Thailand

Could Indonesia overtake Thailand as an auto manufacturer?

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Will Indonesia overtake Thailand as the automotive manufacturing center of Southeast Asia? Thanks to increased investment from overseas carmakers, government incentives and a growing domestic demand for vehicles, many think so.

Thailand has traditionally been the country of choice for international manufacturers. Despite its own large middle-class customer base and strong production figures (1.64 million vehicles in 2010) it faces new pressure from rising costs and a new government-set minimum $10 daily wage for workers. Companies produced a total 650,000 vehicles in Indonesia and sold 764,000, but forecasts predict both numbers could top a million by 2013.

The Jakarta Globe reports:

Indonesia is already expecting more than $1 billion in investment in the automotive sector starting this year. Nissan recently announced a $250 million expansion plan; Suzuki has announced an $800 million expansion; Chrysler a $100 million expansion; Daihatsu just carried out a $246 million expansion; and BMW a $12 million expansion. India’s Tata also expressed interest in building a production base in Indonesia.

 

Peugeot and General Motors have also announced plans to assemble vehicles in Indonesia. The government also intends to provide tax breaks for investments over Rp1 trillion (US$117 million), though no formal arrangement has been made yet.

Indonesia’s auto manufacturing base is in Bekasi and Karawang, near Jakarta and the government-set minimum wage of $8 may see Thailand-based companies chase lower costs. As always, Indonesia’s infrastructure inadequacies will be an issue and the country would need to address them before it could become a serious global export leader, an analyst said.

source & article: The Jakarta Globe

 

Infrastructure, construction boom in Southeast Asia: Reuters

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News of a boom in Southeast Asian infrastructure spending is creating excitement, according to this piece in Reuters. New government initiatives to attract investment and stimulate economic growth, along with added interest from Chinese investors, will see about US$20 billion worth of new construction projects due to begin across the region this year.

The article is most confident about projects in Thailand and Malaysia, which is about to start its $11.5 billion, three-line Klang Valley MRT railway network around Kuala Lumpur. It says the two countries are “believed to be in the early stages of a new infrastructure investment cycle,” with construction companies posting record orders.

Thailand wants to spend $62 billion in the next two decades to expand its electric rail network to 391km and start building a 23km new line on its metro system, both moves intended to increase traffic on its relatively under-utilized public transit system.

Singapore, with more modest construction projections, is also planning to expand its rail network to 280km from 138km by 2020.

Risks to investors are potential land acquisition issues in Malaysia, Thailand’s politics, a land reform bill in Indonesia and funding problems in the Philippines. Malaysia’s land laws were relatively clear compared to others, but projects with such ambitious land acquisition plans were susceptible to delays.

Analysts in the article were most optimistic about Malaysia’s IJM Corp Bhd and Gamuda Bhd, and Thailand’s Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction Pcl.

source & article: Reuters

Maybank’s next move is Thailand: analysts

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Maybank won’t stop with its intended acquisition of broker Kim Eng, according to analysts, and will likely continue its march into Southeast Asia by buying a Thai bank sometime soon.

Analysts from HwangDBS Vickers Research and RHB Research said a commercial bank in Thailand would be the next “obvious move” for Maybank since it has no current presence there, but the company will need to spend some time looking for potential targets. Although Maybank’s management have denied any further M&A plans in the next 12 months, it has commercial operations in all surrounding countries and Thailand’s huge market represents a glaring gap in its plans to spread throughout Southeast Asia.

Kim Eng is Thailand’s number one broker, with 41 branches. Maybank’s ability to acquire 100% of the company as planned is still uncertain, but it would be a big step towards establishing itself as an investment bank and equities trader in the region. Reactions to the news have been positive so far, with Kim Eng’s shares hitting a record high of S$3.04, just below Maybank’s offer of S$3.10.

source & article: Business Times

Malaysia & Thailand compared

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With Malaysia’s Prime Minister due to announce new liberalization measures to boost investment at next week’s “Invest Malaysia” conference, The Malaysian Insider gives a brief comparison of investment rules between Malaysia and Thailand. Main areas are currency trade regulations, corporate/capital gains tax rates, and shareholding rules.

source & article: The Malaysian Insider

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