METRO Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) must have run out of investment opportunities in the Philippines that it decided to take its money elsewhere. The company, the local flagship of the Indonesian-owned First Pacific Co., which is based in Hong Kong, has accumulated too much profit that it is investing VND 1.95 trillion in a Vietnamese company.
The letters stand for Vietnamese Dong and the amount is in trillion, a lot of money to count but which can be understood better if it is converted into US dollars and Philippine pesos. After all, it would be difficult to relate such trillion dong investment the MPIC is injecting into a Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment joint stock company.
Now the question: Why is MPIC making the investment in Vietnam, and not First Pacific, which is its mother company? It is understandable that the Indonesians, like other foreigners, are in the Philippines for money. Yet, the question begs for an answer or an explanation for MPIC’s move to dismiss local investment opportunities and instead, take the money into Vietnam.
The follow-up question: Is MPIC’s “business expansion,” as the company said so in its filing posted on the website of the Philippine Stock Exchange, a sign of a decline in foreign investor confidence in the national leadership shown by President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, whose family-inculcated policy is to go after his enemies and absolve his team of officials of wrongdoings which they are accused of having committed?
Of course, Manuel V. Pangilinan, who is the Indonesians’ trusted MPIC chairman, is not one to speak ill of any of the administration officials, much less their president. Who, anyway, among Filipino and foreign investors would dare antagonize the president and his anointed people, who have at their disposal the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies that they can use in going after their enemies and taming those willing to be tamed by using the people’s money? Remember the ouster by impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona?
Going back to the MPIC’s investment in a Vietnamese company, here are some numbers to think about: MPIC’s trillion VNDs would buy a total of 86,666,667 shares, equivalent to 45 percent of 192.593 million outstanding shares, including VND1 million bonds convertible into 56,666,667 shares. These acquisitions would cost MPIC its trillion VNDs, or $91.883 million at the conversion rate of VND21,276 to a dollar. In peso terms, the dollar equivalent, in turn, would be P4.043 billion at P44 per dollar, a huge amount representing 15.191 percent of MPIC’s P26.614-billion retained earnings.
PhilWeb Corporation, the service provider of the e-Games outlets of the government-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., has declared a dividend of P0.15 per share payable on February 16, 2015, to shareholders of record as of January 20, 2015. The dividend is 50 percent higher than the previous dividend payment of P0.10 per share. PhilWeb paid a total of four P0.10 dividends in 2014.
“PhilWeb pays a quarterly dividend, and if we were to extrapolate today’s dividend to year-end, and relate that to today’s market close of P12.88 per share for PhilWeb, that would amount to a near 5 percent dividend yield on our stock,” Dennis Valdes, president of PhilWeb, said.
PhilWeb, which is controlled by businessman Roberto V. Ongpin, has retained earnings of P2.38 billion as of September. 30, 2014, from which would be taken the company’s total dividend of P214.489 million.