Foreign investment in U.S.-based hotel companies is a trend that continues. Even more interesting here is that Sansiri is also choosing to invest in so many other diverse businesses. How they plan to bring all those investments together eventually should be interesting to watch.
Sansiri Public Company Ltd., a Bangkok-based real estate developer, is investing $58 million into Standard International and One Night, securing a 35 percent stake in the company. That’s part of an overall $80 million investment in a handful of technology and lifestyle companies, Sansiri announced Wednesday.
The remaining $22 million will be spread out among four other businesses, although Sansiri didn’t divulge exact breakdowns in the investments: home rental management service Hostmaker; Tyler Brûlé’s influential Monocle media company; Southeast Asia-based co-working company JustCo; and Farmshelf, a “smart” indoor farm maker.
With Monocle, in particular, Sansiri hopes to launch a co-branded mixed-use residential concept in Bangkok by next year.
The 33-year-old company labels itself as Thailand’s only full-service real estate developer, and it does more than $1.2 billion in sales volume annually. It also has a large presence in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan, and expects to do $360 million in sales volume in 2017 in these regions.
It’s clear that with this diverse range of investments that the company has much more global ambitions in mind as it expands into a “world-class modern living platform,” as described by Srettha Thavisin, Sansiri’s president.
“This involves taking Sansiri to the next level as a global brand, ensuring we are at the forefront of tech and innovation, transforming ourselves for the future, and creating a synergistic environment for our business to grow,” he said in a statement. “We will focus on three key activities: strategic investment in global lifestyle brands; developing property technologies in partnership with industry disruptors; and enhancing influence and audience through premium lifestyle media.”
global Growth for Standard International
In its release, Sansiri described The Standard as “the most powerful brand in the boutique hotel business,” and while the company first started by iconic hotelier André Balazs does have international cachet, it is still a relatively small player, with just five hotels in the U.S. and a sixth opening in London in 2018.
When Skift spoke most recently to Amar Lalvani, CEO and Managing Partner of Standard International, about the company’s plans for international expansion and growth, he said:
“There’s definitely more. You’ll be hearing more in the future, but I will tell you we are entering into a very, very exciting new phase for the company with a lot of really, really interesting projects that we have not announced yet. There will be some announcements in the future and you’ll start to see a lot more. But London is the next one on the way.”
Sansiri’s $58 million investment will be used to fund new hotels, new restaurants and dining venues, and to invest in the One Night booking app, especially to help it grow in Asia. Most recently, the Standard expanded One Night’s booking capabilities to include hotels in London.
In Wednesday’s release, Lalvani said: “The partnership with Sansiri will give us access to more opportunities to develop additional technology-driven innovation and hotel properties in Asia and throughout the world.”
Hostmaker’s Sharing Economy Solutions
Sansiri is the lead investor in Hostmaker’s recent Series B round of funding, which totaled $15 million. The company provides services to short-term rental hosts in London, Rome, Paris, and Barcelona across such platforms as Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com.
With Sansiri’s investment, Hostmaker will expand its business to Asia, and likewise help Sansiri earn revenue outside of Thailand.
Nakul Sharma, founder and CEO of Hostmaker, said: “Hostmaker is a PropTech company that aims a hospitality solution at the sharing economy to meet the higher service expectations of the fast-paced new generation. The funding from Sansiri will open a new window of opportunity for us to expand with more services and into new markets, as well as lend our international expertise to help enhance Sansiri customer experience and to support the transformation of the Thai property market into a technology and innovation driven one.”
JustCo Taps into the Co-Working Trend
As Skift has noted before, there’s increasing interest among developers and the hospitality industry overall into the concept of co-working and co-living spaces, so Sansiri’s investment in JustCo, one of Southeast Asia’s largest providers of co-working spaces, makes plenty of sense here.
JustCo has 11 locations currently. With this investment from Sansiri, JustCo will launch four new offices in Bangkok in 2018 and increase the business throughout Asia.
Sansiri, in its release, said its “future vision is that big corporations will adapt the co-working model as they seek to energize their staff, to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and development of new connections.”
Given the expansion of co-working giants like WeWork here in the United States, which most recently announced it had purchased the historic Lord & Taylor department store building in New York City, it’s surprising that more developers are not expressing interest in these types of companies.
Wan Sing Kong, founder and CEO of JustCo, said in a statement: “The partnership with Sansiri will help JustCo make direct inroads into Bangkok. The funding comes at a key time, as we are poised to expand into other key cities in Southeast Asia, such as Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila. With the strong foundation laid and immense support from Sansiri, we expect to have 30 co-working spaces across Asia-Pacific by 2018. This will also provide Sansiri access to our ever-growing 12,000 high-quality members.”
Monocle’s Media Cred
At a time when the media landscape is in upheaval — one only need look at the countless reorganizations taking place at media giants that include Conde Nast, Hearst, and Time Inc. for proof of that — it’s interesting that Sansiri has chosen to invest in a boutique media company such as Monocle.
Monocle, Sansiri said, “is uniquely positioned to support Sansiri and its partners shape and interpret consumer behaviors; to engage with its informed international following and leverage its global reach.” The company also said it “sees significant potential in developing co-branded businesses in entirely new sectors.”
Sansiri’s mixed-use residential concept with Monocle is scheduled to open in Bangkok in 2018.
Tyler Brûlé, editor-in-chief and chairman of Monocle, said in a statement: “We have had a long-standing relationship with Sansiri at Monocle and given our growth beyond media, it made sense to partner with a company that fit with our increasing focus on urbanism, retail and new service concepts.”
FARMSHELF’s Appeal to City-dwelling Foodies
At first glance, this investment may appear a bit out of left field, but for Sansiri, investing in a company that creates automated gardens for home or work makes solid business sense, especially as consumers increasingly are driven by wellness and “a desire for high quality fresh food and collaborative living.” Sansiri hopes to integrate Farmshelf’s products in some of its residential projects going forward, and hopes to help the company scale rapidly in Asia.
Andrew Shearer, CEO of Farmshelf, said, “We believe in food accountability, even for the busiest, space-constrained urbanist. Farmshelf helps people grow food wherever they live, work and eat using our progressive application and AI-based technology. Thanks to the funding from Sansiri, we are able to further develop our product and bring this new culture to Thailand, one of the fastest growing markets with a modern lifestyle and strong belief in sustainable and healthy living.”
What Could All of These Investments Mean?
Such a diverse range of investments on Sansiri’s part points to the company’s desire to be a major player not only in residential real estate — as it has traditionally been — but to expand into other related realms, including hospitality, co-working, and lifestyle media.
Our guess it’s not too farfetched a concept to eventually envision future projects where all of these brands and experiences will somehow converge.
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Photo Credit: The Standard Hotel, High Line in New York City. The parent company, Standard International, has a new major stakeholder: Sansiri, a Bangkok-based real estate developer. The Standard
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