* Sees e-commerce, foreign investment as growth drivers - CEO
* Plans $208 mln investment in logistics in 2018
* Explores Myanmar expansion
By Chayut Setboonsarng and Wirat Buranakanokthanasan
BANGKOK, May 3 (Reuters) - WHA Corp, Thailand’s top industrial estate and warehouse developer, targets a 20 percent revenue growth this year on higher government spending on infrastructure, foreign investment and a growing e-commerce market, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
The company is also set to benefit from tax incentives that its customers receive on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project in Thailand’s industrial east, Chief Executive Jareeporn Jarukornsakul told Reuters in an interview.
The $45 billion project near the Gulf of Thailand, aimed at attracting high-tech investment, is a centrepiece of the Thai junta’s policy to boost growth and includes building high-speed trains and airports.
WHA targets land sales of 1,400 rai (224 hectares) this year and expects more next year as investment in the EEC starts. Most of its industrial estates are located in EEC provinces where investors qualify for incentives.
WHA expects revenue growth to be higher in 2019, she said.
The company, which also operates an industrial estate in Vietnam, is studying expansion in Myanmar, the CEO said, as it was an “interesting” market due to its large population.
Another growth driver is the burgeoning e-commerce market. “E-commerce is dependent on logistics,” Jareeporn said, adding that WHA plans to invest 6.6 billion baht ($208.3 million) this year in logistics and new technologies to increase efficiency and distribution for customers.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba announced a $320 million investment in the EEC last month. Alibaba’s Lazada is the most popular e-commerce platform in Thailand followed by Tencent-backed Sea Group’s Shopee.
WHA also plans an “e-commerce park” in the EEC to support logistic and distribution needs of these new businesses, CEO Jareeporn said.
In January, WHA signed a warehouse and logistics agreement with JD Central, a $500 million joint venture between China’s second largest e-commerce firm, JD.com Inc, and Thailand’s top retailer Central Group .
Central Group and WHA are venture partners in other commercial warehouses projects. This does not limit their business opportunities with e-commerce players, Jareeporn said, but declined to name any.
WHA’s energy arm, WHA Utilities and Power Pcl (WHAUP) , is considering the use of blockchain technology to trade electricity within its industrial estates, Jareeporn said.
WHAUP plans to set up water management in Myanmar and is considering investment in Japanese solar farms, she said. ($1 = 31.6900 baht) (Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)