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MPIC to hike stake in Maynilad, cut interest in Landco

Vol. XXII, No. 143-A [ BusinessWorld Online ]

Saturday, February 21, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


STOCKHOLDERS of Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) on Friday approved a plan to cut its stake in property company Landco Pacific Corp. and increase its stake in Maynilad Water.

MPIC sold a fifth of its 51% stake in the property firm to AB Holdings Corp., increasing the latter’s stake in Landco to 70%. MPIC earlier said the move would allow it to focus on its other investments, such as infrastructure and water.

Under the deal, MPIC will retain a 30% interest in Landco, as well as three malls owned by the company.

MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the malls, which have 130 thousand square meters of leasable area, remained profitable and have a combined value of P250 million.

The malls are in Cabanatuan in Nueva Ecija, Lucena City in Quezon province and Legazpi City in Albay.

Aside from the disposition of the shares, MPIC stockholders also approved a company plan to increase its interest in Maynilad Water by buying the remaining stake of Lyonnaise Asia Water Pte. Ltd.

"We are continuing to invest heavily in Maynilad," Mr. Pangilinan said, adding that they planned to invest P6 billion in the water utility.

The move was in line with MPIC’s plan "to consolidate and support its utilities and infrastructure interests in Maynilad."

MPIC will increase its stake to 56.8% from 51% as soon as it buys Lyonnaise’s 236,000 shares for P2.03 billion.

The sale is expected to be completed by June 30. In exchange for the French firm’s stake in the water company, MPIC said it had agreed in principle to sell 791 million shares to Lyonnaise for P2.57 each.

In July, the Pangilinan conglomerate voted to take control of Maynilad by buying the 24.2% stake of UK-based Ashmore Investment Management Ltd. in DMCI-MPIC Water Co. — Maynilad’s parent — and First Pacific Co. Ltd.’s 10.3% interest for $140 million.

Mr. Pangilinan said he was optimistic that the company could post better profits this year since most of its newly acquired units in the tollway, hospital, port and water sectors would likely post profits.

"Last year was a turning point for MPIC. It managed to turn around from its loss in 2007," Mr. Pangilanan said. He did not elaborate.

This year, the company is allotting P1 billion for its port projects, P1.5 billion for its hospital acquisitions and P2.1 billion for its tollway acquisitions. — Kristine Jane R. Liu

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