Mitr Phol looks to expand sugar production in Asean

Corporate March 12, 2012 00:00

By Nalin Viboonchart

The Natio

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Mitr Phol Sugar Corporation is reviving its project in Cambodia and focusing on sugar production in Laos while also scouting for new opportunities in Burma to put itself in a good position to benefit from the Asean Economic Community in 2015.


"We have a concession to |cultivate sugarcane on some 10,000 hectares in this neigh-bouring country. We can do it |phase by phase. We’ve not spent |for the plant. Now there is a |good sign to invest in Cambodia. We will make a decision within |two to three months," Krisda Monthienvichienchai, president and CEO, said last week.

The company has turned its sights to Southeast Asia after succeeding in acquiring MSF, Australia’s third-largest sugar miller by production output, in a 313 Australian dollars (Bt10 billion) deal that was closed last week.

The relationship between Thailand and Cambodia was on the mend, so the company is studying whether it is possible to invest in the sugar project at this time.

Mitr Phol was running a pilot plantation in Cambodia. Whenever the company makes a decision to set up a plant, it will take two |years to raise sugarcane. During that period, the company will set |up a sugar miller. Thus, it will take two years for commercial operation.

Mitr Phol may invest about Bt1.5 billion for a sugar miller with daily capacity of 5,000 tonnes. The plant needs a supply of 300,000 tonnes of sugarcane per year.

"Cambodia has a quota to export sugar to Europe. This will be a good opportunity for us to expand the export market in the European Union," he said.

Mitr Phol is also exploring an opportunity to invest in Burma. However, there is no concrete plan now as it is unclear what the investment regulations in that country will look like.

Another focus was Laos. The company will spend on improving the productivity of its operation in Laos, as the country also enjoys an export quota to the European Union.

The sugar miller in Laos has the capacity to mill 5,000 tonnes of sugarcane per day with sugar output of 60,000 tonnes per year.

"We will now turn our focus more on Asia in order to prepare for the AEC in 2015," he said.

However, Mitr Phol also has ambitious plans for MSF. The management team in Australia is making a medium-term investment to expand the production capacity of MSF.

Mitr Phol is also interested in investing in a biomass power plant and ethanol. However, it has to consider the policies and incentives offered by the Australian government to convince the private sector to invest in renewable energy.

Mitr Phol expects MSF to start contributing 10 per cent to its revenue this year, he added.