GOVERNMENT-owned UDA Holdings Bhd wants to be among Malaysia's top 10 property players in the next five years without compromising its social obligation.
Newly-appointed chairman Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said while UDA wants to be a formidable player, it will do so without compromising on its main objective, which is to boost and protect Bumiputera participation in the property sector, especially in urban areas.
Next year, UDA plans to launch 154 commercial units and 242 residential units nationwide with a gross development value of about RM500 million.
"It will be a tough balancing act between social obligation and making profit but UDA has what it takes to be among Malaysia's top 10 property players in the next five years," Johari said in an interview, here, recently.
He said since its formation in 1971 by the Finance Ministry, things have changed and UDA has to accept there are now many top property companies that it has to compete against.
"Companies such as SP Setia, Mah Sing, IGB, UOA, UM Land and many more out there have a lot of followers and strong brandnames.
"Now, the challenge ahead for UDA is to go forward and compete with the top property players while keeping our social agenda intact. We have to balance the role of building affordable homes and commercial lots for the people and, at the same time, to continue making profit."
Johari said property players in Kuala Lumpur can sell and make a 40 to 50 per cent profit margin.
UDA usually makes a profit margin of 10 to 15 per cent as it has to make the pricing affordable, especially for Bumiputeras.
However, he does not blame property players in maximising profits as the social agenda is not their priority, especially listed firms that have 50 to 60 per cent of their shares owned by the public.
"UDA is different as we have to sustain independently, fulfil our social agenda and make profit at the same time.
"We also have to acquire our own landbanks as compared to our early years, when land was given almost free by the government," said Johari.
As part of its strategy, UDA will look at acquiring new landbank as its 323.8ha reserve is fast depleting.
He said the plan is crucial as UDA, which has a cash pile of about RM600 million, will then be able to remain afloat and to generate RM500 million in revenue a year.
Besides property development, UDA is also involved in the hotel business under the AnCasa brand and owns shopping complexes in Johor Baru (Plaza Angsana), Ipoh, Seremban and Kuala Lumpur (Pertama Complex).
Johari said UDA still has strategic premium landbank in Kuala Lumpur, like the 7.85ha Bukit Bintang City Centre (formally known as the Pudu jail area), Jalan Sultan Ismail (1.41ha), Bukit Bintang Plaza (0.8ha) and in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn (32.38ha).
All the landbank are in prime areas with an estimated gross development value of up to RM8 billion.