Thursday, November 29, 2012

Peter Lim's Johor health project gets green light

Billionaire investor teaming up with Johor royalty in $4b development
Published on Nov 29, 2012

By Jonathan Kwok

BILLIONAIRE investor Peter Lim has won the go-ahead for a huge RM10 billion (S$4 billion) project centred on health- care facilities in Johor Baru.

He is teaming up with Johor's royal family in the project, which will also feature apartments, malls, offices and hotels.

Called Vantage Bay, it has been approved by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority, the agency overseeing the Iskandar development corridor, where the project will be built.

Details of the approval came in a statement yesterday from Best Blend, the development firm which is majority-held by Mr Lim.

Construction is expected to start by the end of next year. The entire development could take 10 years to complete.

The project will occupy 11ha of land overall. Some 9ha is for non-medical uses like the apartments, malls, convention centres and offices. About 25,000 people will be able to live there once it is completed.

The medical facilities will be run by Thomson Medical Centre, which Mr Lim privatised early last year. They will sit on 2ha of land and will include a general hospital and centres providing services in areas such as fertility, diabetes, urology and cardiology.

The waterfront development will be just across the Woodlands Causeway, near JB Sentral in Johor Baru.

The developer Best Blend is a Malaysian joint venture company partly held by the Johor royal family, with 30 per cent, and by Mr Lim with 70 per cent.

"We hope to address the disparity in terms of business cost and living costs with Singapore," Best Blend chief executive Ho Kiam Kheong told The Straits Times.

The development will cater to locals as well as medical tourists, he added.

"But it is not just a place for the sick, for people who want to have a health check or see a specialist," he said. "At the same time, they can have shopping and food and all that."

The Vantage Bay development is expected to create 10,000 jobs in Malaysia over the long run.

The project, announced in November last year, is just one of Mr Lim's significant regional health-care investments in recent years.

Other than the Thomson Medical takeover, he also has a 32.6 per cent stake in Malaysia's TMC Life Sciences, which he bought in August 2010.

TMC's operations include the Tropicana Medical Centre in Kota Damansara in Selangor state.

The medical hub at Vantage Bay will be Thomson Medical's first foray into Malaysia.

Outside the health-care sector, Mr Lim bought an undisclosed stake in British sports car manufacturer McLaren in August last year.

In 2010, he made an unsuccessful £320 million (S$628 million) bid for Liverpool Football Club.