Alibaba, WHA in estate talks

Alibaba, WHA in estate talks

Chinese giant seeks 'e-commerce park' site

Jareeporn: Massive land sales to come
Jareeporn: Massive land sales to come

SET-listed WHA Corporation Plc, Thailand's largest developer of built-to-suit logistics facilities, is in talks with Alibaba over the giant Chinese e-commerce company's plans to buy land to develop its "fifth generation e-commerce park" in Thailand.

WHA chief executive Jareeporn Jarukornsakul said the likeliest land plots that Alibaba would be looking to buy are in the Hemaraj industrial estate in Rayong and Samut Prakan.

"WHA is negotiating with Alibaba group, which wants to invest in its fifth-generation e-commerce park model," Ms Jareeporn said.

The fifth-generation e-commerce park is intended to be more than just a logistics hub to support Alibaba's e-commerce business in the region. It would also house production plants for Thai and foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

WHA plans to have a massive amount of developed land ready for sale in the coming years, Ms Jareeporn said.

In 2017, the company expects to have up to 1,000 rai ready for sale. For the land in the Hemaraj industrial estate, it has sold around 600 rai to both Thai and foreign investors.

WHA bought a 22.5% or 43.7 billion baht stake in Hemaraj industrial estate, making it the largest stakeholder. The estate is located some 20 kilometres away from U-tapao airport, a former military airport that the government is overhauling to serve as a commercial airport to accommodate rising investment in the government's flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project.

The EEC was designed by the government to serve as regional engine of growth.

It spans a combined 30,000 rai in the provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao to accommodate investment in 10 targeted industries: next-generation cars; smart electronics; affluent medical and wellness tourism; agriculture and biotechnology; food; robotics for industry; logistics and aviation; biofuels and biochemicals; digital; and medical services.

Ms Jareeporn voiced confidence that Alibaba would eventually buy land from WHA, as it has a clear policy of investing in the high-potential corridor.

As a result, WHA has prepared 10,000 rai to be developed further in the EEC to match the needs of investors going forward.

Total revenue this year is expected to be around 19 billion baht, slightly up from 18.3 billion in 2016. WHA posted a net profit of 2.9 billion baht in 2016, up from 2 billion the previous year.

WHA shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 3.08 baht, down two satang, in trade worth 94.1 million baht.

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