Netherlands-based mall developer ECC International Real Estate Hanoi announced plans to invest 400-500 million USD over the next five years to develop five to six malls in Vietnam and Thailand.

Its first resort-style mall, to cost 2.9 billion baht (96 million USD), is scheduled to open in the Thai city of Chiang Mai next December.

Tjeert Kwant, president and chief executive officer of the company, said ECC will announce its first project in Vietnam , a mall in HCM City , in the next three months.

"Vietnam is recognised as a different kind of market from Thailand, and our first shopping mall in HCM City will have a ‘downtown mall' concept with a small footprint and maximum utilisation of retail space," Kwant told the Thai English language newspaper The Nation.

The company decided to shift its investment focus from Europe to Southeast Asia around six years ago since the continent's shopping-mall market was reaching saturation.

"We are entrepreneurial, and we have started our business in Thailand with a good feeling. We feel the potential is 100 percent both in Thailand and Vietnam ," Kwant said./.