ING opens office in Thailand for more mergers

March 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
ING Groep NV, the largest Dutch financial-services company, said it opened an office in Thailand as it expects more merger and financing deals involving Thai companies.

The Amsterdam-based bank received approval from Thailands central bank and the ministry of commerce allowing it to undertake economic and market research as well as gather data to support cross-border advisory and financing work for clients, it said on Thursday.

While the volatile equities market has increased local companies appetite for debt products and services, we also see increasing opportunities in cross-border mergers and acquisitions as European or regional corporates seek to expand their exposure to this high growth market, Wilfred Nagel, head of ING Wholesale Banking in Asia, said in the statement.

ING ranks eighth among merger advisers in Thailand this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ING advised Banpu Pcl, Thailands biggest coal miner, on its $84 million purchase of four power plants in China in February.

ING also helped Gulf Electric Pcl, a unit of Thailands second-largest publicly traded power producer, arrange a $130 million loan to finance the construction of a power plant. Thai companies are tying up with local or overseas investors to boost their businesses, ING said. INGs Thai office will work with the banks Asian investment banking headquarters in Singapore, it said.

EGAT Pcl, Thailands biggest power company, said last week it will need to borrow money to build new domestic power plants after its plan to raise as much as 34.85 billion baht ($898 million) in a share sale was declared illegal. The court decision to block the government from selling shares in EGAT is a setback to Premier Thaksin Shinawatras plans to sell other state assets.

Protesters trying to oust Thaksin oppose his plan to sell government assets after his family made a tax-free $1.9 billion from selling a stake in Shin Corp, a company he founded, to Singapores Temasek Holdings Ltd. Sales of state companies, including telecommunication majors TOT Corp and CAT Telecom, have been held up by the EGAT case. Thaksin in February dissolved parliament and called a snap election for April 2.