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Metro Pacific eyes more toll roads, water projects in ASEAN countries

Chrisee Dela Paz
Metro Pacific eyes more toll roads, water projects in ASEAN countries
For Indonesia alone, Metro Pacific CEO Jose Maria Lim says his firm is exploring dozens of toll road concession deals

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) is setting its sights on more toll roads and water projects from the Philippines’ Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbors, mainly Indonesia.

Growing in ASEAN is the particular aspiration for toll roads. At the same time, we are also interested in some water projects, particularly in Indonesia and Vietnam,” MPIC chief finance officer David Nicol said in a media briefing in Makati City on Wednesday, November 8.

For MPIC president and chief executive officer Jose Maria Lim, the firm’s toll expansion opportunities in Indonesia are much greater than those in the Philippines.

Yes, there are several dozens of concessions we have identified in Indonesia. Many of them, around 80%, are unbuilt. There are lots of opportunities there than here,” Lim told reporters.

Indonesia, referred to as the world’s largest archipelago, has over 17,000 islands. The Philippines, meanwhile, consists of 7,641 islands.

Early this week, MPIC’s tollways unit Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) agreed to buy 6.6 billion PT Nusantara shares from PT Matahari Kapital Indonesia for $132 million. This increased MPTC’s stake in PT Nusantara to 47.08% from 42.25%.

“Nusantara is in Indonesia’s top 3 [toll road operators]. Of course, their biggest player is still the state-owned toll road operator Jasa Marga,” MPTC chief finance officer Christopher Lizo said in the briefing.

The MPTC official added that his firm wants Nusantara to focus on toll roads and divest its other assets. Nusantara is an Indonesian infrastructure holding company with interests in toll roads, port operations, water, energy, and telecommunications. (READ: Metro Pacific tollways unit expands in Indonesia)

Lizo said MPTC has two out of 3 seats in Nusantara’s board of commissioners. Nicol, however, clarified that MPTC is not the controlling shareholder, with Nusantara being listed on Jakarta’s stock exchange.

We are not the controlling shareholder, but we have a significant influence. But of course, it is not all up to us,” Nicol said.

Nusantara operates a total of 34.47 kilometers in toll roads in 4 places, connecting an airport, a seaport, and business districts.

For water, Nicol said MPIC unit Maynilad Water Services Incorporated is also looking at exploring projects within ASEAN.

This was echoed by Lim, saying Maynilad is “exploring more projects, besides those that we have announced before.”

But Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado noted that his firm might find it challenging to explore Jakarta for opportunities, after its Supreme Court ordered the provincial government of DKI Jakarta to stop the privatization of water.

Back in November 2016, Maynilad signed an agreement with PT Moya Indonesia to put up a joint venture company mainly for water and wastewater services. The joint venture firm covers pipe network design and installation, non-revenue water, as well as wastewater management in Indonesia.

MPIC on Wednesday reported a 22% rise in core net income to P11.3 billion for the 1st 9 months of 2017, from the P9.3 billion in the same period last year, thanks to its expanded presence in the power industry.

Its core net income was lifted by an expanded power portfolio through increased investment in Beacon Electric Asset Holdings Incorporated and robust traffic growth on all roads held by MPTC. – Rappler.com

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