Thai-based chemical firm Indorama targets higher revenue, plans $5.5 bln investment

investment@

* Plans $4 bln investment in packaging, chemicals, olefin business Investment to be spread over four years

* Targets 25 percent revenue growth in 2019

BANGKOK, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Indorama Ventures is targeting a 25 percent spike in revenue for 2019 and plans to invest $5.5 billion over the next four years to further grow its fibres, chemicals and upstream business, CEO of the Thailand-based company said on Wednesday.

The firm plans to split $4 billion of the investment budget across its packaging, chemicals and olefin business segments with a goal to double its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to $3 billion by 2023, from $1.4 billion in 2018, Aloke Lohia told Reuters.

This investment plan is in addition to the company's committed capital expenditure of $1.5 billion, he added.

Production of PET resin, a polymer used to make plastic bottles, is Indorama's main business. It also makes fibres used in products like seat belts and tires and, to a smaller extent, olefins, feedstock for PET resin, under its upstream business.

Indorama's longer-term strategy is "to increase the size of other polymers through packaging and fibres and when the scale is large enough, to go upstream" to build the firm's captive olefin demand, Lohia said in an interview.

Indorama, which counts Nestle, German automaker Audi and Swedish furniture retailer Ikea among its customers, sees Africa as a growth market, Lohia said.

Known for undertaking mergers and acquisitions worldwide, Indorama bought a PET plant in Egypt last year and in Nigeria this month to meet growing demand for bottles as its customers Coca-Cola and Pepsi expand in those markets.

The company, which currently gets about 40 percent of its revenue from North America and 30 percent from Europe, raked in sales of $10.7 billion in 2018, up 27 percent year on year.

"Its business is dynamic, consistently doing M&As and enhancing its portfolio," senior executive vice president of Finansia Syrus Securities, Suwat Sinsadok, said.

Lohia, 60, started Indorama in Thailand with around 200 employees in 1994, and the company has since grown to employ 18,000 people across 31 countries.

However, the company could face headwinds as growing preference of eco-friendly products, especially in its key markets, prompts customers to ditch single-use plastics.

The company has a recycling business, but costs are high and could be harder to scale, analysts say.

Lohia, however, pointed out that Indorama is already a key player in the recycling space and was working with clients downstream for more recycled products and bio-renewables.

The CEO also shrugged of rumours that the Lohia family, which holds over 60 percent in Indorama, was selling off shares in the company, saying: "We clarified that was not the case".

The rumours and worries Indorama's fourth quarter would be weak due to unplanned plant shutdowns in Europe had driven its shares down 11 percent in January. (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Himani Sarkar)