Medini is slowly taking shape with the number of world-class companies setting up a base there. The pioneers include global research and consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan Malaysia Sdn Bhd; Parkway Pantai Ltd, a subsidiary of premium healthcare provider IHH Healthcare Bhd that established a hospital under the Gleneagles brand in Medini; and international serviced residences owner-operator The Ascott Ltd. These leading industry players say they chose to invest in Medini because of its strategic location, potential business opportunities, good connectivity, accessibility and infrastructure, and high quality of life that their employees and customers can enjoy in this township.
Frost & Sullivan Malaysia set up its second innovation centre there in 2012. The centre supports the research consultancy’s operations around the world and gives its employees the opportunity to work on global projects. Its first regional research centre was established in Kuala Lumpur in 2004.
“We had plans to open another global innovation centre to support our business. After a few sessions with various local government agencies, we decided to build our centre in Iskandar Malaysia and we picked Medini,” says Hazmi Yusof, managing director of Frost & Sullivan Malaysia.
The connectivity between Medini and Singapore was the main reason it decided to set up the centre in the township, he adds. “It is easy to access Singapore from Medini and vice versa. Another compelling reason is the way Medini was put together. It is designed for corporates to go beyond Malaysia and serve Asia. In other words, by being located in Medini, we have good access to international markets.
“We are in Medini for the long term. It is akin to Singapore because it gives us a platform to serve Asia-Pacific. Our global innovation centre in Medini is playing an increasingly important role in our operations and will become one of our key centres in the near future.”
Singapore-based serviced residences owner-operator The Ascott also saw Medini as a platform for targeting and serving the international market. Khairil Hafez Harith Yahya, residence manager of Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri, says its development in Medini is within walking distance of Legoland Malaysia and Gleneagles Hospital Medini.
“Our target market are vacationing families and holidaymakers. We are also looking at serving the medical tourism sector and see a number of guests coming from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, India, China and the Middle East.
“Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri is also close to EduCity, Kota Iskandar, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios and Puteri Harbour. So, we can target the expatriates attached to these companies who are staying here for longer durations.”
He says Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri combines a contemporary style with the comforts of home to create a “home away from home” experience for its guests. The serviced residences comprise 310 exclusive apartments in a 33-storey building.
Guests have a choice of studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom or three-bedroom apartments. Each unit comes with a fully equipped kitchen; a living, work and sleeping area; en-suite bathrooms and other amenities.
“We are the first international serviced residence operator in Iskandar. Our development enhances our position as the largest international owner-operator of serviced residences in Malaysia,” says Khairil.
Opportunities to build and grow
The healthcare sector, one of the country’s national key economic areas (NKEAs), is supported and promoted in Iskandar. The objective is to have a world-class medical industry in the Southern Development Corridor. Medini was earmarked as its geographical location enables providers to serve patients from Singapore and the wider region.
Gleneagles Medini Hospital is the pioneering healthcare facility here and is seen as a growth catalyst that will spur medical tourism in Johor. The premium healthcare service provider is also expected to set the benchmark for superior healthcare in the country.
Ahmad Shahizam, Parkway Pantai’s CEO of its Malaysian operations, says Medini offers unique opportunities for healthcare providers. “We are always looking to expand when there is rapidly growing demand for high-quality private healthcare services. Medini presented a unique opportunity for us. Healthcare has been selected as a pillar of this township. This means that the local authorities promote and support this industry. There is also a shortage of hospital beds in Johor and a lack of tertiary healthcare facilities in Medini, so it was opportune for us to establish our premium healthcare brand, Gleneagles,” he adds.
Patients are expected from Singapore as they are already familiar with the Gleneagles brand and benefit from favourable exchange rates. Ahmad says Gleneagles Medini is also well positioned to serve patients from Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Middle East.
The hospital sits on 15 acres of prime land and currently has an emergency department, health screening centre, renal dialysis centre, endoscopy centre and dental centre. There are plans to offer more healthcare services such as cardiology, orthopaedics, oncology and ophthalmology in the future.
“In time to come, Gleneagles Medini Hospital will have 300 beds and a medical block of 164 medical suites. It will offer services such as in-vitro fertilisation and wellness. Basically, Gleneagles Medini Hospital will have the same breadth and depth of expertise and facilities as its sister hospitals in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore,” says Ahmad.
It was the theme parks that prompted The Ascott to build serviced residences in Medini. “Malaysia’s first international theme park — Legoland Malaysia — sealed our decision to invest and build residences in Medini. This is the first Legoland in Asia and it attracts a large number of visitors every year,” says Khairil.
Furthermore, Medini is on its way to becoming the central business district of Iskandar. With its strategic location, the township will be next core of commerce in Malaysia’s southern region, says Khairil.
Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri is a part of Afiniti Medini, which is jointly developed by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Singapore’s Temasek Holdings. Other facilities in the development include the Afiniti Wellness Centre, Afiniti Residensi and CIMB’s Leadership Training Centre.
Khairil says Medini is well planned and organised with specially designated zones for residential units, commercial space and recreational areas. This should strengthen the township’s appeal as a regional hub in the future, he adds.
“At this stage, it is too early to compare Medini with other more established international hubs. It is still being developed. It is still in its infancy, but the potential is undeniable. It has already attracted a lot of investors, visitors and tourists from Singapore and other Asean countries. Even more people are expected as the township grows,” says Khairil.
“I foresee Medini contributing significantly to Malaysia’s economic growth in the future. It is exciting to be a part of this and to witness its development over the next 5 to 10 years.”
The war for talent
There is no denying that the competition for talent is fierce with Medini so close to Singapore. The industry players are addressing this challenge with competitive salaries and benefits as well as active management of the company’s image.
“As pioneers in Medini, we initially found it difficult to find and retain talent. It was difficult to attract locals working in Singapore. Furthermore, employees from the Klang Valley or Penang tend to return to their hometown after two or three years with us in Medini,” says Frost & Sullivan’s Hazmi.
This compelled the research consultancy to switch its approach. It started focusing on recruiting talent from Johor.
“This seemed to be the best approach so far. Work-life balance is a key proposition we can offer prospective employees. They spend less time commuting to work and have the option of engaging in a number of leisure activities in Medini after working hours,” says Hazmi.
“We also offer them the opportunity to work on regional and global projects. This is exciting to young talent and it enriches their careers.”
Frost & Sullivan employs young talent for its global innovation centre, which provides knowledge and business intelligence to the company’s business services operations.
“We are part of the ecosystem that attracts the right human capital to the region. We hire young educated talent and they bring energy and vibrancy to Medini. A number of them have also invested in this township, for example, by buying property,” says Hazmi.
Another labour-intensive industry is healthcare and the right skillsets are always in demand. Although being part of IHH Healthcare provides Gleneagles Medini with a steady stream of well-trained healthcare professionals, the hospital has also found it beneficial to leverage its strong employer brand — what existing and potential employees know about the hospital’s values, personality and culture.
“To deliver the highest service standards and the best possible clinical outcomes, we need more than the best equipment. We need experienced and qualified doctors, nurses and healthcare workers,” says Ahmad.
“The strength of the Gleneagles brand has been instrumental in helping us attract and retain talent. We continue to train and develop our healthcare workers to ensure that they stay at the top of their field and are able to deliver the high standard of service that patients have come to expect from us.”
CI Medini fulfils a different need
CI Medini Sdn Bhd is one of the many developers in Iskandar Malaysia, but it stands apart from the crowd with its focus on commercial properties and affordable homes.
“We were the first developer to build a development in Medini’s zone C. There were already a lot of developers in zones A and B,” says its managing director Takeshi Matsukata.
CI Medini (formerly known as Sunsuria Medini Sdn Bhd) is a partnership between Japan-based real estate developer Creed Group Ltd and Sunsuria Bhd, inked in 2014. Creed has invested outside Japan since 2005 and has projects in Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
CI Medini’s commercial properties are known as The IONS. ION1 (104 units), ION2 (106 units), ION3 (32 units) and ION4 (75 units) consist of both retail shops and offices. This development is strategically located about three minutes’ drive from the Second Link Expressway, theme parks, the Mall of Medini and Educity.
“We are the first developer to build shoplots in Medini and have constructed low-density two-storey and three-storey shoplots. Three phases have been completed and we have handed the keys over to the buyers. We expect to hand the keys of the units in the last phase in September next year,” says Matsukata.
Most of the buyers of CI Medini’s properties are Malaysian while about 10% are foreign investors. According to Matsukata, the company is looking at developing stratified commercial units as they allow the company to target a different market.
“The built-up area in a traditional two-storey or three-storey shoplot is about 2,000 to 3,000 sq ft. With stratified properties, we can sell each floor, which is between 1,000 and 1,300 sq ft, to different buyers. So the total investment required for stratified properties is much lower than that for traditional shoplots,” he says, adding that the developer plans to gauge the demand for such units before embarking on a full-scale launch of its next project.
Residential properties are also in its pipeline. The developer plans to develop affordable homes to complement the luxury developments in Medini.
“When we launch this project will depend on the market. Competition is stiff now and we will wait for a better time. Our plans are to stay away from the luxury market and focus on providing affordable property,” says Matsukata.
CI Medini is looking at relocating from Taman Bukit Indah to Medini. The move, says Matsukata, will reflect its support for the township.
“This is a very balanced township, with all the necessary elements to enhance its liveability. This is largely because of the master developer, Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd. It started developing Medini on a clean slate and everything is well planned,” he adds.
“People choose to live here because of the environment. There are many parks and I expect to see more enjoying the natural environment once the township takes off.
“Medini is a work in progress. It is not a finished product, but its outlook is very promising. Once the economic environment improves, more changes (developments) will take place. In three to five years, the township will be very different with a thriving and robust community,” says Matsukata.
News Source:(Elaine Boey)