US-based General Electric (GE) is considering Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries for its planned $20 billion worth of investment to expand its global energy portfolio from 2008-10.
GE Infrastructure, with expected revenues of $70 billion in 2008, has set up an office in Singapore to explore business opportunities across Southeast Asia. Its businesses include energy, aviation, transport and water-related technology.
In Asean, the infrastructure business represents 40% of GE's total revenue.
''Apart from China and India, we recognise Thailand and other Asean nations as very important markets,'' said John Rice, GE vice-chairman and chief executive of GE Infrastructure. ''We are making sure that we pay attention to every market where opportunities arise.''
Mr Rice made the remarks at a luncheon held yesterday by the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand (Amcham).
He said that Asean still needed key infrastructure such as power generation, oil and gas, aviation and financial services.
''For countries like Thailand, there is a strong need for infrastructure. We are looking for investment opportunities, for example companies we can acquire or those who can be our partners,'' said Mr Rice.
''There are a number of projects around Thailand we are looking at. The country is going to expand power generation capacity to serve energy demand over the next ten years.''
Asked how much of the global targeted investment was allocated to Southeast Asia, Mr Rice said it depended on the business opportunities.
''We have been growing [the investment] portfolio by 30% for three years to help us meet soaring energy demand by the end of 2010,'' he said, adding that targeted projects are pipelines, power generation, and renewable energy.
In the transport field, GE has been in close contact with the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) for mass transit schemes.
From GE Infrastructure's total revenue of $57.9 billion in 2007, close to $5 billion was generated from the Asia-Pacific region.
The group expects the revenue to increase 15-20% this year, Mr Rice said.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market for GE Infrastructure with all areas growing at double digits, he added.
GE Infrastructure accounted for about 40% of the parent company's earnings in 2007. Equipment orders have grown nearly 40% annually for the last three years.
The group operates in 125 countries worldwide, Mr Rice said