August 6, 2021

Thailand’s richest man builds Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper

At a height of 318 meters, the Magnolias Waterfront Residences at IconSiam is the tallest building in Thailand. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The richest man in Thailand wants to set a new record.

Billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, through his recently listed real estate unit Asset World Corp, aims to build the tallest skyscraper in the country.

Details are scarce – no official height has been set and completion is not expected until 2025 – but the tower, at the center of another $ 948 million project on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok , is emblematic of Asset World’s aggressive growth strategy.

“He embodies what our company aims to do – set new trends and raise the benchmark,” said Wallapa Traisorat, CEO of Asset World and daughter of Charoen. The skyscraper will be a “new landmark” and attract more visitors to Thailand, she said.

However, its planned construction comes at a difficult time for the South Asian nation’s real estate and tourism markets. Bangkok is facing an apartment glut, with 100,000 empty units and more to come. And Chinese investors, who have supported the real estate industry for years, are staying on the sidelines amid the travel restrictions and economic devastation caused by the coronavirus.

Foreigners are expected to account for only 10% of apartment purchases in 2020, up from a fifth two years ago, estimates the real estate advisory agency.

Tourism in Thailand, meanwhile, which accounts for around 20% of gross domestic product, is also suffering a blow from the epidemic. Revenue fell 3.6% in January from a year earlier to 188.8 billion baht, penalized by a 10% drop in spending by Chinese visitors, data released earlier this week revealed.

Mrs Wallapa is not disturbed, the maintenance of the impact will be short term. Bangkok was named the most visited city in the world in 2018 for a fourth consecutive year, ahead of Paris, London, Dubai and Singapore, according to a 2019 Mastercard Inc. ranking.

“There will be growth this year,” she said, declining to specify goals for the company. “The tourism industry has always managed to bounce back.”

Asset World is partnering with Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the company behind the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The skyscraper will surpass Thailand’s current record, the Magnolias Waterfront Residences at IconSiam, which rises to 318 meters and was completed in 2018.

Built adjacent to the company’s flagship waterway mall, Asian, the tower will house hotels, shops and offices. Its energy-efficient design means it is possible to harness wind power, Wallapa said.

Asset World is separately in talks with three hotel chains for possible partnerships and is already working with brands such as Marriott and Hilton, she said.

The group also has several other ambitious plans in the pipeline. It aims to build Thailand’s largest convention hotel near the beach in Pattaya on Thailand’s east coast and is expected to become the country’s largest hotel owner by 2025 with more than 4,000 rooms in the works. The group added $ 3 billion to Mr. Charoen’s fortune when it was listed in Bangkok in October.

The development of the still-unknown skyscraper comes at a time when Bangkok’s riverside is undergoing a renaissance. Several luxury hotels have upped the ante, with the Four Seasons opening along the waterway and the venerable Mandarin Oriental nearing completion of its renovation.

Ms. Wallapa also has no plans to quit.

“We have the leverage capacity to add more projects,” she said. “We focus on the scale. We will continue to develop. ”