Thilawa SEZ Shares Sold Out Following Strong Demand

By Kyaw Hsu Mon 28 April 2014

RANGOON — Demand for shares in Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited has been higher than expected and the firm has reached its goal of raising US $21 million in capital after shares went on sale in March, a government official said.

Thilawa SEZ Management Committee Chairman Sett Aung told reporters during a press conference on Friday that the company had received requests to buy shares worth about $40 million—almost twice the amount of capital it had sought to fund initial development of the Thilawa SEZ.

“We just aimed to sell out 21 billion kyat [$21 million] in shares, now demand has been greater than 40 billion kyat, about 19 billion kyat more demand than [there are] shares. That’s why we can’t sell shares in accordance with demand right now,” he said.

The shares are being sold at $10 and each buyer can acquire no more than 500 shares. Sett Aung, who is also deputy governor of the Central Bank of Myanmar, said about 9 percent of all interested buyers had, nonetheless, attempted to buy more than 500 shares.

Shares had been available for sale at the Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings’ office and at Ayeyarwady Bank Ltd, Myanmar Apex Bank Ltd, Co-Operative Bank Ltd, Yoma Bank Ltd and Kanbawza Bank Ltd.

Sett Aung said in February that funds raised by share sales would be used to finance construction of part of the first 400-hectare phase of the SEZ project, which would cost about $180 million to complete.

Thilawa SEZ is being planned by the Burmese and Japanese governments, together with a consortium of Japanese firms and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). The industrial complex, located about 20 km south of Rangoon, will include a deep sea port, Japanese factories, and large housing projects.

The Burmese side owns 51 percent of the project and is responsible for developing a 2,400-hectare core zone. The Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited was formed by nine Burmese companies and owns 41 percent of the project, while the Burmese government owns the remaining 10 percent.

Win Aung, who chairs the UMFCCI and Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Limited, said last month that he expected sales of plots in the first phase of the industrial zone to begin in May, adding that the first factories might open within a year after plots are procured. Construction work on the ground began in Thilawa in December last year.

The Thilawa project is the most advanced of several huge, foreign investment-driven SEZ projects around the country, which are part of Naypyidaw’s strategy for attracting investment in Burma and increase industrial productivity in the impoverished nation.

It remains unclear how much money the owners of Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Public Company will invest in the development of Thilawa, or how much has been spent on the initial ground work.

Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public’s is owned by Golden Land East Asia Development Ltd, Myanmar Sugar Development Company Ltd, Myanmar Edible Oil Industrial Public Corporation, First Myanmar Investment Company Ltd, Myanmar Agricultural & General Development Public Ltd, National Development Company Group Ltd, New City Development Public Company Ltd, Myanmar Technologies and Investment Corporation Ltd, and Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation Ltd.