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Ups and Downs
One US dollar is buying 972 kyat (up four kyat from last week), and is selling at 983 kyat (up six). Gold has dropped some 18,000 kyat to 666,700 kyat per tical. Fuel remains all the same prices: petrol is 814 kyat per litre; diesel 920 kyat; and octane 920 kyat. Good quality rice is still selling at 1,100- 1,200 kyat per basket, with low-grade rice at 850- 900 kyat per basket.
Oil companies post final bids for Burma’s offshore reserves
Bidding closed on 15 November for 30 offshore blocks with many of the world’s top oil and gas companies said to be competing for exploration rights. According to International Business Times, multinational corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total, Statoil, and ConocoPhillips are among the more than 60 businesses pre-qualified for the auction. “The blocks are considered highly lucrative, even though their commercial prospects remain unconfirmed,” the IBT report said. Among the 30 blocks up for grabs, the 19 deep-water fields are where the greatest potential riches are believed to reside, and foreign firms would be allowed to operate in those blocks without local partners, which operation in the remaining shallow blocks would require. Each company may bid on up to three blocks, the report said.
Japan on stand-by as ITD dumped from Dawei
Thailand and Burma seized control on Thursday of the multi-billion-dollar Dawei special economic zone from Italian Thai Development Pcl to rescue the floundering project and convince foreign investors to finally come on board. The takeover of the strategically located complex, billed as a gateway for trade with Southeast Asia, follows years of delays that have been blamed largely on the Thai firm’s failure to secure private investment and agree on a power source for the 250 sq km (100 sq mile) deep-sea port, petrochemical and heavy industry hub.
Burmese firms look to list on Singapore Exchange
Lawyers and financial advisors who work closely with Burmese firms say about six to 10 companies are considering listing in Singapore over the next couple of years. “Many Burmese business owners admire the reputation of Singapore Inc and look forward to raising their own prestige that comes with a Singapore listing,” said Kim Huat Chia, head of corporate & capital markets at Singapore law firm Rajah & Tann. Singapore’s bourse says while it has seen interest from Burmese companies, they will have to meet its corporate governance standards. However, for many businesses, that’s still quite a distant goal, lawyers and bankers said.
Japanese investment predicted to rise
Sawada Hideo, the president of the Asia Business Leader Association, predicted that Japanese investment in Burma, currently ranked eighth highest of 32 listed countries, could reach between second and fifth within next five years. Speaking at a seminar entitled “How to Invest in Myanmar”, which was hosted at the City FM Hall in Rangoon on 16 November, the event was joined by Japanese businessmen from the hotel, construction and transportation sectors alongside Burmese counterparts and officials from the Ministry of National Planning. DICA director Kyaw Zaw Maung went one better, predicting that Japan could be the top investor in Burma if the Thilawa industrial zone progresses as expected.
DBS Bank caters for increased Burma-Singapore trade
Chan Wong Meng, the Burma representative of the DBS Bank, the biggest bank in Southeast Asia, said at a press conference in Rangoon on 16 November that the bank’s representative office in Rangoon has been restructured to cater for the growing Burma-Singapore trade connection. He said that an increasing number of Singaporean companies are looking to invest in Burma and the DBS is working to create a convenient banking system for them, as well as to assist Burmese companies looking to invest in Singapore. Although DBS Bank has had a representative office in Burma since 1993, it still has not been granted permission to open a branch in the country.
Thein Htun leads Pepsi into cola war
South Korea’s Lotte and Myanmar Golden Star (MGS) have registered a joint venture company to manufacture and distribute Pepsi in the country before the end of this year. MGS is owned by Thein Htun, nicknamed “Pepsi” Thein Htun for his strides to manufacture, distribute and market Pepsi and Mirinda in Burma in the early 1990s before the US-led sanctions in 1997 led the US firm to withdraw from the country. Thein Htun then introduced a new range of soft drinks under the Star brand. His latest move takes him into direct competition with Coca Cola, which currently leads Burma’s soft drinks market where it sells bottles and cans for 200, 300 and 700 kyat.
Burma aims to privatize 30 airports
The Department of Civil Aviation’s director-general Tin Naing Htun said at a press conference on 20 November that the government is looking to privatise 30 of 69 domestic airports. He said that Burmese companies will be given priority in the bid for tender licenses, with criteria including plans to improve the physical condition of each airport, while foreign companies will only be allowed to operate as subsidiaries for domestic companies.
Meanwhile, Asia World Company, contracted to construct Naypyidaw International Airport under a BOT agreement, has proposed handing back the project to the Burmese government, saying it is no longer financially viable. The airport began taking flights in 2011.
Thai paper firm wins mill tender
The Thailand-based Double-A paper company has won a licence to operate the Tharpaung Mill, the biggest paper and pulp-mill in Burma, an official from the Ministry of Industry has confirmed. The official said one domestic and four foreign-based companies joined the tender bidding for the mill, which was ultimately won by Double-A. The company will have to pay US$2 million per year in rental fees to the government, and salaries for some 1,800 staff. The Thai firm is also due to invest $300 million to build a new factory aimed at manufacturing 300,000 tons of paper a year.
Japanese, Burmese firms form JV to produce rice products
Japan based Mitsui & Co Ltd and Myanmar Agribusiness Public Corporation Ltd. (MAPCO) have permission to form a joint venture to make rice products under the name Myanmar Rice Industry Co Ltd, Eleven Media reported last week. The new firm officially launched on 13 November, and says it plans to produce broken rice, bran, bran oil, rice flour and noodles. The overall investment will be around US$100 million, according to officials from MAPCO. The company will build four plants in industrial zones located in Twante and Kyaiklat (west of Rangoon), Letpatan (Pyay region) and Naypyidaw, scheduled for completion in 2015. Burma resumed rice exports to Japan in June for the first time in over 40 years when Japan bought about 5,000 tons of rice.
CB Bank pledges donation to SEA Games
The Co-operative Bank (CB Bank) has pledged a 600 million kyat (over US$600,000) donation to Burma’s Sports Ministry for the 27th SEA Games. CB Bank President Khin Maung Aye said on 18 November that the assistance would include funds for athletes’ uniforms, 500 trolleys for airports and stadiums, ATM machines, money exchange counters and entertainment programmes to promote the sports events.
Ooredoo to sponsor Burmese football teams at SEA Games
Qatar-based telecom operator Ooredoo, which won a potentially lucrative contract to develop telecommunications in Burma, has pledged to sponsor expenses for the country’s various football teams – the men’s team, women’s team, and both futsal teams – competing in 27th SEA Games which kick-off in Naypyidaw on 11 December. Other prominent sponsors for the SEA Games include the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings, Myanmar Brewery, Kanbawza Group, Panasonic, Samsung, Canon and Fuji Xerox.