Lehman books Thai seaside hotel

Surf's up: distressed developer Natural Park makes a quick profit as Lehman throws a lifeline.
It was announced on thursday in Bangkok that the board of directors of Natural Park, a Thai property company, has authorized the sale of its Novotel Panwa Beach Resort Hotel to Lehman Brothers or its designee for $15 million. Natural Park bought the hotel in 2004 for $8 million.

Natural Park has been in a beleagured condition for several years as it strived to repay its external loans, and its survival seemed in question for a period.

Company executives said in a statement filed with the Thai stock market that the selling price of the asset is higher than the book value, which hopefully presages stronger financial stability.

Natural Park expects to alleviate its debt burden further when it hopes to make about $50 million from selling shares in subway operator Bangkok Metro, in the anticipated IPO (see related story). Natural Park holds a total stake of 14.5% in that subway company.

Two months ago, Lehman and others snapped up 51% of Thai hotelier Grande Asset for about $80 million. This was a remarkable achievement for the seller as the companyÆs market capitalisation was just a third of that level only six months before.

It has just been revealed that the investment banker marshalling that deal was none other than the heavyweight Bangkok financier, Bob McMillen, a redoubtable Big Mango veteran, whom, in his Seamico days, masterminded victories in FinanceAsiaÆs award for Thai broker of the year three years running. His new corporate finance company McMillen Advantage Capital is the flagship of his newly established MAC Group and he is understood to be headquartered currently in Dubai.

Fancy a holiday chez Lehman? The Phuket hotel rooms are going for about $60 per night. However, the hotel is located quite a long way from the nightlife of Patong.
¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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