A reclusive tycoon with a penchant for Bollywood extravaganzas is to head the $790m development of Malaysia's new Hollywood-style film studios, according to Reuters.

Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary, already in Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's good books for winning away Danish shipping giant Maersk Sealand from neighbour and rival Singapore, is to helm the Entertainment Village project, which was launched last September.

Despite the hype - Asian movie stars such as Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh and the heads of some of the world's largest technology companies were present at the animation studio launch in 2000 - little of note has been produced yet.

The $790m plan is derided by critics as excessive, who believe the country's tight bureaucracy will prevent the studio competing against leading Asian film centres such as Hong Kong and India's Bollywood.

The complex will be modelled on Hollywood's Universal Studios, with digital animation capabilities and is expected to reach completion in 2007.

The studios are located in the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), Malaysia's high-tech area which runs south of Kuala Lumpur.