FMI still unable to get railway lease for iconic Landmark project

The March 22 meeting was confirmed by an official from the Ministry of Railways.

Work on the US$400 million mixed-use project in downtown Yangon backed by business tycoon Serge Pun has been unable to get underway due to an inability to secure a lease extension from the Ministry of Railways. Once the lease extension is agreed upon, the project application will be submitted to MIC for final approval.

Amendments to bring the original lease into conformity with the Foreign Investment Law that was approved in late 2012 have also been submitted to the Attorney General’s Office.

Mr Pun, the chairman of public company First Myanmar Investment (FMI), Serge Pun & Associates (Myanmar), and Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings, told The Myanmar Times in December that he has applied to the ministry to extend the original 1995 lease for the maximum 70 years – 50 years, with two 10-year extensions – allowable under current investment laws.

But securing the extension has proved difficult, with the minister for railways being replaced twice in as many years. In late July U Zeyar Aung was replaced by U Than Htay, while a long-serving deputy minister, Thura U Thaung Lwin, was moved to another position.

When contacted by email this week Mr Pun declined to comment on the progress of the project.

The developers submitted the lease extension for Landmark almost immediately after the enactment of the rules for the Foreign Investment Law in late January 2013, Mr Pun said. Because of the delays in securing approval, Yoma announced in December 2013 that the project’s “long-stop deadline” – the deadline for SPA to acquire the new lease, as part of the sale and purchase agreement – had been pushed back a second time, to June 30, 2014.

At the FMI annual general meeting on November 22, Mr Pun said that he remained confident that the project would gain approval by the end of year.

Source: Myanmar Times

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