Myanmar’s Memories Group debuts on Singapore Exchange — Deal Street Asia

By Juliet Shwe Gaung

Memories Group, which operates a series of tourism-related businesses in Myanmar and is the largest operator of hot air balloons in that country, will debut on the Singapore Exchange today. Memories Group is a spin-off of the tourism assets of Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd and two other companies, which had undertaken a reverse takeover (RTO) of SHC Capital Asia. Hence, there is no public offering. It raised S$10.7 million by placing 42.6 million new shares and 7.4 million vendor shares at S$0.25 per piece, in a placement that ended in January. 3. The company, which is 7.6 percent-owned unit of Burmese conglomerate Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd., becomes the first Burmese tourism-focused company to list on an exchange abroad. It is also the first company to debut on the Singapore Exchange this year. “While it is in our strategy to develop new tourist destinations in Myanmar, we intend to embark on the expansion route through a series of tourism-related business acquisitions post-RTO. Through these acquisitions, we hope to enhance our footprint in the industry, and also raise our status as a premier tourism-related company,” said Serge Pun, executive chairman of Memories Group. Post the reverse take over (RTO), and after placing new shares, the company has a valuation of a little over $100 million that equates to a price-to-book value of about 2.3 times.

The company is primarily known for its hot air balloon flights in Bagan and Inle Lake regions, and its red coloured balloons are among Myanmar’s most iconic tourist attractions. Its tourism business includes Balloons over Bagan and Bagan Land (a 4.3-acre land to be developed into a commercial and hospitality development). It also has an arm that specialises in designing and implementing customised tours, excursions, activities and cultural experiences, managing travel logistics and organising events, while the hotels business includes the Hpa-an Lodge and Pun Hlaing Lodge businesses. (Hpa-An Lodge in Myanmar’s Karen state is a 19-room resort built at the foothill of Mount Zwekabin. and Pun Hlaing Lodge, a 46-room urban resort will be completed in FY2019.) “We are delighted to be listed on the SGX-ST which will allow us to attract good and reputable partners and investors. We can start to execute our business strategy in acquiring assets that fit in and complement the Memories brand. Unifying our assets under a single cohesive brand and together with the Integrated Tourism Platform, allows us to seamlessly manage our clients across businesses,” said Michel Novatin, chief executive officer of Memories Group. The company is looking to position itself as a leading tourism company, capitalizing on its extensive local network and the first-mover advantage. Led by Michel Novatin, chief executive officer and Jean-Michel Romon, chief operating officer of Memories Group, the group hopes to catch up with the future growth prospects of the tourism industry in Myanmar, seeing an increased number of tourist arrivals.

The tourism sector in Myanmar offers massive potential to grow – the number of tourist arrivals in Myanmar reached 4.7 million in 2015, with the industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP is $1.6 billion (2.6 percent of GDP) for the same year. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that the growth is expected to rise by 7.6 percent to 2026, and it has also forecast that Myanmar’s tourism industry will rank second out of 184 countries for long-term growth by 2026. To further establish its position as a leading tourism company, the Memories Group’s integrated business model and extensive local network allow it to leverage its first-mover advantage and have an edge over its competitors in Myanmar’s relatively fragmented tourism industry, the company said. In November last year, SHC Capital via a reverse takeover had acquired MM Myanmar Pte Ltd for about S$69.7 million ($51 million). It (SHC Capital) had bought MM Myanmar shares from three entities – a wholly-owned unit of Mainboardlisted Yoma Strategic Holdings which owns 63.1% of MM Myanmar, First Myanmar Investment Company Ltd (FMI), and Exemplary Ventures Ltd (EVL). Post the deal, SHC Capital had changed the name of MM Myanmar to Memories Group Limited and had said that it would undertake a compliance placement of up to 93 million new consolidated shares.