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Thai tycoon bets on data centre demand boom from pandemic

[BANGKOK] Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose family built its fortune around real estate, food and beverages, is betting on a boom in online shopping, video conferencing and food delivery to drive demand for data storage services, his newest venture.

Frasers Property (Thailand), controlled by Mr Charoen, is investing 7.3 billion baht (S$314.9 million) in building a data centre in Bangkok as it sees "robust demand" from companies and individual consumers, according to Supparat Sivapetchranat, chief executive officer of STT GDC (Thailand), a Frasers unit.

"The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation among companies and business enterprises in Thailand," Mr Supparat said in an interview on Wednesday. "This has boosted growth for data centre demand at much higher pace than we have expected."

The new data centre, which will begin operation early next year, will also benefit from the rollout of fifth-generation mobile phone services, Mr Supparat said. Thailand's government in February raised more thanUS$3 billion from auctions of 5G licences.

Mr Charoen, whose net worth of US$12 billion ranks him as the richest Thai, joins companies such as WHA Corp in increasing investment in technology and automation to attract local and global companies to their facilities.

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Mr Charoen's Frasers owns a majority stake in the operator of the new data centre, while Singapore's ST Telemedia Global Data Centres holds the rest. The first phase of the Bangkok centre will have 30,000 square metres of gross floor area and offer co-location services to banking and financial institutions, e-commerce players, global cloud operators and others, according to the company.

"There is a projection that the demand for data centres in Thailand will grow more than 20 per cent a year," Mr Supparat said. "This is a very strong growth. Every application at the end of the day is on the data centre."

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