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