Malaysian property developer UEM Land has roped in U.S. firm General Electric as a strategic partner in plans it is spearheading to build a new Asian boomtown in the country's southern region of Johor.
A spokeswoman for UEM Land said the two firms would sign a pact this week to explore opportunities to develop Nusajaya, the region's single-largest parcel of land spread over 24,000 hectares, which is owned by parent UEM World.
"Initially the agreement with GE is for three years," she told Reuters. "UEM Land is looking to GE for help with the planning of city management systems. They really need to work with someone who has that experience, and a proven track record."
She declined to give any further details.
General Electric Chief Executive Jeff Immelt and Ahmad Pardas Senin, chief executive of UEM, will attend Thursday's signing.
Late last year, Malaysia unveiled an ambitious two-decade blueprint to harness $105 billion in mostly private capital to turn 2,200 square km (850 square miles) of Johor state, bordering wealthy Singapore, into an industrial and tourism zone.
State-controlled UEM World hopes to benefit from the city state's plans to develop two large casino resorts in its project to develop vacant and developed land around the Bandar Nusajaya township in southwest Johor.
Shares of UEM World last traded at 3.78 ringgit. They have soared 116 percent since the beginning of the year, while UEM Builders, another group firm, rose nearly 5 percent.
Earlier this year, GE said it expected sales and profit growth of 30 to 40 percent in emerging countries over the next three to five years.
"By 2010, we're estimating sales of $50 billion," GE International's chief executive, Ferdinando Beccalli-Falco, told reporters in the Malaysian capital in July.
GE makes jet engines, gas turbines and other heavy equipment, and is involved in consumer finance and health care businesses.
It sold $30 billion in the emerging economies of China, India, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America last year.