THAI property tycoon Khunying Sasima Srivikorn, who co-owns an English Championship football club, recommends the United Kingdom as the best location for offshore property investment after realising a double-digit yield from a recent investment in the cou
Speaking at an exclusive forum recently held by Tisco Wealth and Forbes Thailand, in association with Knight Frank Thailand, Sasima – co-chairperson of Reading FC – said the football-club venture was a high-risk investment, but one that also offered a high potential return.
She also said it was the toughest role she had taken on since entering real-estate business, because negotiations over players’ transfers were more difficult than buying and selling property projects.
Despite the risks involved, she and her consortium decided to buy the English Championship club because, if it were able to get back into the top tier – the Barclays Premier League – the club would receive substantial income from the English Football Association, as well as from merchandising.
The club would have annual income of 180 million pounds (Bt9.82 billion), against the current 60 million pounds in the second tier, if it could gain promotion, she said.
She told the forum that the most valuable aspect of the investment was sports marketing, which had become a powerful tool for many product-makers in attracting consumer spending.
Thai energy-drink company Carabao Group inked a major shirt-sponsorship deal with Reading FC with a view to raising awareness of the company’s products among soccer fans in European markets, executives of the group told the media when the deal was signed in July.
Her own group also acquired a hotel in Reading, which currently provides a double-digit yield, compared with 6-7 per cent previously, she said.
Sasima said her investment company, Srivikorn Group, was currently awaiting permission from Reading council for investment in other real-estate projects in the town, consisting of a convention centre, hotels and serviced apartments.
Located just 66 kilometres west of London, and with improved links to the capital via the upcoming cross-rail route, Reading is an attractive real-estate investment location for Srivikorn Group.
Moreover, land prices in Reading are five to six times lower than those in London, she said.
Property in London averages 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per square foot, but in Reading the price goes down to 400 to 500 pounds per square foot, she said.
Reading is seen by Sasima and her group as offering excellent investment returns, with property prices expected to rise in the near future because of the cross-rail project, besides which the double-digit yields currently available cannot be found in London, she explained.
Reading also has good universities and schools, especially business schools, which attract many foreign students, who form another segment that the company can tap into.
She told the forum that for anyone planning offshore property investment, the UK was in her view the best location because it was a safe country with clear regulations.
This compares starkly with Thailand, where Sasima said investment was very difficult because of the Kingdom’s unclear regulations, fierce competition in the property sector and political uncertainty.
“The UK is the best place for our investment and, apart from buying Reading FC, we have bought a furniture factory [in Colchester], which generates high growth for us,” she said.
While taking money out of Thailand to invest offshore is no longer difficult, because the central bank has relaxed conditions to facilitate overseas investment, Thais wishing to undertake such investment should have the right lawyers to assist with the local tax structure and related issues, she advised those attending the forum.