Thai Samart to invest $560 mln in 2016, focus on energy

* Aims for 2016 revenue of 24 bln baht, up 25 pct

* Says energy to be main growth driver for future revenue

BANGKOK, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Thai telecoms-to-energy group Samart Corp Pcl plans to invest 20 billion baht ($561 million) in 2016 to focus more on power, telecoms services and online businesses.

Samart has moved into the utility and transportation sectors to boost growth and help offset weak margins from its mobile handset business run by its Samart I Mobile Pcl (SIM) unit, President Watchai Vilailuck told reporters on Friday.

“Energy business will be (a) major revenue driver over the next few years, contributing about 40-50 percent of revenue.”

Samart expected to go ahead with plans to build four garbage-fuelled power plants in northern provinces of Thailand in late March, which will cost 1 billion baht, he said.

Samart, which runs an air traffic control business in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, is keen to invest in solar and hydro power plant projects, he added.

The company has long planned to join with partners to build a 2,000-mewagatt coal-fired power plant at Koh Kong, Cambodia. It is negotiating with the Thai state-owned power producer about the electricity tariff, Vilailuck said.

Samart aimed for 2016 revenue of 24 billion baht, up 25 percent from last year when revenue was below target after delays in information technology installation jobs and waste to energy projects, he said.

Its Samart Telcom Pcl unit, Thailand’s largest IT contractor, will generate 10 billion bhat, or about 40 percent of the group’s revenue in 2016, Watchai said, adding the group will tap more customers in large companies and small and medium business.

Another 7 billion baht will be contributed by SIM, which will be rebranded and focus more on providing online services such as mobile shopping and multimedia content services. ($1 = 35.6800 baht) (Editing by Alexander Smith)