The Irrawaddy Business Roundup (June 10)

By The Irrawaddy 10 June 2017

Investment Forum Seeks to Attract Foreign Interest

Burma made a bid to boost foreign investment interest in the country at a two-day conference in Naypyidaw this week.

The forum hosted by the Myanmar Investors Development Association (MIDA) was attended by more than 100 economic organizations, 90 foreign enterprises and almost 200 Burmese business people.

Vice President U Myint Swe, Planning and Finance Minister U Kyaw Win and Vice Commerce minister U Aung Htoo outlined Burma’s economic and trade policy and the importance of foreign investment to drive growth in the country.

U Kyaw Win predicted that Burma’s economy was “ready for take-off” while some business persons expressed more caution, the Irrawaddy reported.

U Aung Naing Oo, Director General of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration gave an update on the investment environment following the implementation of the new Myanmar Investment Law and Rules and discussed the changing nature of Burma’s economy.

Chinese, Thai and Indian potential investors were strongly represented at the event, the Irrawaddy said in another report.

The World Bank expected economic growth in Burma to decrease from 7.3 percent in 2015-16 to 6.5 percent in 2016-17. It projects medium-term growth to average at 7.1 percent per year.

Singapore Strengthens Economic Ties with Burma

The Myanmar Investment Commission has signed a memorandum of understanding with the official trade agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

The deal will enhance opportunities for Singapore firms to explore collaboration in business ventures in sectors such as housing, transport, manufacturing, energy and others.

The signing was witnessed by Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang and Burma’s Minister for Planning and Finance U Kyaw Win, on the sidelines of the 6th Singapore-Myanmar Joint Ministerial Working Committee meeting.

“Myanmar has shown steady growth since its political and economic reforms started in 2011,” said IE Singapore’s assistant chief executive Tan Soon Kim.

“While teething challenges are present, as with any emerging economy, we note the government’s efforts to create a conducive business environment for foreign investors,” he said.

IE Singapore has facilitated a number of investments in Burma including the recent negotiation of the BreadTalk franchise with conglomerate Shwe Taung at Junction City Mall in Rangoon.

The trade agency has also been working with infrastructure consultancy firm Surbana Jurong to expand in Burma. The firm is already involved in 40 projects across Burma in Rangoon, Bago, Mandalay, Arakan State and the Irrawaddy region, according to the Straits Times.

Thailand Opens Ex-Im Bank Branch in Rangoon

Thailand’s Export Import Bank opened its first overseas representative office in Rangoon this week.

The bank will support Thai investors who are operating mainly infrastructure projects in Burma in the energy, electricity, industrial estate, logistics, hotels, construction and sugar sectors among others, its chief representative in Burma Woramin Thavarabha told The Nation.

The bank has already provided loans of up to 10 billion baht to Thai investors in Burma, Woramin said.

Some projects among an additional 18 significant Thai investment deals in Burma worth more than 700 billion baht have also applied for loans to the bank, he said.

The bank will also provide loans to Burmese companies that import raw materials from Thailand or that employ Thai staff. In addition, it will provide advisory services to Thai companies interested in operating in Burma, he said.

The Ex-Im bank was also due to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank to share experiences and information on investment between the countries, Woramin added.

Property Portal Raises funds

The property portal has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from French investor Gilles Blanchard, the co-founder of French property site, start-up website e27 reported.

ShweProperty was founded in 2011 and is led by CEO Justin Sway. It has around 100,000 property listings and connects buyers, sellers and renters.

Justin Sway is also co-founder of Burma-based jobs portal JobNet.

“Gilles has a fantastic track record and deep understanding of the property portal business, particularly in emerging markets. This, combined with our strong local management team, experienced shareholder base, and years of business experience, will help us to achieve our vision to lead and shape Myanmar’s real estate industry,” Sway said.

Blanchard is joining the Burma operation as an advisor as well as a shareholder. He departed from Selagor in 2011 through a S$846 million sale to German media conglomerate Axel Springer.

He is chairman of Pakistan-based property portal and Dubai-based property site, and is involved with the site in Bangladesh.

Malaysian Firm Wins Rangoon Deal

Malaysia firm Bintai Kenden Corp has won a $17.5 million deal to undertake air-conditioning and fire protection installation work in two developments in Rangoon.

The group’s subsidiary Bintai Kindenko Myanmar was awarded the contract by Soilbuild Myanmar, the firm said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia at the end of May.

The contract is for work on the Somerset Serviced Apartment and 68 Residence property developments in Bahan Township.

The group expects the work to be completed by July 2018, according to a report in the EdgeMarkets.