BANDAR NUSAJAYA-UEM Land, the Malaysian developer, plans to raise about ringgit 2 billion ($548 million) to help fund development in Johor state. The Malaysian government wants to develop the southern state in a bid to benefit from plans in neighboring Singapore to develop two huge casino resorts.

State-controlled UEM proposes to develop 17,000 acres it owns in Bandar Nusajaya, a township in southwest Johor. Initial plans include a theme park developed with Walt Disney, a statement from the firm said.

UEM COO Mohamad Abdullah told a press briefing that the five-year development would cost about ringgit 2 billion and the company plans to raise part of it next year. The funds will be raised “predominantly from bonds,” Mohamad said, adding that the firm may also sell some equity instruments.

Johor is a key focus of Malaysia’s five-year development plan until 2010, including improving the waterfront that faces Singapore. The neighboring city/state of Singapore aims to double visitor arrivals to 17 million and triple tourism receipts to S$30 billion ($18.8 billion) by 2015 through the development of casinos and other attractions. Mohamad also said that UEM Land was planning a real estate trust. “We are working toward the initial portfolio and are hoping to get it done in the next six to nine months,” he concluded.

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