En­ergy ty­coon to pour US$4.6bil into South-East Asia’s boom

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Foreign News -

BANGKOK: Gulf En­ergy De­vel­op­ment Pcl’s bil­lion­aire founder Sarath Ratanavadi plans 150 bil­lion baht (US$4.6bil) of in­vest­ment in power plants over the next four years af­ter the com­pany’s list­ing this month.

The ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing’s pro­ceeds will help fund some of the out­lay, with the rest com­ing from loans, Sarath, the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, said in an in­ter­view in his Bangkok of­fice.

His net worth is about US$2.2bil based on Gulf En­ergy’s US$733mil IPO, ac­cord­ing to the Bloomberg Bi­laires In­dex.

“Gulf En­ergy will have stronger fi­nan­cial lever­age for more ex­pan­sion fol­low­ing the IPO, as new power plants re­quire a large amount of money,” Sarath said on Fri­day.

“The com­pany is look­ing at a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties in Thai­land and neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.”

The firm is study­ing projects in such coun­tries as Myan­mar, Laos and Viet­nam, where faster eco­nomic growth will boost de­mand for elec­tric­ity, he said. South-East Asian na­tions are en­joy­ing an eco­nomic boom, spurred by a global re­cov­ery that’s buoy­ing ex­ports.

Sarath said the in­vest­ment plan will fo­cus on gas-fired elec­tric­ity and prob­a­bly cover ac­qui­si­tions of ex­ist­ing power plants and green-field projects.

Gulf En­ergy gen­er­ates al­most all of its power from nat­u­ral gas and will dou­ble out­put to 4,647 megawatts by 2024, ac­cord­ing to a fil­ing.

Coal faces reg­u­la­tory curbs due to pol­lu­tion and re­turns on re­new­able en­ergy are com­par­a­tively low, Sarath said. Such risks un­der­score the need for mea­sured ex­pan­sion, he added.

The IPO is the largest first-time share sale in Thai­land since Jas­mine Broad­band In­ter­net In­fra­struc­ture Fund priced a US$1.7bil of­fer­ing in 2015, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by Bloomberg. It adds to the US$2.5bil of first­time share sales in the coun­try this year, up from US$1.5bil dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2016, the data show. — Bloomberg

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