New foreign cash flows into Bangkok real estate

A NEW wave of foreign companies are investing in Bangkok’s residential market. Last week saw Japanese giant Tokyo Tatemono entering the fray.

One of Japan’s oldest property companies, Tokyo Tatemono joins Mitsui Fudosan and Mitsubishi in forming partnerships with listed Thai real estate firms.

Tatemono, with origins dating back more than 125 years, will hold 49 per cent in two luxury condo projects built by Raimon Land. Worth a combined 9 billion baht, the sites are at Sathorn Soi 12 and Phrom Phong.

“Because land prices have risen dramatically with land selling between 1 million and 3 million baht per square wah, it is difficult for Thai firms to take on prime city projects on their own,” said a top real estate analyst at CBRE, a top property agency.Also Thai banks weary of another property bubble in too-big-to-fail projects are reluctant to lend the past two years.

Signing Japan

It was Ananda Development that started the ball rolling when its CEO Chanond Ruangkritya formed its first joint venture deal with Mitsui Fudosan in 2013.

The initial site was at the former Rama theatre on Samyan MRT station.

“Five years on we have now 27 sites worth 114 billion baht with Mitsui Fudosan,” said Chanond. This number does not include half a dozen more sites that have not yet been announced.

Another local property giant AP has also formed a partnership with Mitsubishi to invest in Bangkok properties.

Today, more Japanese construction giants are looking at their successes and seeking to carve a piece of the cake for themselves.

Clearly, they can play a key role in financing as well as participating in one of Southeast Asia’s more vibrant cities.

Bangkok is today considered the third most attractive destination after Hong Kong and Singapore for many developers. But there is no room for them in Hong Kong or Singapore, where local players dominate the field.

In Bangkok, the market is open provided you have billions of baht to spare.

No doubt, Japanese companies are very familiar with Thailand where they have invested since the Vietnam War era. They were instrumental in building the Kingdom’s industrial base.

In previous booms, Sumitomo, Marubeni and a number of medium sized Japanese firms invested in Bangkok’s housing projects with mixed results. Some were successful, others less so.

At the onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Japanese firms were forced to retreat, said Tokyo Tatemono, which has since 2014, sought potential sites in Southeast Asia.

Tatemono set up its Southeast Asia unit division in Singapore and began building in frontier markets such as Yangon and Ho Chi Minh City.

Until its Bangkok deal, Tatemono’s big tie-up was with Vanke, China’s property giant.

Katsuhito Ozawa, director and chief executive of Tokyo Tatemono’s massive global business, said the Thailand pact is not limited to just the first two condominiums.

He pledged to bring bold new designs that the Kingdom has never witnessed before.

A top Raimon Land source disclosed they were looking into as many as 25 potential projects.

Tatemono’s proudest achievement today are its showcase Otemachi Tower urban renaissance project in Tokyo.

Completed three years ago, the undertaking included the creation of a natural forest spanning 3,600 square meters.

Katsuhito said the company planted the trees several years before the tower was constructed so that there would be a park by the time people started entering the building.

Called Otemachi Park, the forested area served people working and living in what was once a part of Edo, the ancient name of Tokyo. The site housed rich daimyos (noblemen) during the Tokugawa Shogunate and in modern times, became a key financial district where Mizuho Bank established its headquarters.

Aman Tokyo

Otemachi Tower itself is a landmark with its top six floors occupied by Aman Tokyo, the capital’s best new hotel.

Here the story goes full circle as the Aman chapter originated in Thailand.

Aman Tokyo is part of the Aman Resorts chain that has its roots in Amanpuri Hotel in Phuket. Created by Adrian Zecha at Surin Beach, Amapnpuri was the first followed by Amandara in Bali that formed Aman’s flagships 30 years ago.

Apart from the Japanese wave, Bangkok is also experiencing a windfall of cash coming from China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Earlier this year, Country Group Development celebrated its topping-off off event at its Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok, a 73-floor tower by the Chao Phraya River near Taksin Bridge.

Its financing was from Ping An Bank while its main contractor was Beijing Construction and Enginering Group.

Ping An provided loans worth US$375 million for the tower.

The development is worth 32 billion baht (US$1 billion) and includes two luxury hotels, Four Seasons and Capella, which open later this year.


Top: The forest surrounding Otemachi Tower was planted by Tokyo Tatemono to revitalize what once formed Edo, the ancient name for Tokyo.

First in-text: Katsuhito Ozawa, head of Tokyo Tatemono’s overseas business, center left, and Raimon Land CEO Adrian Lee, center right, hold their joint venture contracts.

Second in-text The latest Japanese corporation entering Bangkok’s condo market is Tokyo Tatemono, which is famous for its Aman Tokyo hotel located in the upper most 6 floors of Otemachi Tower.

By Cimi Suchontan