SG Tan's plans for Raimon Land
Property Here - Friday, June 14, 2013
By Andrew Batt:
A one-on-one interview over morning coffee at the Fullerton Hotel is certainly a nice way to get to know Johnson Tan, the new Singaporean Chief Executive Officer of one of Thailand’s high-end developers.
Interest in Thai properties has been on the rise, but the deal which saw the Lee family buy a 24.9 percent stake in Raimon Land ranks as the biggest Singapore investment in Thai property to date. The deal is also a serious vote of confidence in Thailand and its property industry.
Tan, who took up his new role in mid-May and is the sole Singaporean CEO of a Thai listed company, describes the take-over as being a “challenging” experience, and he should know. His background includes many years of experience of mergers and acquisitions, and was solely responsible for the Raimon Land deal.
For Lionel Lee and his family, this is their first listed company investment in Thailand although they are no strangers to either property or listed company investments. They are probably best known for offshore services group Ezra Holdings in Singapore, but their overseas investments extend to Malaysia and even as far as Norway.
Raimon Land is a well-known name in Thailand. The company is responsible for a number of high profile and high-end, freehold residential property developments including The River, 185 Rajadamri, Northpoint and Zire in Pattaya. After its launch in Bangkok last week it can add The Lofts Ekkamai to the list.
Tan is resisting the urge to significantly change the Raimon Land business model, although he understands the need to diversify and look beyond the company’s current markets.
“Raimon Land has a reputation for delivering high-end products, and that’s not going to change”, says Tan. “Commercial aspects of our developments, such as The Vue which is part of The River, will continue to play an important part of our projects. We certainly need to have residential alongside something else.”
The River, an aptly named development on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in central Bangkok, has sold more than 90 percent to date with a number of high-profile buyers including from Singapore. A significant number of buyers are also repeat buyers, says Tan – another vote of confidence in the company’s offerings.
An important part of The River development is The Vue, a commercial development for which Tan has high aspirations.
“I want The Vue to really make a statement,” he says. “I want people to come to Bangkok and say ‘I want to visit Siam Paragon, I want to eat at Greyhound, and I want to visit The Vue’.” With that goal in mind Tan is hiring a commercial director solely for The Vue.
With limited land supply in prime areas of the Thai capital, Tan and his team face an ever-increasing battle for competitively-priced land in good locations.
He says: “That’s one of our challenges but we are certainly not into chasing the BTS”, alluding to the rush by some Thai developers to buy land and develop mass-market condominiums close to existing and planned mass transportation networks.
Looking forward Tan is understandably very positive about the property market in Thailand. For Raimon Land under his leadership, the future looks promising.
He says: “I’m not ruling anything out for Raimon Land. We dominate the upper end of the market but how big is the upper end? We will look at regional expansion but only if the numbers make sense. We have to stay focused and remember what Raimon Land is all about.”
This article first appeared in Issue 35 of The PropertyGuru newspaper, Singapore's only property newspaper. You can download a copy of the latest digital edition here.
Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email email@example.com