BANGKOK, Thailand, Jan. 3, 2001Electricity Generating PLC (EGCO), Thailand’s first independent power company, is taking further step to boost its portfolio by acquiring majority interests in two large scale power generation schemes.
EGCO looks set to acquire a 47.5% in BLCP Power Ltd, sponsor of a 1,346 MW coal-fired project in Thailand, and 80% of the 126 MW Huay Ho hydropower scheme in Laos.
The planned $600 million (U.S.) acquisitions form part of EGCO’s strategy to double its electricity generating portfolio to 5,000 MW in early 2004, said Sitthiporn Ratanopas, managing director.
Only recently, EGCO acquired an additional 5% share in Nam Thuen 2, Laos’ largest hydropower project with the generating capacity of 1,060 MW, from Transfield Pty Ltd. of Australia. The deal boosted EGCO’s holding in the $1.1 billion project to 25% (OGJ Online Dec 4, 2000).
Earlier, EGCO purchased a 50% interest in Gulf Electric, a Bangkok-based company which holds a 60% share in Gulf Power Generation. Gulf Power Generation is the Thai-U.S. joint venture sponsor of the 734 MW coal-fired Bor Nok power project in Prachuab Khiri Khan, southern Thailand (OGJ Online Dec 19, 2000).
EGCO’s planned acquisition of the BLCP interest follows the decision by CLP Power International of Hong Kong, one of EGCO’s major shareholder, to buy 80% of the Asian power assets held by Powergen PLC, the UK-based electricity supplier.
Powergen held a 47.5% share in BLCP Ltd which is pursuing a $1 billion coal-fired project on the Thai eastern seaboard province of Rayong, about 220 km southeast of Bangkok. EGCO, owned 20.19% by CLP, will acquire all or part of the 47.5% BLCP interest, depending on results of Jan. 17 talks between EGCO and CLP executives.
But certainly, EGCO will be involved in the BLCP acquisition under an understanding which calls for EGCO to serve as CLP’s investment vehicle in Thailand, said Sitthiporn.
Banpu PLC, the Thai coal mining and power concern, holds the other half of 47.5% share in BLCP. Loxley PLC, the Bangkok-based trading conglomerate, has a 5% stake in BLCP.
The coal-fired power project has been delayed by 4 years due to slower growth in Thai power demand caused by the 1997 Asian economic crisis but is now set to begin operation in 2006.
Meanwhile, EGCO is negotiating to acquire a 60% stake in the Huay Ho project in Laos from Daewoo Corp. of South Korea as well as a 20% share in the same venture held by Loxley PLC.
Daewoo and Loxley have tried for 2 years to find buyers for their Huay Ho holdings. The Huay Ho consortium, which includes the Laotian government (20%), began selling power to the Thai national grid in September 1999. Sitthiporn said a Huay Ho deal could cost $100 million.
EGCO is also pursuing acquisition of stakes in small power producers in Thailand with a combined capacity of 200 MW this year. EGCO intends to acquire an additional 600 MW in 2001 and has allocated 6 billion baht ($142.98 million) for that purpose.
Most of the investment budget was raised in the form of debentures issued in 1999, of which 4 billion baht is still available, according to Machima Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy managing director.
Company executives also said it will bid on repowering projects planned by the Electric Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), a 25.52% owner of EGCO. EGAT plans to upgrade its North Bangkok, South Bangkok, and Bang Pakong power plants.