FPH expands Batangas ecozone for P1.4B

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The LOPEZ-LED First Philippine Holding Inc. (FPH) has expanded its Batangas ecozone operated by its unit Philippine Industrial Park (FPIP) by about a hundred hectares more amid strong interest from foreign manufacturing firms seeking to relocate in the country.

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“For First [Philippine] Holdings, we set aside P1.4 billion for land banking for our industrial plant from the parent. That’s the main capex for the parent,” Elpidio L. Ibanez, FPH president and chief operating officer, told reporters after the firm’s annual stockholders meeting on Monday.

The P1.4 billion spent on expanding its FPIP II – Special Economic Zone brings its saleable land to 450 hectares from 350 hectares previously, making it the “largest contiguous industrial park in the Philippines” to date.

“We really need to expand that. We have been buying land adjacent to the industrial park to expand because of the influx of locators. We bought the former Philtown property, [and]it is about 50 plus hectares. The expansion also included the Mitsubishi property, so it’s about a hundred. From 350 [hectares], it is now 450 [hectares],” Ibanez said.

He was referring to FPH’s acquisition of a parcel of Philtown Technology Park (PTP) in Tanuan City, Batangas and the 46-hectare property of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. within PTP, last October and December, respectively. Both transactions added 50 hectares each to FPIP’s ecozone area.

Ibanez said the expansion of its industrial estates is meant to meet the strong demand from various Japanese locators.

“In Thailand, industrial parks there are 2,000 hectares. We pale by comparison. We have to do it gradually and try to get up to that level. It all depends on how investors view the country,” he said.

FPIP is a 70-30 joint venture between FPH and Japanese firm Sumitomo Corp.
Aside from its industrial parks, FPH is also focused on its power businesses through its subsidiaries First Gen Corp. and Energy Development Corp. which are expected to generate for the company “better” and “sustainable” earnings this year.

The company’s net income in the first three months of the year rose to P3.6 billion from P2.7 billion a year ago while revenue advanced to P25.56 billion from P23.18 billion previously on favorable performances across its power generation, manufacturing, property and construction segments.

Asked if the group expects the same profit growth trend for the rest of the year, Ibanez and First Gen president Federico R. Lopez said the group expects “better earnings this year” without being weighed down by last year’s one-off losses.

“It will be better this year. It is a sustainable income growth we’re after,” Ibanez said.

“’We want to say it’s an upward trajectory from here, although we’re modest. That’s why when we look at recurring income, we take out the one-offs and then basically the trajectory [is]upwards, and the answer for this year, when you look at it, is yes. So I think our objective is to keep sustaining it,” Lopez said.

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