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Chinese seek Bt10bn Phuket investment



PHUKET: Representatives of Chinese investment conglomerate Shang Mao Group met the Phuket Governor last week to express interest in investing some 10 billion baht in Thailand, probably in Phuket or Chiang Mai.

Six representatives of the Nanjing-based firm got a warm welcome from Phuket Governor Tri Augkaradacha at Provincial Hall on Friday afternoon.

Shang Mao Group President Wang Guiyuan told Gov Tri the same thing he told Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart at a meeting in Bangkok two days before: that the company has an initial investment budget of 10 billion baht for Thailand.

I am very interested to invest in Thailand, because we believe the democratic government will open the door for us. We have two options in mind, Phuket and Chiang Mai, but have not yet decided what industry to invest in. We are quite interested in the property and hotel sectors however,” Mr Wang said.

Gov Tri said Phuket generates about 100 billion baht a year from its tourism industry, but still had room for growth.

Many foreign investors have come to meet the Phuket Governor in recent years to discuss possible investment in projects such as light rail transport, the Patong Tunnel, and development in the property sector and tourism industry,” he told the delegation.

Gov Tri said he was pleased to welcome any groups willing to fund Phuket’s development as a sustainable tourism destination. He would assist any such firms with any bureaucratic hurdles they might face, he added.

I welcome investors who don’t take advantage of Phuket’s natural resources and culture. They have to help keep the environment clean. I want to find balance between development and conservation,” he said.

Phuket’s single greatest infrastructure need was better public transport between Phuket Town and Phuket International Airport (PIA). This is needed to keep pace with airport expansion plans designed to boost passenger capacity there to 12.5 million by 2013.

Airport officials earlier said the annual number of passengers transiting though PIA surpassed the six million barrier for the first time in September this year. The figure is expected to reach 7.5 million by year’s end.

A light rail project along Thepkrasattri Road, the island’s main north-south artery, appears to be the best solution, he said.

At the end of the meeting President Wang presented the governor with a gift bottle of moutai, a refined Chinese liquor distilled from fermented sorghum.

Shang Mao Group is a powerful investment firm operating banks, hotels and property businesses in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province.

— Krungthep Thurakij


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