Chinese plan US$2bn Malaysia HQ

Chinese CRH2C trains at Shanghai Hongqiao station. Source: Wikimedia

China Railway Group wants to spend US$2 billion building a regional headquarters in Malaysia as a base for Asean expansion, according to China’s news agency Xinhua.

The state-run company is hoping to build its offices at the Bandar Malaysia development project at Kuala Lumpur’s existing Sungai Besi airport.

The firm own a 60-per-cent stake through a joint venture in Bandar Malaysia.

The railway group’s announcement comes three months after its successful bid, with its Malaysian partner Iskandar Waterfront Holdings, to acquire its stake in the Bandar Malaysia project from 1MDB Real Estate for RM7.41 billion (US$1.85 billion).

Chinese rail developers have been vying for construction contracts in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and even India.

Beijing has called for an increase in regional rail development.

Bandar Malaysia is set to be the terminal for a proposed high-speed rail link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. China is expected to compete against Japanese and European developers for that project, valued by the Malaysian media at about US$10 billion.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was very enthusiastic about the project. He said it was a “modern metropolis with high quality living and good connectivity”.

“We have seen the pictures, we can’t wait to see the real thing. So let’s get cracking, let’s get moving and let’s see Bandar Malaysia shape up,” Najib said.

From artists’ impressions, it would be fully integrated above and below the ground, Najib said, adding that the project was earmarked to include high-rise buildings and waterways.

“It is a cliché to say it but this is going to be the real landmark development for Kuala Lumpur,” Najib said.

“[China’s] ambassador has delivered a personal message to me from the top leadership in China and I can assure you the Malaysian Government is committed to making this development succeed. Bandar Malaysia will be truly successful,” Najib told a ceremony.

China Railway Group said its regional assets would be consolidated in Bandar Malaysia which would provide a base for Asean expansion, Xinhua said.

Group President Zhang Zhongyan was quoted saying by Xinhua: “In the past, we were contractors, so this project is of much significance for us in the sense that we partner with local companies to invest and to build this transport and commercial hub.”