JOHOR Bahru: Integrated property developer UEM Sunrise Bhd has identified a local joint venture partner to develop its 30.7ha landbank in Durban, South Africa.
Managing director and chief executive officer Anwar Syahrin Abdul Ajib said UEM Sunrise would proceed with the mixed-use development plan in the country by end of this year.
Anwar said after speaking to several companies, the company had narrowed down to one potentially promising partner for the development, which will comprise retail outlets, serviced apartments, hotel, condominiums and offices.
"The buyers’ climate is still 'cautious' in South Africa. However, we are quite positive of the vibrancy of the city as it has the country's second biggest port and is a major gateway for the movement of goods into South Africa.
"And our land is quite strategic and right next to the seaport," he said in a briefing here last week.
Anwar said Phase 1 of the development would occupy about 9.6 acres with an estimated gross development value (GDV) of RM1.6 billion.
It will house retail and office spaces as well as serviced apartments and a hotel.
UEM Sunrise will start with two plots of development including the apartment, retail and hotel.
With the successful completion of this under Phase 1, the value of the remaining land would appreciate as well, Anwar said.
Durban - the third most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town - also hosts major international automotive companies.
"When you have those kind of companies, it shows the economic activities of the place is exciting. We have a small team there and over the years, we have established close relationship with the local government," he said.
Anwar said local partners are vital as they know the ecosystem, networking and suppliers.
On Australia, Anwar said the the response for the company's two apartment projects there - Aurora and Conservatory - had been good, despite the soft property climate.
"The Aurora is fully sold out while Conservatory has a take-up rate of 96 per cent as at end of December 2018.
Anwar said the weaker market conditions would also present an opportunity to the company in terms of good investment deals.
UEM Sunrise's Conservatory is the company's second project in Australia, with Aurora Melbourne Central being the first.
"I’ts good time to buy when people are desperate to sell and we see this as an opportunity for our next strategy.
"We are also planning to develop a reasonable residential with local Australian as the target market," he said.
Asked on other overseas markets, Anwar said the company has long-term plans to venture into the United Kingdom.