Dubai World Opens Wallet to Help Build Malaysian Super City

By Mike Caggeso
Associate Editor

Dubai World's worldwide holdings got another boost yesterday (Thursday), as its subsidiary, Limitless Holdings Pte, agreed to form a joint venture with UEM World Bhd. that will build $448 million (1.5 billion ringgit) in luxury homes in Malaysia's Johor province.

The housing project will be built in a special zone called the Iskandar Development Region, which is roughly three times the size of Singapore. The region will be divided into five flagship zones that will be home to several financial districts, technology hubs, universities and ports.

Specifically, the housing project will be in a new city called Nusajaya on the southwest tip of Johor at Puteri Harbour, a 688-acre waterfront precinct fashioned after the French Riviera.

For a more concrete reference, Johor is the New Jersey to Singapore's New York City, but with two major differences: Johor and Singapore represent different countries and through traffic over the Johor-Singapore Causeway is frequently congested, Johor isn't typically host to daily Singapore work commuters.

Bloomberg reports that Malaysia's government has eased investment rules for foreign companies in attempt to attract growth in Johor. Sensing opportunity, Dubai World opened its wallet. 

The new company formed from the joint venture will be called Haute Property Sdn. Under the proposed deal, Dubai World will have a 60% stake, with the other 40% being held by UEM.

The project will break ground in the second-half of next year and won't be completed until 2013, UEM said.

Dubai World, a state-controlled holding company, has been aggressively seeking cross-market investments in seemingly every corner of the world. Earlier this year, Dubai World formed a joint venture with Singapore's City Developments Ltd. to build a $1.7 billion project in the city-state.

And it's not alone. Several sovereign wealth funds are gobbling sizable stakes in publicly listed companies, stock indices and private equity ventures such as the Johor project.

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