Economy June 10, 2014 00:00

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VN investors interest in Myanmar rising

More than 50 business groups from Vietnam have been conducting market research in Myanmar to look for investment opportunities, says Pho Nam Phuang, director of the country’s Investment and Trade Promotion Centre.
The research is being conducted at shopping malls and supermarkets in Yangon and Mandalay, she told a press conference at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Myo Thant, joint secretary-general of the UMFCCI, said: “The research will cover customers’ habits and obstacles to Vietnamese companies operating in Myanmar. The results will be submitted [to] relevant ministries in coordination with the UMFCCI.” 
Myo Thant said Vietnam’s Investment and Trade Promotion Centre did further research on the distribution system last year.
In a related development, Vietnam plans to hold “Ho Chi Minh City Expo 2014” at Tatmadaw Hall in Yangon from June 26 to 30. The event will showcase agricultural equipment, construction machinery, interior design, leather products, garments, cosmetics and commodities from more than 80 Vietnamese enterprises. A food fair featuring traditional Vietnamese dishes is to take place also.
“Along with products from Ho Chi Minh City, Myanmar merchandise will also be on display at the expo. We plan to meet with business corporations in Mandalay too,” Pho Nam Phuong said.
In addition, the “Vietnam-Myanmar Trade and Tourism Fair” will be held at the UMFCCI building in Yangon on June 26. – Eleven Media
Lotte to build Indonesia malls 
Lotte Shopping Co, South Korea’s largest department-store operator, plans to open four shopping malls in Indonesia by 2018 to tap growing consumer spending in a nation where half the population is younger than 30. 
Lotte Shopping Avenue Indonesia will build two malls in Jakarta in the next three years, with the others in the country’s second-biggest city, Surabaya, and in Medan on Sumatra island, president-director Suh Chang-suk said. “There is a lot more potential for malls in the world’s fourth-largest population,” Suh said. 
A growing middle class is increasingly attracting retail and consumer manufacturing companies to Southeast Asia’s largest economy, replacing natural resources as the key prospective industry for overseas money, Mahendra Siregar, Indonesia’s investment chief, said in April. Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, plans to open a store this year. 
“For the retail industry it’s great because the population of the young generation is big,” Suh said. 
By 2020, the number of middle-class and affluent Indonesians may almost double to 141 million from 74 million in 2012, according to a report last year by Boston Consulting Group. – Bloomberg 
Revenue Dept to propose 2nd phase of tax reform plan to junta 
The Revenue Department will propose to the National Council for Peace and Order the second phase of the tax reform plan, which focuses on adjustment of personal income deductions, reduction of tax rates for investment promotion and extension of special economic zone measures. 
The first phase consisted of urgent measures to keep the value added tax at 7 per cent for one more year, reduce the corporate income tax to 28 per cent and lower the maximum personal income tax from 37 per cent to 35 per cent. 
Sutthichai Sungkamanee, director-general of the department, said yesterday that tax for the five southernmost provinces’ special promotion zone would be proposed for an extension from its expiration on December 31. 
The tax restructuring plan requires discussions with other tax collection departments and the Finance Ministry, and the plan has to be finalised tomorrow. Input from area revenue units is also required for the plan, given its amendment in the Revenue Code. 
Tax deductions for investment should be especially for specific businesses, including research and innovation and those needed for further development in Thailand. 
The department also asked area revenue units to accelerate tax collections with transparency, equality and strict legal enforcement to achieve the target of Bt1.89 trillion this fiscal year. Next year’s target has been set at Bt1.9 trillion.
Three energy committees appointed 
The National Council for Peace and Order has appointed three energy committees – National Energy Policy Committee, Energy Policy Management Committee and Committee of Funds for Promoting Energy Conservation.
Voice TV, T News’ return ‘after OK’ 
The Broadcasting Committee yesterday agreed that Voice TV and T News could return to the air soon after official approval of the National Council for Peace and Order, as they have revised their programming in line with orders from the junta.
However, their licences would be revoked without warning if they fail to comply with the NCPO’s regulations and they would be banned from the business for two years, said Natee Sukonrat, chairman of the committee. 
If Voice TV’s terrestrial digital commercial TV licence is cancelled for breaching the NCPO’s law, it would still have to complete paying the upfront licence fee. It has already paid Bt221 million out of the total of Bt1.33 billion.
T News is a satellite TV operator. The two are the last of the broadcasters, mostly satellite TV operators, that were suspended after the military seized power following the coup on May 22. The brass reasoned it was vital that news and information were disseminated to the public accurately and without distortion, to avoid any misunderstanding that might affect the maintenance of peace and order.
Frasers could raise $358m
Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s Singapore real estate company Frasers Centrepoint could raise as much as US$358 million (Bt11.65 billion) by listing a hospitality industry trust business in Singapore, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said yesterday.
The deal size is slightly below the estimate of as much as $480 million for the initial public offering, that was made before Frasers Hospitality Trust (FHT) began pre-marketing last week. 
The trust comprises six serviced residences controlled by FCL and six hotels such as Singapore’s InterContinental Hotel, owned by Charoen’s TCC Group.
FCL indicated to investors the newly listed firm will have a market capitalisation of 1.02 billion-1.12 billion Singaporean dollars, one of the people said. The parent plans to sell 30-40 per cent of FHT to investors, raising up to S$448 million, both people said.
The people did not want to be identified because the details of the deal are not public.
The sale could be formally launched as early as next week, they said. A formal indicative range is yet to be disclosed, but one source said FHT could offer an indicative dividend yield of 6.5-7.5 per cent.
A spokesman for FCL declined to comment.
The listing would mark the first step in merging the property assets of Charoen’s empire, comprising Singapore-listed FCL and his Bangkok-based TCC Group, after the Thai tycoon won control of the drinks-and-property conglomerate Fraser and Neave in an $11 billion deal last year.
DBS, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered and United Overseas Bank are advisers on the deal, the sources said. – Reuters, Singapore