World newswires

Thailand blocks sale of French-owned power producer

Thailand's energy regulator said Thursday it would block PTT Group's multibillion-dollar acquisition of a company owned by French energy giant Engie on grounds that it could create a electricity monopoly in some areas.

Engie signed a deal with Thai group Global Power Synergy Public Company (GPSC), part of state-owned PTT, in June to sell a 69.1 percent stake in Glow, an independent coal-powered energy producer listed on the Thai Stock Exchange.

The sale would have been worth an estimated $3 billion.

But Narupat Amornkosit, secretary general of Thailand's Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), said in a statement that a unanimous decision was made to block the sale.

"After the ERC discussed, it found that the acquisition might lead to a monopoly within the electricity producing companies in some industrial areas, which would reduce competition," Narupat said.

GPSC is "exploring new alternatives" following the decision, president Chawalit Tippawanich in a statement.

The firm also insisted that it "strictly and completely followed legal requirements," and that GPSC would discuss the development with Engie.

An ERC spokesperson told AFP the company could also appeal against the decision.

The planned sale of Engie's stake in Glow was a part of the French energy giant's strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.

Faced with the upheaval of the European energy sector, Engie hoped to shift to renewable energies and energy services, which would have been regulated -- therefore making it less susceptible to market shifts.

The group has a sizeable presence in Southeast Asia via its stake in Glow, which operates in Thailand and Laos with 800 employees.

bur-dhc/joe/mtp

PTT EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION

Engie