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Ananda defiant

Founder is banking on 'rule of law' in Ashton Asoke dispute

  • Published: 11 Jun 2018 at 04:30 0 comments
  • NEWSPAPER SECTION: Business | WRITER: Jesus Alcocer & Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn
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Ananda Development founder Chanond Ruangkritya is confident the government will comply with the "rule of law" and allow the company to transfer condominium units at its contentious 6-billion-baht Ashton Asoke project to unit buyers after a half-year suspension.

Mr Chanond insists the company did nothing wrong in its dealings with the government and investors. Patipat Janthong

The government says the company's high-end condominium violates construction regulations because it does not have an exit onto Asok Road.

Ananda has applied for a licence from the Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA), which owns an adjacent plot of land that could serve as an exit.

To push forward with the licence, the company first needs to secure a construction permit from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and submit it to a multi-agency governmental committee.

The construction permit has stalled because of an ongoing dispute in the Administrative Court regarding the legality of the MRTA entrance scheme.

The building, located near the intersection of the MRT and BTS lines, is nearly sold out, but units cannot be transferred to owners until the dispute is cleared up and the permit authorised.

Mr Chanond declined to comment on the likelihood that the building would be demolished.

"I will say that demolition is the worst-case scenario, but it's unlikely to happen," he said.

Mr Chanond brokered an agreement with the government to have the exit constructed, but the state is now refusing to honour the deal, according to confidential sources.

The executive denies Ananda has acted inappropriately.

"If we did something wrong, fine, but we didn't," he said. "It would be very unfair to the investment community, and the cost would be too high. This is an issue that the government needs to sort out itself. We are in the middle of a family feud."

Sales of the building are included in the company's 2018 projections.

Mr Chanond said he hopes the rule of law will prevail in the case. The executive, however, said he is ready to sell his assets, pack his bags and go elsewhere if the government pushes forward with the demolition of the property.

Ananda is now the country's leading condominium developer by market share, with close to 30 billion baht in assets and a 54-billion-baht backlog.

The company's sub- stantial investments would not pose an obstacle to exiting Thailand, Mr Chanond said.

"I don't want myself or my kids living in a country without the rule of law," he said.

Ananda's mushrooming partnership with Japanese developer Mitsui Fudosan Co would provide the company with a springboard to grow abroad, Mr Chanond said.

The two companies have collaborated on 20 joint projects totalling 16,000 housing units.

"With Mitsui we can invest in Manhattan or in London," Mr Chanond said.

The company will be in good standing regardless of the outcome of the dispute, he said.

"In terms of financial prudence, we have a Plan B, of course we do," he said.

Mr Chanond did not expand on how the company would go about returning its customers' investment, or how it would finance the sunk loan.

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