Central Group yesterday reaffirmed its interest in participating in the bid for Carrefour’s local operations against rivals like Casino (owner of Big C Supercentre) and Berli Jucker (BJC).
Carrefour operates about 43 hypermarkets in Thailand but plans to discontinue its operations here and elsewhere in the region.
Suthichai Chirathivat, executive chairman of Central Group, said in his first media interview on the issue that the group had allocated a “special extra budget” for the acquisition, which would be in addition to normal investment for retail expansion, set at about Bt16 billion this year.
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Central Group eyes Carrefour as CentralWorld reopens
The political unrest in the last quarter of 2009 will continue to dampen tourist confidence into at least the first half of 2010. In addition, the slowdown in growth of the economies from which a large number of tourists come to Thailand, such as EU and Japan, will reduce tourist receipts next year.
Because part of the government’s capital budget has been moved off-budget as part of the stimulus package, some additional capital expenditures, as well as the maintenance expenditures of the newly-built infrastructure, must be incorporated into future budgets once the stimulus package is finalized.
Thailand should take the opportunity during the next few years to strengthen its productivity and competitiveness so that when demand resumes, Thailand will be in a position to jump the band wagon of global recovery. To do so requires serious efforts of all stakeholders in Thailand including the government, private sector, and academia. As these improvements take time, for Thailand to achieve them in time for the projected global recovery, the efforts must start right away.
This is consistent with the fact that public investment levels in Thailand have been relatively low with its share in real GDP at only 5-6 percent in recent years. This is because public investment was contracting since the 1998 crisis and only expanded in 2004-2007, before contracting again this year with delays in disbursement and project completion as a result of the sharp rise in construction material prices and political uncertainties.