WHA Group Confirms Its Leading Position in Thailand; Spreading Wings Across ASEAN Countries

BackJan 15, 2018

Bangkok, January 15, 2018 – WHA Group, Thailand’s leader in fully-integrated logistics and industrial facility solutions, revealed today its business objectives and directions for 2018 and beyond. Leveraging on the country’s economic recovery and improved attractiveness, thanks in particular to government’s sponsored-programs such as the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), WHA Group forecasts an overall 25% growth in Total Revenue and Equity Income and plans to invest THB 6.6 billion this year, as part of its THB 43 billion 5-year investment plan (2016-2020).

Benefitting from an improved global, regional and local economic environment, WHA Group is well poised to extend its leading position in Thailand in its four business hubs – Logistics, Industrial Development, Utilities & Power and Digital Platform – while exploring new opportunities, prioritizing high-value services and expanding its business in ASEAN countries.

Among its 2017 key business achievements, WHA Group secured an additional 161,500 sq.m. in pre-leased areas and new contracts for Built-to-Suit (BTS) facilities, including warehouses, distribution centers and factories, Ready-Built Factories (RBF), Ready-Built Warehouses (RBW) and warehouse farms; recorded more than 50% market share with nearly 1,000 rai in land sales, received EEC approval for Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate 4 (HESIE 4) as a target industry promotion zone for Aviation & Logistics, Robotics and Next-Generation Automotive; got Investment Registration Certificate approval for WHA Hemaraj Industrial Zone - Nghe An Phase 1 in Vietnam, successfully listed WHA Utilities and Power (WHAUP) with a current market capitalization of THB 30 billion; commenced operations in 3 data centers; and reduced its interest-bearing debt/equity ratio to 1.2x. This resulted in the upgrade of its TRIS rating to A-.

“Our business approach is based on our clear vision and comprehensive analysis of market conditions, plus our capacity to seize all business opportunities in our four areas of expertise” explained Ms. Jareeporn Jarukornsakul, WHA Group Chief Executive Officer. “In Thailand, we are determined to reinforce our leadership by giving strong support to government initiatives such as the Eastern Economic Corridor and by playing an active role in the development of future S-Curve industries. At the same time, we are permanently looking at new opportunities to spread our wings and develop our businesses in neighboring countries, including China”, she said.

WHA Group: A key Player in Supporting EEC Development

Since its inception, WHA Group has shown its commitment to support the government-sponsored EEC initiative, based on several complementarities with the activities of its own four business hubs. Indeed, WHA’s Logistics can serve the EEC with its logistics and industrial properties in Chonburi and Rayong, amounting to approximately 800,000 sq.m.

Out of its 9 WHA-Hemaraj industrial estates currently under operation, 8 are located in the EEC, with another 2 under development, representing more than 45,000 rai of industrial land with approximately 10,000 rai of sellable land. Last November, the EEC management committee designated Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate 4 (HESIE 4), covering 1,400 rai in Rayong province, as a special industrial zone for Aviation and Logistics, Robotics and Next-Generation Automotive, underlining WHA Group’s commitment to support the development of S-Curve industries.

The 10 targeted industries include Next-Generation Automotive, Smart Electronics, Medical & Wellness Tourism, Agriculture & Biotechnology and Food (S-Curve industries); plus, Robotics, Medical Hub, Aviation & Logistics, Biofuel & Biotechnical and Digital (New S-Curve industries).

Moreover, WHA Group can offer to its 700+ EEC-based customers, capacities of more than 155 million M3 utility production and treatment capacity, 478 Equity MW under operation and growing, 8 industrial estates in total to be equipped with optical fiber (FTTx) and 2 upcoming NGD pipelines, 2.1 million sq.m. for solar rooftop opportunities.

“Thanks to its strategic location, major forthcoming city and infrastructure developments, added to an investment-friendly environment and incentive packages, we are truly convinced that EEC will transform the country into an innovation-driven economy that will enable it to attain the objectives of Thailand 4.0, as designed by the government,” explained Ms. Jareeporn.

Asia’s Leading Provider in Vertical Integrated Logistics Facilities

WHA’s historic core business with the Built-to-Suit (BTS) concept, the Group’s Logistics hub plans to increase its leasable area by more than 11% in 2018, from 2,151,000 sq.m. to 2,391,000 sq.m., while focusing on high-value clusters such as Aviation and Robotics and high-value rental properties in line with the development of e-commerce.

Last December, an agreement was signed with Central JD Commerce, a joint-venture between Central Group and JD.com, one of the biggest e-commerce companies from China for the lease of 6,848 sq.m. at WHA Mega Logistics Center Chonlaharnpichit on Bangna-Trad Road. A second-phase expansion is also being implemented with Central’s Tops Market.

International expansion will continue in ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia. In Indonesia, where domestic-oriented industries offer a huge potential, WHA Logistics provides 25,688 sq. m. in built-to-suit facilities in Banten, West Jakarta.

Asset monetization to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) will be further implemented through two large size REITs: WHART and HREIT.

“In Thailand, we are looking forward to playing an active role in the emergence of new industrial and service clusters in the EEC,” commented Ms. Jareeporn. “In Indonesia and Vietnam, two countries that need modern and value-added logistics capabilities, we will leverage on synergies with our group’s own industrial estates as well as our partnerships with large companies such as Daiwa House Industry from Japan,” she explained.

Asia’s Leading Developer of World-Class Industrial Estates

In 2018, WHA Industrial Development plans to operate 10 industrial estates in Thailand and 1 in Vietnam, representing a total of 39,300 rai. Land sales target is at 1,400 rai, from 1,000 rai in 2017, with a “land bank” representing over 10,000 rai available for sale.

With an average market share of 34% in land sales over the past ten years – over 50% market share in 2017 – WHA Industrial Development will maintain and reinforce its leadership position in Thailand, expanding towards high-value industrial projects and specialized estates focusing on aerospace/aviation, robotics, next generation automotive, digital, medical, and innovation parks in line with the EEC initiative.

Capitalizing on massive investments in infrastructure with the U-Tapao International Airport, Laem Chabang Deep Sea port, Map Ta Phut Phase 3, the Bangkok-Rayong high-speed Rail Link and the double-track railway project, WHA will launch in Q4/2018 its 10th industrial estate in Thailand, Hemaraj Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate 3 (HESIE 3), located in Chonburi and representing a total area of 2,200 rai.

With over 700 customers representing more than 1,000 contracts, WHA Industrial Development benefits from an extensive customer base in its industrial estates. “The EEC attracts new customers from China, Japan and Europe,” explained Mr. David Nardone, Group Executive Industrial and International, Hemaraj Land And Development PLC. “Investors are very much interested in Thailand’s strategic location, good infrastructure, reasonable costs and its human resource skills, not to mention the quality of life,” he said.

In Vietnam, the group will continue to develop WHA Hemaraj Industrial Zone Nghe An, with Phase One representing approximately 3,110 rai, out of the project’s total area of 20,000 rai.

“Vietnam’s economic growth remains very resilient with a strong inflow of foreign direct investments. This reflects both increasing domestic demand and export-oriented opportunities,” he added.

Asia’s Leading Provider in Utilities and Power

Managed by SET-listed WHA Utilities and Power PLC. (WHAUP), Utilities and Power activities will continue to grow in parallel with WHA-Hemaraj Industrial Estates, both locally and overseas, while WHAUP will explore business opportunities with potential customers outside industrial estates, such as municipalities and commercial buildings.

Utilities, which consist of providing raw water, process water and clarified water, as well as wastewater treatment, will continue to expand at WHA-Hemaraj Industrial Estates in Thailand, with the launch of HESIE 3, and in Vietnam, with the start of Nghe An’s operations and other potential opportunities in the country.

WHAUP will explore further the CLMV markets and will add more products, such as reclaimed water, demineralized water and desalination. With a forecast sales and management volume of 113 million cubic meters in 2018, a 13% increase compared to 2017 due to higher demand from current and new customers, plus higher consumption from power plants that recently started operations, WHAUP will remain the largest private Utilities operator in Thailand.

In the Power sector, WHAUP currently invested in 15 power projects (14 in Thailand and 1 in Laos) that will represent a total contracted capacity of 2,540 MW by 2019, with 543 Equity MW. As of 2017, 11 projects are under operation with 478 equity MW (for a contracted capacity of 2,287 MW), including 3 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in partnership with Glow, 6 Small Power Producers (SPPs) in partnership with B Grimm (1 power plant at HCIE), Gulf JP (1 power plant at HRIL), and Gulf MP (4 power plants at ESIE and HESIE), and 2 Very Small Power Producers (VSPPs) for solar projects in partnership with Gulf and Gunkul.

There are 4 Projects under construction with 65 equity MW (for a contracted capacity of 253 MW) which is expected to commence operations in 2018 and 2019, including 2 SPP projects in partnership with Gulf MP, 1 VSPP for solar projects and 1 VSPP for Waste-to-Energy project in partnership with Glow and Suez through Chonburi Clean Energy joint venture (CCE).

In addition to conventional power from coal, hydro and gas co-generation, WHAUP will further develop alternative energies such as solar and waste-to-energy projects. With more than 2.1 million sq.m., rooftops in WHA Industrial Estates and Logistics Centers offer huge opportunities for the development of solar energy, as well as other opportunities outside WHA-Hemaraj Industrial Estates.

“In the Utilities business in Thailand, we plan to diversify our activities through natural gas distribution, both inside and outside our industrial estates. Overseas, Vietnam and Myanmar will be our priority countries,” explained Mr. Wisate Chungwatana, WHAUP Chief Executive Officer.

“In Power, we will seek to be more proactive in conventional energy with our partners, while developing renewable energies and looking for new opportunities abroad, especially in Vietnam,” he added.

Provide Digital Platform to all Businesses

In 2018, WHA Digital hub will complete another 156 racks in the same location, representing a 34% increase from 461 racks to 617 racks. Optical fiber services (FTTx), which is currently operational in 5 Hemaraj industrial estates, will be extended to all industrial estates.

Conceived as a one-stop service for customers, these data centers will provide network and telecom infrastructure, IT equipment rental & outsourcing, cloud computing and big data, robotics and automation, monitoring tools and control systems, systems integrators and e-commerce capabilities.

A fast-growing sector in line with the EEC infrastructure and technology investments, Digital represents an important potential for development and growth. With the development of e-Commerce, the Internet of Things and the growing prominence of “Big Data”, the demand for data centers will increase significantly.

“WHA Group would like to be a crucial part to play a leading role in this evolution by positioning itself as a one-stop service for digital infrastructure, ranging from data center comprehensive services & solutions. It already enjoys strong business partnerships with leading infrastructure and technology providers to operate data centers, fiber optic and mobile networks” Ms. Jareeporn concluded.