Catalyst for success

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Iskandar Investment Berhad
Commercial development in Iskandar Malaysia

Iskandar Investment Berhad is the company in charge of creating opportunities for investors in the huge Iskandar Malaysia development in Johor Bahru in the south of Peninsular Malaysia. Inside Investor talked to Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, President and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad, about his strategy and the achievements the company has made.

Q: Iskandar Malaysia has reached new records in investment this year. What are the pillars of this success?

A: What impresses me the most is facilitating a vision and developing the mechanism for the implementation of this mega project. We had to create mechanisms to implement investment opportunities properly and efficiently and on a timely basis. I joined the company because of the size of this project, and also because of the strategy of how the government plans to go about it and execute its vision. It’s a joint initiative of the federal and the state government, basically funded by the federal government. Since the project started in 2006, a lot of money has been allocated and channelled according to the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Many infrastructure projects have been executed, coupled with catalysts in the form of projects undertaken by us together with property development companies. The development so far has greatly enhanced connectivity and resulted in an ecosystem of a liveable city at a high security level, with high productivity and a lot of other things. We also had a gap analysis of what might be missing, and we complement the architectural framework with it.

Q: Have you seen an immediate impact on confidence in Iskandar Malaysia with all the steps achieved?

A: We know that it would have been very difficult if there was no body such as Iskandar Investment Berhad which has been created to implement all the catalytic projects – and at the same time attract investors to be a part of Iskandar Malaysia. Before, despite the cheap price of land here, there were no takers. We at Iskandar Investment Berhad came up with a strategic road map which allowed us to realise the achievements we have made as of today. There is the basic architectural framework, and we are here to make the refinements to ensure that everything remains in the scope of expectations of the investors. We have seen that our projects have had substantial and tremendous multiplier effects to trigger economic activities, for example by attracting retailers. We are not going to revamp our strategies, instead we make sure that we are properly structured.

Q: What is the main development focus at present?

Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, President and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad, with Sara García Arjona, Senior Accounts Executive of Inside Investor

A: We are focusing on the four clusters – Education, Tourism and Leisure, Healthcare and Wellness, as well as Creative – where we are either at the planning stage or in an advanced stage of completion. The Education cluster is driven by EduCity, Tourism and Leisure is driven by LEGOLAND, Healthcare is anchored by Gleneagles Medini Hospital and several investments by Khazanah Nasional, and the Creative cluster is led by Pinewood Studios. With these clusters, we look into the verticals, into the whole value chain, upstream and downstream. In the Education cluster, we have EduCity, a multi-campus community with exceptional facilities, for example Newcastle University Medical Malaysia, University of Southampton Malaysia, University of Reading Malaysia, the Dutch Maritime Institute of Technology and others. We feel education is very important, not just to establish an educational hub, but to supply the talent and fill the human resources gaps in all the sectors. For example, LEGOLAND would expect to get talents, and we also need institutions such as hospitality schools, because not all businesses require people with a degree. We want to fill the human resources gap with a broad number of educational institutions. The approach we have in the Education cluster is and can be replicated in the other clusters.

Q: Are Iskandar Malaysia investors satisfied with the development?

A: Our success is measured by the performance that our investors reach. We at Iskandar Investment Berhad have to ensure that the macro-economic environment of the whole nation is properly induced in Iskandar Malaysia. We also ensure the urban environment is the right one for investors and people who live and work here. Let’s put it this way, having said all that, what is the point of building a sparkling new building with fresh landscape if there is now economic connectivity? We have to make sure that the infrastructure and the technology we provide are adequate and scalable. We look at the expectations of the businesses, residents and the workers, we look at what services we need to provide because everything has an influence on the lifestyle in the community. These are some of the challenges. Today, people are very keen to be part of Iskandar Malaysia. At the same time, we are teaming up with the property companies and provide them the necessary concessions. Our aim is to build and expand the market for investors. We will be able to optimise the value chain to make ventures as successful as their ambition was.

Q: Iskandar Malaysia is seen as a competitor to Singapore as a location to set up business. What are the challenges you are facing in this situation?

A: The challenge we are facing is that we still have to pick up our pace when it comes  to infrastructure and some other sectors.  For example, we don’t have enough convention facilities and hotels. Before, we were a little bit conservative in our planning as we didn’t expect that we were creating such a high demand. However, we have achieved a lot and we were able to deliver what we promised. The level of confidence is high, and this is a testimony of our competence. However, with regards to conventions, we will do more to organise global events in the same way as Singapore does. We need to showcase to the world what we have achieved, what we are able to offer and what we are capable to do.

Q: What are the main investment source markets you are currently focusing on?

A: We are getting very strong interest from China and, as of late, from Japan. Japan is a very interesting market for us which earlier focused its interest mainly on Kuala Lumpur and Penang, but now is increasingly looking at Iskandar Malaysia. That said, we have been getting a lot of interest from Japanese real estate companies here lately. However, we also want to attract companies from Europe, but, frankly, we don’t have the resources to do that at the moment.

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Commercial development in Iskandar Malaysia

Iskandar Investment Berhad is the company in charge of creating opportunities for investors in the huge Iskandar Malaysia development in Johor Bahru in the south of Peninsular Malaysia. Inside Investor talked to Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, President and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad, about his strategy and the achievements the company has made.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Iskandar Investment Berhad
Commercial development in Iskandar Malaysia

Iskandar Investment Berhad is the company in charge of creating opportunities for investors in the huge Iskandar Malaysia development in Johor Bahru in the south of Peninsular Malaysia. Inside Investor talked to Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, President and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad, about his strategy and the achievements the company has made.

Q: Iskandar Malaysia has reached new records in investment this year. What are the pillars of this success?

A: What impresses me the most is facilitating a vision and developing the mechanism for the implementation of this mega project. We had to create mechanisms to implement investment opportunities properly and efficiently and on a timely basis. I joined the company because of the size of this project, and also because of the strategy of how the government plans to go about it and execute its vision. It’s a joint initiative of the federal and the state government, basically funded by the federal government. Since the project started in 2006, a lot of money has been allocated and channelled according to the Ninth Malaysia Plan. Many infrastructure projects have been executed, coupled with catalysts in the form of projects undertaken by us together with property development companies. The development so far has greatly enhanced connectivity and resulted in an ecosystem of a liveable city at a high security level, with high productivity and a lot of other things. We also had a gap analysis of what might be missing, and we complement the architectural framework with it.

Q: Have you seen an immediate impact on confidence in Iskandar Malaysia with all the steps achieved?

A: We know that it would have been very difficult if there was no body such as Iskandar Investment Berhad which has been created to implement all the catalytic projects – and at the same time attract investors to be a part of Iskandar Malaysia. Before, despite the cheap price of land here, there were no takers. We at Iskandar Investment Berhad came up with a strategic road map which allowed us to realise the achievements we have made as of today. There is the basic architectural framework, and we are here to make the refinements to ensure that everything remains in the scope of expectations of the investors. We have seen that our projects have had substantial and tremendous multiplier effects to trigger economic activities, for example by attracting retailers. We are not going to revamp our strategies, instead we make sure that we are properly structured.

Q: What is the main development focus at present?

Datuk Syed Mohamed Syed Ibrahim, President and CEO of Iskandar Investment Berhad, with Sara García Arjona, Senior Accounts Executive of Inside Investor

A: We are focusing on the four clusters – Education, Tourism and Leisure, Healthcare and Wellness, as well as Creative – where we are either at the planning stage or in an advanced stage of completion. The Education cluster is driven by EduCity, Tourism and Leisure is driven by LEGOLAND, Healthcare is anchored by Gleneagles Medini Hospital and several investments by Khazanah Nasional, and the Creative cluster is led by Pinewood Studios. With these clusters, we look into the verticals, into the whole value chain, upstream and downstream. In the Education cluster, we have EduCity, a multi-campus community with exceptional facilities, for example Newcastle University Medical Malaysia, University of Southampton Malaysia, University of Reading Malaysia, the Dutch Maritime Institute of Technology and others. We feel education is very important, not just to establish an educational hub, but to supply the talent and fill the human resources gaps in all the sectors. For example, LEGOLAND would expect to get talents, and we also need institutions such as hospitality schools, because not all businesses require people with a degree. We want to fill the human resources gap with a broad number of educational institutions. The approach we have in the Education cluster is and can be replicated in the other clusters.

Q: Are Iskandar Malaysia investors satisfied with the development?

A: Our success is measured by the performance that our investors reach. We at Iskandar Investment Berhad have to ensure that the macro-economic environment of the whole nation is properly induced in Iskandar Malaysia. We also ensure the urban environment is the right one for investors and people who live and work here. Let’s put it this way, having said all that, what is the point of building a sparkling new building with fresh landscape if there is now economic connectivity? We have to make sure that the infrastructure and the technology we provide are adequate and scalable. We look at the expectations of the businesses, residents and the workers, we look at what services we need to provide because everything has an influence on the lifestyle in the community. These are some of the challenges. Today, people are very keen to be part of Iskandar Malaysia. At the same time, we are teaming up with the property companies and provide them the necessary concessions. Our aim is to build and expand the market for investors. We will be able to optimise the value chain to make ventures as successful as their ambition was.

Q: Iskandar Malaysia is seen as a competitor to Singapore as a location to set up business. What are the challenges you are facing in this situation?

A: The challenge we are facing is that we still have to pick up our pace when it comes  to infrastructure and some other sectors.  For example, we don’t have enough convention facilities and hotels. Before, we were a little bit conservative in our planning as we didn’t expect that we were creating such a high demand. However, we have achieved a lot and we were able to deliver what we promised. The level of confidence is high, and this is a testimony of our competence. However, with regards to conventions, we will do more to organise global events in the same way as Singapore does. We need to showcase to the world what we have achieved, what we are able to offer and what we are capable to do.

Q: What are the main investment source markets you are currently focusing on?

A: We are getting very strong interest from China and, as of late, from Japan. Japan is a very interesting market for us which earlier focused its interest mainly on Kuala Lumpur and Penang, but now is increasingly looking at Iskandar Malaysia. That said, we have been getting a lot of interest from Japanese real estate companies here lately. However, we also want to attract companies from Europe, but, frankly, we don’t have the resources to do that at the moment.

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