TTA increases presence within energy sector with Baht 169 million investment of Philippines' Coal Mining Venture

Back Aug 14, 2009

Thoresen Thai Agencies Plc. ("TTA") continues with its business diversification strategy through its acquisition of a 21.18% interest in Merton Group (Cyprus) Limited, a coal production venture, thereby extending its capabilities in coal transport/logistics.

M.L. Chandchutha Chandratat, Managing Director of Thoresen Thai Agencies Plc. (TTA), revealed that Soleado Holdings Pte. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of TTA, has acquired 21.18% of Merton Group (Cyprus) Limited ("Merton Group"), which is the sole international partner in SKI Energy Resources Inc. ("SERI"), a joint coal mining venture established in the Philippines between Merton Group and SKI Construction Group ("SKI"). Total investment for this transaction is Baht 169,650,000 (US$ 5 million).

"TTA's primary objective for this investment is to increase its exposure to the energy business, as the global demand for energy continues to increase. The prospects for the coal business, which remains a primary fuel for power generation particularly in the Asian region, remain strong. A variety of forecasts from industry experts and investment analysts project coal demand to continuing growing strongly over the next twenty years or more." said M.L.Chandchutha.

The Philippines government is seeking to actively encourage investment in the coal mining sector to develop its substantial domestic coal reserves.   SERI now holds 13,000 hectares (or 81,250 rais) under Coal Operating Contracts or COCs granted by the Department of Energy in the Philippines. SERI plans to initially develop the mine site at Danao, where coal reserves have already been identified with good thermal characteristics for quality commercial production.

"This investment is quite unique, because it allows TTA to enter the coal industry with a limited upfront investment, unlike many other coal projects in the region. A substantial portion of the concession area remains unexplored. The potential for development of these areas and the possibility of acquiring  additional exploration concessions elsewhere in the Philippines means that TTA can scale up its investment in a discipline manner over time to grow this business."  M.L. Chandchutha commented.

"Towards the export potential, other mining operations in the Philippines do currently export coal (largely to China for industrial use), and as TTA currently carries coal for other shipping clients, there would be potential for TTA to collaborate with Merton Group on the logistics and transport of coal from the Philippines. This is consistent with TTA's business strategy to increase its exposure to the energy sector, while making investments which offer synergies with its established shipping and logistics activities," M.L.Chandchutha added.

M.L Chandchutha ultimately remarked, "The Merton Group investment is an exciting move for TTA, but we are continually looking for further investments in our focus areas of transport, energy, and infrastructure. We are not stopping here."


About Merton Group, SKI and SERI

Merton Group was established in 2007, with the objective of monetizing the growing demand for energy worldwide, particularly in the fast growing economies of Asia such as China and India.

Merton Group initially acquired interests in the Naga Mine site in Cebu, Philippines, and subsequently entered into a joint venture with SKI in SKI's Danao site (also in Cebu).

Founded in 1976, SKI is one of the top five general contractors in the Philippines and the one securing coal concessions which led to its acquisition of the Danao site since 2005.

SERI has been established in 2008 as the joint venture between Merton Group and SKI to develop the Naga mine site and Danao mine site.


About TTA
TTA is a leader in the dry bulk shipping industry, providing liner and charter services, and is a major player in Southeast Asian offshore services related to oil and natural gas drilling and subsea engineering.  TTA is amongst the top 50 companies listed on the Stock Exchange of Thailand with high market value and high liquidity.