Thu, Nov 15, 2012 - Page 13 News List

Towers consortium downplays worries

CAPITALIZATION QUESTIONS:Taipei Gateway said it was no longer tied to a reputed gangster and money for the project would be remitted by overseas partners

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Officials of an international development company responsible for the Taipei Twin Towers project near the Taipei Railway Station speak at a press conference yesterday, addressing reports about the company’s alleged financial difficulty.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

The consortium that won the rights to develop the Taipei Twin Towers (雙子星大樓) project said yesterday it has adequate capital to construct the landmark complex next to Taipei Railway Station.

The clarifications came after Taipei City councilors recently raised questions over the multinational group’s funding ability and its alleged ties with local gangsters.

The consortium, composed of Taipei Gateway International Development Co (太極雙星) and Malaysia’s IGB Corp and Mid Valley City Sdn Bhd, on Oct. 28 won the contract to develop two high-rise buildings that may cost between NT$70 billion and NT$80 billion (US$2.39 billion to US$2.73 billion).

“Taipei Gateway no longer has any connection with Chen Hung-dao (程宏道)” after restructuring last month, company chairman Michael Ho (何岳儒) told a press conference.

Chen is a leader of the Four Seas Gang (四海幫).

He told the Chinese-language Next Magazine that he founded Taipei Gateway in December last year with capital of NT$30 million, but left the company because he realized the Twin Towers project was too big for him.

Taipei Gateway increased its capital to NT$77 million on Oct. 15 and won the contract two weeks later.

Taipei City councilors have since raised doubts about the firm’s financial strength, given the large amount of funding required for the development project.

“Consortium members will remit money here as things proceed,” Ho said, adding that the group is preparing the paperwork for inking the development contract to be signed in 30 to 45 days.

While Taipei Gateway is modestly capitalized, it is a unit of Kagawa International Investment Co, which draws the bulk of its funding from Japan’s Mori Group — owner of Mori Building Co and Mori Trust Co, Ho said.

However, Ho declined to supply details about the consortium’s capital structure, because he said doing so might affect the share price of IGB Corp, which is a listed firm in Malaysia.

At the press conference, Mickey Ng (黃坤義), head of Greater China at IGB, asked for more patience. He said the consortium would satisfy all media inquiries after it finalizes the deal with the Taipei City Government.

The consortium is expected to break ground for the construction of the two high-rise buildings — one with 56 stories above ground and four basement levels, and the other with 76 stories above ground and four basement levels — within one year.

The two buildings are to house shopping malls, office space, an international hotel and art galleries, the consortium said.

With a total floor space of 158,000 ping (522,332m2), or 1.5 times the size of Taipei 101, the project could create 23,000 jobs with an annual economic benefit of NT$30 billion, the consortium said.

When the project is completed in 2017, the twin towers will serve as the main hub for the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport MRT line to Taipei and five other railway and MRT lines.

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