Singapore Investor Eyes N.D. Oil Patch

Danny Lim, founding principal of Barons Companies of Singapore, speaks during the Bakken Investor Conference Friday, April 26, 2013, in Minot, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

MINOT, N.D. – A real estate investor from Singapore expects to make two or three deals in the Bakken before leaving a conference this week with plans to invest millions in North Dakota.

Danny Lim, founding principal of Barons Group of Companies, was among more than 200 people who attended the Bakken Investor Conference in Minot this week.

Lim said he raises funds from Singapore, India, Malaysia, China and other eastern countries that he’s interested in investing in western North Dakota residential and commercial projects.

Initially the fund is looking to make $5 million to $10 million in investments for a period of three to five years. But the group would like to establish a larger fund and return to North Dakota to invest as much as $100 million for the long term, Lim said.

“We’ll come back to North Dakota when things are a little more stable and we’ll know exactly who makes it and who got killed,” Lim said.

The company, which includes Property Barons, began doing work in the United States in 2009, buying properties from banks.

“We thought everybody is running out, perhaps we should start looking in,” Lim said.

The investors found success in the United States and decided to investigate North Dakota.

Before attending the conference this week, Lim said he thought there would be a huge demand for hotels. But after visiting, he’s reevaluating his strategy and looking for local partners.

He said he expected to make two or three deals and visit a Stanley apartment project before returning to Singapore today.

Lim said he’s nervous about the danger of overbuilding and the lack of information about what housing projects are being built.

“It’s everybody’s guessing game,” he said.

Lim said he’d like to see communities and the state compile information about building projects that have been permitted so developers can analyze that information.

“The main challenge is for the entire state of North Dakota to actually bring all of the statistics together so everybody knows what is being built and what is the supply and nobody gets burned,” Lim said.

International investors are interested in the Bakken, said Tom Rolfstad, economic development director for Williston. Williston has seen investors from Turkey, India, England and China and continues to receive interview requests from international media, Rolfstad said.

“A lot of the world is very interested in what’s going on here,” Rolfstad said.

Lim said he is leaving North Dakota impressed with the prospects.

“There are loads of opportunities but there are a lot of entrapments as well,” Lim said. “Easy to get in, but not easy to get out. I think the main strategy is to find how you can actually exit. For investors, most of the time, you don’t put in money forever.”