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March 24, 2009

Thai energy giant eyes acquisitions in the region
PTT Plc, Thailand's top energy firm, said on Monday it was looking beyond its core gas and oil businesses for more acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific region.

"The energy business in Thailand is reaching saturation. Under the current economic circumstances, it's not easy for PTT to grow domestically," Tevin Vongvanich, executive vice president for PTT's planning and foreign business, told Reuters.

PTT, Thailand's biggest listed company, said earlier on Monday it would buy part of Australian miner Straits Resources Ltd's coal and salt assets in a deal worth up to $335 million.

The deal would mark PTT's first foray into the coal business and its second investment in Australia after buying oil and has explorer Coogee Resources for $170 million last December.

"We will not limit ourselves to the gas and oil business. We are aiming to invest in energy-rich countries like Australia and Indonesia," Tevin said.

He did not say if any other deals were currently in the works.

Thailand's government has set a price ceiling for some energy products such as liquefied petroleum gas, making it harder for the state-controlled company to boost growth at home, he said.

PTT's wholly-owned subsidiary, PTT International, oversees its foreign investments. They are expected to generate about 20 percent of PTT's revenues from 10 percent today, Tevin said, but he gave no timeframe.

Chitrapongse Kwangsukstith, chief operating officer of PTT's upstream petroleum and gas operation, said PTT was considering using new technology to covert coal into natural gas.

PTT said in February it had delayed investments in downstream areas such as petrochemical and refinery businesses to focus on upstream exploration.


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