Incheon Named Preferred Bidder on Myanmar’s New Global Air Hub

Incheon International Airport Corp. leads a group picked as the preferred bidder on Myanmar’s new $1.1 billion air hub, the latest in a series of global deals as the Southeast Asian nation opens itself after decades of isolation.

Incheon is in talks with Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation on details, aiming to sign a contract this year, open the facility in 2018 and operate it for 50 years, South Korea’s Transport Ministry said today in a statement. Hanthawaddy International Airport will be capable of handling about 12 million passengers per year, the ministry said.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has expanded political freedom and loosened economic controls since coming to power two years ago, prompting nations including the U.S. to ease sanctions. That’s opened the door to a flood of foreign investment as companies worldwide seek to profit from Myanmar’s resources and cheap labor.

With both tourists and business travelers flocking to Yangon, the country’s commercial capital, hotels are close to full occupancy, compared with an estimated 30 percent two years ago, according to Scipio Services Co., a real estate advisory company in the city. Rents in Yangon’s office buildings now surpass $100 a square foot, higher than the $75 average for downtown Manhattan, according to broker CBRE Group.

The contract for Hanthawaddy international Airport has been awarded to a group of Korean companies, Ye Htut, a spokesman for Thein Sein, said today in Myanmar. Concerned ministries will provide detailed announcements, he said.

Global Competition

Incheon Airport’s consortium, which includes South Korean industrial powers Halla Engineering & Construction Corp., Kumho Industrial Co., Lotte Engineering & Construction Co. and POSCO ICT Co., competed for the airport deal against three rival groups led by Singapore’s Yongnam Holdings Ltd., Japan’s Taisei Corp. and France’s Vinci SA, according to the South Korean ministry.

South Korea plans to set up an industrial complex in Myanmar to help companies enter the market, and will provide support for building schools and agricultural goods processing factories, the Finance Ministry said in an e-mailed statement June 19.

Separately, a group including Mitsubishi Corp. and Japan Airlines Co. won priority negotiation rights to manage the international airport in the city of Mandalay, Kyodo news reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Nikkei newspaper reported last week that Japan’s Oji Holdings Corp. plans to build a cardboard plant in Myanmar next year, while steelmaker JFE Holdings Inc. will set up a venture with the nation’s government to build bridges and other infrastructure.

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