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MPIC keen on Shell assets, other businesses as it eyes expansion

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) on Wednesday said it is exploring new opportunities as it expects 2022 to be a better year for the company amid prospects of economic recovery.

“We are interested in expansion,” MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. K. Lim said at a virtual briefing, referring to the expansion of the company’s fuel storage business.

“We are preparing to bid for Shell facilities,” he noted, adding that its role in such facilities will be “very much like what we are doing in the Philippine Coastal (Storage and Pipeline Corp.),” which stores and moves liquid fuels.

The company is working to diversify its existing portfolio into unregulated businesses.

“We continue to look at logistics despite the fact that we are getting out of warehousing. We are looking at e-commerce and how we can position ourselves in that space, and we are looking at some agribusiness ventures and related infrastructure businesses in food deliveries and food storage,” Mr. Lim said.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) President and Chief Executive Officer Ray C. Espinosa said they are forming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corp. (MIESCOR), which will be called Miescor Infrastructure Development Corp.

Miescor Infrastructure Development will house Meralco’s tower business, Mr. Espinosa said. “That would be the vehicle for any potential investors.”

“We should be a very strong player in the common tower space given the experience and expertise of MIESCOR as an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractor. Meralco, by the way, also owns and operates 200 telecom towers for its own telecommunications requirements,” Mr. Espinosa said.

“Our target is basically to have 30% of that market,” he added.

Mr. Lim said the MPIC will also “most likely” take a look at the remaining assets of real estate developer Landco Pacific Corp.

“They are experiencing very strong sales, actually their best financial results ever. [T]his is very encouraging for the board to hear…, [so] most likely we will take a look at its remaining assets and selectively decide which ones to pursue,” he noted.

In March, MPIC said it was in talks with the owners of Discovery World Corp., which is engaged in the hotel and resort business, for a “potential investment.”

MPIC used to invest in the real estate business. It exited in 2014 after it divested from Landco Pacific, the developer of the Peninsula de Punta Fuego, an exclusive seaside residential resort in Nasugbu, Batangas.

In a statement on Wednesday, the listed infrastructure conglomerate said its attributable net income for the first nine months of the year surged 147.6% to P12.38 billion from P5 billion in the same period a year ago.

Its operating revenues for the period grew 6.2% to P32.18 billion from P30.30 billion previously.

MPIC also reported a consolidated core net income of P9.5 billion for the first nine months, up 23% from P7.7 billion in the same period last year.

Its core net income for the third quarter climbed 44% to P3.5 billion compared with the same period in 2020.

The company has yet to release its full quarterly report.

The “acceleration of growth reflects an improvement in performance notwithstanding the continued imposition of varying levels of quarantine across the country to contain the [coronavirus] pandemic and was partially augmented by the impact of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, which lowered corporate income tax rates from 30% to 25%,” it said.

“As we look forward to 2022, we draw our attention to other essential priorities, foremost of which are innovation and digital transformation,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

“We intend to further explore opportunities in the digital space especially those that will make our operations and facilities even more efficient,” he added.

MPIC shares closed unchanged at P4.02 apiece on Wednesday.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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