Harmful Industries List to Be Declared Within Next 2 Months

The industry minister expects the final list of industrial projects that could cause severe environmental and health impacts, to be announced within the next two months. Regarding the latest development in the Map Ta Phut impasse, the National Environmental Board has assigned the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to conduct a further study on 18 industries that are deemed harmful to the environment and the health of people living nearby.

Bangkok market remained robust despite political turbulance

Despite the political turbulence, investment activity in the Bangkok real estate market remained robust during the first half of 2010. While the low interest environment encouraged more investors to seek alternative investment opportunities in real estate, property development firms continued to aggressively acquire land for new development, according to professional real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle. Umpon Thepnumsommanus, Director of Investment at Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “For the past six months, investment activity in the Bangkok property market was buoyant. Investment transactions concluded by Jones Lang LaSalle alone on behalf of clients represent a combined value of THB3.5 billion (US$108.29 million) for the period. These include the sale of a portfolio of strata-titled office condominium units at Serm-Mit Tower for THB1.5 billion (US$46.41 million) in early 2010 and dispositions of a number of prime land plots.” There were a number of factors that drove investment activity in the first half of the year, according to Umpon. On the supply side, many corporations continued to restructure their asset portfolio by disposing their non-core assets. On the demand side, while property developers bought more land for future developments, some investors remained keen to invest in income-generating assets such as office buildings, given the current low interest environment. Another factor that contributed to the robust sales and acquisition activities was the narrower gap between the buyers’ and the sellers’ price expectations. “As the political unrests that intensified between April and May softened investor sentiment, sellers adopted a more compromising approach with their asking prices, allowing faster sales transactions,” Umpon said. In addition, several sales in the second quarter were accelerated due to the expiration of the government’s property stimulus package. Many sellers became more flexible during the negotiation process in order to complete the sale and have the property transferred in time prior to the expiry of the property stimulus package on June 30. Much of the real estate investment activity recorded in Bangkok during the past six months was acquisitions of land or sites for redevelopment purposes by property companies. Land plots located no farther than 200 meters from a BTS, MRT, or Airport Link station received exceptionally high interest. Umpon explained: “Mid-priced condominiums with convenient access to mass transit systems have remained very popular as reflected by the fast sales rates achieved by many off-plan or newly launched projects in close proximity to mass transit systems. This has encouraged demand from property development companies for land with potential for condominium development.” He added: “The trend of property development companies securing prime land for condominium development will continue. The recent issuances of debentures by a number of major listed residential property developers such as Preuksa Real Estate, Supalai and Asian Property Development show that these companies have been well prepared for new investments.” Source : property-report.com

Cabinet to Vet Thaicom Report Next Week

The Information and Communication Technology Ministry is awaiting the finalization of a legal report on the possible buyback of Thaicom stocks. The report will allow next week's Cabinet meeting to rule definitively on the matter. Information and Communication Technology, or ICT, Minister Juti Krairerk disclosed today that a ministry committee reviewing laws on the reacquisition of shares in Thaicom satellite company currently held by Singapore's Temasek Holdings has forwarded its conclusion to the ICT legal division for a final review.

Affordable in demand, but foreigners “off the radar” in Bangkok

Research from global real estate advisor DTZ has revealed that demand for affordable condominiums in central Bangkok remains strong, despite the recent political instability. However, the company cautions that foreigners are likely to remain “off the radar”, especially for luxury property projects, until the situation becomes more certain. The report noted that activity in Bangkok’s Central Business District (CBD) residential property sector waned with the disruption from the political riots which took place during the quarter. The majority of real estate activity was concentrated in peripheral fringe and suburban locations near to the mass transit lines. Demand for smaller one- and two-bedroom (40 sqm to 70 sqm) affordable units, which are usually priced below THB80,000 (US$2,470) per sqm, remained upbeat despite the political woes. CBD condominium rents averaged THB452 (US$13.97) per sqm per month in Q2 2010, reflecting no change quarter-on-quarter. The overall average capital value for the CBD condominium market was also stable, registering no change over the quarter to stand at THB82,740 (US$2,548) per sqm. Low Ming Tze, Senior Manager of DTZ Thailand Research, said: “New launches within the CBD will be very selective. With the uncertain political and economic conditions, developers are more cautious in initiating new projects. More time is being taken to conduct due diligence studies prior to launching a new project.” She added: “Buying activity over the next quarter will largely be dominated by domestic purchasers – both end users and speculators. Foreign investors are likely to remain off the radar, particularly for luxury projects, until there is more certainty in the political situation.” Source : property-report.com

Bangkok Bank Top Executive Backs Reform Panels

The executive chairman of the Bangkok Bank is confident in the ability of the national reform committee and the reform assembly committee to solve the country's persisting problems. Bangkok Bank Executive Chairman Kosit Panpiamras said he is confident in the national reform committee and the reform assembly committee as the panels comprise intellectuals and experienced members. He also admires their sacrifice to work for the nation's interest.

Ananda Development (Thailand) eyes green projects after IPO

Ananda Development CEO Chanond Ruangkritya is keen to build “green townships” after his company lists on the Stock Exchange in Thailand later this year. Chanond, 37, is a proponent of green living as well as a supporter of renewable energy initiative.s “The success of Ananda during the past three years can be attributed to our ability to provide affordable housing in the city where buyers can ride mass transit rail lines, thus saving time and money by avoiding slow, and expensive transport on jammed roads,”the CEO says at his newly completed project at Hauy Kwang, off Ratchadapisek Road. “The Huay Kwang site near the MRT subway station allows our buyers to do away with buying cars, which is a terrible investment. Once sold, vehicles lose 30 per cent of their value and even more over the years. With a condo. the price almost always appreciates,” he adds. His Ideo brand of condominiums, located at more than a dozen sites in Bangkok, champions the reduction in petrol usage, thus cutting down carbon emissions that contributes to global warming. “It is obvious the world is headed for a green futer,” he says. “In the US and Europe, as well ai in Thailand, government technology and cutting down oil consumption as much as possible,”he notes. The idea of green to townships is not new, he notes. In Germany, there are towns that run almost entirely on renewable fuel such as solar and wind. The big advantage of such residences is the dwellers need not pay much for utilities. Today, Bangkok residents pay a huge sum on electricity, as government subsides seldom cover middle income households, the most productive social strata. Green townships are already the models for developed countries to adopt and Thailand should able to see the advantages of supporting these initiative. The recent BP oil spill, noew nearly 80 days long, has destroyed so much coastal life in the Gulf of Mexico and soon, its economy. Clearly, deep-sea drilling hold greater risks than most people suspect. If demand for oil drops, the need for suc drilling should becom redundant. A recent green victory is the success of Tesla, the electirc car maker’s listing on the Nasdaq stock market, which allows the company to further develop more efficient clean cars and send petrol-guzzling vehicles to the junkyard. Israel is one of the first countries to adopt 100,000 elctric cars and the trend is catching up all over the world, includung Japan and California, the most progressive US state on clean fuels. As with all businesses, Chanond realises that going green is a capital intensive effort and will require a bit more investment than contemporary products. But over the longer term, contemporary products risk becoming obsolete, while the more effcient, green-friendly goods will find ready buyers. Given the choice, consumers will choose green products over non green items. That mentality is certain to rule in coming years as greater awareness about over-reliance on foreign oil shifts the consumer away from such industries. Chanond believes innovation and timing are critical to success. Five years ago, housing firms were building overly large units that few could afford. Today that bloated market is so saturated, it has become stagnant. With the high cost of pertrol the last three years, the cost of commuting form faraway suburbs where mass transit lines will probably never come, tralvel costs are excruciating. Unless more Bangkokians adapt to the new realites of high-priced oil as well as the coming green trend, they stand to lose a big portion of their savings. “The most important rule in survival is to protect one’s capital,” says Chanond, who holds economic degrees from the London School of Economics and University of Californai at Berkeley. “For young middle-income workers, living in a smaaller home moy offer less space, but our Ideo projects make sure they recevie healthy facilities such as our rooftop swimming pools, and pockets of gardens as recreation space.” The next step is go even more green, by examining what Ananda can build, such as green communities, perhaps for older, affluent buyers who seek a more serene, relaxed way of life away from big cities. Ananda’s IPO is scheduled for the end of this year or early next year. The firm has 12 condo sites worth Bt20billion and six suburban estates worth Bt11 billion. Phatra Securities is its underwriter. Source: The Nation

Minister Affirms Transparency in BOT Governor Selection

The finance minister assures the selection process for the new governor of the Bank of Thailand will be made in transparent manner. Meanwhile, the ministry is set to start the second phase of the nonbanking debt refinancing program in the next few months. Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said the selection of the new BOT governor is being done with transparency and will not be influenced by any lobbying by political parties.