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Malaysia’s Property Tycoons Make A Mint With Affordable Homes, Overseas Expansion

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This story appears in the Apr/May 2024 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia

This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of Malaysia’s Richest 2024. See the full list here.

With demand for homes rising across the region, Malaysia’s property tycoons are doubling down on new projects.

In the first half of fiscal 2024, the residential property arm of packaging giant Scientex, owned by brothers Lim Peng Cheong and Lim Peng Jin, spent 507 million ringgit ($108 million) to purchase 325 hectares of freehold land across the states of Johor and Selangor.

That’s a nearly eightfold increase from the total outlay for land in fiscal 2023 as they sprint to meet their goal of building 50,000 affordable houses nationwide by 2028.

As of February, Scientex was two-thirds of the way there, having delivered 33,580 affordable homes with the bulk priced at less than 300,000 ringgit. “The outlook for affordable housing in Malaysia is promising, given the persistent shortage,” Scientex CEO Lim Peng Jin says by email.

Last year saw Scientex’s first moves to build overseas. In Indonesia, it partnered with Jakarta-based Mustika Land and Japan’s Creed Group to develop 400 affordable homes in West Java with a gross development value of $19 million. It also has a $42 million joint venture in Thailand to build 334 townhomes in Bangkok’s Bang Na district with Creed and Thailand’s Altitude Development.

Lim says the company is eyeing further investment in Southeast Asia “if suitable opportunities arise.” A jump in home sales helped boost Scientex’s top line in the quarter ended January 2024 to 2.2 billion ringgit, following a property-powered 2% increase in group revenue in fiscal 2023 to 4.1 billion ringgit. The brothers’ net worth rose 20% to $885 million.

Meanwhile, Ong Leong Huat’s financial services-to-property firm OSK Holdings is readying to launch the third stage of Melbourne Square, a A$2.8 billion ($1.8 billion) mixed-use complex it’s developing with Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund in Southbank, an inner-city Melbourne suburb.

In December it inked a deal with Australia’s Gurner Group and Qualitas to build a A$400 million, 500-unit apartment tower in the 2-hectare complex, with construction expected to start early next year. Ong, executive chairman of OSK, saw his net worth grow 35% to $560 million.

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