Thai power producer Gulf Energy Development Pcl expects to finalise a joint venture (JV) with the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, in the second quarter this year, a senior executive told Reuters in an interview.
“Once we conclude talks with Binance on business model and shareholder agreements, a JV will be formed, which will apply for the license with regulators,” Gulf chief financial officer Yupapin Wangviwat said.
She expects the JV to take about six months to obtain the license for trading and then other features would follow.
Cryptocurrency trading has exploded in Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy with transactions reaching 251 billion baht ($7.57 billion) in November, prompting authorities to introduce regulation.
The Gulf-Binance crypto exchange would have to comply with regulations, said Yupapin.
Last year Thailand’s securities watchdog filed a criminal complaint against Binance for operating without a digital asset license.
The move into crypto comes from its owner and CEO Sarath Ratanavadi’s plans to expand into digital infrastructure, which took shape last year when it increased its ownership of InTouch Holdings Pcl to 42% in a 48 billion baht deal.
InTouch owns the country’s the country’s largest mobile operator, AIS.
On Thursday, Gulf established a separate JV with Singapore Telecommunications and AIS to build data centres.
Initial plans include 20 to 40-megawatts (MW) of data centres in Thailand, Yupapin said, with an estimated cost of up to $400 million.
“In the longer term we plan to reach 100 MW,” Yupapin said on growing demand.
Gulf Energy traces its beginnings to 1990s and began making its mark after winning multiple power agreements including contracts worth 5.3-gigwatts in 2013.
It went on to have one of Thailand’s biggest IPOs in 2017, catapulting Sarath onto the Forbes Rich list, which currently ranks him as fifth richest in Thailand with a net worth of $12.4 billion.
Gulf also expanded its infrastructure portfolio in recent years, snapping up projects including a $1.3 billion LNG project and $927 million container terminal with the government in recent years.
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