U City invests USD162 million in VERSO International School, largest international school in Bangkok, Thailand

Real Estate Press Releases Thursday September 19, 2019 15:03
Bangkok--19 Sep--Ogilvy (Thailand)

VERSO International School engages IDEO to create blueprint and offers a personalized educational experience designed with students' interests and passions at its core, and boasts Thailand's first and only Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool with climate control

U City Plc., an affiliate of BTS Group Holdings Plc., in cooperation with Fortune Hand Ventures Ltd from Hong Kong, has today announced a 5-billion-baht investment in the establishment of VERSO International School.

VERSO International School delivers a compelling vision for an innovative, future-focused international school. Designed and constructed from the ground up, VERSO represents a paradigm-shift not only in its physical design but also in the way in which learning experiences are being re-engineered to inspire students to reach beyond the traditional limitations of schooling.

The state-of-the-art campus, located on the biggest land plot of all school developments in Bangkok (next to the Thana City estate in eastern Bangkok), represents a "turning of the page" in international school design. It offers a highly innovative educational model that will prepare children with the skills needed to successfully adapt to a rapidly changing world. Scheduled to open in August 2020, the school will boast a capacity of 1,800 students from Pre-Nursery to Grade 12.

"It is my long-term goal to create something that will benefit future generations, not only to add value to our business," said Mr. Keeree Kanjanapas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of BTS Group Holdings Plc and U City Plc. "I have always aimed to invest in human resources, and eventually found the right partner, which is Fortune Hand Ventures, to build an international school that truly provides an innovative and highly progressive educational experience in Bangkok," he added.

"Through this partnership we are building a new international school that offers a groundbreaking approach to learning combined with expansive facilities that will nurture a new generation of visionaries," Keeree continued. "At the same time, we are transforming one of the company's assets next to our Thana City estate on the Bangna-Trad road into a value-accretive property for the future. Located on a total project space of 168 rai, or 66 acres, the school is set to become the largest international school in the Bangkok metropolitan area. On top of that, the school also has as much as approximately 60% of green space to provide students with comfort, emotional safety, as well as intellectual and artistic inspiration."

Fortune Hand Ventures' investment in VERSO represents the largest single foreign investment in international schooling in Thailand. It will help ensure that the joint investment is fully directed to maximizing both the construction and first-of-its-kind conceptual design of the top-notch new school. With a long experience in education that stretches back over a half century, Fortune Hand Ventures will directly provide the school's operations with the stewardship of Founding Head of School

Mr. Cameron Fox.

Mr. Cameron Fox, the Founding Head of VERSO International School, explained that the starting point for the project was a simple question: How can we design a new international school that will truly prepare its students for a world that is changing faster than at any other time in human history?

Fox then invited the global design and innovation firm IDEO to help reimagine what such a school of the future could and should be.

"VERSO is the first international school in the world to engage IDEO to create a visionary blueprint for its conceptual and physical design," said Fox, "Working closely with IDEO's San Francisco studio, a highly talented team used a human-centered design approach to create VERSO's dynamic and compelling vision for the future. The opportunity to design and build a school of this magnitude from scratch represents a unique opportunity for the VERSO team to positively impact the future of school designs on a global scale."

He continued, "We are on an incredible journey to make the educational experience at VERSO something refreshingly unique, personally inspiring and truly relevant for every student we work with. We have re-engineered a comprehensive set of American educational standards to form the foundation for VERSO's own 'Future-Ready' curriculum. At VERSO, learning will be interdisciplinary, project-based, and skills-focused. Students will be immersed in a stimulating and highly collaborative learning environment where they will frequently work in multi-age groups with a dedicated team of highly skilled teachers to guide and support them."

"Through their experiences at VERSO students will learn how to discover their passions, showcase their talents, and build a set of future-ready skills that will empower them to confidently lead their own journey," Fox added.

VERSO International School comes at an opportune moment in the wake of structural shifts in the global economy toward Asia and Thailand's ongoing efforts to digitize its own economy. Leading organizations and companies are seeking a new generation of leaders and innovators who have the skills and mindsets needed to respond quickly to change while positively impacting the world around them.

Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which is projected to attract up to 100,000 people to the region annually, is increasing the need for international schools in the eastern part of Bangkok. This reality has influenced U City's decision to transform its property into an innovative international school that will cater to this anticipated economic growth.

According to the International Schools Association in Thailand, the kingdom is Southeast Asia's fastest-growing international school market with double digit growth for the past eight years.

"With our location next to Thana City having so much to offer and the appeal of our unique human-centered, design-based approaches to schools, we believe VERSO International School will be an inspirational model for the future of schooling, which will push Thailand to the fore of educational innovation," said Ms. Piyaporn Phanachet, Chief Executive Officer of U City Plc.

VERSO International School reflects U City's overarching objective to capture real estate opportunities in close proximity to mass transit networks. Located on the outskirts of central Bangkok, VERSO is conveniently accessed through Light Rail Transit and major highway arteries.

According to Ms. Piyaporn, the school will be situated only 4 kilometers (5-minute drive) away from Suvarnabhumi Airport and will also be located near future Light Rail Transit on the Bangna-Suvarnabhumi line. The location near Suvarnabhumi Airport naturally positions VERSO to become an international hub and school of choice for a growing number of students choosing to come to Thailand from abroad.

Thana City and the surrounding area are poised to become a top-class community ecosystem with an extensive range of amenities within easy reach. This will include nearby condominiums and homes, as well as convenient access to shopping and lifestyle destinations, such as Mega Bangna, Central Village, Thana City's world-class golf course and club house facilities, restaurants and the newly opened Eastin Thana City Golf Resort.

The sleek and sophisticated architecture of the school was inspired by up-to-date research in learning-space design which highlights the impact of the physical environment on student achievement, behavior and wellbeing. The learning environment at VERSO is intentionally agile and flexible, designed as it is to maximize space in ways that not only enhance student learning but also wellbeing.

VERSO's iconic looped buildings create a feeling of flow, movement and an underlying sense of continuous learning. Every day students and teachers will work in a variety of spaces for instruction, collaboration, mentorship and sharing. The school's world-class campus offers students and teachers an incredible array of facilities and resources. These will include Thailand's only 50m climate-controlled indoor Olympic-standard swimming pool with a salt chlorination system and 10 competition lanes, an all-weather multi-purpose training pitch, multimedia production and recording studios, a 1,000-seater athletic stadium, maker labs and fabrication studios, a large gymnasium and fitness center, a full-size soccer pitch and a specially commissioned co-working space for teachers.

The construction of the school is set for completion in early 2020 with the first cohorts of students set to open the school in August 2020. Further information on VERSO is available on the school's website   http://www.verso.school. The school's Admissions Office will be open from September 2019.

About BTS Group Holdings

BTS Group Holdings PCL (BTSG) is a privately-owned conglomerate that engages in four business units; Mass Transit, Media, Property and Services. Listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), BTSG is a constituent member of the SET50 "Bluechip" Index, MSCI Asia Pacific Index, FTSE4Good, Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and among the largest companies in Thailand.

For more information, please visit: www.btsgroup.co.th
About U City

U City PCL is a listed Thai property investor and developer with over 30 years of experience and a market capitalization of THB 12,687mn (USD 389mn). U City's strategy is to invest in quality real estate portfolio worldwide. The value enhancement investment of U City is through the development and promotion of synergies within the portfolio. The strategic expansion includes partnership, transit–oriented development, and being conscious of local environmental and social needs.

U City portfolio includes a substantial presence across Europe and Asia, mainly in the hospitality sector. There are 116 operating and pipeline hotels which consists of 30,215 keys (57 hotels or 9,209 keys which are owned, financial lease and operating lease hotels and 59 hotels or 21,006 keys of which are under management contracts). U City also possesses two hotel management platforms and related spectrum of brands under Vienna House and Absolute Hotel Services that allow U City to expand organically and flexibly.

Solely or through joint-ventures with leading companies, U City has considerable multi-year pipeline of projects that include condominiums, an international school, a mixed-use building and landmark hotels, which not only allow U City to capture broader opportunities but enable risk diversification and business cycle mitigation. U City's major shareholder is BTS Group Holdings Public Company Limited (BTSG), a listed conglomerate and a constituent member of the SET50 Index. BTSG has designated U City as the dedicated property development vehicle for the company.

For more information, please visit: www.ucity.co.th
About Fortune Hand Ventures Ltd

A well-respected member of Hong Kong's local and international school communities, the Liang Family has been steadfast in its support for education and schooling for three generations. With close to 60 years of experience in education, the Liang Family founded Hong Kong's St. Johannes College in 1962, and the American International School in 1986.

Partnering with BTS Group and U City, the Liang Family is by far the biggest single foreign investor in international schooling in Thailand. After the Liang Family survived the fateful tsunami in Khao Lak in 2004, they remain deeply thankful for the compassion and generosity of the Thai people who gave selflessly during this tragedy. Touched forever by the spirit of the Thai people, the Liang Family is honored to return to Thailand to invest in its international school system and build a school with 'Nam Jai' as one of its core values.


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