Tycoons from Thailand enter real estate fray

Vietnam’s real estate market is witnessing a new wave of Thai investment, with an expanding range of veterans.

This month Thailand’s largest industrial estate developer, WHA Group, proposed the development of an industrial and residential complex in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

In a meeting between WHA and the provincial People’s Committee, chairwoman and managing director Jareeporn Jarukornsakul said that the company planned to develop 1,200 hectares in Chau Duc district for industrial development.

WHA has been present in Vietnam since 2017, with its first 1,900-hectare industrial park established in Nghe An province. The company has been expanding to new localities, including Thanh Hoa and Quang Ninh.

“We plan to invest at least $1 billion in the next five years in Vietnam, which will in turn entice projects worth over $5 billion,” Jarukornsakul said.

In February, Central Group member Central Pattana established CPN Global Vietnam Co., Ltd. The new company operates mainly in consulting and real estate management, with a charter capital of $833,000, owned by Thai-headquartered CPN Global.

The move is considered an expansion step after the parent group announced it would pour nearly $1.5 billion into the Vietnamese retail market before 2027.

Central Pattana was established in 1980, It owns and manages nearly 40 high-end shopping centres, 10 office buildings, five hotels, and nearly 30 residential projects. As of September 2023, Central Pattana had total assets of more than $7.8 billion.

Elsewhere, Charoen Pokphand Group at the end of 2023 announced investment in CMAG Funds, a new investment fund managed by Wonder Capital Group, targeting high-end real estate in the Southeast Asia with a plan to mobilise up to $100 million.

Tran Van Binh, vice chairman of the Vietnam Real Estate Realtors Association, said that Vietnam was an emerging market for foreign investors. “Vietnam has recorded a strong wave of funding from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and especially Thailand. Among them, residential, commercial, resort, and industrial real estate attract numerous developers,” Binh said.

However, as the world economic situation fluctuates, Binh said Vietnam will struggle to avoid severe impacts and the real estate market has encountered many challenges.

To help the domestic real estate market become vibrant and to open up and promote its development, the Vietnamese government has continuously increased the supply of real estate, building products suitable for housing needs. At the same time, Binh added, regulations are more open for foreigners to own property in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s real estate market has been attractive for Thai investors for years. In 2023, Thailand’s SHREIT Trust completed the sales of IBIS Saigon South Hotel and Capri by Frasers Hotel (in Ho Chi Minh City) to UK-based LT Rubicon, for $33 million.

“Investors are extremely confident on the fundamentals of Southeast Asia’s hotel space. The sale of this unique hotel portfolio not only underscores the resurgence of deal activity in Southeast Asia, but also reinforces the ongoing recovery of cash flows of hotels in the region,” said Julien Naouri, senior vice president of Investment Sales in Asia-Pacific for JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, which acted as the exclusive advisor.

Meanwhile, Amata Group is doing business in developing and operating industrial, commercial, and residential parks in Vietnam. Amata Vietnam is developing 3,000 ha across seven industrial and urban area projects, seven subsidiaries, and one joint venture.

Out of the 111 countries and territories putting money into Vietnam, Thailand stood in ninth place in 2023, with nearly $14 billion invested.

Vietnam Investment Review