Bangkok Bank to move HQ to Golden Triangle

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 6): Bangkok Bank Bhd, the Malaysian unit of Thailand's largest commercial bank Bangkok Bank Pcl, has bought property units worth RM110 million from Berjaya Corp Bhd in its development at Jalan Ampang.

The bank entered into an agreement on Monday with Wangsa Tegap Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Berjaya Corp, for the purchase of eight levels of corporate suites and commercial spaces on the ground and mezzanine floors of the Berjaya Central Park development.

The eight levels of corporate suites, which occupy a total of 99,950 sq ft, will house Bangkok Bank's new headquarters, while the ground and mezzanine floors covering an area of over 6,000 sq ft will house the banking halls. The units cost roughly RM1,100 per sq ft.

Bangkok Bank will move its headquarters from downtown KL to the 46-storey tower — to be named Menara Bangkok Bank, where it will be the anchor owner when the building is completed in 25 months, sometime in 1Q14.

Robert Loke, the executive director and CEO of Bangkok Bank, told the press that there are no plans yet to sell or lease out its current headquarters in Jalan Tun HS Lee, but all options will be explored. Bangkok bank commenced operations in Malaysia in 1959.

In the last 1½ years, Bangkok Bank has opened four new branches in Malaysia, said Loke. The new branches are located at Jalan Bakri, Muar, Taman Molek, Johor Bahru, Penang Auto City, Penang, and Bandar Botanic, Klang, Selangor.

As part of its long-term expansion plans, the bank may open as many as four additional branches in the next four to five years, said Loke who could not provide specifics.

Loke said each branch costs RM1 to RM2 million to open, compared with the estimated cost of its new headquarters of at least RM110 million.

Loke declined to comment on whether  Bangkok Bank is looking at opening branches in Sabah and Sarawak, but he noted that it has customers there.

Bangkok Bank has not been expanding as rapidly as the other foreign banks, but Loke said the new headquarters in the middle of the Golden Triangle will boost its prominence in Malaysia.

On the outlook for the banking sector, Loke said, "Malaysia is very robust. If you look at the 2008/09 crisis, we've managed to recover very well.

"Fortunately, we are quite insulated from the troubles in Europe and the US. However if Europe and the US do not manage the crisis well and things over there get much worse, we will still feel the effects."

Loke's outlook is optimistic but he noted, "There may be some impact in 2H12 due to lag."

At the same event, Vinci-MHPT Consortium was awarded the building contract for the Berjaya Central Park development. The contract includes the podium and the Menara Bangkok Bank corporate suite tower and the structural framework for the residence tower.

Berjaya Corp has previously worked with Vinci-MHPT, the biggest construction firm in Europe, on the construction of Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur.

Michel Oliveres, chairman of the executive committee of Vince-MPHT, told the press conference that the basement carpark on which Berjaya Central Park will be built has already been modified to accommodate the development.

Each of the 37 floors of Menara Bangkok Bank has 13,100 sq ft of net lettable space, with the lower nine floors consisting of the podium and carpark levels.

Datuk Francis Ng, director of Wangsa Tegap, said that over 300,000 sq ft, excluding Bangkok Bank's eight floors, have yet to be taken up and the minimum price per sq ft will be RM1,100.

Berjaya is hoping to secure an anchor tenant before it launches the remaining floor spaces, said Ng.

The residence tower is to be managed by the Ritz-Carlton. Ng said Berjaya Corp is awaiting internal layout designs from Ritz-Carlton, which may add 15 to 20 months to the development time of the residential towers.

He told press that the residence tower, which is the same height as Menara Bangkok Bank will have 48 floors in total instead and should fetch at least RM2,200 psf.

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