Local conglomerates urged to invest in UKBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The British Embassy in Manila is hoping to convince some of the country’s conglomerates, including San Miguel Corp. and the Ayala group, to consider investing in the energy, real estate and the construction industries in the United Kingdom.
Iain Mansfield, the newly appointed director of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Manila, noted in a recent briefing that while the United Kingdom remained to be the biggest investor in the Philippines from Europe, there was not much investments the other way around.
“Maybe 20 years ago, we could understand that. But now the Philippine economy is growing at over 7 percent this year so far. You have a lot of companies and individuals doing very well in business, generating large amounts of cash flow and looking for investments,” Mansfield explained.
“Actually in the UK, we’re very open to investments. We have one of the most open investment climates in the world and we will encourage those companies to look at the UK and say there are possibilities for investments. You have San Miguel, MPIC (Metro Pacific Investments Corp.) and Ayala and many other large successful companies we hope to encourage,” he added.
The Ayala group, through Bank of the Philippine Islands, already has a presence in the United Kingdom, which was considered the bank’s “first step to expand within the European Union.”
According to Mansfield, Philippine companies might consider investments in the energy sector as a number of Britain’s power stations would need “upgrading” and “refurbishments” while projects in real estate and construction were highly encouraged given the growing population of the United Kingdom and the corresponding rise in housing needs.
The UK can provide a highly cost effective environment for global companies to thrive. It is the number one gateway to Europe, giving access to the 27 member-states of the European Union, the world’s largest single market.
Mansfield added that he was hopeful that more Philippine companies would join Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo in a Philippine trade mission to the United Kingdom this October so that they could see the potential investment areas in the United Kingdom.
To date, the UK is the highest European and fourth highest overall source of foreign direct investments in the Philippines. There are more than 200 British companies active in the Philippines, which include Unilever, Shell, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Pru Life, De La Rue, GSK, Astra Zeneca, Arup, and other popular retail brands such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, Speedo, Dunhill, Paul Smith, Burberry, Hackett, Ben Sherman and Warehouse.