Thailand’s Ch. Karnchang eyes Myanmar

SET-listed Ch. Karnchang Plc (CK), Thailand’s second-largest construction firm, is studying infrastructure development opportunities in Myanmar, particularly electricity, dam and highway projects.

Vorapote Uchupaiboonvong, executive vice-president for accounting and finance, said CK’s main infrastructure investments in Myanmar would focus on Greater Yangon, but a feasibility study for investment remained incomplete.

“There are many opportunities in Myanmar, and we’re ready to take the initiative, but the study must be completed before we enter the country,” he said.

Mr Vorapote said the possible investment value in Myanmar was difficult to estimate since the feasibility study was still ongoing.

“We conducted thorough studies in Laos before investing in that country. We’re adopting a similar approach for Myanmar,” he said.

He said CK’s investment framework in Myanmar could involve either a construction-based procedure or forming a joint-investment partnership with the Myanmar government.

Investment risks in the former pariah state include rules and regulations for investment and other associated risks, Mr Vorapote said.

He said CK subsidiary Thai Tap Water Supply Plc was also conducting a feasibility study into investing in tap water development in Mawlamyine, Myanmar’s fourth- largest city, and this could pave the way for CK to explore future investment incentives there.

“Generally, we have our Thai partners and companies for co-investing in other countries,” Mr Vorapote said.

Meanwhile, he said the company’s Xayaburi dam project in Laos was half-complete, with the remaining portion expected to take another four years.

The project will generate sales of electricity to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, which could help to keep the lid on electricity costs in this country, Mr Vorapote said.

Completion of Xayaburi dam’s second stage is scheduled for June, and more than 90% of electricity produced by the 1,285-megawatt dam will be exported to Thailand.

Protests against the dam continue as the sudden change in the Mekong’s tides are stoking fears among environmentalists that the livelihoods of villagers will be affected and the fish population will be decimated by unpredictable man-made tides.

The company is also studying investment opportunities in other Asean members, but its focus remains locked on Laos and Myanmar, as those two countries have many infrastructure needs and Thailand could reap benefits from projects related to energy sales upon completion, Mr Vorapote said.

In Bangkok, CK’s Blue Line project is 60% complete, while a deal on the Green Line extension is expected this month.

CK shares closed last Friday on the SET at 25 baht, unchanged, in trade worth 168 million baht.

Source: Bangkok Post

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