Meralco eyeing SMC power assets
MVP-run company plans ‘aggressive push’ into electricity generationBy Miguel R. Camus
Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer
Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Manila Electric Co., which is making an aggressive push into power generation, may acquire stakes in power assets that San Miguel Corp. may offer to strategic investors or to the public through the stock market.
Rival conglomerate SMC is raising funds to further diversify its businesses.
David Nicol, chief financial officer of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which controls Meralco together with other Pangilinan-led companies, said the group would consider buying SMC’s power generation assets if they were put on the selling block.
He declined to identify the specific assets that they were looking at, adding that Meralco was prioritizing power assets that would have significant room for expansion.
“We are indeed looking,” Nicol said at the sidelines of a briefing held by Metro Pacific.
“But if you invest in existing power assets you need to have a fairly clear route on how to expand these,” Nicol said. “I think Meralco is focused on trying to get new capacity and expand the grid.”
San Miguel’s power assets are held through SMC Global Power Holdings, which claims a 17-percent share of the power supply for the national grid and 23 percent for Luzon.
San Miguel president Ramon S. Ang had said he could sell part of the company via an initial public offering or take in strategic investors to raise funds.
SMC Global Power’s main assets are the Sual coal-fired power plant in Pangasinan with two 500-Megawatt (MW) generating units and the 345-MW San Roque power plant. It also plans to start new coal power plants in Davao del Sur and Bataan, with a combined capacity of 1,200-MW, information on San Miguel’s website showed.
If the plan pushes through, this would not be the first time Pangilinan’s group would acquire energy-related assets being sold by San Miguel.
The group, through Beacon Electric Asset Holdings Inc., acquired 10 million Meralco shares from San Miguel in July, increasing its stake in Meralco to a little over 49 percent. San Miguel, which sold 64.33 million Meralco shares, or 5.7 percent, cut its stake to less than 28 percent.
Beacon is jointly owned by Metro Pacific and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., both are units of First Pacific, where Pangilinan sits as CEO and managing director.