By Binh Nguyen - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC - Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group (HAGL) is taking firm moves to diversify its investment portfolio in Laos, as the group has just struck a memorandum of understanding with the Laotian government to develop a major industrial cluster there.
HAGL said on its website that it would invest up to US$150 million in the industrial cluster of sugar refining and sugar cane planting, food alcohol and organic fertilizer production, and a thermo-power facility in Attapeu Province.
The sugar refinery and sugar cane growing will take some US$100 million while US$18 million will go to a 28-megawatt thermo-power plant and a 15,000-ton-per-year food alcohol factory.
Nguyen Van Minh, deputy general director of HAGL, said the industrial cluster was important to the group and Laos since this project would help increase the group’s revenue and improve income for the people working for the cluster. But Minh did not said when this project would get off the ground.
The industrial cluster is just one of HAGL’s projects under construction and in the offing in Laos, particularly in Attapeu Province. Hoang Anh Gia Lai Hydropower Joint-stock Co. under the group has broken ground for two hydropower projects in Laos and is completing procedures for a third project of this type in the province.
HAGL Chairman Doan Nguyen Duc told the Daily on Wednesday that work began on the 111-megawatt Nam Cong 2 and 3 earlier this month and would go online in the next two years in Attapeu Province.
The group said on its website that the two hydropower plants would have their generators tested in September 2013 and would run at full steam in December that year. Hoang Anh Attapeu Electric Limited Co. will develop and operate these projects within 40 years.
The two projects require combined investment capital of nearly US$135 million, including almost US$79 million for the 66-megawatt Nam Cong 2 project and the rest for the other.
The Nam Cong 2 and 3 hydropower plants were designed to generate average annual electricity output of over 433 million kWh, which Duc said would be sold via a Lao partner to Thailand at 6 U.S. cents per kWh in accordance with the agreements signed by relevant parties.
Asked why HAGL will not sell electricity to Vietnam’s EVN, Duc said the Lao partner agreed to offer a price that was around 30% higher than the normal rate in Vietnam.
Duc said HAGL was now in the final process of handling procedures for its third hydropower project in Laos. This 110-megawatt project is scheduled for construction next year.
HAGL is also growing at least 25,000 hectares of rubber trees in Laos as part of the group’s plan to plant 51,000 hectares of rubber by 2012 in Vietnam’s Central Highlands region as well as neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
HAGL is developing 27,000 hectares of rubber trees this year and next. Duc said the group would have finished planting the 51,000 hectares in 2012, with over US$225 million investment capital planned for this area.
HAGL expected to have yields from rubber projects in 2012, and the 51,000 hectares of rubber trees to turn out 127,500 tons of dried latex for export. Besides, the 51,000 hectares of rubber trees will bring in three million cubic meters of wood for the group to make furniture products.