Yoma Plans Offices to Hotels in Myanmar Expansion, CEO Says

Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd., which is building a 9,000-unit housing project in Myanmar, said it plans to expand by developing hotels and office buildings in Yangon. The stock surged to the highest in almost 10 years.

The company will also add more large-scale residential projects, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Rickards said today. The stock climbed 2.1 percent to 98 Singapore cents at the close in Singapore, the highest since December 2003.

“Expect us to go into commercial buildings, office buildings, hotels, all of which are desperately needed in Yangon,” Rickards said in a Bloomberg Television interview with Haslinda Amin. Property remains the “only investible asset” in Myanmar without a stock market and will draw more investors, he said.

Yoma is expanding its footprint in the country as President Thein Sein allows more political freedom and loosens economic controls since coming to power two years ago. Nations including the U.S. have responded by easing sanctions and companies such as Ford Motor Co., Marriott International Inc. and Unilever NV have entered the country.

“There is a severe lack of quality offices in Yangon,” said Tan Ai Teng, an analyst at DBS Vickers Research Singapore. “Given that so many multinational corporations are rushing into Myanmar, there is a big demand for this and it’s not matched by adequate supply. No matter how they build, it is still short for the next one to two years.

More Spending

The nation, among Asia’s poorest, needs to spend $320 billion by 2030 to achieve economic growth of 8 percent a year, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute released last week.

The gain today in Yoma shares pushed the increase this year to 38 percent, compared with the 0.6 percent advance in the Singapore benchmark Straits Times Index. Yoma’s primary stock listing is in Singapore and company has offices in the city-state and in Yangon.

In Myanmar, Yoma is developing the 135-acre Star City about six miles southeast of downtown Yangon, which comprises more than 9,000 units of apartments and a retail area targeted at the middle-class population in Myanmar, the company said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange last year.

Yoma is also part of a group that’s bidding for one of the country’s two telecommunications licenses. The group, led by Digicel Group Ltd., billionaire George Soros and Yoma, plans to invest $9 billion in Myanmar’s new mobile-phone network if it’s granted a license.

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