By Charumini de Silva
Capitalising on the booming leisure and real estate sectors, Asia Capital Plc, in partnership with Belluna Co. Ltd of Japan, yesterday announced that they would invest over $ 130 million to develop three properties in Sri Lanka.
The two companies have shortlisted a resort hotel in Galle worth $ 15 million, a city hotel in Colombo 3 worth $ 22 million and a mixed development project in Vauxhall Street costing $ 100 million. The agreement in this regard was officially signed yesterday by Bellunda Co. Ltd. President Kiyoshi Yasuno and Asia Capital Plc Group CEO Stefan Abeysinghe.
Abeysinghe said that this was probably the largest transaction they had done and that 90% of the shares would be held by Bellunda while the remaining 10% would belong to Asia Capital.
He said that they had identified three properties and that they are trying to do the legal due diligence required to obtain the lease for the foreign-owned company.
Currently, the projects are in their investment stages and the company will step in during the conceptualisation, planning and approval phases of these projects as soon as they acquire the properties.
“We hope to complete the two hotel projects in Galle and Colombo 3 within 36 months after obtaining approval.
However, it would take about one and half years to conceptualise and finalise the drawings of the mixed development project as we seek foreign architects’ assistance for this project,” Abeysinghe revealed.
Elaborating on the mixed development project, he confirmed that it would be a two-tower fully-fledged mixed development project which would include residencies and a hotel.
“This is a property on Vauxhall Street which already has been given approval for a mixed development project. It has been lingering for a very long time and they have been looking for an investor. As a result, we signed with the existing leaseholder yesterday morning,” he added.
The three projects in total will add over 500 rooms to the leisure industry, while adding 300 units of apartments to the real estate sector.
“The Galle resort will consist of approximately 48 rooms, while with the City Hotel we are aiming for 200 to 250 rooms. In terms of the mixed development projects, we have not finalised the exact apartment numbers and the number of hotel rooms. However, approval for now allows 400-plus apartments and about 300 to 400 rooms — but we will probably scale it down to 200 apartment units and 250-300 hotel rooms,” he explained.
During the past two years Asia Capital has attracted $ 40 million worth of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and they intend to attract more FDIs from Japan.
Abeysinghe revealed that companies of this size have not yet looked at Sri Lanka from Japan. Belluna of Japan is significantly larger than a regular company listed in Japan with a market capitalisation of $ 1billion. Belluna aims to reach a target of $ 2 billion within the next five years.
Belluna Co. Ltd. President Kiyoshi Yasuno, commenting on their investments in Sri Lanka, said that the company aimed to expand its business to the food service industry apart from real estate and leisure sector projects.
“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 work force 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.”
Asia Capital and Belluna of Japan commended the support extended by both the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the Board of Investment (BOI).