Foreign Investment flows into Thailand bode well for local market
03/04/06 Kanana Katharang siporn
The inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Thailand’s property sector is expected to continue to grow throughout 2006, but political stability is a key concern, says Narisa Wetpanyawong, vice-president of the investment development at Muang Thai Life Assurance Company. The inflow of FDI, both direct and indirect, is expected to be 100 billion baht. Factors favoring Thailand, she said, were the fully supplied property markets in nearby countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore, and the increasing trend toward mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures in the local property market. Singapore investors, including the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) and capital land, are already active in Thailand property market. Singaporean firms are seeking local partners due to the very limited property supply in their own countries, while Thailand’s property market still has a promising outlook with office rental rates rising. According to the bank of Thailand, FDI flowing into the Thai property sector totaled US$296.13 million, or about 11.25 billion baht, accounting for 10.98% of total FDI last year. The figure rose from 4.76% and 7.73% in 2004 and 2003 respectively. The total value of property investments grew from five projects worth five billion baht in 2004 to seven projects worth 7.5 billion baht in 2005. Main targets were office building in central business districts, hotel and condominiums. Ms Narisa said Thailand’s property market had a low price-to earnings ratio relative to regional peers, at around 8-9 times, while profit margins exceeded 19%. Government megaprojects will significantly support more overseas investment but political stability is required. The positive impact of FDI stems from sound capital support to local developers, professionalism in management and marketing, and technical knowledge.