Bangkok-listed industrial power producer B Grimm Power Plc (BGRIM) registered a 21 per cent increase in net operating profit last year even as the Covid-19 pandemic wrought havoc on the global economy.

BGRIM chairman and president Dr Harald Link said the 2.617 billion baht ($85 million) in earnings –attributable to B Grimm Group of which BGRIM is a member – was largely due to the increase in generating capacity and power sales to industries in Thailand. BGRIM last year added 162MW in capacity which boosted its output by six per cent to 14,451GWh.

The 66-year-old businessman said power demand from BGRIM’s industrial clientele in the kingdom witnessed a strong rebound in September-January over the corresponding period a year earlier.

BGRIM’s customer base continued to broaden as new industrial clients with a total requirement of 15MW were connected to the company’s supply system last year, Dr Link said.

This year, the Swiss-born industrialist said, BGRIM expects more than 40MW in additional industrial demand to further consolidate its customer base.

The full-year performance of large-scale solar farms in Vietnam and a reduction in the price of natural gas contributed to BGRIM’s robust results last year, Dr Link said.

Natural gas prices – the main fuel of BGRIM’s power plants – dipped 10.4 per cent year-on-year to 244 baht per million British Thermal Units (BTU) last year, the German-raised philanthropist pointed out.

Bangkok-listed state-owned energy giant PTT Plc expects natural gas prices to further contract to an average of 225 baht per million BTU this year, according to Dr Link.

In addition to its goal of increasing power purchase agreements (PPA) capacity to 7,200MW by 2025 from the current 3,058MW, he said BGRIM has advanced its achievements under the “Doing Business with Compassion” philosophy.

Practised for more than 143 years by B Grimm Group, Dr Link said the philosophy highlights cooperation with partners in all business groups at home and abroad, as evidenced by a variety of partnership pacts clinched over the last six months.

According to BGRIM, these include a partnership with Univentures Plc (UV) which engages in real estate investment and development business with various products and services; and an alliance with the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and its subsidiary PEA ENCOM International (PEA ENCOM) to pursue business opportunities such as independent power supply (IPS) projects, micro grid systems and smart micro grid system.

On December 15, through its wholly-owned subsidiary B Grimm Solar Power 1 Co Ltd, BGRIM began commercial operation of a large-scale solar farm on 40ha of land in Banteay Meanchey province’s Sisophon town in Cambodia, which it noted is despite Covid-19 and recent flooding in the area.

BGRIM added that this marked the first Thai power-plant project to operate under a PPA entered with state-owned energy utility Electricite du Cambodge (EdC), for a period of 20 years and backed by a guarantee from the government of Cambodia.

The company announced on November 18, 2019 that B Grimm Solar Power 1 had entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire all the shares of Cambodia’s Ray Power Supply Co Ltd for a total consideration of $300,000.

Dr Link said the conclusion of the syndicated green loan for the Phu Yen TTP JSC solar farm project in Vietnam was another of BGRIM’s “proud achievements” last year.

This was the first green credit in Thailand and the CLMV region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam) to be certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, which constitutes part of an independent global environmental movement, he said.

The Japanese-led Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Phu Yen TTP on October 9 penned the $186 million loan to develop and operate the 257MW solar farm in Hoa Hoi commune of the southern Vietnamese province of Phu Yen, according to Viet Nam News.

The Vietnamese daily reported that financing comprised a $27.9 million loan funded by Metro Manila-based ADB, a $148.8 million syndicated loan (B loan) funded by commercial banks – with ADB as lender of record – and a $9.3 million loan from Leading Asia’s Private Infrastructure Fund (LEAP), which is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

BGRIM noted that it was also honoured with five awards for its sustainable development from four organisations in December, highlighting the company’s dedication.

The company said it obtained an “excellent” (five-star) rating from the corporate good governance survey of listed companies conducted by the Thai Institute of Directors Association, was ranked in the Thaipat Institute’s ESG100 List for a third consecutive year last year and won the Sustainability Disclosure Award 2020.

It added that it was selected for the Sustainable Stock List (THSI) by the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) for a third consecutive year and that it scored 100 out of 100 by the Thai Investors Association for the quality of holding its annual general meeting of shareholders last year.

BGRIM said its power projects under development have progressed with the Bo Thong Wind Farms 1 & 2 – with a combined installed capacity of 16MW in northeastern Thailand’s Mukdahan province – 80.8 per cent complete and on schedule to begin its commercial run in the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, it said, work on its nine SPPs construction have recorded nine-to-32 per cent in progress, with some of them set to start commercial operation in the second half of next year.

BGRIM added that it is set to pay a dividend of 0.30 baht per share for the second half of last year, after offering an interim dividend of 0.15 baht per share, hence maintaining a full-year dividend pay-out at 45 per cent of net operating profit.

The closing date for dividend eligibility is March 10, with the dividend payment slated to be made on May 11, the company said.

On the SET, BGRIM’s share price inched down 0.75 baht or 1.59 per cent to close at 46.50 baht on March 8 for a market capitalisation of 121.22 billion baht, with 13.20 million shares traded.