Bharat Heavy Electricals is planning overseas buys to gain new markets and technologies and will diversify into areas such as transmission, transportation and nuclear power, its chairman said on Friday.

B.P. Rao, who moved into the top slot at India's largest power-equipment maker last week, said Europe and the former Soviet republics were focus areas for the firm.

"Acquisitions used to be viewed to acquire intellectual property rights or to acquire a market," Rao told reporters at a briefing. "We're looking at opportunities for satisfying one of those needs."

Rao did not deny media reports about BHEL beginning due diligence for buying into a Hungarian power plant parts maker, but offered no comment.

BHEL is in talks with global firms like Areva, Toshiba and Westinghouse Electric for nuclear technology tie-ups, Rao said. It already has a similar deal with a joint venture of General Electric and Hitachi.

It will sign a joint venture with an overseas partner for the power-transmission business in three months, Rao said.

BHEL also plans to jointly bid with GE-Hitachi to supply engines to the Indian Railway, Rao said. Details of the tender size were yet to come, he said.

The firm had won 200 billion worth of contracts since the fiscal year began in April, taking its total order book to 1.25 trillion rupees, Rao said.

Rao said BHEL was on target to boost manufacturing capacity to 15,000 megawatts (MW) by March 2010, at a cost of 24 billion rupees, as were plans to expand to 20,000 MW by March 2011.

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