New kid on the block: Singapore’s ‘shoebox king’ Oxley spices up Kuala Lumpur a record RM3,300 per sq ft


IN just 10 months, Singapore-listed Oxley Holdings Ltd has quietly amassed a gross development value (GDV) of close to RM10bil in Malaysia.

That’s RM1bil for every month since it first bought land in Kuala Lumpur last May – a tough act to follow even for the most seasoned developer.

And it isn’t stopping there.

Known as the “shoebox king” in Singapore, Oxley has hired former Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS) general manager Datuk Othman Omar as CEO of its Malaysian operations, indicating its seriousness in making Malaysia a core market.

Oxley now has on its plate 15 projects outside of Singapore – one in the UK, four in Cambodia, two in China and eight in Malaysia.

Only a month into the job, Othman already has his hands full with enquiries from landowners for joint-ventures, as well as expressions of interest for properties that Oxley Malaysia is yet to launch.

“Oxley has the brand name and database of buyers. However, we have to careful with whom we work with,” he tells StarBizWeek.

“You’ll be surprised at how many land pockets there are in Kuala Lumpur. We must be selective with not just the location, but also the business model.”

Othman, who studied civil engineering in Tasmania, had helmed PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31, injecting a much-needed private sector efficiency into the state-owned unit.

Under his watch it even achieved a record profit in 2011 of RM420mil.

He had had a stellar run in PKNS at least until the end of his term, when it became clear that he and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim could no longer see eye-to-eye.

Before his contract expired, Othman was removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

But all that is water under the bridge now for Othman. He looks eager to have work for his hands again, after taking a short break in February to perform the umrah.

While he hesitates to delve into project details due to the sensitivity of ongoing negotiations, property sources say Oxley Malaysia’s landbank includes parcels on Jalan Ampang worth RM2.5bil-RM3bil, Jalan Hang Tuah (RM3bil), Section 16, Petaling Jaya (RM900mil), Beverly Heights in Ampang (RM900mil), Seputeh (RM120mil), Medini in Johor’s Iskandar Malaysia (RM1bil) and Fettes Road, Penang (RM1.5bil).

More JVs with landowners are understood to be in the pipeline.

Quick turnaround

According to Othman, Oxley favours integrated developments and a “quick turnaround”.

“The margins may not be as high (if turnaround is fast), but the banks love us because of our cashflow. That kind of velocity also reduces our finance and holding cost, and we don’t need to wait for years to realise the profits.

“We are aiming for affordability – build it fast and sell it cheap.”

Oxley made headlines here in November when it acquired a prized stretch of land along Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.


The project – which will comprise a mall, two luxury hotels, serviced residences, offices and a theme park – is a stone’s throw from KLCC and opposite from Corus Hotel.


Big name investors such as Lembaga Tabung Haji, BlackRock, five-star hotel chains Jumeirah and Waldorf Astoria, and theme park operator Sanderson are speculated to have shown an interest in the development, industry executives say.

On Jalan Hang Tuah, Oxley Malaysia is planning residences and a three- or four-star hotel with 350 rooms and retail space.

The land, acquired by a local company in a government tender, is across the road from the Hang Tuah monorail and LRT stations.

Oxley’s plot in Section 16 near the Phileo Damansara commercial complex could feature residences starting from RM650 per sq ft and some retail space to serve a proposed three- or four-star business hotel.

Othman says he may delay sales for Robson Heights, an 80-unit premium dwelling in Seputeh in the vicinity of Mid Valley Megamall, given the current soft market conditions.

Depending on the market, Oxley Malaysia could roll out the Jalan Ampang, Jalan Hang Tuah and Section 16 properties this year, he adds.

“We’re already seeing strong interest in the Hang Tuah project from en bloc buyers. Some have offered to take up 50%. But we need to make sure they aren’t speculators,” Othman quips.

This is a lot to handle for the new kid on the block. Can Othman take the heat?

“Our competition is not the other developers,” he replies coolly. “It’s what we don’t know yet.”

Former PKNS chief Othman now CEO of Oxley”

PETALING JAYA: Barely a month after leaving the Selangor State Development Corp (PKNS), Datuk Othman Omar (pic) has been tapped by Singapore-listed developer Oxley Holdings Ltd to head its Malaysian operations as CEO, overseeing eight projects worth almost RM10bil in gross development value (GDV).

According to a stock exchange filing last Friday, Othman, 54, was appointed CEO of Oxley’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Oxley Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd, on March 1.

Othman, a civil engineer by training, had previously served as general manager of PKNS for five years until his contract expired on Jan 31.

Oxley, which has a market capitalisation of S$2bil (RM5.22bil), was listed on Singapore’s Catalist Market in Oct 2010 before transferring to the Mainboard in February last year.

Oxley Tower KL

Oxley Tower KL Sky scraperThe firm, better known for its shoebox apartments in Singapore, made headlines here in November when it bought a highly-coveted piece of land along Jalan Ampang from the Loke Wan Yat estate for some RM450mil, or a record RM3,300 per sq ft.

Images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi …

The prime freehold land, down the road from KLCC and sandwiched between Wisma Central and a Chinese temple, is currently occupied by Restaurant Chef Choi, Nasi Kandar Pelita and four bungalows.

Property sources told StarBiz that Oxley’s estimated RM9bil-RM10bil portfolio in Malaysia included the Jalan Ampang project with a GDV of RM2.5bil, developments in Jalan Hang Tuah and Medini Iskandar worth RM3bil and RM1bil, respectively, and others in Selangor and Penang.

Under Othman’s watch, PKNS implemented a full open tender system in 2010, which resulted in savings of RM100mil a year.

He had also inked integrity pacts with PKNS’ vendors and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, even as he sought to inject private-sector efficiency into the otherwise staid government-linked corporation (GLC).

But towards the end of his term, Othman fell out with Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim over the running of PKNS.

Before his contract expired, Othman was also removed as general manager and transferred to the state secretariat to facilitate an investigation over the controversial sacking of Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali as a PKNS board member.

Still, sources close to Othman claim he had not been short on job offers from other GLCs and listed firms in Singapore and Malaysia.

For the six months to Dec 31, 2013, Oxley saw its net profit surge 15 times to S$275.9mil (RM720.1mil) from S$18mil (RM46.98mil) in the same period a year ago, while revenue jumped 709% to S$888.2mil (RM2.32bil) from S$109.8mil (RM286.84mil) on progress billings for various developments in Singapore.

Contributed by John Loh The Star/Asia News Network

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OXLEY TOWERS

An artist’s impression of the Oxley Tower in Kuala Lumpur. The average launch price for its serviced apartments are expected to be around RM3,000 per sq ft.

More images for KLCC Wisma Central, Restaurant Chef Choi, four bungalows

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