Well-connected Lim Chhiv Ho has a reputation for being a savvy businesswoman. Starting the trading and distribution company Attwood Import & Export in 1994, the business has since expanded into property and infrastructure development. Lim has also had success in the creation of the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the outskirts of the city. Lim, who is in the midst of developing another SEZ in Poipet, spoke to Post Property about her business ventures and upcoming investment plans.
What new developments are you looking to invest in?
Apart from the SEZ that helps the growth of the nation, we have also been planning to invest in real estate in provinces and in Phnom Penh in the near future. This project will cost $130 million and will consist of condominiums and a shopping mall. The project is a joint venture with foreign investors. I can’t go into details about this project yet because my company is listed on the stock exchange. As soon as the project kicks off, I will announce it.
From a demand perspective, the condo market seems to be slowing down. Why are you interested in starting a new condo development?
I don’t think it is getting any slower. If we pick the right partners to develop condos and residential housing, we will still be able to sell them. I think property demand is still increasing, but having the right partners is important.
How do you see Cambodia’s real estate market playing out over the next 10 years?
I think the real estate industry will continue to grow, albeit there are several oknhas who are concerned and are investing their money in foreign countries instead due to next year’s elections. However, as a local investor, I still trust that there is peace and stability in this country. I have recently met with a handful of Chinese companies who are seeking the opportunity to invest in Cambodia, underpinning my confidence in Cambodia’s continual growth. There are also tens of thousands of Japanese companies entering.
How did the Phnom Penh SEZ come about?
The Phnom Penh SEZ started in 2006 on a huge plot of land measuring 357 hectares. I purchased the land from a Malaysian investor. My first purpose was to build residential houses, but after attending a press conference with the Cambodian government overseas, I found out that that an economic zone is a valuable contribution to the economy and would give jobs to our people. This is why I decided to establish the zone. There are currently 85 investors, and over half of them are Japanese. Before they decided to invest here, I asked the Japanese investors why they were not coming to invest in Cambodia when their country has helped Cambodia build roads, bridges and other infrastructure. They said that Cambodia is still corrupt. I then told them about the establishment of the SEZ which gave them confidence to invest here.
You have another SEZ in Poipet. Has it started operations yet?
We’re currently building infrastructure in Poipet to internationalise the zone. Sitting on 64 hectares of land, the new SEZ will start operating at the end of this year. What motivated us to invest in the area is because we can use the international port in Thailand, making transportation very convenient in terms of cost. Secondly, factories in Thailand are huge, and there is the possibility of them expanding their branches to the Cambodian-Thai borders with the ease of transportation.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.