Monday, March 19, 2018
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Future Park Rangsit to evolve into Future City

Posted by pakin On November - 30 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Rangsit Plaza Co, owned by the Wanglee family, will turn its 600-rai plot in Rangsit into a satellite town with an expected budget of 100 billion baht over the next 10 years.

The Future Park Rangsit shopping complex is currently located on the plot.

To be called Future City, the first phase is Future Park Rangsit, which already takes up 200 rai. The remaining 400 rai will be used to develop a hotel, residential condominiums, serviced apartments, office buildings, retail shops and other facilities.

Each new development zone will be handled by a different company under the parent Poonphol Group, said Rangsit Plaza chief executive Pimpaka Wanglee.

In 2016, the group will build a 200-room hotel in the same area of Future Park Rangsit. The hotel is in the process of an environmental impact assessment.

“We see opportunities for the hotel because Future Park customers are both local and foreign tourists,” Ms Pimpaka said. “The project is only seven kilometres from Don Mueang airport and can serve visitors to nearby destinations such as Ayutthaya.”

The new facility will augment Future Park Rangsit and fulfil customer needs.

Rangsit Plaza Co will set up a property fund to finance its future expansion. The property fund will be launched after the shopping mall’s new phase, Zpell, is open for two or three years.

Last Friday marked the official opening of Zpell@Future Park Rangsit under the “never regular” concept, bringing total space at Future Park Rangsit to 600,000 square metres and making it the country’s biggest retail complex.

The company spent 4 billion baht in developing Zpell to serve new markets and urban customers with high purchasing power.

At Zpell, 95% of retail space is booked. It houses 200 leading fashion shops and 40 restaurants, strengthening the status of Future Park Rangsit as the shopping centre of northern Bangkok. The entire Future Park Rangsit complex now has 1,200 retail shops.

Some 80% of shops and services at Zpell will be open in December before full operations start in January. Zpell is expected to boost the number of visitors to Future Park Rangsit to 200,000 a day from 150,000 now.

The company’s sales are expected to rise to 2.6 billion baht in 2016, up from 2 billion baht forecast this year.

In addition to Bangkok, Poonphol Group hopes to branch out to northeastern provinces linked to Laos and Cambodia to make the most of the coming Asean Economic Community.

The group is the country’s biggest modified starch maker. Its manufacturing base is in Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima.

The first of its mega retail projects upcountry will emerge within five years and require an investment of 3 billion baht for 100,000 sq m of space.

Jatuporn Prompan and Nattawut Saikuar, leading members of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, were arrested by soldiers at Mahachai market in Muang district of Samut Sakhon province on Monday morning, according to media reports.

The two UDD leaders were reportedly talking to reporters at Mahachai market before going to Rajabhakti Park in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, when they were apprehended and taken away by the military.

It was not known where they were being taken.

Earlier today, Mr Nattawut posted on his Facebook page that a Toyota Camry car was seen in front of his house at Sanam Binnam in Nonthaburi province throughout the night, accompanied by two motorcycles, possibly from a rapid deployment unit.

The men inside the vehicle were plain-clothes personnel, he wrote.

Mr Nattawut continued: “No matter what, I will definitely go to Rajabhakti.”

He arrived at Mahachai shortly after 10am.  There, he and Mr Jatuporn held a press conference, saying they planned to visit Rajabhakti Park to pay homage to the statues of the seven past kings.

The visit was neither politically motivated nor intended to apply pressure on the government, they said.

Beauty in shades of blue

Posted by pakin On November - 19 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

Kamuimisaki cape at the edge of Hokkaido’s Shakotan Peninsula offers a wonderful view of the sea

REACHING THE tip of Kamuimisaki cape on the north-western edge of the Shakotan Peninsula in Hokkaido, can only be achieved on foot and involves walking carefully along a narrow path that looks and feels like a mountain ridge, rising as high as 80 metres above sea level. Buffeted by the wind, it takes me a full 20 minutes to reach the cape, which looks out over the crystal-clear Sea of Japan, a beautiful shade of azure that has become known as “Shakotan blue”.

From this viewpoint, the horizon appears slightly curved at both ends testifying to what we already know – that the Earth is round. And even through it took about an hour from the centre of Shakotan by car, the spectacle is well worth the trip.

The sea offers not only this impressive view but also a variety of seafood. The town is famous for nama uni don (raw sea urchin roe atop a bowl of rice). I was there, however, just after the fishing season, which is limited to June through August.

Even so, a Japanese restaurant I visited for lunch still offered steamed sea urchin roe, and I enjoyed the kaisendon sashimi bowl decorated lavishly with northern shrimp and seasonal salmon roe. The sea urchin roe melted in my mouth, and I could taste its subtle sweetness.

Forests account for 80 per cent of the town. The rains that fall on the highlands are soaked up in the mountain areas, and the nutrient-laden rivers flow into the sea. This process is believed to help the growth of seafood and seaweed.

In 2010, Japan Tobacco Inc began a 10-year project called JT Forest Shakotan to help the conservation of these mountains. JT subsidises the costs of forest management within the reach of three rivers running through the town, including the Bikunigawa.

“Ill-maintained forests are recovering,” Hideki Matsui, the 68-year-old mayor of Shakotan tells me.

“I want to scientifically prove that mountains foster the ocean.”

Experts on forests, rivers and seas have already started investigations in their various fields.

“I hope they will collect enough data soon so that we can properly explain to children, who will be responsible for the next generation,” Matsui continues.

Forests not only nurture the abundant sea, but also are helping the reconstruction of areas hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. About 2,000 trees including Japanese larches were cut down, sent to disaster-hit areas such as Miyagi Prefecture and used as foundations for temporary housing units in May 2011. The workings of nature help human beings, showing the importance of protecting nature.

The next day, I visited a traditional-style fishermen’s lodge in the centre of the town that was originally built for those involved in the herring fishing industry, once the pride of the town. The streets are littered with the houses, now abandoned, that once accommodated fishing boat owners, their families and their crews.

In 2008, residents in the town began activities to preserve these houses as sightseeing spots. Local volunteers including Noriichi Bessho, 67, renovated the lodge and named it Yamashime Banya.

A public interest corporation subsidised the costs of renovation such as for replacing the flooring.

The facility was opened to the public until late September, hosting events such as shamisen lute performances. It is currently closed in preparation for further restoration work, but should reopen around May next year.

“I feel regret if tourists just eat sea urchin roe and leave town. I want them to know the history of Shakotan,” Bessho says.

Krungthai Bank nears B100bn deal

Posted by pakin On November - 19 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The Finance Ministry plans to acquire the entire 55% stake in Krungthai Bank (KTB) held by the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) in a deal worth 100 billion baht.

The acquisition would pave the way for transferring the 12 corporatised state enterprises as planned to a holding company due to be set up soon.

The State Enterprises Policy Commission or superboard has backed the plan, and the deal will be concluded after the holding firm is established, said Banyong Pongpanich, a superboard member and the chairman of Phatra Securities Plc.

“The share transfer will not be funded by money from taxes — it will not even use any money,” he said without elaborating.

The move is a possible way for the Finance Ministry to transfer the debt.

The FIDF issues bonds to finance debt incurred from bailing out troubled financial institutions during the 1997 financial crisis.

Mr Banyong said a draft bill on the formation of the holding company would seek cabinet approval next month, and the company was expected to take shape in mid-2016.

The draft bill is part of a bid by the superboard to prevent political interference, ensure management transparency and enhance efficiency of state enterprises.

The holding firm, a wholly owned unit of the Finance Ministry, will own and supervise the 12 state enterprises, while the State Enterprise Policy Office will supervise the remaining 45 state enterprises.

Among the 12 targeted state enterprises, only KTB’s shares are not owned by the ministry. Other corporatised state enterprises include PTT, TOT, CAT Telecom, MCOT, Thai Airways International (THAI), Airports of Thailand and the State Railway of Thailand.

The 12 state enterprises have combined assets of 6 trillion baht.

“This planned purchase will reduce the FIDF’s debt by about 100 billion baht,” Mr Banyong said.

In August, the FIDF saw its debt drop to 998 billion baht from more than 1 trillion. It estimated it would pay off the debt in less than 15 years, earlier than the 24 years previously scheduled.

The central bank’s net profits, the FIDF’s assets, dividend payments from banks in which the FIDF holds stakes and commercial banks’ contribution of 0.46% of the deposit base are being used to pay off the debt.

Mr Banyong said it would take another year for national carrier THAI to recover.

THAI posted a nine-month net loss of 18.1 billion baht compared with a loss of 9.2 billion in the same period last year, increasing the likelihood that the airline’s full-year loss could equal or exceed its all-time high of 21.3 billion in 2008.

KTB shares closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 17.20 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 323 million baht.

THAI shares closed at 9.85 baht, down 10 satang, in trade worth 18.1 million baht.