Japan firm keen on investment in Meralco’s Bayad Center

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MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power distributor, is in talks with a Japanese firm for possible technology transfer and investment in payment service provider CIS Bayad Center, Meralco officials said recently.

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CIS Bayad Center Inc., a pioneer and leader in the country’s outsourced payment collection industry, is a wholly owned company of Meralco.

Meralco legal department head William S. Pamintuan told reporters in an interview that a Japanese firm had offered to invest in a minority stake in Bayad Center.

“I think this is their first venture outside Japan they want to know us better also so that if there is synergy between the two companies, then they will explore to expand that, but very minimal investment to start with. We have to talk valuations,” Alfredo S. Panlilio, Meralco senior vice-president and head of Customer Retail Services and Corporate Communications, said in an interview.

The Meralco officials, however, did not identify the Japanese company.

Panlilio said Meralco is interested in technology transfer and know-how, which is in line with the company’s upgrade and synchronization with other business interests in telecommunications, transportation, and e-commerce.

“Technological know-how, they can transfer here, very interesting for Bayad Center to evolve from brick and mortar… Because of technology, digital platforms will be the way to go—mobile phones, internet. If you have the technology, for us it will be helpful for the development of Bayad Center,” Panlilio said.

“We are interested in technology but the longer-term vision, I think, is [if]we partner here, hopefully we can bring it out to Asia and [to]other Asian countries,” he said.

“I was telling them, can you share with us technologies that we can use with the mobile phone as payment and they have it. We had a meeting, but it was more of top level at this moment. We will create teams to drill down on certain initiatives like e-commerce,” he added.

The Meralco official expressed optimism that an agreement can be formally firmed up by the first quarter of next year.

“They also have to go to their own board to get approval. Although Meralco president Oscar Reyes mentioned it to the board last Monday, there are no definitive terms yet, but the board seems to be open to explore it. So maybe first quarter, we will have more news,” Panlilio said.

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