Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., headed by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, confirmed that it was in talks with Korea Water Resources Corp. on a potential partnership involving the 246-megawatt (MW) Angat hydropower plant in Bulacan.
Pangilinan, who serves as managing director of First Pacific, said his group had spoken with officials of Korea Water.
“We visited Daejeon in Korea,” Pangilinan said on Friday, referring to the South Korean company’s headquarters. “They have not made a decision on which group to partner with.”
First Pacific is an investment holding firm controlled by Indonesia’s Salim family and whose investments are mainly located in the Philippines. Through local units, it has a controlling stake in Maynilad Water Services Inc., which supplies water to the west zone of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, and a 48-percent stake in Manila Electric Co., the country’s biggest electricity retailer.
First Pacific was among the interested groups when the Angat hydroelectric plant was auctioned in 2010.
At the time, it had partnered with rival Ayala Corp., which owns the Philippine capital’s east zone concessionaire Manila Water Corp., as well as the Lopez group in a joint bid against other players like San Miguel Corp., Consunji-led DMCI and the Aboitiz Group.
The state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) eventually announced that Korea Water submitted the highest bid of $440.8 million.
In May 2010, however, the Supreme Court issued a “status quo ante order” effectively blocking the planned privatization of Angat Dam’s hydroelectric power plant.
The high court only last year rendered as valid and legal the sale of the Angat power plant to Korea Water. But the plant has yet to be turned over as the government and Korea Water finalize certain details under a so-called water protocol.
Korea Water, the leading water resources and power firm in South Korea, signed last April its agreement to the water protocol governing the operations of the Angat hydropower plant. Both parties decided to “re-execute” the documents governing the sale of the facility to Korea Water because the Supreme Court required some changes in the documents.
However, no definite schedule was given for the turnover of the Angat facility.