By James A. Loyola
Ayala Corporation is investing US$237.5 million to forge a strategic partnership with the Yoma Group, Myanmar’s leading conglomerate led by the Pun family.
The Yoma Group, which is comprised of two holding companies, Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. (YSH) and Myanmar-listed First Myanmar Investment Public Co. Ltd. (FMI), is selling a maximum 20 percent stake to Ayala for up to US$237.5 million, making Ayala the second largest investor in both entities.
Ayala said in a statement that this is a milestone international transaction in its history, and the biggest ever Philippine conglomerate investment into Myanmar.
“Our partnership with the Yoma Group gives Ayala a unique opportunity to participate in Myanmar’s growth story,” said Ayala Chairman & CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.
He noted that, “we could not imagine a better way to do this than with the Pun family, whose solid, decades-long reputation as a business house has cemented their expertise in multiple sectors such as real estate, banking, automotive, healthcare, power, and tourism, among others.”
“We have always believed that ASEAN has massive potential to reap the benefits of Asia’s rise in the global economy. Ayala can definitely move closer to this aspiration by working with a respected and diversified conglomerate in the region,” Zobel added.
Myanmar’s underpenetrated market is the second fastest growing in the region with GDP growth over 6 percent year on year for the last three years.
With its unique geographic location between India and China to the North, Myanmar incentivizes the construction of multiple infrastructure projects and Special Economic Zones.
Its government’s broad liberalization initiatives have opened several key sectors to foreign investment, with real estate alone acquiring over US$4 billion in foreign investment since 2012 when Myanmar transitioned to democratic rule.