May 21, 2018 / 10:34 AM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-Thailand's Singha Estate eyes domestic hotel assets to ride tourism boom

(Corrects paragraphs 3,8 to clarify official’s designation)

SINGAPORE, May 21 (Reuters) - Thai property firm Singha Estate will look to invest in hospitality assets at home as it seeks to ride a wave of booming tourism, a senior company official said on Monday, following a series of deals over the past year.

Hotels, airports and retailers are some of the major beneficiaries of a boom in tourism, receipts from which make up about 12 percent of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, so the industry is one of the most important drivers of its growth.

“Thailand is a hot cupcake,” Thiti Thongbenjamas, chief operating officer of Crossroads, Singha’s resort project in the Maldives, told Reuters. Thongbenjamas, who was previously Singha Estate’s chief investment officer, said it would seek assets in places such as Bangkok, the capital, and the beach town of Pattaya.

Indonesia’s tourist resort island of Bali was also on the company’s list for investments, he said.

In February, Singha Estate, the real estate arm of Boon Rawd Brewery, which is best known for its Singha beer, said it would buy six hotels across four countries from a Hawaii-based hotel group, Outrigger Hotels Hawaii, for about $250 million.

The company expects to earn a bigger chunk of its income this year from its non-recurring business, which consists of residential projects. But it hopes to boost the portion of income earned from recurring businesses, which consist of hospitality and office properties, in the future.

“With the project of Outrigger acquisitions, with the project of Crossroads, it will put us in the balance mode by next year,” said Thongbenjamas, referring to the hotel project being built on reclaimed land over nine islands in the Maldives.

The first phase of the project will open in November, said Thongbenjamas.

He estimated the entire project would require an investment of $680 million, adding that other companies were interested in partnering with Singha for the project.

The company, which plans to list its hospitality business, S Hotels and Resorts, in 2019, is in discussion with banks over the initial public offering. Besides acquisitions, the company could look to build more greenfield projects after the listing, Thongbenjamas said. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Additional reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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