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Metro Pacific hikes capital to P21.5 B

Vol. XXII, No. 141 [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved listed holding firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s (MPIC) application to hike its capital to P21.55 billion from P12 billion to pay off debts and fund acquisitions.

The new shares are divided into 8.05 billion common shares worth a peso each, five billion class A preferred shares worth a centavo each and 1.5 billion class A preferred shares valued at a peso each, documents from the corporate regulator showed.

In November, the Pangilinan-led company told the stock exchange its shareholders had approved a plan to sell the shares to current investors, the public and a private equity firm.

MPIC said it would issue 889.04 million common shares at P2 each to Metro Pacific Holdings, Inc. — one of its major owners — to pay off a $40-million loan from Hong Kong-based parent First Pacific Co. Ltd. The company borrowed the money last year to complete its acquisition of UK-based Ashmore Investment Management Ltd.’s 24% interest in DMCI-MPIC Water Co., the parent of MPIC’s water utility arm Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

MPIC added that it would sell 1.5 billion more shares at P2 apiece to Metro Pacific Holdings, the proceeds of which will be used to partially pay for its acquisition of toll operator First Philippine Infrastructure, Inc. (FPII). The company acquired FPII last year from the Lopez family and has since renamed it Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. MPIC also planned to sell up to 1.5 billion B shares to a big foreign investor and three billion ommon shares to the public to raise between $150 million and $200 million if market conditions improve.

In a telephone interview, MPIC Assistant Vice-President for Media and Corporate Communications Melody M. Del Rosario said they have yet to sell the shares.

In a separate interview, analyst Claire S. Quiray of Accord Capital Equities Corp. said it would be difficult for companies to raise capital through the stock market since investors keep their cash when markets are volatile. "Investors would [buy shares] as long as [these] are super discounted," Ms. Quiray said, noting that MPIC, which closed at P3.10 yesterday, would sell like hot cakes if sold at P2. — Don Gil K. Carreon


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