China’s influence on Southeast Asian Corporates

Article Posted: 16.10.2017

Martin Evan-Jones

Southeast Asian hospitality groups are making co-operative moves with the Chinese mainland: Minor Group of Thailand, DoubleDragon Group and SM Group of the Philippines are among companies developing ties.
In April 2017, Minor International officially opens its Anantara Guiyang Resort in Guizhou Province after soft opening in November 2016. The group that operates hotels and resorts across 23 countries relies on the Chinese province’s forest land and extensive history in southwest China – as well as its focus on business-related facilities – to make the most of its five-star rating as the province’s first international resort.
Similarly, Philippines-based SM Group in December 2016 soft opened a mall in Tianjin in northern coastal China under property arm SM Prime, with sources expecting a closer tit-for-tat co-operative set of management deals for malls and related hotel opportunities in both the mainland and the Philippines. 
Both moves position these groups to take advantage of advancing Chinese mainland tourism across the region and in China itself with opportunities for careers that cross hotel management, F&B, back office and related hospitality segments.
Minor International’s Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas’ managed property in Guizhou joins others in Hainan Island and Yunnan Province where the group has already developed top-rated location-based luxury resorts. In Guizhou, there seems to be a focus on business-based events, including corporate meetings, conferences and HR-inspired “bonding” opportunities related to the resort’s location in China’s “Forest City”, including 2,000 years of history.
Anantara’s Guizhou Resort includes 218 rooms and suites, with bedroom pool villas and nearby location of a major golf course. Facilities also feature three restaurants devoted to Chinese, Thai and international cuisines with cooking classes and most luxury facilities suited to corporate guests.
Meanwhile, with the closer diplomatic ties between the Philippines and China, many see a significant hospitality inter-connection. The US$24 billion MOU package between the countries signed in January 2017 envisages a touristic “accelerator” which aims to encourage Chinese mainland tourism to the Philippines to triple to three million this year, spending some US$45 billion year-on-year, according to sources.
Philippine property developer DoubleDragon Properties Corp has committed US$136 million to double the room capacity of its hotels in the Philippines under the Chinese SOE owned Jinjiang Inn brand. The developer’s hospitality subsidiary Hotel of Asia Inc., the exclusive master franchisee of Jinjiang Inn in the Philippines, reportedly aims for room capacity of 2,000 by 2020.
The same government-to-government arrangements include credit facilities to eight major Philippine conglomerates by the Bank of China, including SM Investment Corp. Many see this as a precursor to SM Group’s likely further push into the mainland.
Already, its Tianjin property is its seventh mall in China and one of the largest in the world at 540,000 sqm which matches retail, entertainment and – as several analysts expect – hotel occupation under one or several roofs.
SM’s Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson said the group opened the Tianjin mega-mall in phases as a “one-off project on the invitation of the Chinese central government as a catalyst for growth in the area,” on the expectation of increasing tourism and consumerism across the country. 
It seems that China will continue to be the key driver for growth of Southeast Asian hospitality companies for years to come.
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