UK embassy land sale put at B18bn

UK embassy land sale put at B18bn

CBRE appointed as agent for British plot

The British embassy is shopping for buyers for the rest of its historic Wireless Road land, 23 rai with an estimated value of 18 billion baht-plus. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
The British embassy is shopping for buyers for the rest of its historic Wireless Road land, 23 rai with an estimated value of 18 billion baht-plus. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Land plots in bustling prime locations remain appealing, with the British embassy expected to shed its 23-rai property on Wireless Road for more than 18 billion baht.

According to sources in the property sector who asked not to be named, the embassy is sounding out developer interest through CBRE (Thailand), which was assigned as the sole agent for the plot.

"The embassy asked CBRE to survey whether we would be interested in buying the plot and what development it should likely be," one of the sources said.

A petition to Save the British Embassy Bangkok has popped up at Change.org, but has drawn little support.

The price of the plot, which serves as the embassy's head office, is estimated at more than 2 million baht a square wah. A nearby plot was bought last year for 1.91 million baht a sq w by SET-listed SC Asset Corporation Plc.

"At that price it's going to be a huge project development, which only large developers or those with overseas giant partners can do," another source said.

The latter source's company was among the large developers that sat down with CBRE last week to discuss the plot. A mixed-use development is the most feasible outcome for the plot because of its large size and land cost, the source said.

A decade ago the British embassy opened a bid for a land plot sized 9.5 rai on Phloenchit Road next to its current head office. The winner was Central Group of Companies with a price of 950,000 baht per sq w. The plot is currently situated by Central Embassy.

Prices for land in prime locations have risen continuously over the last 10 years, with the latest deal struck by SET-listed Ananda Development Plc, which broke the record for the highest price per sq w when it paid 2.1-2.2 million baht for a one-rai site on Rama IV Road near Sri Fueng Fung Building.

The plot was the former location of the Citystreet food court owned by Beauty Gems Group. Despite the small size of only one rai, it is feasible to develop a high-rise building with an automated parking system, which would save space instead of having a traditional car park.

A source from Singha Estate Plc, the SET-listed property arm of Boon Rawd Brewery Co, said it had heard about the report but the company was not invited to take part in last week's meeting.

A British embassy spokesman would not confirm or deny the report, saying only that the embassy keeps its diplomatic estate under review to ensure that it provides value for the British taxpayer and effectively represents British interests.

"We will continue to have a fit-for-purpose embassy that supports the UK's impact and influence in a leading Asean country which is a key partner for the UK in security and prosperity terms," he said.

Phanom Kanjanathiemthao, managing director of property consultant Knight Frank Chartered (Thailand), has said that despite the looming land and buildings tax, land prices in Bangkok's prime locations are expected to continue rising over the next year.

"The new tax is unlikely to be so high that landlords want to avoid paying it or sell their land," he said recently. "It is worth keeping the land as the price will appreciate in the future."

Meanwhile, Ananda Development issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon denying having bought the plot at a whopping 2.2 million baht per sq w.

CEO Chanond Ruangkritya said the company had no policy to buy expensive land plots as it had maintained its goal of developing projects that meet the requirements of customers.

He said the company had never manipulated land prices. As the purchasing power is weak, it would focus on developing projects at reasonable prices.


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