KUALA LUMPUR: Media-shy, hot-shot developer Datuk Sean Ng Yee Teck, 43, will be throwing an exclusive “party of the century” on Jan 23 at the site of the Empire City development located along the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) highway.
According to an official website, the party, with a 1920s theme and to be held on a Friday night, will feature special guests such as Korean pop group 2AM, winner of Australia’s Got Talent Mark Vincent, and also DJ Ken, one of the top DJs in the Kuala Lumpur club scene.
Interestingly, socialite Paris Hilton is widely said in the blog sphere to be a secret guest at the “private and closed-door” event, while Ng’s Mammoth Empire Group, which is the developer of the RM5 billion Empire City, has declined to comment.
Fellow property developers and retailers see the party as a major showcase by Ng of his Mammoth Empire Group’s largest development thus far — Empire City, which is fast taking shape.
The RM5 billion, 23-acre (9.31ha) development opposite the PJ Trade Centre comprises several blocks of office towers, serviced residences, five-star hotels and notably, a huge shopping mall with some two million square feet of space. The shopping mall, which is being rushed towards completion, is said to rival some major malls in terms of size, such as the Mid Valley Megamall, Pavilion, Sunway Pyramid and 1Utama.
“People close to him [Ng] said he is quite proud of the mall. They also like to compare it with the Pavilion in Bukit Bintang,” said a developer familiar with the mall industry.
Probably rushing to meet the deadline, cranes were often seen working through the night at the Empire City site. According to property sources, some major retailers have been informed of the opening of the Empire City mall, which is scheduled to be around mid-2015, as Ng begins efforts to lure major brands to set up shop there.
Ng definitely needs to create a strong buzz on Empire City, especially with rising competition in the shopping mall segment with more coming into the market — the latest being IOI Properties Group Bhd’s IOI City Mall, which recently opened in Putrajaya.
Also this year, Pavilion’s major owner, Tan Sri Desmond Lim, through a joint venture between his vehicle Malton Bhd and Ho Hup Construction Co Bhd, is also expected to unveil the details of a large shopping mall project in Bukit Jalil, the Pavilion 2.
It is rumoured that Lim wants Pavilion 2 to rival the Mid Valley Megamall.
For Ng’s Mammoth Empire, “a new city is emerging on Damansara’s prime spot”, proclaimed the official website of the “party of the century”.
“For one night only, Empire City comes to live with a dazzling celebration that reflects its distinct blend of lifestyle and entertainment. The private, closed-door event will see exclusively invited VIPs and guests from around the world coming together for a night of glamour and exquisite indulgence”.
True to Ng’s low-profile style, the party doesn’t seem like an open event, or one where reporters could ask more questions about the project, or of himself.
Apart from his charitable nature — he was once photographed driving an orphan in a Ferrari during a charity event — little is known about Ng’s rapid rise in the property sector, even among property developers.
Ng’s Mammoth Empire group is privately owned. Apart from bankers directly involved in the funding of the project, others will not know of its financials or its source of financial backing.
“They have sold the few blocks of office towers and serviced residences that could help support the construction of the mall, but it is no mean feat, given that it is a huge project with a possibly long gestation period.
“It’s the same tough challenge that had been experienced before by the IGB group [which built the Mid Valley Megamall and Gardens Mall],” said a developer.
“But then IGB is a public-listed company, while Mammoth Empire is privately owned,” he stressed.
Mammoth Empire, which commenced operations in 2002, first rose to prominence after it completed Empire Subang, an integrated development featuring a hotel, shopping centre and office building in Subang Jaya in 2010.
Since then, there has been no holding back for the group, with the subsequent completion of the Empire Damansara integrated development just across from Empire City at end-2013.
As of now, it is said that the group has projects worth over RM10 billion in gross development value and will be launching more in the future, including Empire Remix and Medini Empire, besides Empire City 2.
Following the opening of Empire City, Mammoth Empire will be working on Empire City 2, which will be located on 60 acres of land along the LDP, opposite the first development.
The group’s website indicated that Empire City 2 will feature world-class theme parks, concert auditoriums, cultural centres, a hotel and office units. Both Empire City 1 and 2 will be linked by a pedestrian bridge across the LDP.
At the same time, the group commenced development on MY80, its maiden project in Australia, back in 2012, which is expected to be completed this year. This will be followed by its upcoming mixed development Down Under, Empire Melbourne.
Ng’s empire is definitely stretching at a fast pace. But as Mammoth Empire gets bigger, it will be interesting to see if Ng will eventually take the group public, a route that Pavilion’s Lim took which officially made him a billionaire property tycoon.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 12, 2015.