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Thailand's Central Group plans to invest 20b baht overseas

Bangkok

THAILAND'S top retailer Central Group said on Monday that it plans to invest over 20 billion baht (S$898.3 million) in projects in Vienna, Osaka and Turin, capitalising on a strong local currency.

The investment plans can be partly attributed to the strong baht, which has strengthened against most major currencies, the company said.

The Thai baht has been Asia's best performing currency so far this year, firming over 7 per cent against the US dollar.

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Central Group's investments include a joint venture with Austria's Signa Group in a 58,000 square metre luxury mixed-used project in Vienna, which will comprise a hotel, restaurants and retail shops.

"Central Group continues to embark on our strategy to ride on the global tourism trend by developing high-quality flagship projects in major tourist cities," the company's chief executive officer Tos Chirathivat said.

The company, owned by the billionaire Chirathivat family, said other investments include a nine billion baht joint investment with Japanese firms Taisei Corp and Kanden Realty & Development in a 515-room hotel in Osaka, as well as the re-launch of its Rinascente department store in Italy.

Its overseas expansion plans came in weeks after the retailer announced its decision to invest 22 billion baht in new malls and store renovations in Thailand, with a focus on cities outside Bangkok.

Central Group, the family conglomerate with a seven-decade history, was among the first to introduce shopping malls in Bangkok. REUTERS