Bangkok Post – 21 March 2007
Having invested more than 400 million baht in Thailand’s property sector since 2003, the diversified Hong Kong-based multinational QI Ltd plans to invest another billion baht this year and next in resorts and villas in tourist destinations.
Thailand is an interesting place for leisure property investment and the group is interested in such tourist destinations as Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Khao Yai in Nakhon Ratchasima, group managing director Vijay Eswaran said.
The group, which first entered Thailand in 2000 with an e-commerce business, is now seeking the right local partner or the right project for a joint venture.
”We are concerned about politics. But according to history, the situation is not much of a concern, as the government comes and goes while the monarch remains,” says Mr Eswaran.
”We had a track record when we invested in Hong Kong,” says the entrepreneur, a well-known motivational speaker and the author of the best-selling book In the Sphere of Silence.
He added that one concern for an investor in Thailand was new regulations but the group was waiting for them to take effect. ”Laws by themselves are not as important as their implementation.”
He illustrates an investment in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where there was no overseas investment until five to seven years ago, when Sheikh Mohamad basically changed everything. Overseas investment has flowed to the UAE ever since.
QI made its first investment in Thailand’s property business in 2003, when it spent 40 million baht on 40 serviced apartment units in Bangkok. Two years later, it paid 80 million baht to buy and fix up 10 units of the Patong Beach Hotel.
Last year, it invested another 300 million baht to acquire the Nordic Resort in Samui from a Norwegian owner and changed the name to Prana Resorts, which will be launched in June this year. In 2005, the group acquired the operating assets of the British telecom firm United Networks Ltd for 700 million baht (US$20 million) and renamed it QI Comm Ltd.
It also spent 200 million baht (4 million) to acquire the Cimier Swiss watch business in September 2006, says the 46-year-old Malaysian tycoon.
Starting the business in 1998 with 490 million baht, the group recorded turnover of 26.95 billion baht ($770 million) in 2005 and was expected to grow by 15-20% in 2006. About 60% was from dot-com businesses, says Mr Eswaran.
Founded in Hong Kong as an e-commerce business distributing collectible products, the group has now diversified into activities from telecoms and media to property and travel with more than 30 offices worldwide and 1.2 million customers in 168 countries.
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