Asia Capital Plc, in collaboration with Japanese foreign investor and partner Belluna Ltd, yesterday commenced building a $ 54 million, four-star business hotel along Marine Drive, Colombo 3, while envisaging an investment of $ 500 million in the tourism and real estate sectors within the next five years.
The 300-room, 27-floor Marine Drive Hotel is projected to be completed within three years and will be built by leading Japanese construction company Hazama Ando Corporation.
“With Sri Lanka’s tourism and real estate sectors growing exponentially, we foresee an investment of over $ 500 million to Sri Lanka within the next five years,” Belluna Ltd. Managing Director Hiroshi Yasuno told Daily FT.
He further said that Belluna’s offshore expansion focuses strongly on emerging markets and it was pleased to be part of Sri Lanka’s development drive.
“Our eyes are wide open to every good investment opportunity in Sri Lanka. In geopolitical terms, Sri Lanka is in a strategic maritime location, has an educated workforce and has wonderful resources for tourism. Sri Lanka is a great country to invest in due to its rapid economic growth, public safety and also as a country that is very friendly with Japan,” Yasuno stressed.
The collection of projects spells out the long-term vision of the partnership of the joint venture, which has attracted over $ 500 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) to Sri Lanka during the past three years, making Belluna Ltd. the largest private investor from Japan in the real estate sector.
The joint venture thus far collaborated on a series of luxury development projects in Sri Lanka and beyond which includes a 50-villa ultra-luxurious resort in Galle with an investment of $ 15 million, the $ 50 million 447 Luna Tower project, a 190-unit exclusive apartment complex being built at Union Place and a $ 350-$ 400 million multi-development project in Colombo 1 (D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha).
In addition, the joint venture is currently in partnership with leading global hospitality company Marriot International Inc. to open the $ 55 million The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort, a 70-key luxury property focusing on wellness tourism this Christmas.
Asia Capital Group Chief Executive Officer and Director Stefan Abeyesinhe said the $ 350-$ 400 million multi-development project in Colombo 1 would consist of a hotel, office complex and residences.
“This project will be developed on the premises of the former Crown Casino. At present we are doing a fresh design for the entire project and obtaining approvals from the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and Board of Investment (BOI). We hope to commence work by mid-next year,” he added.
Further, he stated that they were looking at a 50-acre plot of land in Arugam Bay on the East Coast of the island to set up a luxury resort.
“We are targeting Arugam Bay as nobody has gone there yet and it is underrated. Currently we have concentrated our projects mostly around the expressway. We expect that the infrastructure on accessibility will be developed to take our investments to the Eastern Province as well,” Abeyesinhe stated.
Commenting on the Marine Drive Hotel project, he asserted that the prime location would be ideal for the new-age business traveller who seeks convenient access to Colombo’s Central Business District, coupled with the contemporary comforts of superior design and amenities.
Noting that travel traffic to Sri Lanka and particularly to Colombo had increased steadily over the years, they expect a noteworthy influx of travellers to their Marine Drive Hotel but pointed out that price points would be a concern.
While offering his congratulations on the joint venture, Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kenichi Suganuma said there had been a growing interest from Japanese businessmen in investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
“During Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to Japan recently, we had a seminar which drew over 200 businessmen who were keen on the investment possibilities in Sri Lanka,” he noted.
BOI Chairman Upul Jayasuriya said as far as Japanese investments were concerned, Belluna Ltd. is galloping fast and steadily and will very soon become the largest private investor from Japan in Sri Lanka.
“Japanese investments have now taken a different character, especially after the entry of Belluna Co. We hope that the investors of Japan will provide the prominence and importance that Sri Lanka needs at this point in time,” he stressed.
Jayasuriya also extended an invitation to the Japanese representatives in the audience to take part in an investor forum which is scheduled to be held on 15 May in Osaka, Japan.
Belluna Ltd, Japan is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), First Section, with a market capitalisation of approximately $ 800 million (stocks listed on the TSE are separated into the First Section for large companies and Second Section for mid-sized companies).
A diversified company with a core business of mail order, Belluna Ltd, Japan also holds prominence in real estate development. Beyond Tokyo, the company’s investments in real estate span the rest of the globe from Myanmar to the US, including projects in Hollywood, Los Angeles and now Sri Lanka.
Sources : FT.lk