Thai utility Ratchaburi to invest $1.5 bln to boost capacity to 2023

* Plans 13 bln baht capital spending for 2015

* To study investment in 9 projects, mostly in Myanmar and SE Asia

* Expects 2015 net profit of 5.2 bln baht, lower than 2014 (Adds investment plan through 2023, details)

By Manunphattr Dhanananphorn

BANGKOK, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Thailand’s largest private power producer, Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Pcl , said it plans to invest 13 billion baht ($399 million) in 2015, mostly on expanding its power business at home and Southeast Asia.

The amount is part of a plan to spend $1.5 billion to boost its electricity generating capacity by 47 percent to 9,700 megawatts (MW) by 2023, Chief Executive Officer Pongdith Potchana told reporters on Thursday.

The utility, 45 percent owned by state-run Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), is studying nine new projects, mostly in Myanmar and other Southeast Asian countries, and also planed to join with EGAT to expand its business at home and within the region, Pongdith said.

“Myanmar is our top priority,” Pongdith said, adding the company expected to sign an agreement with Myanmar for a 2,640-MW coal-fired power plant in Myeik in November.

Ratchaburi has also joined with PTT PCL, Thailand’s top energy firm, to study the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Myanmar.

The utility aimed to hold about 20-30 percent of the project with an estimated cost of about 20-30 billion baht, he said.

Ratchaburi has been aggressively seeking acquisitions of commercially operated power plants to boost its earnings growth and cash flow. It has installed capacity of about 6,578 MW from operating and developing projects.

It aims to boost its enterprise value by 12.8 billion baht to 133 billion baht in 2015 through several investments.

For 2015, Ratchaburi expected net profit of 5.2 billion baht, lower than the 6.3 billion earned in 2014, mainly due to lower revenue from electricity sales under long-term contracts, Pongdith said.

The company aimed to start booking revenue from its 40-percent owned, 1,878 MW Hongsa power plant in Laos, with the first unit expected to begin operations in June, he said. ($1 = 32.60 Baht)

Source: Reuters

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