2013 a good year for Iskandar Malaysia
ONE could well surmise that last year was when Iskandar Malaysia - the country's first economic-growth corridor - finally came of age in a big way.
The mega-project, which turned seven last November, reported some encouraging numbers as far as its investments were concerned, although some investors are treading with caution after the government announced measures to cool speculation in the region's red-hot property market.
Iskandar Malaysia, a 2,217 sq km region in southern Johor, is three times the size of neighbouring Singapore.
As at Oct 31 last year, Iskandar Malaysia had attracted RM129.4 billion (S$49.8 billion) in committed investments - 44 per cent of which has been realised so far - putting it on track to meet its lofty targets of RM383 billion by 2025 and GDP of US$93.3 billion.
This goal, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in a recent speech, must be achieved in order to transform Iskandar into an international metropolis.
Datuk Ismail Ibrahim, chief executive of Iskandar Regional Development Authority, expects Iskandar Malaysia to secure RM22 billion in investments this year, beating the RM21 billion last year.
Singapore is still by far the biggest investor in Iskandar Malaysia, accounting for 16 per cent of its total foreign investment as at June last year.
Singaporeans are sitting up and taking notice of developments up north, their curiosity piqued after several household names in the Singapore corporate scene pumped big money into Iskandar Malaysia - a telling sign of the level of confidence in the project's staying power and viability.
In October last year, Singapore billionaire and former remisier king Peter Lim unveiled plans for his RM5.5-billion Vantage Bay project that will include twin towers and is set to become one of the tallest condominiums in Malaysia.
Looking ahead, the year 2014 could prove to be an even more monumental one for Iskandar Malaysia, should two major initial public offerings (IPO) be launched as planned.
Medini is looking to raise some RM2.5 billion when it goes public eventually. Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, meanwhile, was on track for a US$300-million (S$380-million) IPO in the first quarter of this year, but has since delayed it to the end of the year to gauge the impact of the numerous property-cooling measures.