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Thailand's Gulf Energy sets sights on telecom in empire expansion

Infrastructure contracts awarded to billionaire tycoon hint at cozy ties with state

A Gulf Energy power plant in Thailand's Chonburi Province. The company is the country's top independent power producer.

BANGKOK -- After a quick rise to prominence in a country not generally friendly to startups, independent Thai power provider Gulf Energy Development is rapidly diversifying into natural gas and telecommunications, raising suspicion about tacit government support.

Gulf Energy, run by Sarath Ratanavadi, Thailand’s second-richest man, last month announced a planned tender offer for Intouch Holdings, which is the top shareholder of the country's largest wireless carrier Advanced Info Service. 

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