• MPIC evaluating Vietnam project

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    Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), the private toll roads unit of Pangilinan-led conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), is evaluating its option to invest in a $600-million toll roads project in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

    In a press briefing on Tuesday, MPTC President and Chief Executive Officer Ramoncito S. Fernandez said that MPIC was tapped by CII Bridges and Roads Investment Joint Stock Co. (CII B&R) — an infrastructure developer based in Ho Chi Minh — to put some investment anew in its 55-kilometer (km) toll road project that will link Ho Chi Minh in the outskirts of Vietnam amid the growing and robust country’s economy.

    At present, about 20 to 30 kms out of the 56-km toll road project is already completed. The rest is still undergoing preliminary talks.

    This is where MPIC is expected to come in. The deal will allow MPIC to own a 45 percent interest in the project, given the foreign ownership limit in Vietnam at 49 percent. Should the Pangilinan-led firm decide to invest, MPIC via MPTC is estimated to put $270 million investment in the $600-million project.

    “We’re still evaluating (the proposal). We have no definite timetable but there is initial discussion already. And we have the option to invest or not,” Fernandez said.

    To date, the MPTC chief said that ridership in Vietnam has improved to 38,000 vehicles per day, and that CII B&R is targeting to triple its earnings in the toll roads segment in the next three years on the back of robust Vietnam toll roads segment.

    “CII’s volume today is 38,000 vehicles per day. I think (its target of) tripling that volume in three years is doable,” Fernandez said.

    MPIC President and CEO Jose Ma. K. Lim said the company is looking for opportunities in toll roads and bulk water supply projects in the Southeast Asian region particularly in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

    Meanwhile, the company also reported that it has grown its first quarter core net income by 14 percent to P2.6 billion from P2.2 billion the same time last year. The company’s consolidated revenues also increased by 4 percent to P8.5 billion from P8.2 billion a year ago.

    The improved performance in the first three months of the year was mainly due to strong traffic growth on all the roads held MPTC and increased interests in Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC); strong volumes sold in Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Electric Company (Meralco), as well as continuous growth in the Hospital Group.

    In terms of each subsidiaries’ performance, Meralco saw its core net income increase by 8 percent to P4.4 billion from a year ago; Maynilad improved its core net income by 8 percent to P2.2 billion from P2 billion; MPTC advanced its core net by 15 percent to P628 million; while the Hospital Group’s core net income rose by 16 percent to P293 million.

    The Pangilinan-led holding firm earlier said its capital expenditures for 2015 will amount to P58.6 billion, while its Hong Kong-listed parent firm First Pacific Company Limited programmed a P101.82-billion spending this year.

    Incorporated in 2006, MPIC holds Pangilinan’s investments in water utilities (Maynilad Water Services Inc.), toll roads (Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. and Manila North Tollways Corp.), electricity distribution (Meralco) and healthcare services (MPIC Hospital Group). MPIC is 55.8 percent owned by Metro Pacific Holdings Inc.

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