Singapore’s USE eyes Thailand’s power plant business

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Thai co-investors in Indian land sought

Universal Success Enterprises Ltd (USE), a family-owned Indian company based in Singapore, has set its sights on Thailand’s power plant industry.

Chairman Prasoon Mukherjee said the strong Thai economy was boosting electricity demand, prompting USE to look for local joint-venture partners in power plants here.

Each plant would generate a minimum of 500 megawatts of electricity and cost US$700 million or $1.4 million per MW.

At the same time, USE is looking for Thai partners to co-invest in property projects in India.

The company has three plots in that country – 4,900 hectares on Nayachar Island, 2,000 hectares in Gujarat and 1,200 hectares in Bengal.

USE wants to turn the land on Nayachar Island and the plot in Gujarat into industrial parks and facilities for tourism businesses.

The group has not yet decided on a plan for the plot in Bengal.

USE deals in power generation, trading, real estate, ports and restaurants, with turnover of US$200 million last year.

It is now building four power plants in India that are due for completion in 2014, with five more planned soon.

The combined electricity capacity from the nine plants will be 6,000 MW in 2015.

USE is also expanding its restaurant business in Thailand, which it started nine years ago with Outback Steakhouse.

Outback reopened yesterday with a new younger look and has moved up to the sixth floor of Siam Discovery.

The restaurant has 150 seats and a staff of 50. A new Thai menu represents the first time in the region for a local language choice.

Three more Outbacks are planned over the next five years at a cost of $800,000 each, in Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket.

USE has owned the Southeast Asian franchise rights for Outback since 2000. It now operates eight branches – three in the Philippines, two in Indonesia and one each in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

“We will expand our business more quickly than in the past, increasing our Outback Steakhouse outlets to 25 total within the next five years,” Mr Mukherjee said during a Bangkok visit yesterday.

Two new Outbacks will open next year including one in Jakarta.

USE is currently negotiating for the franchise rights from other international casual dining restaurant chains, including the Bonefish Grill and Carrabba’s Italian Grill.

The company expects the expansion will raise its annual sales turnover $1 billion.


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