By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Diversified Japanese conglomerate Belluna Co. Ltd has partnered with Asia Capital PLC to bring one of the largest private sector foreign direct investments (FDIs) from Japan worth over US $ 100 million into the leisure industry of Sri Lanka.
“This is one of the biggest Japanese FDIs to Sri Lanka. We’ve (Asia Capital) attracted US $ 40 million in investments from Japan in the last three years and it’s good to see this coming after all the big Chinese FDIs recently,”
Asia Capital subsidiary Asia Leisure Holdings CEO Reyhan Morris said.
The funds are spread across three hospitality projects— a 48-room luxury resort in Galle worth US $ 14 million, a 200-250-room city hotel in Colombo 3 worth US $ 22 million and a mixed development project off Vauxhall Street consisting of 200 apartments and 250-300 hotel rooms projected to exceed US $ 100 million.
Asia Leisure Holdings will be managing all three projects.
Morris said that the Galle project would not dilute its existing resort and boutique hotel in the city, as the new resort with Belluna Co. would have a room cost of US $ 600 a night, as opposed to Asia Leisure’s fully-owned resort having a cost of US $ 150 a night.
Morris said that the Galle resort and the Colombo city hotel would be operational within 36 months, while Asia Capital PLC CEO Stefan Abeysinghe said that three locations are being canvassed for the city hotel.
“We just signed the agreement for the property on Vauxhall Street this morning. It’s going to be a twin tower design and we’ll start as soon as possible,” Abeysinghe further added.
Morris said that the land belonged to the Board of Investment and Janatha Estate Development Board and that the previous development plan with a Hong Kong-based entity had fallen through in the past before Asia Capital stepped in.
He also said that it would take at least one and a half years to conceptualize the drawings and plans, as they will be working with a foreign architect.This is the first instant that Belluna Co. has invested in Sri Lanka and Morris said that the investment came to fruition after around two years of negotiations.“Our target was the domestic market but we are now looking at the global market. What attracted us to Sri Lanka is that it is a friendly tourist destination, with good economic growth, geopolitical location and strong labour. It reminds me of Japan in the past,” Belluna Co. Ltd President Kiyoshi Yasuno said.He also said that his company is exploring opportunities related to food services, especially restaurants, and light manufacturing industries in Sri Lanka. “We are working on a lot of prospects with Asia Capital,” Yasuno said.
Belluna Co. has already established a strong presence in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Chicago and South Korea despite its claim of international infancy, with operations of finance, health products, manufacturing and food and beverage. It also has recently invested in Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Established in 1968 and headquartered in Ageo, Japan, Belluna Co. has a market capitalization of US $ 1.2 billion and has thrived primarily through its mail order industry.