local financial cooperative activities and through various means such as credit business, protecting savings of CC members, educating and training executives and members of CC as well as promoting
friendship and cooperation with international cooperative societies.
Mr. Lee said that the real estate market is a challenging sector for the organization as it offers stable and steady returns especially in the case of prime office building which is located in CBD are with tenants who has high credibility .They are now awaiting the first cash flow from 333 Market Street.
“We are very interested in diversifying our portfolio of investments and have big plans to step into the real estate market, not just in Korea, but also selective advanced markets. The next year promises to be very exciting and challenging for us.”
Most Korean institutional investors, he noted, do not have sufficient experience to invest in real estate overseas. It is not just the complexity of the foreign legal systems but also the lack of familiary with the local business codes.
For this reason, he was very cautious, when he first heard about the sale of the 333 Market Street building. The first serious concern was how to wrap fund effectively. There were a lot of issues to tackle with to launch the fund, most importantly, how to guarantee deal security and follow the bidding process. With as many as 12 other participating bids, the possibility of success was very low.
He however worked hard to get long term credit line and putting together a group of core investors whose credit would be acceptable. Having realized that is important to have credible partners to close any foreign property deal, he worked with the Korean TeachersCredit Union (KTCU) to put in the winning bid, and was able to obtain a 5 years CRS from Korea Exchange Bank.
“Korean institutional investors do not have adequate knowledge on each country’s customs, market convention and legal systems. Moreover, everything is different, even among advanced countries. So what is acceptable in New York may not be acceptable in London. We have to study very hard each time we look at anew market.”
Unlike bigger institutions like National Pension Service, which have a much larger cash flow and diversified investments, KFCC does not have a dollar account  so that currency hedging is one of the most important issue and faces more barriers including market convention ,legal and tax systems to buy core property in foreign country. For these reasons, he favors a club deal with similar institutions like KTCU. He also emphasized that club deals also give more opportunities to reduce risks and burdens than an independent account deal by only one institution and it makes more strong relationship between the institutions that participated in the same clubs for future investments.
Mr. Lee noted that he is now preparing for a real estate deal in London and also looking at other advanced markets.
Most Korean investors do not consider other emerging markets, because the legal and regulaltory systems are not credible. They prefer focusing on more transparent cities.
“However, even that kind of opportunities are quite quickly disappearing. The US retail residence market is still faced with the foreclosure problem, but, prices of prime office buildings which is located on CBD areas in major cities are rapidly increasing. That makes us hesitate to invest.”
Speaking on the Korean office market, he stated that there is still unstability in relation to vacancy rate. Moreover, since 2008 the central bank has kept the base rate relatively low, so even as the economy is getting better, interest rates are low.
Korea's Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun reaffirmed recently that 5 percent growth should be attainable for the next year, as strong business investments and outbound shipments will support the economy. At the same time, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of Korea decided to maintain the Base Rate at its current level (2.25%) for the intermeeting period.
“In the global economy, emerging market economies have sustained their favorable performance, and the economies of major advanced countries have largely continued their moderate recovery trend, even though the pace of the recovery in the US economy has slowed somewhat. Looking ahead, there exists the possibility of the heightened volatility of economic activity and exchange rates in major countries acting as a risk factor for the global noted
Mr. Lee said that the office market is also lagging behind the real business cycle and vacancy rate is high in the case of US market. Sometimes, if there is a liquidity squeeze, a lucky chance to buy with reasonable price may exist.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview: Mr. Raj S. Inamdar, Principal, Red Fort Capital

PDF Copy of Magazine which includes the Interview Available HERE

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview: Mr. Kim Jong-hoon, Minister of Trade

South Korea and the EU formally signed a free trade agreement in Brussels on October 6th and both sides agreed they will aim to ratify the agreement by July 2011. The deal, which has been negotiated starting in May 2007, will lower tariffs, boost trade and investment, and create jobs for both Korea and the 27 EU countries.
The agreement was signed by Korea's Minister for Trade Kim Jong-hoon and European Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht and others. President Lee Myung-bak took part in the ceremony after he met with Prime Minister Yves Leterme of Belgium at the Egmont Palace and said the two sides should work hard to meet the ratification deadline.
In an exclusive interview Minister Kim speaks about the implications of this agreement and also the various other FTA's that are being negotiated with other countries.
>>When officially signing the Korea-EU FTA on October 6, 2010 in Brussels, Korea and the EU agreed upon the date of provisional application of July 1, 2011 for the Korea-EU FTA.
The respective domestic procedures in Korea and the EU, namely an approval from the Korean National Assembly and an approval from the European Parliament, should be completed for the Korea-EU FTA to be provisionally applied on the agreed date.
I do not forsee any big difficulties in proceeding domestic procedures in either Korea or the EU. I think, however, that during the process of internal processes both in Korea and in Europe it is very important for both sides to put their best efforts to offer the stake-holders an explanation on the benefits the Korea-EU FTA will bring to the overall economies of these parts of the world in a balanced manner beyond its impact on certain industries or sectors.
>>The Korea-EU FTA is a comprehensive and high-quality trade agreement between Korea and the world's largest economy. Trade opportunities in the EU market for Korean companies in all different sectors are expected to be enhanced as the Korea-EU FTA is implemented.
Once the Korea-EU FTA enters into force, Korean consumers will also have better access to leading brand European goods with good quality at affordable prices and will enjoy a wider range of choice.
-In particular, the elimination of tariffs on major imported European goods, such as cosmetics, garments, wine and whiskey, will bring a huge welfare increase. A recent study by the KIEP(Korea Institute for International Economic Policy), a leading research institute in Korea, suggests that the welfare increase will amount to as much as 3.84% of the GDP (equivalent to $32 billion) in the long run.
The Korea-EU FTA, by enabling Korean domestic manufacturers to import the EU's high-tech parts and materials at a lower price, is also expected to contribute to stabilizing prices of goods and reinforcing competitiveness of the Korean products in the world market.
-In case of parts and materials, the current tariffs center around 8% and are to be eliminated within 3 years under the Korea-EU FTA. It is to be noted that these benefits will be attainable in a relatively short amount of time.
>>The implementation of the KORUS FTA has been delayed for more than three years, due to various factors, including the stagnant American economy and political schedules such as the forthcoming mid-term election.
During the Summit meeting held between the two countries last June, President Obama told President Lee that it was time that the USTR worked closely with its counterpart to make sure that we set a path before the G20 Summit in November and that President Obama intended to present the Agreement to the U.S. Congress for approval in the following few months.
Based on the strong commitment shared by the two leaders, both governments are making concerted efforts to move the Agreement forward.
-There are various voices in both countries regarding the Agreement, including those urging for renegotiations. However, since the KORUS FTA reflects the balance of interests between the two countries, I believe that reopening the texts is not an option.
Given the economic and strategic benefits the KORUS FTA could bring to both countries, it is my strong hope that the Agreement will be implemented in the near future.
>>Although the multilateral trading system continues to play a pivotal role in international trade, the DDA negotiations do not seem to be making much progress. Under these circumstances, FTAs are increasingly becoming a major instrument of trade liberalization and economic reform in the world of global trade and economy.
-To respond to the rapid proliferation of regionalism throughout the world, Korea has been actively pursuing an ambitious FTA policy.
Due to the comprehensive and high-level trade liberalization eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers through FTAs, Korea has expanded trade with its FTA partners, ensuring increased mutual market access and providing exporters with a competitive edge.
More importantly, Korea's FTAs provide opportunities to enhance economic efficiency through external competition, thereby increasing competitiveness of domestic industries. There are always sectors vulnerable to foreign competition, notably agricultural sector. Through FTA negotiations that involve a painful structural adjustments in its economy while taking care of sensitivities in those vulnerable sectors, Korea has so far been successful in upgrading its economic systems. Through this process, transparency in Korea's economic system and predictability of the nation's regulatory regime has been enhanced.
>>Since the first conclusion of the Korea-Chile FTA in 2003, Korea has actively engaged in FTAs with more than 60 countries as follows:
5 FTAs in effect
- The Korea-Chile FTA entered into force in April 2004.
- The Korea-Singapore FTA entered into force in March 2006.
- The Korea-EFTA FTA entered into force in September 2006.
- The Korea-ASEAN FTA entered into force in June 2007(Goods), in May 2009(Services) and in September 2009(Investment) separately.
- The Korea-India CEPA(Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) entered into force in January 2010.

3 FTAs concluded

- The Korea-US FTA was signed on June 20, 2007 and is currently under ratification procedures.
- The Korea-EU FTA was signed on October 6, 2010 and is currently under ratification procedures.
- The Korea-Peru FTA was concluded the negotiations on 30 August, 2010.

7 FTAs under negotiations

- The Korea-Australia FTA negotiations were launched in May 2009 and the 5th round of negotiations was held in May 2010.
- The Korea-Colombia FTA negotiations were launched in December 2009 and the 4th round of negotiations was held in October 2010.
- The Korea-Turkey FTA negotiations were launched in March 2010 and 2nd round of negotiations was held in July 2010.
- The Korea-New Zealand FTA negotiations were launched in June 2009 and the 4th round of negotiations was held in May 2010.
- The Korea-GCC FTA negotiations were launched in July 2008 and the 3rd round of negotiations was held in July 2009.
- The Korea-Canada FTA negotiations were launched in July 2005 and the 13th round of negotiations was held in March 2008.
- The Korea-Mexico FTA negotiations were launched in December 2007 and the 2nd round of negotiations was held in June 2008.

Other FTAs under consideration
- Korea-Japan FTA: The 1st Director-General-Level Consultation on the Korea-Japan FTA was held in September 2010.
- Korea-China FTA: The 1st meeting on the exchange of views concerning sensitivities regarding a possible Korea-China FTA was held in September 2010.
- Korea-China-Japan FTA: The 2nd meeting of the Joint Study Committee on an FTA among China, Japan and Korea was held in September 2010.
- Korea-Israel FTA: Korea and Israel finished the joint feasibility study on the Korea-Israel FTA in August 2010.
- Korea-MERCOSUR FTA: Korea and MERCOSUR signed the "MOU for the establishment of Joint Consultative Group to Promote Trade and Investment between Korea and the MERCOSUR" for discussing the follow up action regarding the results of the joint study on the feasibility of a Korea-MERCOSUR Trade Agreement.
- Korea-Vietnam FTA: The 2nd Joint Working Group meeting on a possible Korea-Vietnam FTA was held in October 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview: Mr. Michael Bowles, National Director of Asia Capital Markets, Jones Lang LaSalle Japan

The Japanese real estate market makes up a majority of the investable world of Asian real estate for institutional investors due to its sheer size and Japan`s low-risk, developed country profile within Asia.
Compared to other high growth and higher risk countries within the Asia region, Japa's real estate performance has been sluggish and effected by recent turmoil in the domestic economy and global securitization markets.
However, after posting an unprecedented steep decline in economic activity in 2009 with a contraction of 5.2%, the growth rate in Japan turned positive, rising 4.2% in the first quarter of 2010, thanks to the increase in external demand and positive effects from the government's stimulus package.
Despite policy reforms, back to basics and investment conservatism taking centre stage, foreign investor interest into Japan has been positively encouraging. An anticipated rebound of the Tokyo economy, coupled with high commercial yield spreads from the size, depth and maturity of its office sector, has presented attractive buying opportunities abound this undervalued and overlooked market.
As noted by Mr. Michael Bowles, National Director of Asia Capital Markets, Jones Lang LaSalle Japan, due to its strong domestic orientation and subsequent extremely low correlation to other markets, Japan's real estate also holds strong investment attractions. In particular, stable fundamentals, lower volatility and yield spreads among the highest in the world are urging investors from abroad.
Jones Lang LaSalle, which was formed by the 1999 merger of LaSalle Partners Inc. and Jones Lang Wootton, is a leading global provider of comprehensive real estate and investment management services with offices in about 180 key markets on five continents. Jones Lang LaSalle K.K. was established in 1985. In June 2000, Jones Lang LaSalle strategically merged with LBM (Land Building Management), to establish an outstanding property management service delivery platform in Japan. In January 2006, Jones Lang LaSalle Facilities K.K was established to provide a wide range of corporate real estate services, specially focused on facilities management services for manufacturing facilities.
Mr. Bowels is National Director of the Asia Capital Markets team, which focuses on cross-border investment into and from Japan. He currently leads the delivery of sales disposition and investment acquisition services for a number of well-known multinational investor and domestic clients. In the past three years, he has advised on the cross-border acquisitions and divestments of assets located in Japan valued at $2.4 billion.
He doesn't believe that the Japanese market is saturated. He said that investors in other emerging markets like China look at a diffferent criteria. While it is a growth story, it is riskier and less transparent. Japan, on the other hand is stable, predictable, less volatile and attracts a lot of core plus investors.
Cap rates for prime offices in Tokyo's CBD1 have stabilised since mid-2009, and some compression is now evident. The average yield spread of all reported commercial real estate transactions in Japan seems to have peaked in 2009.
In Tokyo, where the market appears to be taking longer to stabilize, the rate of rental decline is beginning to slow down. Unlike other markets, future supply is also limited when compared to the last five years; hence, now really is the time to take advantage of tenant-favorable market conditions before rents hit bottom, he said.
While there may not be many opportuinities in Grade A office spcae, there are still other pockets of opportunity in Grade B offcie space. Also, while most foreign investors concentrate on the main cities like Tokyo, there are also opportunities in the suburban areas along the commuting lines. They are of good quality and offer better returns.
“Most buyers stick to central locations and do not have confidence to buy outside central locations. I relaized that this is because they do not have long term experience' he said
Since the peak in 2007 there have been significant decreases in rental levels. The rents in Grade A are bottoming out, but the worst is over.”
He noted that the vacancy in Grade A is now 7 % and expected to decline. Moreover the Japanese investment market is starting to find traction and has recorded one of the largest increases in commercial real estate volumes globally, up 90% in Q1 2010. Almost half of the offshore capital in Asia flows into Japan.
Secured Capital Japan recently acquired Pacific Century Place, a Grade A office property located in the prime business district of Marunouchi, Tokyo. The 32-storey, 81,000 square metres property is one of the best known developments adjacent to Tokyo Station. The price, in excess of US$1.5 billion, makes it the largest transaction in Japan since the start
of the global financial crisis.
Foreign funds are keen to acquire prime assets in Japan. German-based fund SEB Asset Management bought a fully-let shopping centre in Chiba for US$126.7 million, while RREEF Alternative Investments acquired Frontier Ebisu, an office building in Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo, for US$51.4 million.
The REIT sector has seen some revival. Simplex REIT Investment acquired the land and building of the former Mitsukoshi Ikebukuro Department Store, owned by Mitsukoshi Ltd. (now Yamada Denki Japan Head Store) in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, for JPY75 billion.
Most of the Japanese clients who want to buy offshore assets are interested in US and Europe, while being lesss interested in emerging markets. The Japanese companies are doing their homework on emerging markets, but are not yeat ready to invest in markets like China or Vietnam, he said.
Speaking on the outlook for the world economy, he said recent research suggests that the economic data have highlighted an increasingly uneven growth pattern for the global economy as it moves from the 2008-09 recession.
The US and Japan are now decelerating following a relatively strong post-crisis bounce both economies are still growing but only slowly. In contrast, economic growth in the UK and the Eurozone has accelerated, with Germany, in particular, witnessing record growth in Q2 which has boosted confidence and underlined a new-found strength in retailing. While China is continuing to engineer a soft landing, economic growth is still in double-digits and retail sales remain strong. Brazil and India are also motoring strongly, helping to boost their retail markets.
With the world's three largest economies decelerating, the risks of a global double-diphave risen in recent weeks, but the more likely scenario is for the world's advanced countries to move into a period of sluggish growth as austerity measures kick in. Meanwhile, emerging markets appear to be in a much healthier position - they are expected to drive the global recovery, accounting for over half of the world's economic growth during 2011.
A combination of strengthening economic growth and employment prospects, returning business confidence, improved credit conditions, rising leasing volumes and falling vacancies is underpinning a revival in the Asia Pacific investment market. Land and residential property are the main investor focus, but commercial real estate transactions have also been strong in Q1 2010, up by a further 15% during the quarter and by 43% on Q1 2009. Domestic investors, many of whom have purchased for their own occupation, still dominate,
particularly in Greater China. Nonetheless, foreign funds are still keen on securing prime assets that generate stable and secure rental income.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interview: Mr. Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul City

Over the past couple of years, Seoul Metropolitan Government has been working to make this city a favored destination for the international business community. The city has the advantage of a highly-educated human talent pool, high-tech industrial and social infrastructure, and information and transportation networks.
Excerpts of interview with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon:
>>Over the past four years, Seoul has joined the ranks of the ten most global cities in the world. This achievement was possible based on the two-dimensioned governance of enhancing the citizens' quality of life and reinforcing the city's competitive edge.
-By creating over 738,000 new jobs and building a tightly-knit social safety net, Seoul could act as a sturdy pillar for the people even in the times of global financial crisis.
-By further purifying its natural environment, Seoul has raised its citizens' level of satisfaction in life.
Seoul's atmosphere has been at its clearest since it has been observed in 1995.
By creating more cultural and leisure spaces such as green fields and water parks around the city area, Seoul has provided an opportunity for its citizens to enjoy a pleasant day out in the open air without having to go outside the city.
-Through an innovative system reform, Seoul has been able to decrease the gap in wealth between the poorest and richest sectors in the city. Four years ago, the richest sector had 17 times more wealth than the poorest sector, now the discrepancy is down to 4.5 times.
-For two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009, Seoul was voted 'the city that most people want to visit' by the Chinese, Japanese and Thai people. It was also awarded the UN Public Service Award for three consecutive years.
Seoul was a finalist for the UN Public Service Award in 2008 for its Cyber Policy Forum. It won first prize in 2009 for the Seoul Water Now System and Seoul City`s Oasis and in 2010 for its Women-friendly City Project and Hope Plus Account.
-Creativity Governance, SHift, Women-friendly City Project are among some of the thirty-plus projects implemented by Seoul over the past four years that has caught the attention of the international society. These projects have already been benchmarked by other regional governments, the central government, foreign municipal governments and private businesses.
- In particular, according to a research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Seoul's competitiveness in the international society has risen from 27th in 2006 to 9th in 2010.
However, we will not be satisfied with this. By furthering these achievements and changes of the past four years, we are aiming to turn Seoul into one of the top five global cities in the world, beloved by both its citizens and the world.
- First, in addition to the five welfare projects that were implemented since the last electoral term for those in need, Seoul will expand its welfare net comprehensively into other social areas such as education, housing, daycare, culture and health.
In the first place, as an investment for Seoul's future, we will reinforce the public education sector and a custom-made daycare system.
- By expanding parks in residential area and water parks by the Hangang, we will work to turn Seoul into an even more pleasant and attractive city.
By building parks within a five-minute walk from all residential areas and cultivating the mountainous areas within the city, we will turn Seoul into a 'city within a park.'
Also, by creating cultural and leisure spaces besides Hangang, we will open the gateway to the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and rediscover hidden values of Hangang.
-In addition, we will focus on promoting new high value-added and growth-driving industries that will support Seoul in the future such as tourism and convention business, digital contents, design, fashion, finance and R&D.
We will continue to create a global city environment where global talents can gather to live and work with passion
>In order to become a global city where foreigners want to live in, the most basic requirement would be easy communication. Plus, there should be an attractive level of services such as education, medical care, culture and public services.
Seoul's globalization project was started in 2007. For the last four years, we have strove to create a 'communication' environment and a foundation for a comprehensive lifestyle of transportation, medical services, education and culture for foreigners to enjoy without any inconvenience.
- For example, Seoul Global Center provides services in seven languages including English, Chinese and Japanese, in helping foreign citizens in their everyday life. The center helps foreigners in daily tasks such as setting up mobile phones, bank accounts, credit cards, acquire driver's licenses and extending their visas. Further more, the center provides legal counsel in dealing with tax and labor issues.
- Seoul has designated seven parts of the city as 'Global Village Zones' as they are heavily populated by foreigners. These zones include Yeonnamdong with a big Chinese population, Ichondong where many Japanese live and Seorae Maeul where the French in Seoul are usually found. A 'Village Center' is established in each of these zones, acting as a public service center for the foreigners.
- Whenever a foreigner has a question concerning Seoul, he or she can dial '120' and get answers in five languages including English and Chinese. For medical emergencies, one can dial 1339 and be given information in three languages (English, Chinese and Japanese) about the nearest hospitals and pharmacies as well as medical facilities providing foreign language services.
If we continue to implement these projects in good faith,
- Foreign investors, foreign workers, international households and foreign students will be provided appropriate service and support so that foreigners and Seoulites alike can live in the city without any great difficulties and Seoul will become a beloved global city.
In particular, in order to build a city where Seoulites and foreigners can enjoy life without any difficulties, we will provide utmost support for international households -households where at least one of the family members are originally from outside Korea- to settle down and live comfortably in our city.
>Tourism is an industry that increases income and creates new jobs like no other industry. That is why so many advanced countries in the world are so intent on promoting their tourism industry.
- Seoul is also competing with these advanced countries and cities to promote our city as a tourist destination. We have been focusing on tourism as one of our major industries and have been concentrating on city marketing and attracting tourists since the last term.
As a result, Seoul's charm as a tourist destination is growing as can be seen in the fact that it was voted the place that most people want to visit for two consecutive years in Japan, China and Southeast Asia. In January of this year, it was ranked third by the New York Times in a list of 'places to go in 2010.'
According to a survey done by Seoul, 90.4% of the foreign tourists visiting Korea have visited Seoul. Their level of satisfaction in Seoul as a tourist destination is rising every year, from 79.1% in 2007 to 91.2% in 2010.
International tourism industries are also beginning to acknowledge Korea and Seoul as places one must visit.
- In July, 2010, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences ranked Seoul 9th in a list of competitive cities.
- From 2008 to 2009, a AC Nielson survey showed Seoul was voted by the Chinese, Japanese and Thai as the place they wanted to visit the most.
- In January, 2010, New York Times ranked Seoul 3rd in a list of 'places to go in 2010.'
- In 2010, Seoul was designated the World Design Capital and a UNESCO City of Design.
In recent years, due to efforts led by Seoul to reform the visa system, a basis to tap into the Chinese tourist market, the biggest potential market of such in the world, has been formed.
- Also, Seoul is working at the moment with the central government on a legislation to expand tourist accomodations. If this law is legislated, it will improve the situation of accomodations for the growing number of tourists, providing new accomodations for reasonable prices to tourists.
Based on these achievements, Seoul is reinforcing its marketing overseas and developing diverse high-end tourist package products such as medical tourism and conventions. On the other hand, it is expanding and educating tourism-related staff and developing digital applications for information on Seoul tourism in order to make tourists feel more at home.
- In the past, tourism was mostly about enjoyment: appreciating the nature, relaxing and enjoying leisure time. Now, it's about experience: tourists want to experience culture and history, they want to attend exhibitions and conventions and participate in high-tech events.
- Tourism is becoming more integrated with other fields such as industry, history, culture, fashion, medical care, city design and architecture. Seoul will continue its efforts to develop diverse tourism policies according to this trend.
Seoul is aiming to become the best city in Asia to do business, tourism and shopping.
- In order for tourists visiting Seoul to relax, sightsee and shop at their ease, we will increase our accomodations, exhibition and convention facilities as well as shopping centers.
- At the same time, we will focus on developing integrated tourism packages connecting tourism with all other major industries of Seoul, such as design, information technology, R&D and exhibition/conventions.
- By making use of these tourism resources, Seoul will continue to market itself enthusiastically to potential tourist markets such as China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas.
>Seoul is working in close cooperation with the central government in actively implementing its low-carbon, green growth policy. It is leading various related projects that are appropriate in the city's particular situation.
Enhanced achievements through an effective implementation of the central government's green growth policy.

-About half of Seoul's buildings are over 20 years old, meaning that there are a lot of energy being wasted. (Buildings take up 60% of all the city's energy consumption and 64% of the city's gas emission.) That is why Seoul is implementing a Building Retrofit Project(BRP.)
Since 2008, this project has been implemented first in the city and district government buildings and other public buildings. Similar projects in the private sector are being endorsed through a loan.
> By 2009, BRP on 76 public buildings and 50 private buildings, a total of 126 buildings were completed.
> The goal by 2010 is to implement this project on 18 firehouses and 100 private buildings.
At the C40 Summit Meeting held in Seoul last year, Seoul announced BRP as its representative project and the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) designated Seoul as a leading city in BRP.

-Lighting takes up 21% of Seoul's entire energy consumption. By distributing LED lighting, which has a longer life and higher energy efficiency, Seoul is trying to reform the lighting situation.
In hand with the central government's LED lighting plan (to equip 30% of the public buildings with LED lighting by 2012 and 30% of private buildings by 2015), Seoul is planning to equip 100% of its public buildings with LED lighting by 2020 and 80% of the private sector by 2030. It is also encouraging the use of LED lighting in new construction and BRP projects.
> A total of 18,333 lights in both government and private buildings have been changed to LED by 2009.
> By 2010, 6,963 lights from 14 buildings are to be changed to LED.

- Seoul is concentrating on supplying hydrofuel, solar and geothermal powers as appropriate new and renewable energy sources for the city. (The city's usage of new and renewable energy was 1.7% in 2009). Through policies such as making renewable energy usage compulsory for big energy consumers like buildings, Seoul is hoping to increase its renewable energy usage to 3.5% by 2014.
By 2009, solar and geothermal power is being distributed to 116 buildings.
Seoul is concentrating on hydropower, which is seen as appropriate for densely populated areas like the city. In May, 2009, it build the Noweon Hydrofuel Station of 2.4MW scale and in this September, it will build another 2.4MW sized hydrofuel station within the World Cup Park.
Also, in accordance to the central government's '1 million Green Home' project, Seoul will encourage households to use private hydrofuel batteries, bring the number of such households to 100,000 by 2030.
In particular, the 11,353 households in the Magok Development District are to get 56.5% of their energy from biogass, hydrofuel and reused resources.

-There is a simple, immediate and effective way for green life to take place without additional facilities or technologies. It is for citizens to voluntarily save energy, water and gas. Seoul has been implementing the Eco-mileage System since September 2009. This is an incentive system that pays the citizens back as much as the greenhouse gas emission they've worked to decrease.
By the end of this August, a total of 290,670 establishments (270,270 households and 20,400 organizations) were participating in this system and Seoul is trying to get 1 million establishments to participate by 2014.
In the future, buying eco-friendly products and using public transportation will also earn participants mileage points and these points will be used as cash when using public transportation or public cultural facilities.
Seoul style Green Policy

-In order to combat air pollution and climate change, Seoul is leading the way in distributing eco-friendly green cars. It is working towards the central government's aim to become one of the world's fourth largest green car nations and for the four years of the mayoral second term, Seoul will provide 30,000 green cars and 8,000 charging stations around the city. To encourage citizens to use green cars, Seoul has recommended the central government to provide financial support to households buying green cars and businesses establishing charging stations.
Groundwork for a Neighborhood Electic Vehicle(NEV) to take to the streets has been completed by this April including designating roads for possible passage.
25 NEVs are currently being used park patrol cars and public vehicles.
Development on electric buses has been completed in partnership with the manufacturer to the stage of test driving in this June. Fifteen of these buses will be operating by the end of this year and 53 charging stations will also be established for these buses.
Work on electric cars, hybrid buses and electric taxis are also undergoing.
228 models of two-wheeled electric vehicles with low levels of emission will be distributed by the end of this year for demonstration and if yielding positive results, 50% of motorbikes used for delivery in the city will be replaced by these vehicles by 2014.

-A voluntary program where citizens are encouraged to leave their vehicles behind for one designated day a week has been implemented to save energy.
About 76% of Seoul's air pollutants and 27% of gas emission comes from vehicles.
The No Driving Day program is a voluntary program as never found in a city before. It was started in July 2003 and some 1 million cars (about 40% of the relevant cars in Seoul) are participating in it.
The central government has also acknowledge its effectiveness and is expanding it to other cities around the city with a population larger than 500,000 from 2011.

-In order to reuse the metal resources from disposed household electronic appliances and to dispose of the appliances in an eco-friendly manner. Seoul has started a 'City Mining Project' business since June, 2009.

Since the creation of a SR Center last December until this August, 1,572 tons of disposed household appliances and 426,000 mobile phones were treated. This center also created 61 new jobs, 49 of which went to the social needy.
After Seoul's example, the government cabinet meeting decided to establish a similar plan in August, 2009 and a plan to reuse disposed metal resources was established this March by the Ministry of Environment. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security also set up a "Regional Plan for the Reuse of Disposed Metal Resources" and have cited Seoul as an example to cities around the country.

In order to teach the importance of environment conservation to elementary school students, the future generation of the city and to expand a lifestyle of low-carbon and green growth, Seoul is developing and distributing education courses and textbooks according to the age level of children.
Since 2009 to this September, Seoul has developed an education booklet according to the syllabi of all grades in elementary school called "Let's Create a Green Seoul together with Hwani and Gyeongi." This booklet has been distributed to all 1st to 4th graders in elementary schools in Seoul (420,000 students in total).
As of now, textbooks for 5th and 6th grade are being developed and by 2011, all grades of elementary school will receive education in taking care of the environment.

Seoul will continue to cooperate with the central government, civic society and other partners to achieve a synergy in the implementing of green policies.
>>Seoul is exempting foreign businesses from national and regional taxes up to a period of 10 years. It is also providing these businesses with government-owned land for a low cost either for sale or long-term rent. Foreign businesses are also provided with financial support in hiring and educating employees as well as research. Seoul is also providing a long-term loan for investing in facilities. It is creating a new fund of 200 billion won (18 million USD, 13 million Euros) for foreign invested businesses and working improving related systems and regulations.
-In order to improve the life quality of foreign investors and their families living in Seoul, Seoul is continuing to invite famous, private schools from overseas, such as Dwight School, to set their campuses in Seoul. Seoul is also building rental housing for foreigners and medical clinics for foreigners. It is also setting up announcements in foreign languages in public transportation as well as signboards for foreigners on the streets. All in all, Seoul is trying to make itself a city where residing foreigners will have no problems in education, housing, medical care, transportation and all other areas.
-In particular, Seoul has set up Global Center in major parts of the city where foreigners can visit to get consultations and solutions to the problems they encounter as they live in the city. There are over 10 Global Centers in Seoul as of now where foreigners can go to ask advise on various fields such as living in Seoul, tourism and business. Seoul is planning to expand the number and functions of these global centers in the near future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Interview: Mr. Erwin Stouthamer, Principal, Composition Capital Partners,

In the 2009 PERE LP Survey, Composition Capital Partners BV is the only General Partner listed as particularly admired for its thorough work and transparent communication The company has an extensive network in Europe, Asia and the US, built up over a period of twelve years. The members have strong direct real estate experience and in addition to their network, bring a broad range of skills in deal structuring, due diligence and investment monitoring. The cultural diversity of the company not only provides it with local insights, but also helps us better appreciate and understand the cultural and behavioral aspects of the markets.
Mr. Erwin Stouthamer, Principal, Composition Capital Partners:
>>Composition Capital Partners is a real estate investment management company which was founded in 2005. Prior to establishing the company, our senior management had been investing in US, European and Asian real estate markets on behalf of a large Dutch pension fund for over a decade. We specialize exclusively in Fund of Funds real estate investment structures investing with local operators through joint ventures, club deals, secondary transactions and (smaller) funds. In this way, our investors can access a real estate portfolio which is diversified in terms of managers, strategies, real estate sectors and locations. Compositions Asia Fund I was the first Fund of Funds to be launched in Asia. Our company currently works with 20 institutional investors from Asia, Europe and the US.
We have chosen to operate as a private and independent boutique firm. Our company is owned by four principals and employs 17 people in Hong Kong and Amsterdam. We are proud to have an experienced international professional team dedicated to providing a high quality of service to meet investors needs. Composition was recognized in the Private Equity Real Estate Limited Partner Survey 2009 (PERE LP Survey 2009) for their thorough work and transparent communication
Composition values its relationships with its investors and investment partners. We believe in taking the time to understand our investors requirements & ambitions and in maintaining open relationships & dialogues. We have created a substantial network of potential investment partners through our active local presence and visibility in individual real estate markets. We again believe in taking the time to understand fully the ambitions and motivations of investment partners to ensure the needs of our investors are realized. Our company has held positions on the boards of various real estate industry bodies, including Inrev, the European counterpart of Anrev, the Asian private equity real estate industry platform.
>>Our investment strategy has always been to work with the best in class local partners in accessing the best real estate deals, with a focused mandate involving clearly identified investment, operation and divestment parameters and strategies, with suitable risk management in securing returns for our investors.
With our local teams and knowledge of the markets, we believe the markets in Asia and Europe offer diverse opportunities with different time horizons and risk exposures. In many markets access to debt has become harder for many players, which we see as a great opportunity. For example, we recently have invested into recapitalization strategies in Germany and Japan involving preferred equity positions in mezzanine type arrangements where capital structures are frozen. We also have invested in value-add opportunities in the UK and Hong Kong, involving refurbishment, repositioning and stabilization of assets to yielding products for core type buyers.
>>Our company was founded on over a decade of experience and an extensive network of personal contacts in international real estate investment markets. We capitalized on this initial solid base of experience and personal contacts to build a source of reliable managers and deals for our investors. We have always believed in accessing local platforms with strong teams, alignment, deal-sourcing and execution, so maintain close contact with the local real estate markets we invest in on behalf of our clients. We believe our proximity and understanding of local managers makes us better placed to select the quality managers on behalf of our investors.
Composition has been in the Fund of Funds market since this market's inception. Our sole activity since being founded has been management of Fund of Funds. We are one of the few independent managers with a dedicated and focused product in the market. Our Asia I fund, headed by Composition's Director, Bill Shaw in Hong Kong, was the first Asia real estate Fund of Funds on launch, in 2005. Our employees, representing 10 different nationalities, have a wealth of experience in real estate development, asset management, private equity, research & consulting, and institutional investment.
We are also unique in that we have taken the lead and seed investor role in several established local platforms in fund and joint venture structures. We are one of the earlier players working in direct partnerships with local players, taking a very active role in structuring platforms with our partners and also in working closely with them through to exit stages. We believe our partners appreciate our local knowledge and resources, where our input is respected and where we sit on the advisory boards of all of our investments.
>>Composition has been investing in Korea through our fund of funds platform since 2005. Prior to the establishment of Composition, various principals and employees had been actively involved in Korea in previous roles as early as 1998. We believe the long term fundamentals of the Korean economy and its real estate markets offer interesting opportunities for our investors. We already participate in a Korea-only fund vehicle and, in addition to other potential fund investments; we are currently considering joint ventures and co-investments in Korea. We are especially attracted to the value-add opportunities which involve the repositioning, refurbishment, and stabilization of both office and commercial assets that can yield an attractive return to our investors, and upon exit, to core/core-plus buyers.
In additional to our investment activities in the Korean real estate markets, Composition is exploring opportunities to provide Korean institutional investors access to both Asian and European markets as investors in our Fund of Funds.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview: Mr. Jeremy Stewardson, Executive Director, ANREV

The Asian Association for Investors in Non-listed Real Estate Vehicles (ANREV) is the sister organisation to INREV in Europe. It seeks to generate increased levels of liquidity within the Asian private real estate fund market through promoting greater transparency, accessibility, professionalism and standards of best practice. As a regional body, it strives to provide a platform for the sharing and dissemination on the non-listed real estate fund market.
ANREV now has 57 member companies in eight countries. ANREV’s agenda is driven by the members, in particular the investors, and is focused on improving transparency and accessibility of market information, promoting professionalism and best practices, sharing and spreading knowledge.
The objectives are being achieved through implementing research projects such as the Investment Intentions Asia Survey, an Asian vehicles database as well as through promoting industry standards and sharing best practice through regular events.
ANREV membership is dominated by Institutional Investors and supported by fund managers, investment banks and other real estate market participants.
In January this year, Mr. Jeremy Stewardson was appointed as Executive Director of the Association. He has held various senior positions in the Asian and European commercial real estate markets, since starting with Jones Lang Wootton in Hong Kong in 1978. After 23 years with the international property consultancy in it’s Hong Kong, London, Berlin, Frankfurt and Bangkok offices, he undertook a number of Asian commercial property roles, latterly as Chief Executive of the managers of Champion REIT, Hong Kong’s second largest Trust. Mr. Stewardson is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
Excerpts of interview:
>>ANREV is a non-profit association of institutional investors in private property funds . It draws it’s membership from Pension Funds , Insurance companies , Sovereign funds and Family offices , their Fund Managers and Service Providers . It is related to INREV in Europe . It’s members get together to transfer industry knowledge and best practice – all this with the aim of improving transparency in the global industry and hence accessibility for further investors .
>>For us , Korea is one of the key Asian markets . Along with Australia , Japan, Hongkong and Singapore , it has become an important pension fund and insurance industry participant . To ensure sustainable investment return levels , the Korean industry is now looking to overseas property markets as well as it’s own , just as the Dutch industry did 25 years ago . By the same token , other global pension and insurance industries are diversifying into the Korean market .
So our role is to contribute to improving communications , understanding and standards in global markets for our members , to facilitate sustainable cross-border investment accessibility .
>>There are 3 legs to our Associations out put . Firstly, Research: we research our industry , the participants , the products , the volumes ,the flows and the issues and feed the analysed results back to our members . We will be launching our on-line database of non-listed property funds in Asia later this year – this database is being developed along the lines of the INREV database in Europe .
Secondly : best practice standards . We promulgate the INREV-produced Guidelines for Fund establishment and management around Asia Pacific , with supplements being produced to reflect different circumstances in the individual markets. We will be providing Implementation Workshops for members next year .
Thirdly : communications . We hold Roundtables, Briefings and Workshops on strategic and technical issues facing our industry in Australia, Japan , Hongkong and Singapore – Korea is being added to this circuit.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Interview: Mr. David Martin, Head of Retail, Commercial Property,Hongkong Land Ltd.

Founded in 1889, Hongkong Land has interests across the Asian region. In Hong Kong, the Group owns and manages some five million sq. ft of prime commercial space that defines the heart of the Central Business District. In Singapore, it is helping to create the city-state's new Central Business District with the expansion of its joint venture portfolio of new developments. Hongkong Land's properties in these and other Asian centres are recognised as market leaders and house the world's foremost financial, business and luxury retail names.
Hongkong Land also develops premium residential properties in a number of cities in the
region, not least in Singapore where its 77%-owned listed affiliate, MCL Land, is a
significant developer.
Hongkong Land Holdings Limited is incorporated in Bermuda. It has a premium listing on
the London Stock Exchange, and secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore. The Group's
assets and investments are managed from Hong Kong by Hongkong Land Limited. The company is a member of the Jardine Matheson Group.
As noted by Mr. David Martin, Head of Retail, Commercial Property,Hongkong Land Ltd., besides Hong Kong and Singapore, the company has also subtantial interest in expanding its operations in mainland Chinsa and other parts of Southeast Asia.
“The company has a very narrow focus, being interested only in high-end retail and office sites. For this reason, while we have been looking for opportunities in Seoul which is a very interesting market. All our major tenants operate in Korea. Furthermore the luxury brands market is huge, as also the financial institutions. Hopefully, we will invest soon,he said.
Within the overall commercial property portfolio of the company, retail accounts for a 20 percent, both in value and space. Specifically in Hong Kong, the share of both the retail and office space is even, he said.
Mr. Martin noted that the retail market has a huge potential in mainland China. HLL is interested in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities, but is facing difficulty in finding key sites which are generally expensive, political and in demand.
“In Hong Kong, we are hugely helped by the massive increase in mainland visitors in the past 5 years. There is growing prosperity in China and the peoples ability to shop has increased with rising incomes. This has helped the retail business and office space. Morover, many Russian and other international companies are also investing in Hong Kong, which is a very positive development.”
Speaking on HLL's performance in the first half of this year, he noted that despite ongoing economic uncertainties, demand for office and retail space in Hong Kong's Central district in the first half of 2010 was relatively robust. In addition, the Group recognised significant profits from two of its Singapore residential projects, Marina Bay Residences and Waterfall Gardens, upon their completion.
Vacancy in the Group's office portfolio in Hong Kong stood at 4.2% at 30th June 2010.
Average rents remained stable and rent reversions were largely neutral. The retail portfolio
in the Central district was fully leased.
In Singapore, there was growing demand from financial service companies for quality office
space in Marina Bay. As a result, achieved rents were relatively firm despite the new supply
of commercial space being built. Construction of the Group's joint venture development,
Marina Bay Financial Centre, continued on schedule. The first office tower is now
completed with the second due by the year end. Both towers, which comprise a total lettable
area of 159,000 sq. m., are almost fully let. Construction of a 122,000 sq. m. third tower is
underway with completion expected in 2012, of which 55% is already committed.
Marina Bay Financial Center, Singapore's first mixed-use development that successfully integrates residential, business, retail and entertainment facilities, will be fully completed in 2012. Those in the area will not only have the convenience of having 176,000 square feet of retail space at their doorsteps, they will also enjoy MBFC's connectivity, with direct access to two MRT stations via the subterranean mall. In addition, the mall offers tenants an immediate
patronage of 64,000 residents and professionals living and working within the MBFC
The second residential tower of the Marina Bay project, Marina Bay Suites, which will be
completed in late 2013, is selling well with almost 60% of the 221 units sold.
MBFC is being developed by a joint venture Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd/Hutchison Whampoa, Hongkong Land and Keppel Land, and managed by Raffles Quay Asset Management (RQAM). The tenant-centric design of this purpose-built financial centre combines the best in form and function, making it a key draw for businesses and befitting Singapore's position as a global financial hub.
MBFC offers a breathtaking blend of three distinguished office towers with nearly 3 million sq ft of Grade A office space, two residential towers comprising 649 luxury apartments and penthouses as well as approximately 176,000 sq ft of retail space to meet the daily convenience of our business community and residents.
MBFC achieved the Green Mark Gold for its office towers 1 & 2, Marina Bay Residences and Marina Bay Suites and the Green Mark Gold Plus for its office tower 3 conferred by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore. This award recognizes the efforts made by the developers to encourage sustainable design practices, and makes MBFC one of the few developments to win more than one BCA Green Mark award.
The Group's joint venture in Jakarta commenced construction of a 61,000 sq. m., 30-storey
tower within its existing office development in the city, due for completion in 2012.
He noted that the contribution from residential property was significant during the period. The launch in February of MCL Land's project, The Estuary, was well received and all 608 units have been pre-sold. During the period, MCL Land acquired an additional site for future development.
The Serenade in Hong Kong is due to complete in the second half of the year, and
approximately a third of the apartments were sold by the end of June. The profit arising on
sale of apartments in Tower 4 of the 47%-held One Central Macau will also be recognized in
the second half. The Group has announced the launch of 92 branded apartments to be sold in
One Central Macau, which will be managed by Mandarin Oriental following the opening of
its 213-room hotel in late June.
The One Central Macau, is a groundbreaking mixed-used project for the city combining luxury residential, hotel, serviced apartment and retail facilities on a sprawling waterfront site in the scenic Nape Area.
The opening launched a new era in Macau's shopping scene as international brands opened the doors to their luxury duplex and triplex shops, all of which provide discerning shoppers in Macau with the same convenience and quality they have come to expect from CENTRAL ine Hong Kong and other fashion capitals such as New York and Paris. The list of tenants at One Central Macau includes brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Fendi, Ermenegildo Zegna, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Cartier, Bvlgari and Burberry, among many others. Many have opened their first, largest or flagship stores in the 400,000-square-foot, three-level shopping mall. The 200,000-square-foot site is uniquely positioned in the heart of the city on Nam Van Lake.
With a full panoramic view of the waterfront, One Central Macau comprises seven residential blocks of 32 to 38 storeys each as well as an iconic tower designed by world-famous architect Kohn Pedersen Fox, which houses the Mandarin Oriental, Macau and the most unique serviced apartments in the city. In addition to the architecturally innovative mall's prime waterfront location and impeccable list of tenants, One Central Macau is also directly linked to the MGM GRAND Macau, already an award-winning lifestyle destination.
“One Central Macau will offer shoppers the ultimate retail and lifestyle experience, with access to entertainment, fine dining, upscale residential buildings, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Serviced Apartments, and leading lifestyle and gaming destination MGM GRAND Macau,he said.
Another phase of the joint venture development Bamboo Grove in Chongqing comprising
261 townhouses, all but two of which have been sold, is scheduled for completion later this
year. A further 427 units, including high rise apartments to be completed in later years, were
released to the market and 254 had been sold by the end of June. In Beijing, sales continued
at Maple Place, while development work on the Group's other projects continued. Recent
government measures to dampen the market have led to reduced sales throughout the
Mr. Martin noted that during the rest of the year, Hong Kong and Singapore commercial property markets should remain stable. The second half result will benefit from the completion of additional residential units although the contribution will be less than in the first half with no significant completions in Singapore.

Interview: Mr. Oh Byung-don, Mayor of Icheon City

Located in the South-Eastern part of Gyeonggi-do, Icheon has naturally developed good plains and hilly areas of Bokhacheon and Cheongmicheon due to the Namhan River tributary.
The east-west Yeongdong Highway intersects with the center of the north-south highway. It is accessible from all directions by crossing national road 3, that connects from Seoul to Chungju, and national road 42, that connects Suwon with Yeoju, so it has a good base for manufacuting.
Also Icheon has the best quality rice in the world, peaches, which are especially big, white & sweet, soil & fire and traditional ceramic ware which has its own eternal life and the artistic spirit of craftsmen. It is also the original place of ceramic ware of the world's ceramic art, natural hot springs that fly up by the folding screen of Mt. Seolbong and Mt. Dodram and the guardian mountains of Icheon, are combined with high-tech industry, the countryside, tourism and leisure.
In an exclusive interview, Mr. oh Byung-don, Mayor of Icheon City outlines the significance of the place.
>>Icheon City features various cultural colors as well as a long history in all fields that dates back to the prehistoric times. Such fields include the political, economic, social, and cultural areas.
It belonged to Baekje (ancient kingdom located in southwest Korea) in the early three kingdom era. It became a part of Goguryeo (ancient Korean kingdom) in 475 (63rd year of King Jangsu, the 26th king of Goguryeo) and was named Namcheon-hyeon.
King Jinheung, the 24th king of the Shilla Dynasty, placed the monarch in Namcheon-ju (where the provincial government building is located today). In 936, the first emperor of Goryeo entitled the city to Later Baekje Namjeong-si (city) Icheon-gun (county).
In 1444, the 26th year of King Sejong, the city became a dohobu (local administrative body). In 1914, most of Eumjuk-gun was absorbed into Icheon-gun. On March 1, 1996, Icheon-gun was promoted to Icheon-si.
In terms of historical significance, there was a fight over the Han River basin in the three kingdom era and Icheon was at the center of the fight.
Icheon is home to many stone pagodas and stone Buddhas including the Yeongwolam-maaeyeorae-ipsang (standing status). It is a rich repository of Buddhist cultural heritage, including the Maitreya.
Six scholars who left for the countryside after Gimyo sahwa (the calamity of literati) during the Joseon Dynasty, including Kim An-guk, gathered in the area to engage in academic exchange and gave more depth to Joseon's Neo-Confucianism.
>>The vision of Icheon City is to build Icheon, a city of happiness that stands by the side of its citizens. My dream as well as the dream of Icheon citizens is to realize this vision, and to build a planned city with a population of 350 thousand.
I would like to first of all say that I will make strenuous efforts to realize this dream.
First of all, I will do my best in implementing the land development project of Majang District as well as the project involved with building a small new city that will serve as an administrative town in Joongri District. This is a key project that will bring about substantial changes in the history of development of Icheon and for which an administrative process is underway. Strenuous efforts will be made so that these projects result in a luxurious residential space.
Ten small industrial complexes, including an industrial complex in Jinam-ri, Janghowon-eup, were built as a niche strategy that overcomes regulations on metropolitan area natural preservation zones that were introduced by the fourth mayor elected by popular vote. An additional ten small industrial complexes will be built to attract 300 companies, thereby taking the lead in creating jobs and promoting the local economy.
In addition, prestigious, self-governing private high schools will be established to train local experts and the city itself will be redesigned by continually executing high-quality cultural and art activities through the Icheon Art Hall, which is being successfully operated.
>>Located less than an hour away from Seoul, the nation's capital, Icheon is an important traffic center where the Yeongdong Expressway and Jungbu Expressway meet. Icheon is about an hour away from other key cities as well including Gangwon Province and Chungcheong Province.
Thanks to its fertile soil and the developed hills and plains, Icheon offers excellent quality crops, including rice and peach. It is known for its warm-hearted and generous citizens, who unite in times of difficulty.
Icheon is home to such famous mountains as Mt. Seolbong, Mt. Wonjeok, and Mt. Noseong, and is where Cheongmi Stream and Bokha Stream, a tributary of the Namhan River, flow. The city thus has in place excellent conditions for citizens to live in and also good conditions to do business in.
Icheon City is a pleasant green city, where there exists an affluent agricultural life and a comfortable city life based on cutting-edge industries. It is a green city where citizens can enjoy high-quality culture and tourism activities in addition to outstanding specialty products.
>>As a leading city in Korea in terms of the ceramics culture, Icheon is leading trends in modern ceramics and has a rich history in the field of ceramics. It is home to well-known craftsmen such as master artisans, Icheon ceramics masters, and young, leading ceramists of Korea. It is a leading ceramics city in Korea with a complete personnel and material infrastructure such as the Icheon World Ceramic Center and Haegang Ceramics Museum.
Icheon City applied to become a member of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network in the field of crafts in order to widely publicize the city's outstanding cultural assets and to further strengthen its competitiveness. On July 20, it became the first in Korea to become a part of the network.
I believe the designation of Icheon was an extremely significant event that enhanced the city's reputation and the value of the city brand to the global level. It also proves that the cultural assets and competencies of Icheon have gained international recognition.
What is extremely encouraging is that Icheon citizens now feel a greater sense of pride and self-esteem as global cultural citizens.
Considering that UNESCO is a world-renowned organization, I believe people all across the globe will develop an entirely new view of Icheon.
By effectively leveraging Icheon's change in status, I will actively launch PR activities so that Icheon's cultural and tourism industry develops with greater speed.
>>A great number of ceramists moved to Icheon after the middle of the Joseon Dynasty period and gave birth to Korea's ceramics culture. Even now, there is a ceramics village called 'Sagimakgol' in the Saeum-dong area of Icheon.
Icheon has grown into a leader of the nation's ceramics culture. In June 2005, it was designated as a special ceramics district, thus becoming a widely-recognized, leading ceramics city of the nation.
In fact, ceramics is Icheon's indisputable No. 1 brand, so much so that people think of ceramics first when they hear the word Icheon. We are attempting to transform Icheon into a global tourist spot by more systematically and efficiently managing this brand. We are expediting the process of building the Icheon Ceramic Art Village, which involves gathering kilns that are located throughout Icheon to a single area.
In addition to resources that Icheon has had for a long time such as hot springs, ceramics, and specialty products, Icheon is developing cultural and tourism resources by effectively leveraging local conditions. The city is further strengthening the establishment of a cultural and tourism foundation by leveraging its strengths as a city located close to large cities. For example, it is moving forward with the establishment of a Ceramic Art Village, Agricultural Theme Park, Woongjin Children's Village, Baeksa Sansuyu Flower Experience Village, and a tourism complex that connects Mt. Noseong with Seongho Lake.
Icheon is increasing its reputation as a leading cultural city by holding culture and art festivals throughout the year whose themes include the Sansuyu flower, ceramics, peach, and rice, in addition to the International Sculpture Symposium in Icheon and Icheon Chunsafilm Festival. Icheon also houses the Woljeon Museum of Art Icheon and Icheon Art Hall, which further upgraded the cultural life of citizens.
>>What I believe is most important from the perspective of foreigners living in Icheon is the establishment of an environment that allows foreigners to live in harmony with the residents.
In this sense, there is a need for a project that involves joining hands with foreigners to develop policies that are closely related to foreigners' daily lives. Icheon is already implementing such a project through the Multi-cultural Center.
There is also a need for continuous and smooth execution of foreigner support services. For example, there is a need to provide administrative services or handle a wide variety of civil complaints from the perspective of foreigners and to develop multi-language information services.
As mentioned before, Icheon became the first in Korea to become a part of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. The city will do justice to its reputation and strive to establish an advanced social integration atmosphere between foreigners and Icheon citizens.
Recently you hosted the Icheon Ceramic festival. Could you give us more details of this festival and the outcome?
The Icheon Ceramic Festival was first launched in 1987 and was held for the 24th time this year. It has developed every year, with its cumulative number of visitors exceeding 23 million. It is a leading traditional culture experience festival of Korea.
The whole family can make ceramics and experience the value and beauty of traditional Korean ceramics by taking part in a wide array of experiential, sales, and traveling programs as well as exhibitions. It is also a leading festival of Icheon that has developed into a leading icon that publicizes Korea's ceramics industry and culture throughout the world.
The Icheon Ceramic Festival was originally a part of the Solbong Cultural Festival. It continuously developed after its selection in 1998 as one of the five festivals to receive focused support by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. In 2001, the 2001 World Ceramic Expo, the 1st World Ceramic Biennale, was held. It continued to advance forward to generate economic effects totaling 330.1 billion won in 2009, thus fully establishing itself as a leading ceramics culture festival in Korea.
The 24th Icheon Ceramic Festival was held at Seolbong Park in Icheon for 23 days from April 24 through May 16. Based on the theme 'Joyful Ceramic Trip to Icheon', the festival continued its reputation as Korea's leading ceramics festival.
The festival was assessed as providing an arena for experiencing traditional Korean ceramics by combining ceramics experience programs, design exhibitions, and events in addition to featuring a wide variety programs such as an exhibition of high-quality ceramics.
>>Icheon City is implementing various administrative support systems. An example is the creation of a taskforce team together with Gyeonggi Province to attract investments from foreign companies. The team is in charge of attracting foreign capital and is participated in by the Korea Land & Housing Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation.
When a foreign company wants to make an investment, Icheon helps the foreign company purchase land such as by designating a foreigner investment area pursuant to the Foreign Investment Promotion Act. It is also providing financial support to partially pay for costs incurred from setting up base facilities such as water facilities and building roads that enable easy access to national highways or subways.
Icheon also offers various tax reduction and exemption benefits such as for taxes related to the acquisition of land, including the acquisition tax, registration tax, and transfer income tax, pursuant to the Foreign Investment Promotion Act and Restriction of Special Taxation Act.
Icheon has various support systems in place, such as providing employment insurance and training subsidies in cash for a certain period when a company hires more than 20 persons based on Gyeonggi Province's investment incentive system. The city is also helping companies set up signs on expressways and national highways.
>>My plan is to focus on attracting cutting-edge business sectors related to electricity and electronics as well as R&D centers and culture and tourism-related industries such as theme parks.
>>Location conditions are an important factor in creating a good environment to do business in, but I believe a more important factor is removing 'invisible barriers' to corporate activities. This is why I set up a department at Icheon City Government to be mainly in charge of corporate support.
Icheon also has the 'public servant-company guardianship system', which involves establishing one-on-one guardian relations between a public servant and a small or mid-sized company in Icheon that has at least five employees and regularly monitoring the company's difficulties.
Difficulties experienced by companies are mostly related to receiving loans to be used as business funds, increasing the number of plants, and building an infrastructure, such as improving access roads. Icheon earmarked a budget of 1.4 billion won to implement corporate environment improvement projects last year such as to improve access roads located near companies. A total of ten projects were executed to improve the environment for 44 companies.
There is also the 'corporate field mobility team', which makes efforts to help companies with an open attitude.
Icheon City is a pleasant green city, where there exists an affluent agricultural life and a comfortable city life based on cutting-edge industries. Icheon is waiting for investors and entrepreneurs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview: Mr. Lee Kwi-nam, Minister of Justice

The Ministry of Justice serves the citizens by guarding and enforcing the Constitution and laws of the Republic. In addition to rendering legal advice to the President, Prime Minister, and other ministries, MOJ supervises the prosecution. It is also in charge of correctional and rehabilitative administration and immigration. In what should be of more interest to foreign investors, it is responsible for Policies with respect to an Investment-Friendly Legal Environment. I interviewed him to learn more about the policies and plans on this front.
>>The vision of the Ministry of Justice is to bring about a happy nation with an advanced rule of law. To realize this vision, we are pushing ahead with the following priorities. First, in order to create a transparent society, we are promoting establishment of law and order that is commensurate with Korea's standing in the international community and (2) enhancement of the nation's credibility through prevention of corruption. Second, in order to create a safe society, we are promoting (3) protection of citizens from violent crime and (4) prevention of repeated crimes through support for criminal rehabilitation. Finally, in order to achieve more open administration of judicial affairs, we are promoting (5) implementation of open and harmonious policies for aliens and (6) construction of advanced infrastructure for judicial affairs administration.
>>Last February, in order to simplify the invitation process for long-term visitors, such as for employment of skilled foreign talents, the Ministry of Justice opened the visa-application process to online application for certificate for confirmation of visa issuance through HuNet Korea (, an internet-based visa application system. Furthermore, we shortened the time it takes to issue a visa by exempting the submission of corporate-related documents such as business license, employment contract, and personal reference.
In May 2010, we also streamlined the invitation process for short-term visitors, such as for foreign corporate buyers. This procedural simplification allows issuance of short-term business visa (C-2) for a foreigner with short-term business purpose based on no other requirement than a company-issued invitation and grants up to 90 days for the visit.
The Ministry of Justice will further strengthen its continuous efforts to improve the immigration system so that 36,000 skilled foreign talents, such as professors or researchers, as well as 9,000 foreign investors currently residing in Korea can live and do businesses more conveniently.
>>We must admit that Korea had been conservative in its recognition of refugee status, underscored by the statistics that only two refugees were recognized as such in ten years from the ratification of the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in 1992; moreover, Korea has had many shortcomings with regard to refugee status recognition process or support policies. Nevertheless, the number of refugee seekers has increased substantially in recent years, proportionally to the recent surge in Korea's national reputation in the global society, and this increase has necessitated a closer attention and a better care at the government-level.
The Ministry of Justice has recently implemented what we consider groundbreaking policies: we halved the evaluation period for refugee status from a year to six months; allowed the refugee seekers on long-term standbys to find employment, starting May 4th, 2010; and took action to enable refugee seekers to receive medical treatment and to be hospitalized at government-designated hospitals and up to 5 million won in medical bill support through collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Welfare since June 1st, 2010.
Particularly, as a result of a more proactive refugee embracement policy implemented to live up to Korea's international status enhanced by the imminent G-20 Seoul Summit, Korea has recognized a total of 205 refugees and has granted 130 cases of temporary resident status on humanitarian grounds as of August, 2010. The number of refugees recognized during the last three years accounts for approximately 75% of the total recognized refugees.
The Ministry of Justice will work to guarantee the procedural rights of refugee seekers to a speedy and fair evaluation. Furthermore, the Ministry will provide measures to support improvement of social treatment of recognized refugees and refugee seekers.
>>Korean law on nationality to date has received criticism for its failure to anticipate the international trend that increasingly permits dual citizenship by holding on to a single-nationality principle, exemplified by its practice of requesting proof for renunciation of foreign citizenship from foreigners that obtained Korean nationality and citizens born with multiple citizenships. It has also been pointed out that such Korean institution has created barriers for skilled talents and Koreans abroad with foreign nationality to obtain Korean nationality and even has induced adverse effects on population.
In order to reform the sixty-year old institution rigidly rooted in single-nationality principle, the Ministry of Justice submitted to the National Assembly the Amended Nationality Act, with allowance of multiple citizenships for citizens born with multiple citizenships as its major content, based on thorough discussions of the topic and public opinion gathered through public hearings.
This revised Nationality Act was passed in the National Assembly on April 21st this year and was proclaimed on the fourth of following May. It will be put in place in its entirety on the first of January 2011 while certain provisions are put into immediate effect at the proclamation.
Under this law, in case citizens born with multiple citizenships, migrants through international marriage, overseas Korean adoptees, elder overseas Koreans returning permanently, or foreign talents obtain or select Korean nationality, they are permitted to hold de facto multiple citizenships as they are required to take an oath of foreign citizenship nonuser instead of having to provide proof of foreign citizenship renunciation.
We aim to enhance national competitiveness through securing human resources, support social integration of newly naturalized citizens such as international marriage migrants, and better regard overseas Korean adoptees and elder overseas Koreans, through this reform while we also expect to see positive effects such as suppression of population net outflow.
>>In July 2010, the Ministry of Justice published and circulated the first volume of a quarterly English legal magazine titled Recent Trends of Law & Regulation in Korea: Focusing on Business and Investment.
This is the first English legal magazine that the government has published. The magazine carries articles on reasons and details of enactment and amendment of Acts related to company and investment, and case laws of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court on such Acts. It also provides detailed information on intellectual property rights protection efforts and key policies for foreigners, such as immigration regulations, that the Ministry of Justice has spearheaded.
The Ministry of Justice plans to select various topics and legislations that may be helpful for foreign businesses and provide corresponding information both online and offline on a quarterly basis. So we encourage any interested party to take advantage of this content.
>>Maintenance of law and institution is the cornerstone for economic development and consequently serves as a foundation for a nation's effort to join the ranks of the advanced countries. Hence, the Ministry of Justice aims to continue its effort to maintain the law and order befitting the economic strength and national status of Korea through the hosting of the G-20 Seoul Summit, etc.
At such an important turning point, with the Korea-EU FTA expected to take effect sometime soon, we are ready to develop and implement policies that can contribute to the creation of a legal environment friendly to foreign investors.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Interview: Ms. Arlida Ariff, President & CEO, Iskandar Investment Berhad

Located in Johor, the southern gateway to Peninsular Malaysia, Iskandar Malaysia economic region is just six to eight hours flight radius from Asia's burgeoning growth centres such as Bangalore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo, and within reach of a global market of some 800 million people.
Accessible by air, land, rail and sea, it is flanked by three major ports, the Pasir Gudang Port, Port of Tanjung Pelepas and Tanjung Langsat Port. Because of its strategic location, accessibility to leading Asian cities, proximity to some of the world's most rapidly growing and important economies, and a range of attractive fiscal incentives, Iskandar Malaysia is poised to attract an exciting influx of foreign and high-level corporate investments as discerning investors look to benefit from its many advantages and high growth potential.
The special economic zone grew out of a 2005 government requested feasibility study by the Khazanah Nasional which found that the development of such a zone would be economically, socially and developmentally beneficial.
The National SJER Planning Committee (NSPC), hearing Khazanah's findings, put it in charge of developing a sustainable, holistic approach to development in the region. Iskandar Malaysia was singled out as among the high-impact developments of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, put into action by the Prime Minister of Malaysia in March 2006 to cover the period of 2006 to 2010. In November 2006, the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Johor, Abdul Ghani Othman and Khazanah revealed the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP).
Under the plan, five "Flagship Zones" in the 221,634.1 hectares (2,216.3 kmイ) of land covered are identified as developmental focal points. Four of these Flagship Zones are found in the "Special Economic Corridor" (SEC) of Nusajaya-Johor Bahru-Pasir Gudang. The corridor謡hich includes the significant ports of Tanjung Pelepas, Pasir Gudang, and Tanjung Langsatis prioritized for development in the CDP, with particular focus on Nusajaya.
Johur Bahru City Centre is Flagship Zone A, including development of a new financial district, the central business district, the waterfront city of Danga Bay, a mixed development in Tebrau Plentong and the Malaysia/Singapore Causeway.
Flagship Zone B is Nusajaya, with planned development of the new Johor state administrative centre, a medical hub, an "educity", a resort for international tourism and an industrial logistic cluster and Residence Horizon Hills, Bukit Indah.
Flagship Zone C, the Western Gate Development, focuses on the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), providing a second transportation link for Malaysia/Singapore, a free trade zone, the RAMSAR World Heritage Park and the Tanjung Piai.
Flagship Zone D, the Eastern Gate Development, focuses on the Pasir Gudang Port and industrial zone, Tanjung Langsat Port, the Tanjung Langsat Technology Park and the Kim-Kim regional distribution centre. In the final Flagship Zone, Senai-Skudai, development is focused on the Senai International Airport, hubs for cargo and knowledge, a multimodal centre and the MSC Cyberport city.
Due for completion in 2025, the mega-development project has been in its planning and mobilization stages for the past two years and is now in its Catalytic Development stage.
Much of the kudos for its success goes to Iskandar Investment Berhad (IIB), an investment holding company working in close partnership with the Iskandar Regional Development Authority to drive investment into Iskandar Malaysia.
IIB promotes and coordinates development to support Iskandar Malaysia. As a catalytic player in part of Iskandar Malaysia's infrastructure projects, IIB's primary goal is to seek world-class investors to bring best practice to the development.
As noted by Ms. Arlida Ariff, President & CEO, IIB develops residential, commercial, and mixed projects in Iskandar Malaysia. It also develops waterfront projects, including residences, resorts, entertainment venues, waterfront amenities, shopping centers, hotels, office suites, and multi-modal and mixed-use ferry terminals.
Formerly known as South Joho Investment Corporation Berhad, the company was founded in 2006 and is based in Johor Bahru, Malaysia with additional offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.
“Our vision is to be the catalytic driver of the mega-project and achieve this by investing in selected strategic initiatives as well as through the contribution of land through sale, lease, granting of concessions or development rights.”
She noted that since the end of 2006, IIB has lured over 60 billion ringgit worth of investment from local and foreign investors, exceeding its own target of 47 billion. The region has nearly met its overall foreign direct invest target of $13bn for the phase ending in 2010. To date, collectively amongst all players in Iskandar Malaysia, more than $11bn, or 92%, has been invested.
Iskandar Investment began 2010 by announcing a feasibility study with Raffles Education Corporation Limited ('RafflesEducationCorp') to develop Raffles University Iskandar, a multiinstitutional education campus in EduCity, Iskandar Malaysia. RafflesEducationCorp is the largest private education provider in Asia Pacific.
#Other recent key milestones include:
- Construction of a 21.5-acre Stadium and Sports Complex which began in February will provide first-class sporting facilities for students and the community in Iskandar Malaysia.
- Construction will be completed in September 2011 in time for the opening of the Newcastle University Medical Malaysia (NUMed) campus.
- Agreement to establish Marlborough College Malaysia, the first international venture for the leading British independent, coeducational boarding school catering to the schooling needs of local and international students between the ages of five and 18. The campus is scheduled to open in September 2012
- Collaboration with WCT, a leading Malaysian construction and property development company, to jointly develop and co-own 1Medini, the first residential development in Medini. The condominium will be launched in mid-2010 with its first phase of 300 units ready by 2013
- Additionally, EduCity and Iskandar, the integrated education hub for Iskandar Malaysia, has also recently tied up with a world-class partner, Newcastle University of Medicine from the UK, to build its first branch campus by May 2011. The university has pledged more than $100m over 30 years to the development.
Ms. Ariff noted that IIB is looking for both foreign and local investors to contribute to the success of Iskandar.
As for the plans for this year, she said that the focus will be countries in Southeast Asia Singapore. Indonesia, China and India. Investors from these countries could become our partners in development projects or they could be buyers of our residential and commercial properties, or tenants for the retail project. We are keeping our options open.
We will still look at investors from Europe and the Middle East. Money can come from everywhere. We are a strategic developer and our main role is to drive commercial initiatives within the 2,217 sq km in Iskandar via joint venture or contribution of land. But, whatever investments we bring into Iskandar have to benefit the state and country.
She noted that the prospects are good in education, leisure, tourism and health services, especially education and health, as these are two segments that are least affected during an economic crisis.
“We have EduCity with institutions to cater for education needs from primary up to university level in the fields of medicine, hospitality, engineering and maritime. For leisure and tourism, there are Legoland in Medini and the Indoor Theme Park @ Puteri Harbour opening in 2012.
We hope to bring in new retail brands.”
“Apart from the property development, we are going to set up a unit this year to provide ancillary support services for property management, IT services, educational, tourism and environmental. We don稚 just want to develop a piece of land and hand over the project on completion. We want to ensure our projects are well maintained and managed in years to come, especially in 2012 when Legoland and NUMed @ EduCity are completed and operational.”
Iskandar Malaysia is fully supported by the federal government of Malaysia which will be offering special incentives to investors such as tax breaks, ease of talent recruitment, lifted foreign ownership restrictions and business facilitated though a regulatory authority.
The largest foreign investor so far has been Acerinox, of Spain, which is building a steel plant for 4.18 billion ringgit. Singaporean and Japanese investors have put up 3.03 billion ringgit and 2.98 billion ringgit respectively.
She attributed the increased investments to the infrastructure that have been developed as well as the strengthening economy and fiscal incentives such as a 10-year tax exemption in Medini in Iskandar Malaysia, besides the flexibility to recruit foreign talents.
To encourage early investment, the government is offering a range of incentives, including a 10-year exemption from corporate and withholding taxes and an indefinite suspension of Real Property Gains Tax, a levy on real estate capital gains imposed in January. The suspension alone could save investors between 5 percent to 20 percent of the chargeable gains from disposal of properties which would have been taxed otherwise.