BCorp seeking to unlock value trapped in prime recreation club land plots

The group will develop prime sport and recreation club land plots under BLand, says group CEO


BERJAYA Corp Bhd (BCorp) has plans to monetise the property held under subsidiary Berjaya Land Bhd (BLand) and may sell Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd (BToto) for the right offer despite the good dividend from the company.

Group CEO Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed (picture) said the group would like to develop the prime sport and recreation club lands under BLand in Bukit Kiara, Bukit Jalil, Kelab Darul Ehsan and Selangor Turf Club, and raise cash by exiting all its businesses in China as well as automotive distribution in Malaysia.

Cashflow considerations for the group means a privatisation of BLand is not a priority and can only happen when the demand for cash from other businesses abates, he said at a MIDF Conversations webinar event yesterday.

“We want to develop the land-banks over time. There’s a lot of value trapped in these plots of land, but it is not going to happen overnight. Timing must be right. But definitely, the group is undervalued,” he said.

Abdul Jalil said there is also a dedicated team looking at remodelling the 10,000 acres (4,047ha) land in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, to include building a township and putting other facilities to bring value to the property.

“We will redevelop there, but slowly. There is a certain segment of the market that will appeal to that, but this is part of our longer-term development plan,” he said.

According to Abdul Jalil, the group is prepared to work with the state governments to get approval for affordable housing development on a joint venture (JV) basis, with the states providing the land and Berjaya Group providing the design and delivery skillsets.

“It won’t be many units considering the small pieces of land. To make this successful, we need to work with the state governments. No use building an affordable house that is three hours away from town.

“We want to build it next to public transportation, and near to the town, that’s where the government has land. The best way is JV. They own the land we can build,” he said.

Abdul Jalil said BLand is currently working to build a Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences in Okinawa, Japan (Four Seasons Okinawa).

Groundwork for the Four Seasons Okinawa has started, while the group is seeking to complete the sales of the remaining properties in the Four Seasons Kyoto project by the end of this year.

Assets in developed markets like its hospitality interests in Iceland, Japan, Seychelles and the automotive distribution business in the UK or the landfills in the Philippines will be retained as they make good returns, he said.

In 2018, Berjaya Group founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun shared plans to privatise BLand and 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd, but the idea was shot down by the board.

Abdul Jalil said BCorp may be prepared to listen to offers for BToto as the number forecast operator is in a highly regulated business, but added that the group is in no rush to sell as BToto gives good and much needed dividends.

“I have a price in mind. When we hit the price, we will sell it. Every company is available for sale for a price and that’s how we should operate. As an investment holding company, we want to get our ‘alpha’ by divesting our business and my preference is to be in businesses which are not too regulated,” he added.

He added that the group’s various businesses, such as Berjaya Food Bhd, hotels and retail chains in the country have been impacted by the restrictions enforced to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and change in consumption patterns.

Sales volume and value have fallen, while the hospitality assets are suffering from the lockdowns and cross-border movement restrictions.

On the matter of the possible listing of mobile telecommunications service provider, U Mobile Sdn Bhd, Abdul Jalil said the business is privately held by BCorp founder Tan and other major shareholders.

A listing could happen next year, he added, but it is up to the shareholders.

BCorp shares closed 1.5 sen higher at 27.5 sen yesterday, while BLand rose 4.5 sen to 29 sen.