Absolute Energy CEO Becomes Thailand’s Newest Billionaire
Somphote Ahunai, the founder of Energy Absolute Pcl (EA), a Bangkok-based biodiesel producer and solar plant operator, became a billionaire as the stock more than tripled this year to a record.
Somphote, 46, owns about 40 percent of Energy Absolute, according to a March 27 filing to the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The stake is valued at $1.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Investors are betting on higher earnings from solar and wind power plants as Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy increases its usage of renewable energy. The company’s revenue and profit are expected to climb as solar and wind power plants begin operating, said Suwat Sinsadok, an analyst at CIMB Securities (Thailand) Co.
“Somphote’s engineering and financial background has been a complete combination in successfully implementing the solar and power plant projects,” said Suwat, referring to the wind-power projects. “The company’s earnings will grow exponentially in the coming years with its high efficiency and projects.”
The company’s share price rally this year makes it the second-best performer on Thailand’s Market for Alternative Investment, which includes 101 small- and medium-sized companies. Energy Absolute accounts for more than a third of the weighting on the index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The stock was unchanged at a record 25.25 at the close in Bangkok, after rising as much as 2 percent earlier today.
Energy Absolute has the capacity to produce more than 211,000 gallons (800,000 liters) of biodiesel and 80 tons of glycerin a day, according to its website.
The company’s profit in the first quarter surged more than fivefold to 459.9 million baht ($14.3 million), according to its exchange filing. Earnings climbed as it started operating a 90-megawatt solar power plant in December, it said in a separate statement.
Commercial operations of another 90-megawatt solar power plant is expected at the end of 2014, followed by a similar-sized facility in December 2015, according to the company’s website. It also has plans for 12 wind power projects with combined capacity of 620 megawatts, it said.
Somphote was the managing director of Yuanta Securities (Thailand) Co., once the nation’s biggest stock brokerage by market share. He resigned from the company in May 2001, less than a week after the stock exchange suspended the brokerage from stock trading. The security company was then merged with another brokerage to become Maybank Kim Eng Securities (Thailand) Pcl (MBKET), the country’s biggest equity trading company.
Somphote has an engineering degree from Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, where he met his Taiwanese wife Blanca Huang, according to the U.S. business school’s website.
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