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Mirant boosts Asian presence with South Korea purchase

Mirant Corp. Wednesday said it will purchase South Korea’s Hyundai Energy Co. Ltd. (Henco) and build a 520 Mw combined cycle power plant in southern Korea, the company’s second entry into a new Asian market in a week.

The Atlanta, Ga., independent power producer said permits and land necessary for the development are already in place. With regulatory approvals completed, Mirant said it expected to accelerate the completion schedule. Transaction terms weren’t disclosed.

The plant site is in the 2,278-acre Yulchon industrial complex in Cholla province. The site also has expansion potential for another 1,000 Mw, Mirant said. The company said it has a sufficient inventory of gas turbines and may exercise its options on these turbines for this project.

“Our entry into the Korean market marks another step in executing our Asian strategy and moves us closer to achieving our goal of 10,000 Mw in Asia by 2005,” said Rick Kuester, CEO of Mirant’s Asia business group. “As Korea continues its deregulation into the gas sector, we see opportunities to integrate the Henco project into our global LNG strategy.”

This summer Mirant reported plans to buy Puerto Rico’s Ecoelectrica Holdings Ltd., including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal that provides natural gas to the power plant. At the time, Mirant executives said EcoElectrica is the world௿½s first independent power producer fueled by LNG, and predicted it would serve as a “template” for similar developments for the company on a worldwide basis.

Construction of the South Korean project is expected to begin in the latter half of 2002, and the simple cycle operations are estimated to come on line in the third quarter of 2004. The plant’s output would be delivered to the Korea Electric Power Co.

Mirant said it opened an office in Seoul, to further support development opportunities in Korea. Keuster said Korea is a fairly large market, with a growing demand for electricity. He explained it has the attributes for a strong country-based business.

“Through our announced initiatives, we broaden our regional presence, gain technical experience, and position ourselves for the future privatization of the Korean power sector,” Keuster said.

A week ago, Mirant reported completing the acquisition of HEI Power Guam from HEI Power Corp., a unit of Hawaii Electric Industries Inc. Mirant’s Philippine operations will manage and operate two, 26.5 Mw oil-fired steam units. The electricity will be delivered to the Guam Power Authority, which will also staff the plant.