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More industrial park lots readied to serve investors

Posted on May 28, 2012 10:36:04 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

FIRST PHILIPPINE Holdings Corp. (FPH) is looking to make available more industrial park lots this year to serve what it said was growing interest from regional manufacturing firms looking to tap the country’s cheap labor.

“In terms of our industrial park in Batangas right now, the last big lot purchases have been conducted by big locators. What we would like to do moving forward is see if we can expand in that area first, depending on what is available now. But if not, we will look elsewhere, possibly in the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) area,” Federico R. Lopez, FPH chairman and chief executive officer, told reporters at a briefing following the firm’s annual stockholders’ meeting yesterday.

This echoes the Lopez-led firm’s 2011 annual report, which tagged the expansion of FPH’s landholdings, through First Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP), as a “major objective for 2012.”

The industrial park, built in 1996, is a 350-hectare economic zone in Santo Tomas, Batangas 70% owned by FPH.

“Judging from the kind of locators that we’ve already attracted, the big ones will still be coming in because [the Philippines] is blessed with a good labor force, among other factors. We just have to provide a platform for their operations,” said Elpidio L. Ibañez, FPH president and chief operating officer.

Some 40 firms, mostly Japanese, are currently operating in the industrial park, covering industries such as solar energy, semiconductors, steel and plastics.

Revenues from the lease of industrial lots and ready-built factories in the park ballooned to P680 million in the first quarter from P41 million a year ago, accounting for 3% of FPH’s total revenues, according to the company’s latest financial statement.

Gas Plants
 
The expansion of the industrial park business comes as the company’s power unit is also looking to expand its generation capacity, particularly through gas plants.

“We’re looking at an additional 300-500 megawatts (MW) from gas plants in the next two to three years,” said Francis Giles B. Puno, FPH treasurer and chief finance officer.

First Gen is the country’s largest clean and renewable independent power producer, with an installed capacity of 2,014.61 MW as of end-2011, earlier reports showed.

First Gen is also eyeing other offshore power projects in Chile, Peru, and Indonesia, Mr. Lopez said, declining to elaborate.

FPH was formed in 1961 with the initial purpose of purchasing stocks, bond issues, and notes of Manila Electric Co. It has since diversified its business holdings to power generation and distribution, tollways, pipeline service, property development, manufacturing, construction, and engineering.

Shares of FPH surged by 4.32% to close at P70.00 apiece yesterday from P67.10 at its previous close. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente
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