23 Apr 2013 - By Anita Gabriel, In Kuala Lumpur
SOUTH-EAST Asia's richest man Robert Kuok, with Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, has bought land in Johor's Iskandar Malaysia for a mixed development project.
Mr Kuok's latest move to buy and develop two parcels of land in Nusajaya, Iskandar, for RM182 million (S$74 million) comes less than two weeks before the May 5 election.
Nusajaya is a state seat under Gelang Patah, where the contest between outgoing Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman and opposition veteran Lim Kit Siang is being regarded as a battle for both the state and Malaysia.
The timing of Mr Kuok's investment could be telling in terms of whom he may be supporting.
Many Malaysian tycoons and businessmen prefer to wait and see, given election jitters. But not Johor Baru-born Mr Kuok.
His flagship Kuok Brothers Group and Khazanah have set up a 70:30 joint venture company, Southern Marina Development, to buy 5ha of land in Puteri Harbour, Nusajaya - the epicentre of Iskandar Malaysia - from UEM Land.
"The project by Southern Marina will comprise high-rise residential and retail/commercial units at the waterfront location with views of the marina and Strait of Johor," said UEM Land and Southern Marina in a joint statement.
The development will have a gross floor area of over two million sq ft, and an estimated gross development value exceeding RM1 billion.
The 90-year-old Mr Kuok, who lives in Hong Kong, controls the world's largest palm oil firm Wilmar, which is listed on the Singapore Exchange. He also owns luxury hotel chain Shangri-La.
The latest move is a shift from his previous manoeuvrings to cut his exposure in Malaysia and expand abroad.
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