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Acquisitions to boost Metro Pacific profit


By Zinnia B. Dela Peña Updated February 22, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

MANILA, Philippines - Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), the local flagship of Hong Kong based investment holding firm First Pacific Co. Ltd., expects to report a significantly higher net profit this year due to full-year contributions of acquisitions made in 2008.

While MPIC did not indicate how much it earned last year, it hinted that the financial results were positive. In the nine months ending September 2008, MPIC reported a core net income of P143.3 million as against a net loss of P170.6 million, the prior year, mainly driven by higher contributions from water unit Maynilad Water Services Inc. and the improved performance of its hospital business.

“2009 earnings will definitely be much higher on a core basis given the inclusion of new businesses in our books. Growth prospects are still encouraging. Companies will be experiencing a drop in earnings but Metro Pacific will go against that trend,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of MPIC.

This year’s net earnings will already include contribution from North Luzon Expressway after MPIC completed the acquisition of 99.84 percent of First Philippine Infrastructure Inc. from the Lopez family’s First Philippine Holdings Corp. and Benpres Holdings Corp. in a deal valued at P12.262 billion.

MPIC’s toll road business alone chalked in a net income of P1.5 billion last year.

For this year, MPIC is allotting around P10.5 billion for capital expenditures and acquisitions. Of this amount, P6 billion will be channeled to Maynilad. Over P1 billion will be spent for the renovation and purchase of new equipment for its healthcare business. It owns a controlling stake in Makati Medical Center and Davao Doctors Hospital. It also secured a 20-year contract to operate the San Juan City-based Cardinal Santos Medical Center.

MPIC president Joey Lim said the group is budgeting P2.1 billion for the construction of the North Luzon Expressway’s Segment 8.1, which will link Mindanao Avenue to the main artery that connects Metro Manila to Northern Luzon.

Pangilinan said the group is budgeting P100 million for the acquisition of three hospitals, two of which are located in Metro Manila while another two or three based in the United States.

MPIC wants to acquire more private hospitals to reinforce its position as a major player in the healthcare industry. The group is also interested in bidding for Veterans Hospital should the government decide to put it on the auction block.

In addition, MPIC wants to build a presence in port operations. It is hoping to enter into a compromise agreement with the Philippine Ports Authority on the public bidding for the North Harbor modernization project.

MPIC, together with its partner Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc., emerged as the sole bidder for the project last year, resulting in the declaration by the PPA of a failure of bidding.

Auctioned off are North Harbor’s container terminal, general cargo terminal, and the passenger terminal complex.

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