Land in golden triangle put on tender after 27 years of legal battles
PETALING JAYA: A 7.4-acre tract of freehold commercial land in Kuala Lumpur city has finally been put up for sale by tender, after a series of legal battles spanning 27 years and a few countries.
The legal tussle between businessman Cheah Theam Swee and creditors sailed through both the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. It has now culminated with Deloitte Corporate Solutions Sdn Bhd being appointed as liquidators with Henry Butcher Real Estate Sdn Bhd to assist in its disposal. The sale will be carried out via a tender exercise. The closing date is May 23, according to Henry Butcher chief operating officer Tang Chee Meng.
Cheah’s major asset was Malaysia-based United Securities Sdn Bhd, which owns the 7.4 acres through subsidiary City Centre Sdn Bhd, which is in liquidation.
The historical and corporate tussle involving this land is as interesting as its location.
“It is unusual to come across a piece of land of this size in the city centre within the golden triangle. There are not many of these any more. Furthermore, it is freehold land,” Tang said in a statement.
The land has a plot ratio of 1:7, which means the land can up developed up to about seven times its land area.
Tang said this was probably one of the last few pieces of prime commercial land of this size available in the city centre. It is suitable for a mixed commercial development. Usually, the land available in the city centre were between one acre or thereabouts, he said.
“You may have larger pieces like the Urban Development Authority/Pudu Prison land, which is about 20 acres, but this was held by institution. In the case of this 7.4 acres, it was privately held and there are not many of these nowadays,” he said.
He said no reserve price had been set but he reckoned it would be in the range of between RM2,000 to RM3,000 per sq ft (psf).
Land deals the past couple of years include Singapore’s Oxley Holdings Ltd buying a 3.2-acre in Jalan Ampang next to Wisma Central for RM3,300 psf, with a plot ratio of 13.99 times,
Tun Razak Exchange land parcels which were sold between RM2,200 and RM4,4490 psf with plot ratio of 10 to 15 times or more, and the Lai Meng School, whose owner Magna Prima Bhd was seeking RM3,500 psf.
He is seeking both local and international buyers.
“It is an opportunity for a developer to come up with an outstanding and iconic integrated development in view of the fact that it is next to a tourist attraction.”
The land is located next to KL Tower or Menara KL in an area zoned commercial city centre. It comprises 16 contiguous lots. Nearby are office buildings and hotels located along Jalan Raja Chulan and Jalan Sultan Ismail while the shopping belt of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Cangkat Bukit Bintang are within a short walk away. The Raja Chulan monorail station is also located within walking distance.
The corporate history of the land and how it went under liquidation started in 1986 in New Zealand when an investment company Equiticorp Holdings Ltd gave a loan to a consortium led by a Cheah Theam Swee to buy a listed shell company JEDI Corp (renamed London Pacific Ltd), after JEDI was stripped off its assets. The move provided a vehicle for Malaysian interests to buy into an NZ listed company, according to a book Changing Pacific Forests edited by John Dargavel and Richard Tucker.
But London Pacific subsequently went into financial waters. Equiticorp collapsed in 1989 in the aftermath of the 1986/87 share market crash. Cheah defaulted on the loan and creditors took out a court case but despite the long legal battle, the land was never sold.