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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Never say died atititude of Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew 李金友不認輸‧重振綠野聲威

We get a lot of search of "Lee Kim Yew" and "Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew" as a keyword search to this blog for past few weeks. It is not sure it is related to speculation of his intention to contest political party MCA top post or his daughter Dian Lee in Singapore's Asiasons, Blumont, Liongold saga. Lee Kim Yew is familiar face foe Malaysia, I guess the search is from Singaporean who search info for for Asiasons, Blumont, Liongold.


Growing up in Batu Pahat, Lee, who was the youngest in a family of six, had to mature rather quickly as his father pass away when he was 13. Despite life being hard, Lee preserved in his studies, and upon completion of his Senior Middle Three in 1973, left for the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur.

He took on various jobs in the publishing and book trade. Within four years he grew tired of working for others so he started his own business. He dabbled in everything, from printing to cakes and confectionery. "If there is anything that could be sold, I sold it" Lee remembers.

A few of his business forays lost money and sank like lead balloons. One of his more successful early forays was in automatic gates business. His thriving automatic gates business could not have given Lee a better insight into how the other half lived. He was literally beating up the path that led to the front doors of the monied classes and the privileged few.  "I felt one day I could live in such nice homes and become successful myself" he says.

Blessed with a willingness to work hard and the ability to bounced back from setbacks, Lee made his first million soon enough, at 23 years old.

He enjoyed the fruits of his labour for a while but became restless when he turned 30. It was then that Country Heights was born. "it was 1985 and I was looking for a new business venture. I did not want to go into some plain run-of-the-mill property development project. To succees, I thought, one had to be original."

Lee's outstanding achievement was the exclusive Country Heights residential project dubbed the "Beverly Hills of Malaysia". The Luxury country style residential project got underway in 1986 when the nation was in the throes of deep recession.

Around that time, he made the acquaintance of Arab Malaysian chieftain Tan Sri Azman Hashim whose family happened to own a large chunk of a rubber estate land hear Kajang next to the newly built Kuala Lumpur-Seremban highway. Lee came to know that Azman was anxious to dispose of the land and so made his approach. "For so long I had the idea. Now here was some one with the location. the place was perfect as it was next to the highway, and on good day, Kuala Lumpur is less than 30 minutes away by road" he says.

Quite a few people took a bit of convincing before they committed themselves for forking out a little under RM10psf for the land. since then, Country Heights has become such desirable property that the same square foot of turf is now worth many times more.

That it was sucha success cannot be put down to mere luck. Lee cleverly pitched his project at the top income bracket. the originality of luxurious country-style homes and being the first to introduce a new lifestyle ( where each home and expansive grounds are not walled up by physical barriers such as fencing) did not receive much interest initially. there have been well documented cases of individuals, including one cabinet minister, who did not take up the offer of buying one of the bungalow lots at the then prevailing rate, only to regret it later as the property value skyrocketed.

The success of Country Heights persuaded Lee to take his flagship property company public. Country Heights was offered to the public at RM1.50 a share in February 1994 and debuted at RM4.20, a premium of RM2.70.

The company's listing and subsequent hike in value has increased Lee's personal wealth to such an extent that he could afford to lead an idle life in retirement if he wanted to. He choose in stead to work on the Mines Resort City and set himself the task of transforming the derelict portion of Sungai Besi into a premier tourist attraction.

Sceptics deride his extraordinary recklessness when he, in a joint venture with some partners, acquired almost 1,000 acres of what was then wasteland in 1988 for about RM50million.

The purchase came with a huge lake, the result of rainwater that had collected over the years in the excavated pit of the disused mine. the huge amount of crystal clear water threatened to be his biggest liability at one point. Having filled to capacity, there was nowhere for all that accumulated rainwater to go but flood the adjacent Sungai Besi road. this treat has been nullified by the construction of an efficient system of drainage channels which divert excess water into Sungai Kuyoh and on to suingai Klang.

The then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad (now Tun) has visited the project site twice within a space of two years. Brimming with ideas, the prime minister was also responsible for suggesting that thr resort's two neighbouring lakes be connected by way of canal, according to Lee. He suggested that with a canal, a major transport link could be established between the various resort attractions without having to reply totally on road transportation. It would also become an attractive feature in itself.

Lee unabashedly describes it as Malaysia's Seven Wonders - for the seven components that make up the RM2billion development. These consist of the super exclusive Mines Resort and Golf Club, the mines Wonderland (leisure theme park), The mines Shopping Fair (Shopping and retail centre), The Mines Beach Resort. The mines Waterfront Business park, Palace of the Golden Horses ( the country's first resort hotel with an equine theme)  and the nation's largest exhibition centre - Malaysia International Exhibition and Showroom.

Having struck gold in the residential sector, Lee looked to industrial development next, The Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park.  Chunghwa Picture Tubes was the first Taiwanese firm to set up shop in Subang Hi-Tech Industrial Park. Chunghwa Picture Tubes later take up a stake  to become second largest shareholder in Country Height during Asia financial Crisis.

Country Heights has further expanded into other segments of the property market in its aim to become a well diversified property developer. However, its core business remains bungalow land development. when reeled off one by one, the project name include the trademark "Heights" as if it were proprietory. (Like College Heights, Corporate Heights, Borneo Height resort, etc)So there is no danger of not being identify projects belonging to the group. However, all product are target high end customer and it is bad hit during economic crisis.

 Bouyed by the success of this foray into Mauritius (Kit Homes). Country Heights through its International and new Business Division entered into a joint-venture agreement to develop Pecanwood Estate in South Africa. Situated on the southern banks of the Johannesburg's Dam which is one of Johannesburg's largest,  600acre freehold estate a mixed residential, leisure and commercial development with golf course, conference centre and facilities for watersports activities.

In short 3 years after the company IPO. The company hit with Asia Financial Crisis in 1997 when the completion of Mines Resorts. It financial result miss market expectation.

The Devaluation of RM and bad economic condition cause much difficulties. However, Lee never say died attitude make him to remain positive. In earlier 1998, Tan Sri Lee actively seeking investor in Taiwan and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd become second largest shareholder, Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd have 13.93%  stake in Country Heights today,

Taiwan-listed Chunghwa Picture Tubes manufactures cathode ray tubes for monitors and televisions.

After some hardworking, his able to continue his project in UK and South Africa. The project in Sarawak, Borneo Heights, also revive after stop work for 4 months.

 When people cutting advertising cost. Country Heights increase advertising expenses. In fact, London International Exhibition Centre (ExCel) in Canary Wharf, which Country's Height hold 42.7% stake, also a project that initiated during Asia financial Crisis. ExCel Canary Wharf able revive after 10 years also increase Country Height reputation in Europe. British also invite Country Height to bid for Millennium Dome job at one point due to it reputation on ExCel project.

At one point, when cash in the market was low, Country Height allowed people to use shares of listed company to swap property in the company.  This is an innovative measure as people do not have cash at that point. company able to sell the shares to get some cash flow for the company as shares are more liquid than property that company own.

Tan Sri Lee said he is satisfied with performance of his daughter, Dianna Lee Cheng Wen as a CEO of the company.  Lim become semi retired as a vice chairman of the group after pass the CEO position to his daughter. The company more focus on healthcare division now. Medical tourism is the way forward. The figures are growing but what we want now is to capture the foreign market," he said.

Mines Shopping Fair to Singapore's CapitalLand Ltd

In 2007, it sold Mines Shopping Fair to Singapore's CapitaLand Ltd for RM432 million, from which it made an estimated gain of RM102 million. The proposed disposal will enable Country Heights to realise its investment in the Mines Shopping Fair complex and raise funds to reduce its gearing, the Malaysian company said in a statement

Lee Kim Yew also launch Country Heights Grower Scheme in 2007. Some financial journalist promote the scheme as it is launch by Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew. However, those financial journalist fail to recognised that Tan Sri Lee expertise in on property and he has no experience in palm oil nor plantation business at all. The scheme has been terminated in 2013.

Tan Sri Lee has been high profile recently, first, at EGM of Matang Holdings Berhad, which, majority of it shareholder are member of MCA, part of ruling political party, and later his intention to contest top post in MCA

Update : Country Heights at 6-year high



儘管1987年國內經濟不景氣,產業市場低迷之際,不過綠野集團創辦人兼副主席李金友卻毅然選擇了產業市場,作為他“更上一層樓”的基石,並擴展至工業園發展計劃。當時41歲的他更開創綠野山莊,猶如大馬的“Beverly Hills”,以致被喻為國內最具創意的發展商之一。
1997年7月,金融風暴開始來襲,狂烈拍打企業家的門口,具代表性的綠野度假城(Mines Resort)於同年落成,形成強烈對比。
可是,他始終“不認輸、不低頭、不屈服”,不斷在萎靡的市道中尋找一絲希望,為公司尋覓資金及為海外陷入停頓的發展計劃重新催生,如邀來台灣中華映像管(Chung Hwa Picture Tube)入股綠野,成為第二大股東。他積極奔走,讓綠野的英國及南非的2項大型投資得以延續,而停工了4個多月的砂拉越婆羅洲山莊也迅速復工。
同時,該公司的高檔產業計劃仍成功攫取市場的熱烈反應,渡過產業市場的低潮期。1999年更涉足博彩業提昇收入來源,以倫敦國際戰展開控股股權,換取泛馬彩券(Pan Malaysia Sweeps)的股權,交易值達3億令吉。
現實始終是殘酷的,長期累積的債務,導致綠野於2007年不得不以4億3千萬令吉,脫售綠野水上購物廣場給嘉德置地(Capita Land),以套現還債。





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