Panva Gas Holdings has acquired a piped-gas project in Foshan - its fifth new project in a week - in a deal that will give it a 50-year franchise to supply natural gas to the city in Guangdong province. Panva yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to pay a maximum of 81 million yuan (HK$75.24 million) for 45 per cent of state-owned Foshan Gas, which will be restructured. The company's shares climbed 6.29 per cent to $4.65 yesterday. Panva shares have jumped about 14 per cent in the two sessions since three gas deals in Sichuan and one in Harbin were announced earlier this week. 'The projects are positive to the company's prospects,' an analyst at a European brokerage said. 'The key question is when the company will sign formal contracts as many of these projects are just bound by memorandums of understanding now.' Analysts expect more new projects to come on stream given Panva has funding from a US$50 million convertible bond issued in April. 'The funding gives a much-needed support to these new projects,' the analyst said. The acquisitions of the projects come amid efforts by the central government to deregulate the market and promote the use of environmentally friendly natural gas. In addition, officials want to promote the consumption of natural gas processed at the Guangdong liquified natural gas terminal. Analysts said the Foshan deal would yield an internal rate of return of between 15 per cent and 24 per cent. Panva said its purchase price for the Foshan project would depend on the result of a revaluation of the target's net assets. It agreed to pay 45 per cent of the state-owned firm's revalued net asset value (NAV) plus a maximum premium of 100 per cent. This means a maximum price tag of 81 million yuan based on a preliminary revaluation of the NAV at 90 million yuan. Established in 1993, Foshan Gas owns 320km of gas pipeline and serves 56,000 residential customers, 23 industrial customers and 357 commercial customers. The new projects and Panva's strong third-quarter performance have prompted analysts to raise their profit forecasts. Analysts expect earnings to grow 32.31 per cent to HK$175.36 million this year and 24.12 per cent growth to $217.66 million next year, according to a poll by Thomson First Call.