Major Companies Look to Restructure and Invest Despite Poor GDP Numbers
The Bank of Thailand recently reduced its GDP growth forecast for 2015 by 0.1 percent to 3.7 percent on the back of declining export numbers. One of the main reasons the reduction was not even greater was due to the surge in tourism, with numbers up by 23.9 percent in the first four months of the year. Even so, the independent Kasikorn Research Centre reduced its growth forecast from an original four percent to just 2.8 percent in April. 
For many major Thai companies the overall economic downturn has forced them to reconsider how they structure their businesses and to make strategic changes which will hopefully put them in a better trading position as and when general economic conditions improve. Two of Thailand’s biggest companies, TCC Land and Singha Corporation, both recently unveiled some major changes as well as revealing their longer-term faith in the fundamentals of the Thai economy into the future with some important forward plans.
In early June the property arm of beverage tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, TCC Land, formed two separate subsidiaries so the company could turn its focus on to its retail and leisure businesses. The key aim of the restructuring is to increase the overall management efficiency of the group.
TCC Land has effectively created two new businesses: TCC Land Asset World Leisure for its hospitality business, and TCC Land Asset World Estate Co. for its retail and office building businesses.
At present, among the key assets of the TCC Land Estate World Co. are six retail outlets, namely Asiatique, Gateway, Center Point @Siam, OP Place, Pantip and Boxspace. TCC Land plans to invest between five and 20 billion baht over the next five years on its flagship outlets and aims to increase total retail space from its current 150,000 square metres to 200,000 square metres by the end of 2019. By that year the company is aiming to take its revenues from 900 million baht at present to three billion baht. 
TCC Land will spend around 650 million baht on renovations of Gateway Ekamai, re-branding Digital Gateway Siam as Center Point of Siam Square and launching a new nightlife area called Boxspace at Ratchayotin.
Given the fast pace of change in world of software and hardware TCC has decided to change three divisions within it Pantip branch to a new digital centre. TCC will invest around 460 million baht next year in revamping Pantip.
TCC will also spend 1.2 billion baht in what it calls its second phase of Asiatique as well as outlaying between one and four billion baht on setting up a new hotel Asiatique Prime Pattaya.
The company is also contemplating establishing its Asiatique brand of shopping and lifestyle in two other popular tourist destinations, namely Hua Hin and Chiang Mai. As long as forecasts remain sufficiently positive, these two projects will be slated for starts in either 2017 or 2018.
The second major Thai company to make an important announcement this month was Singha Estate, the property developer which is overseen and controlled by the Singha Corporation.
Singha Estate management said it plans to invest more than 100 billion baht between this year and 2019. On the back of this wide-ranging expansion Singha Estate said it hopes to drive its revenue to 20 billion baht by the end of 2019. 
The company plans to look into a variety of property types from housing estates to condominiums, hotels, offices, industrial estates, warehouses, and shopping malls.
The company plans to keep about half of these properties as rentals while the remainder will be sold after development.
Singha Estate intends to use its parent company Singha Corporation’s nationwide network of Singha beer agents as potential joint venture partners. Many agents have land holdings and they may wish to add value to their properties by linking up under the strength of the Singha umbrella.
Two commercial banks recently gave Singha Estate approval for loans totaling 10 billion baht for new construction projects as well as acquisitions. There are currently two deals which Singha Estate management is negotiating, one being the acquisition of a three billion baht hotel, while the other is to purchase an unlisted property development company.
Management says its has plans to invest in five projects over the next twelve months or so. The first of these projects is called Singha Complex, a mixed-use
building on Asok-Petchburi Road in Bangkok, which will require investment of around 10 billion baht. The building will office and retail rental space, a hotel and a concert hall. Construction is expected to start later this year and be completed by 2017.
The second planned project will cost about three billion baht and will be a high-end condominium on Asok Road, next to Srinakharinwirot University. Rising 39 floors it will have around 200 to 300 units and these will have a starting price of not less than 200,000 baht per square metre.
Project number three is a planned luxury housing estate, to be constructed at a cost of around three billion baht. It will be on 30 rai of land on Ekamai-Ramindra Road but will consist of just 20 houses each priced at more than 100 million baht apiece.
The last two projects for Singha Estate are to take control of an already-existing housing project and a hotel. As the CEO of Singha Estate is quoted as saying, “Our direction is to develop property in the mid-to-high segment; we will also focus on [the] premium position in each segment.” 
Singha Estate says the company is planning on turning its property assets into real estate investment trusts (REIT) to help liquidity in the future.
The company booked a loss of 70 million baht for the first nine months of this fiscal year, but management believe it will be profitable in 2016. It plans to see revenue of two billion baht this year and aims for a 50 percent growth each year as it aims for that holy grail of 20 billion baht in annual revenue. That would make it responsible for about 20 percent of Singha Corporation’s total revenue.
 Spectrum, 12 April 2015, p. 6