February 3, 2014 / 10:33 AM / 4 years ago

Thai state power firm may delay $515 mln infrastructure fund

BANGKOK, Feb 3 (Reuters) - State-owned Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) said on Monday its plan to raise at least 17 billion baht ($515 million) by listing an infrastructure fund could face delays due to the country’s ongoing political unrest.

EGAT, Thailand’s largest power producer with installed capacity of 15,000 megawatts, needed an approval from the new government to go ahead with the initial public offering of the fund, EGAT Governor Soonchai Kumnoonsate told reporters.

“We have planned to offer the fund in July to August, but we need to seek approval from the new government and we are unsure if the new government will be established in time,” Soonchai said.

The Election Commission said last week it could take at least six months for the new government to be set up after the Feb. 2 election poll. Analysts said political risk remained while anti-government protesters marched downtown to topple caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawara.

EGAT, which aimed to invest 39 billion baht this year, wanted to used the proceeds from the IPO to finance construction of new power plants and transmission lines.

The power firm appointed Siam Commercial Bank, the country’s third-largest lender by assets, as financial adviser for the launch of the fund.

Another project to be delayed included its 800-megawatt power plant project in southern province of Krabi, which needed an approval from the new government given the caretaker government cannot approve any project that would lead to long-term commitments to the new government, Soonchai said.

The state power firm has said it aimed to spend about 400 billion baht during 2014-2018 to build new power plants and upgrade transmission networks.

With assets of more than $16 billion, EGAT is the sole power buyer, which purchases electricity from private power firms and neighbouring countries. It also owns and operates a high-voltage transmission network covering all parts of the country.

EGAT is among several Thai firms that raise money through such funds and BTS Group last year raised $2.13 billion via the initial public offering of a similar-styled infrastructure fund.

But some small and medium-sized companies delayed their equity issues and fund sales after political tension escalated in November.

($1 = 33.0100 Thai baht)

Reporting by Pisit Changplayngam' Writing by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Matt Driskill

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