Bangkok’s British embassy sold to Central Group for £420 million by cash-strapped UK Foreign Office
The British government has sold Bangkok’s British embassy and the land it stands on to Thailand’s Central Group for £420 million. The sale is the largest land deal in the nation’s history, coming in as it does around 18.6 billion baht or approximately $598.5 million.
The current site of the British embassy in Bangkok is located on Wireless Road and stands on nine acres. The embassy itself was built in 1922. The sale includes the land, the property and even a tropical garden currently located on the land.
Once the sale is completed, the British embassy will be moving to the AIA Sathorn tower block in the city’s central business district on a 15 year lease.
Sadly for Thailand, however, most of the money from the sale will not stay in the country.
Instead, according to Britain’s cash-strapped Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the money will be used to renovate various embassies around the world, including shoring them up for potential earthquakes and for things like new wiring in the British embassy in Paris, and a refurbishing of the New Delhi embassy.
Various British newspaper are also reporting a statue of Queen Victoria that is currently located on the British embassy grounds will be “lost to the nation” due to the sale, as it will remain where it is when the embassy closes.
The statue has been on the embassy grounds for almost 100 years, and is thought to be lucky by Thais that visit it and ask Victoria for help with fertility or with money problems.
Sadly, this land sale also looks like it may be yet another negative ramification of the UK’s planned ‘Brexit’ from the European Union, as many government agencies, including the FCO, are complaining about budget cuts since the vote took place in June, 2016.
A little embarrassing for the UK too, I would say as, while it is trying to promote itself as a ‘world power’, it seems to be currently in the process of having less and less influence as its assets get smaller and smaller.
The sale of the British embassy in Bangkok seems to be just part of that decline.
As one former Conservative FCO officer stated recently, ““There is a gap between rhetoric about our global role and reality of the Foreign Office resources that is rarely communicated to the public. Basically, we have been bluffing about what we can achieve.
We can no longer change the course of events in China, Vietnam or even Zimbabwe, but we often refuse to admit this to ourselves.”
On the other hand, the Central Group, along with their international partner Hongkong Land are probably thrilled. Not only have they managed to get a prime piece of Bangkok land back to a Thai ownership, but they also have big plans to develop the spot.
According to the CEO of Central Group, Tos Chirathivat, the group “wants to develop a mixed-use project that links to our Central Embassy shopping project”.
The Central Embassy shopping mall, which opened in 2014, is right next door.