Syed Mokhtar’s TCB eyes BB Plaza, Yayasan Selangor property in MRT redevelopment
KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Property conglomerate Tradewinds Corporation Bhd (TCB) has proposed to acquire Bukit Bintang Plaza (BB Plaza) and the adjoining Yayasan Selangor building as part of the redevelopment in Jalan Bukit Bintang to accommodate the My Rapid Transit (MRT) station in the capital city’s prime shopping district, sources say.
The property developer and hotelier is majority owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who also owns a major stake in the MMC-Gamuda joint-venture that is the project delivery partner and tunnel contractor for the 51km Sungai Buloh-Kajang line in the first phase of the MRT due for completion by 2017.
The proposal is also raising some disquiet given the number of high-profile projects corralled by the Kedah-born businessman over the past years.
“TCB has made an offer for both buildings but it has yet to be considered,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.
Another source confirmed the proposals have been sent to the Selangor government-owned Yayasan Selangor for the 12-storey building at the intersection of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan Ismail, and BB Plaza’s owner, UDA Holdings Bhd, a wholly-owned unit of the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
UDA Holdings gets RM25 million a year from BB Plaza tenants while Yayasan Selangor plans to upgrade its building to include a hotel and space for a station entrance.
It is not known if TCB has made specific proposals about its redevelopment plans for both buildings but the public-listed company recently received RM510 million from the sale of its Menara Tun Razak to sister company Tradewinds (M) Bhd. Syed Mokhtar (right) has an indirect stake of 42.97 per cent and 71.48 per cent stake in Tradewinds and TCB, respectively.
He has emerged as one of Malaysia’s top businessmen after snaring several major deals over the years, including his DRB-Hicom Bhd’s successful bid for national carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd early this year while Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd won the race for the proposed privatisation of Penang Port Sdn Bhd.
The politically-connected tycoon’s DRB-Hicom also managed to capture postal services operator Pos Malaysia Bhd last year from Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the country’s sovereign wealth fund that was also the previous owner of Proton.
Syed Mokhtar, said to be one of the country’s most-leveraged businessman with some RM19 billion in loans, is seen as the recipient of more projects and concessions from the government in recent years, rivalling even the so-called Daim boys such as Tan Sri Halim Saad and Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli — both of whom were also involved in infrastructure, property and hotel development.
The tycoon’s bid for the prime properties in Bukit Bintang comes at a time when UDA Holdings is caught in a bind over the 40-year-old BB Plaza, which houses its headquarters and also provides space for Malay businessmen in the city’s main shopping district.
Some 50 traders there staged a protest outside the mall entrance yesterday, complaining that they have been left out of the loop in discussions between the building’s owner, MRT Corp Bhd and the Treasury over the fate of the building.
UDA Holdings had said it was equally in the dark about the fate of BB Plaza, which is expected to be cleared out by next year to facilitate works on the Klang Valley MRT.
The mall owner said in a statement here that it has not received any formal notification from MoF on whether BB Plaza would be maintained, demolished or acquired by any party.
MRT Corp has said it is not interested in acquiring the building although it will take the basement and road frontage for its construction works.
“However, UDA has issued eviction notices to three tenants, namely Starbucks Coffee, Gloria Jeans and Hot & Roll, according to instructions given by MRT Corporation to us,” the Finance Ministry-owned agency said.
It added that the remaining tenants operating inside BBP could proceed with their businesses until further notice.
The Malaysian Insider reported earlier this month plans by MRT Corp to clear out BB Plaza’s tenants by 2013 to make way for the construction of a massive underground station, which will begin with the building’s foyer and the adjoining Yayasan Selangor building.
BB Plaza houses a majority of Malay businesses while Chinese businessmen run their companies in the adjoining Sungei Wang Plaza and nearby shophouses.
When contacted recently, UDA Holdings chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed had told The Malaysian Insider that discussions were still ongoing over whether BBP would be sold to MRT Corp or redeveloped.
MRT Corp has been negotiating land acquisitions for the project but has run into a standstill with land owners in Jalan Sultan and Jalan Bukit Bintang. It is, however, expected to sign an agreement with several property owners in Jalan Imbi.
The Malaysian Insider had reported on May 21 that delays in acquiring land in Jalan Bukit Bintang had prompted the Finance Ministry to call MRT Corp and other parties for an urgent meeting to consider options to ensure the country’s most expensive infrastructure project meets its 2017 deadline to start operations.