P15B hydro projects readied

Power Firm to list shares within 3 years

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01:42 AM January 28th, 2013

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By: Amy R. Remo, January 28th, 2013 01:42 AM

MANILA, Philippines—The power generation arm of the Sunwest Group of Companies, led by businessman Elizaldy S. Co, is planning to list at the local bourse in three years’ time in compliance with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

In a press briefing, Suweco president Jose Silvestre Natividad explained that the group was still considering which vehicle the group would use in listing at the Philippine Stock Exchange, whether it would be a holding company like Eco Utility Ventures or Sunwest Water and Electric Co. Inc. (Suweco), which has a total of 56 power projects in its portfolio.

Under the Electric Power Industry and Reform Act (Epira), generation companies, distribution utilities and their respective holding companies, which are not publicly listed, must offer and sell to the public at least 15 percent of their common shares of stocks.

Mandating all power firms to go public was meant to “enhance the inflow of private capital and broaden the ownership base of the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors.”

The move is also expected to “protect public interest as it is affected by rates and services of the distribution utilities and other providers of electric power.”

Suweco is in the process of investing P15 billion in nine priority hydropower projects that are all set to be completed by 2020.

Natividad identified the hydropower projects, which could generate as much as 50 megawatts combined, as the 8-megawatt Villasiga 1; 9.4-MW Villasiga 2; 2-MW Guiamon San Ramon; 3-MW Dalanas; and 2.1-MW Tibiao hydropower projects, all in Antique.

In Aklan, the company’s priority projects include the 15-MW Main Aklan River; 2.4-MW Upper Aklan West Tributary; 3-MW Lower East Aklan Tributary; and the 2.4-MW Middle West Tributary hydropower projects.

These facilities are in response to the government’s call to increase the estimated current energy supply of the country from renewable energy over the next 15 years.

Meanwhile, Natividad also disclosed that the group was in the process of securing a P4-billion syndicated loan to help finance its hydropower projects. Seven banks are interested in providing the loan—Security Bank, Land Bank of the Philippines, BDO, China Bank, Veterans Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines and PBCom.

With the seven banks now conducting their respective due-diligence, Suweco is hoping for a financial closing by April or May this year.

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