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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Fraser and Neave are looking to add retail space to Thailand residential business

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Fraser and Neave are looking to add retail space to Thailand residential business


The property arm of Fraser and Neave inSingapore, Frasers Centre point Limited, has plans to break into the retail business in Thailand, complementing is property development and serviced apartment operations launched last year.

In addition, it plants to invest 750 million to one billion baht this year with its first property joint venture, Krungthep Land Plc(K-Land).

According to Frasers centre point CEO Lim Ee Seng, the retail business in Thailand has growth potential because locals and expatriates have more purchasing power.

He said retail ventures would be part of the second phase of the company’s 10-billion-baht condominium The Pano, located on RamaIII Road beside the Chao Phraya River, near SV City.

The first phase of The Pano, which is now under construction, will house 397 units, of which 25% have been sold.

Once owners move in, there will be demand for retail services and the company will start small, offering a mini-mart, laundry, food and beverage outlets and restaurants.

The company is also a major shareholder with S$ 800 million (20 billion baht) in the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in Singapore.

The fund’s investment policy is to inject cash into retail business in the global market, including Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. Thailand will be the next destination.

Frasers Centre point is also interested in reconstructing an existing shopping mall, an in bidding for the overhaul of the Makkasam complex, for which the State Railway of Thailand is drafting details. “If we’re successful in bidding for the Makkasam complex, we would be interested in turning it into a shopping complex, serviced apartments, and condominiums, which is what we specialize in,” Mr Limsaid.

The company may stick with its existing partner Krungthep Land, or seek a new joint venture with another property firm depending on business conditions.

Simon Lim, the business development manager at Frasers Centre point, said that compared with Singapore’s property market, Thailand still had a lot of room to grow.

Currently, almost 80% of Singaporeans own their own residences, while only 50% of Thais do.

“Also, land prices in Singapore are much more expensive, accounting for around 60-70%of the cost which trims down the margins, while in Thailand they only account for only 15-20%.”

The company currently operates the Urbana Lang Suan serviced apartments, owned by the Siam Phan Group, and has clinched a deal to manage two new serviced apartment buildings on Sathorn and Sukhumvit roads.

Bhupesh Yadav, regional director of operations at Singapore-based Fraser serviced Residence, said would start managing the Urbana Sathorn at the end of this year.

The next project on Sukhumvit road is under construction, but would be under Fraser’s management in 2008.

The company expects to clinch two more apartment deals, which bring its total in Bangkok to five.

Frasers Centre point holds 33% of K-Land, which in turn hold 51% of Riverside Homes Development, which is developing The Pano, while Fraser holds 49%.

The property business is the latest Thai venture for Fraser and Neave, which has been active in the local food and beverage market since the 1950s.

It first entered the market with the legendary Srasri soft drink, in a joint venture with hotelier Nai Lert. The drink had a cult following but sales faltered until Coca-Cola joined ip with the firm. The company also explored the ice-cream business, talking a 99% stake in United Foods.

The company also distributes textbooks, reference books and encyclopedias.

The group is of the top 20 listed companies in Singapore’s stock exchange, with revenue of S$ 4.27 billion (10.67 billion baht) and net profit of S$330 million for the fiscal year 2005 ending last Sept 30.

A total of 62% of its revenue came from property, 29% from food and beverages, and 9% from publishing and printing.

The group currently develops property projects in 11 countries: China, Vietnam, Tjhailand, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, the Philippines, France, the UAE and Singapore.

However, 70% of its property revenue still comes from Singapore.

“We expect, within three years, income generated from overseas will increase to 50% while income in Singapore will make up the other half,” said Simon Lim.