In what looks to be a concerted push into the Southeast Asian energy sector, Japanese import and export conglomerate Marubeni Corporation has acquired a large stake of Cambodia’s power generation infrastructure.
In a Tokyo Stock Exchange filing dated June 2, Marubeni announced it had purchased a 20 per cent share of Malaysian firm, Leader Infrastructure Limited.
Leader Infrastructure operates Cambodia’s only 100-megawatt, coal-fired power plant in Preah Sihanouk province as well as a transmission network under subsidiaries Cambodia Energy Limited (CEL) and Cambodia Transmission Limited (CTL).
The power plant, which cost more than $195 million to build, began operations in February.
“Marubeni will contribute positively towards the operation of CEL/CTL and indirectly contribute towards the reliable power supply in Cambodia,” the Marubeni statement states.
“Marubeni envisages expanding its power business in Cambodia utilising its extensive knowledge and experience from its worldwide participation in the power industry.”
It’s the first time a Japanese company has entered Cambodia’s energy market, according to the statement.
It comes less than a week after Marubeni also announced it had entered a $977 million joint venture agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Co to expand an existing coal-fired power plant located in Pagbilao, the Philippines.
Hiroshi Suzuki, chief economist at Business Research Institute for Cambodia (BRIC), said he hoped Marubeni’s investment will bring know-how to Cambodia’s power sector.
“I hope the Marubeni’s participation encourages future large scale investments into Cambodia’s power sector,” he told the Post yesterday.
“[But] the size of Cambodia’s power sector market is not big enough to attract many [more] investment projects,” Suzuki added.
Suzuki also said Marubeni’s investment alone would not solve Cambodia’s power-related issues, such as the unstable supply and the high cost of electricity.
Leader Infrastructure received a 33-year build-operate-transfer land concession from the Cambodian government in 2010 for the Preah Sihanouk power plant project – three years for construction and 30 years for operation before handing the plant back over to the state.