* Expects land sales of 1,400 rai this year
* Says govt’s Eastern Economic Corridor development plan a boost
* Most of Hemaraj’s industrial parks in eastern Thailand
* Plans to invest about 3 bln baht on estate development this year
By Satawasin Staporncharnchai
BANGKOK, March 1 (Reuters) - Thailand’s largest industrial estate developer, Hemaraj Land and Development Pcl, expects to boost its land sales by nearly 70 percent this year as government measures to promote investment in the country’s eastern seaboard brings in more buyers.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, which has seen its growth lag that of its peers since the army took power in 2014 due to weak exports and domestic demand, has said it hopes to attract private investment of about $34 billion for its “Eastern Economic Corridor” development project (EEC).
The government is in fact also betting on the EEC plan for 2016-2020 to help the economy grow at an annual 5 percent, after last year’s 3.2 percent rate.
The EEC is “positive for investment”, said David Nardone, an executive director at Hemaraj. “It’s a good thing that they are looking to enhance infrastructure.”
Hemaraj - acquired last year by top Thai warehouse developer WHA Corp Pcl - aims to hike land sales to 1,400 rai (554 acres) from 830 rai worth 2.43 billion baht ($69.5 million) a year ago, Nardone told Reuters on Wednesday.
The estate developer operates nine industrial parks with a combined area of 46,434 rai - eight of them in eastern Thailand. It commands the biggest domestic market share of 40-50 percent.
The company will spend about 3 billion baht this year on estate development, Nardone said.
The firm still has about 10,000 rai of land to develop over the next six years and plans to buy more, he added.
Hemaraj, which secured a deal last year to build a $1 billion industrial zone in Vietnam, is looking to see if there are more investment opportunities in the region.
“Cambodia is a small market with land prices quite high,” Nardone said. “Myanmar is possible, but the scale of investment there remains small, which does not match us yet.” ($1 = 34.98 baht) (Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Himani Sarkar)