* Infrastructure investments to hit $1.35 bln
* Eyes more highway, railroad, water deals
* Commits $150 mln equity investment for toll road
By Neil Jerome Morales
MANILA, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Ayala Corp, the Philippines’ oldest industrial conglomerate, will invest an extra $350 million in new power and infrastructure projects in the next three to four years to diversify its income stream, a senior official told Reuters.
The new spending will come on top of $1 billion Ayala had already pledged to invest in July 2012 in projects to match the development of the Philippines’ economy, Managing Director John Eric Francia said in an interview on Saturday.
Francia said total investment could yet be raised above the $1.35 billion now pencilled in. Ayala, valued at $9.19 billion by market capitalisation, is also keen to bid for airport and railroad projects that Manila will roll out soon under a public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.
“The $1 billion before was an aspirational target. As time goes by, you get to actually act on specific opportunities,” Francia said. “Hopefully in the next months, we will be able to convert the pipeline into committed projects so we are in the $1.35 billion (area).”
Southeast Asia’s fifth largest economy needs 900 MW of new power supply before March. Otherwise, it’s set to face rolling brownouts in 2015 on the main Luzon Island - home to its manufacturing and booming call centre industries, as well as more than half of its 100 million people.
Francia said Ayala already committed $150 million as equity investment for the 35.4 billion pesos ($789 million) Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) project. Ayala and partner Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc submitted what was viewed in the Philippines as the best bid for the project in June, but a contract has yet to be awarded as rival bidder San Miguel Corp questioned the outcome of the tender.
Ayala has won three of the eight PPP projects awarded by the government so far, but is still interested in taking part in more auctions.
Francia said Ayala is looking at new PPP projects like the $2.72 billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike, the $2.5 billion Integrated Luzon Railway Project and the $542 million Bulacan Bulk Water Supply project. Ayala remains interested in PPP projects despite reports in the Philippines that the government may be considering pulling the CALAX expressway out of its PPP programme.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Friday gave authorities the go-ahead to offer for tender 165.6 billion pesos ($3.7 billion) worth of new PPP projects.
Since launching the infrastructure program in 2010, the government has awarded eight PPP projects worth $2.83 billion in line with efforts to upgrade ageing roads, airports and ports.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell