Power utility CESC is looking to acquire power companies in India, coal mines overseas and sell 20 percent stake in its retail arm, that is expected to break-even in a year, a senior official said on Thursday.

CESC is in talks with three private equity (PE) firms to divest up to 20 percent in its retail arm, Spencer's Retail, if it gets "proper value," Sanjiv Goenka, vice chairman of CESC, told reporters.

"Our sales per sqaure feet has increased to 800 rupees in October compared to 625-650 rupees a year ago. We are hopeful that our retail business would break-even in another 12 months," he said.

CESC is seeking to expand its core business organically as well as through acquisitions, Goenka said. He has plans to buy coal mines in Indonesia, South Africa and Australia.

"In Indonesia we had looked at 6 coal mines for acquisition, but in all these cases the actual reserve was a fraction of the stated reserve and hence the valuation were not right," Goenka said.

"We are in a constant look out for opportunities provided the reserve is good. We are exploring some offers in Indonesia, South Africa and Australia."

At home the utility is looking to acquire a power project.

It acquired a majority stake for 2 billion rupees in a Maharashtra-based unlisted power plant developer, Dhariwal Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (DIPL), in August.

"We acquired DIPL as it was a nice fit to our expansion plans. Similarly, irrespective of the size, if a project suits our scheme of things, we are open for another acquisition."

Goenka said he was in talks with several parties, but did not name them.

DIPL is setting up a 28 billion rupees, 600 MW thermal power station in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, and expects financial closure for it by early November 2009, he said. However, the financial closure for its 600 MW power project in Haldia, West Bengal, has been delayed.

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