Malaysia Smelting, Straits Trading ink MoU to unlock prime land in Butterworth

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 28, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Tin miner and metal producer Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd (MSC) has teamed up with its parent, The Straits Trading Company Ltd, to jointly explore options to unlock the value of land owned by both parties in Butterworth, Penang.

In a bourse filing, MSC said the collaboration was effected yesterday via a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between its wholly-owned subsidiary MSC Properties Sdn Bhd and Straits Trading, which owns 54.8% of MSC.

In a separate statement, MSC said Straits Trading also owns neighbouring land in Butterworth totalling 26.2 acres (10.6ha) in addition to the 13.9 acres on which MSC’s tin smelting plant is located. On a combined basis, the land amounts to a sizeable 40.1 acres.

Straits Trading executive chairman Chew Gek Khim, who is also chairman of MSC, said the MoU is to foster collaboration on the land so that it is mutually beneficial in securing a better outcome and maximising the returns for both parties.

“We are open to options which may include working with joint venture partners, developing the land on our own, or even a land sale. With the land being freehold, we believe it will appeal to a wide range of investors and property developers,” he said.

MSC chief executive officer Datuk Dr Patrick Yong observed that from a predominantly industrial area, Butterworth is evolving into an attractive location for residential and commercial developments, because of the development spillover on Penang Island into the mainland.

“The Penang Transport Masterplan is expected to significantly enhance the transportation infrastructure in Penang, improving the connectivity of people and businesses between Penang Island and the mainland,” he added.

MSC said the group is in the process of relocating its smelting operations from Butterworth, where it has operated since 1902, to its new plant in Pulau Indah, Klang.

It added that the production activities at the new plant will be gradually ramped up once the required approvals are obtained, while production will be gradually phased out at the existing plant.

MSC expects the full migration of smelting activities to the new plant to be completed by 2020.

On Oct 12, 2016, The Edge Financial Daily, quoting sources familiar with the situation, reported that Straits Trading planned to redevelop the land in Penang which sites MSC’s tin smelter.

However, MSC did not confirm nor deny the relocation but dismissed plans for a Penang Sentral project. “We wish to clarify that the smelter is owned by MSC and is not part of the Penang Sentral project.”

A source close to the Penang government then said that MSC had plans to develop the entire stretch of land by the coast into a mixed development.

MSC yesterday closed one sen or 1.35% higher at 75 sen, with a market capitalisation of RM300 million.