RANGOON — Shares in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone near Rangoon are on sale as of this month, with Myanmar Thilawa SEZ Holdings Public Ltd hoping to put the capital raised toward the first phase of the project.
The Burmese and Japanese governments, together with a consortium of Japanese firms and the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers and Commerce Industry (UMFCCI), are spearheading plans for the sprawling industrial complex-to-be, located about 20 kms south of Rangoon. Win Aung, the owner of Dagon Group and chairman of the UMFCCI, also serves as chairman of the SEZ’s holding company, and spoke to The Irrawaddy about the industrial venture last week.
Question: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kushida visited the SEZ earlier this month. Do you think the minister’s visit will spur Japanese investment in the project?
Answer: Yes, I believe many Japanese will come here. This is an international standard special economic zone, and if we see it from the developer’s point of view, this development is a very transparent project. I believe all investors here have confidence that the project will be a success. As we say about the opportunity, what we have prepared for investors is industrial estate prices in the Thialawa SEZ that will be reasonable—competitive prices, rather than as is the case with other local industrial zones’ prices. So I do expect that real investors will come and invest here.
Q: How is this share sale being conducted, and can anyone buy into the SEZ?
A: We’re selling shares as of now, prices are starting at 10,000 kyats [$10] per share. I have been surprised that there are some people buying only one share. Many people are interested to invest in this SEZ. It is about 200 shareholders right now who hold only one share.
Q: What is the Japanese stake in Thilawa at this time?
A: The Japanese share percentage is 49 percent and our Holdings [along with the Burmese government] own 51 percent now.
Q: When will the first phase of the SEZ be finished?
A: We expect to sell out the plots around the first phase to factory owners this coming May. So from May, the owners will be able to operate their factories within a year.
Q: How much capital do you hope to raise?
A: We are calling for a total of 2.1 million shares to be sold to the public. One share in the company is valued at 10,000 kyats, so it would be 21 billion kyats [$21 million] in total capital.
Q: Are there any plans to list the SEZ on the stock exchange that is expected to be up and running next year?
A: We’re going to discuss this with our shareholders to find out whether they are interested to get involved in the stock exchange at that time.