The Subang Hindu temple saga: The corporations involved

While the outbreak of violence at the Sri Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Hindu temple in Subang Jaya, Selangor is making headlines nationwide, the bigger story may be taking place inside the boardrooms of several companies that are looking to use the land on which it sits to expand their real estate control not just in Malaysia, but in South-east Asia.

Beneath the many layers of corporate ownership, the land belongs to the oldest and largest conglomerate in the Philippines, the Ayala Corporation, which has diverse business interests and investments that stretch from banking, telecommunications, healthcare to retail, education and property development.

Officially, the temple land belongs to One City Development Sdn Bhd, which is 100 per cent owned by public-listed MCT Berhad through its wholly-owned subsidiary MCT Consortium Bhd.

MCT itself is 72.3 per cent owned by Ayala Land, the biggest property developer in the Philippines with a market share in the Philippine Stock Exchange of about  RM53.69 billion and which, according to a February 20, 2018 article in The Star, is five times the size of Malaysia’s IOI Properties Group Berhad and SP Setia Berhad.

Ayala Land is the real estate arm of Ayala Corp and had emerged on the Malaysian property scene in April 2015, when it took up a 9.16 per cent stake in MCT just shortly after its debut on Bursa Malaysia.

Over the years, Ayala Land increased its shares in MCT through the former’s acquisition arm Regent Wise Investments Ltd, and in February, gained the controlling stake in the Malaysian company.

MCT’s land assets, which cover Subang Jaya, Cyberjaya and Dengkil in Selangor totals 540.2 acres, The Star reported on February 20, adding that only 20.4 acres of this landbank has been developed fully.

On April 18, Philippine social news network reported Ayala Land president and chief executive officer Bernard Dy telling a news conference in Manila after its shareholders meeting of the company’s expansion plans for Malaysia through MCT.

“We now have a platform to plan our expansion into Malaysia. The board just recently approved the acquisition of a 9.25-acre [property] in Klang Valley, Malaysia that is basically our first land acquisition in Malaysia since we first invested in MCT Berhad.

“We saw a lot of similarities in Klang Valley that we see in the Philippines. Klang Valley is home to around 8 million, has fairly good GDP (gross domestic product) growth of about 5 per cent, and the population averages around the mid-20s in age,” Dy was quoted saying.

He added that Ayala Land’s Malaysia real estate plan would be focused on penetrating the middle income market.

MCT will be holding its ninth annual general meeting tomorrow 10.30am at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the company said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia.

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