SP Setia leads race for PICC deal

Sources say SP Setia is likely to get a 30-year concession to build and operate the Penang International Convention Centre

Property developer SP Setia Bhd has emerged as the leading contender to build the Penang International Convention Centre (PICC) on the grounds of the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa).

According to sources, SP Setia is likely to get a 30-year concession to build and operate the convention centre, which will include other components like a hotel and retail outlets.

"The proposed project is likely to cost over RM200 million," one source told Business Times yesterday.

Another source said SP Setia is one of four companies which had responded to a request for proposal from the Penang state government. The Penang Island Municipal Council had closed the tender in September last year.

The other companies said to be in the running are Singapore-based exhibition contractor Pico Global Services Ltd, which has operations in Malaysia, and a host of local contractors.

Pisa is an indoor sports arena located close to Penang international airport.

The project was completed in 2000 and serves as the largest and most comprehensive multi-purpose indoor venue on Penang Island.

The arena, which is owned by the Penang Island Municipal Council and managed by Penevents Sdn Bhd, boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a spacious air-conditioned area, which has been designed to host conventions, exhibitions and entertainment shows, along with major sporting events.

A source said that if SP Setia succeeds, it plans to build a public rooftop park in the convention centre building.

The proposed PICC, which was initially tagged at RM50 million, has been mired in controversy ever since Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng proposed it.

One of the concerns raised was that the project would incur huge expenditure, which could result in the council becoming insolvent.

SP Setia's entry into Penang dates back five years to its maiden development "Setia Pearl Island" in Sungai Ara near the Penang international airport.

The project, which is sited on a 45.2ha of land, serves as the company's flagship project in Penang.

Since then, SP Setia has made its mark in several other property projects dotting the island and these include high-end landed properties in the upscale Jesselton neighbourhood and an upcoming exclusive condominium project facing Penang's famed promenade, Gurney Drive.

The company is said to be aggressively in expansion mode to increase its landbank in Penang. - By Marina Emmanuel (Business Times)

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