Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is on a three-day business mission to Vietnam to scout for investment opportunities, particularly on toll road and water services.
Inquirer sources said Pangilinan flew to Ho Chi Minh with a high-powered team to join a big group of Filipino businessmen looking for expansion opportunities in the Southeast Asian neighbor.
Apart from toll road and water services, sources close to Pangilinan said the Filipino chief executive of First Pacific Co. Ltd. was also looking for opportunities in mining, hospitals, power, media, food and agribusiness in Vietnam.
Pangilinan met with the Philippine Business Group Vietnam (PBGV) on Tuesday to discuss investment opportunities in a forum co-organized by First Metro Investment Corp., the sources said. PBGV is a business association that serves as a voice of Philippine businesses in Vietnam.
Joining Pangilinan in the three-day Vietnam trip that ended Wednesday were Metro Pacific Investments Corp. president Jose Ma. Lim, MPIC chief finance officer David Nicol, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. vice president Rafael Bejar, Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. president Ramon Fernandez, Manila North Tollways Corp. president Rodrigo Franco, Maynilad Water Services president Victorico Vargas and Maynilad senior vice president Patrick Gregorio.
As part of his itinerary, Pangilinan met over dinner Le Hoang Quan, chair of the Ho Chi Minh City people’s committee, which acts as the executive arm of the provincial government.
Pangilinan was expected to relay First Pacific’s investment philosophy and market presence in the region. The sources said the growing demand for basic services in Vietnam prompted First Pacific to look closely at developing infrastructure partnerships there, particularly in toll roads and water services.
According to the PBGV website, the first Philippine company to set up shop in Vietnam was Unilab in 1990. Among PBGV member companies are United Pharma (Vietnam) Inc., San Miguel Brewery Vietnam Inc., San Miguel Phu Tho Packaging Co. Ltd., San Miguel Yamamura Haiphone Glass Co. Ltd., Univeral Robina Corp., San Miguel (Vietnam) Co., Jollibee Foods Corp., Jollibee Foods Corp., Splash International and Century Food group.
The Ayala group has also entered the Vietnamese market with the acquisition of a significant minority interest in a leading infrastructure company and a bulk water supply company both based in Ho Chi Minh City. Ayala Corp. and subsidiary Manila Water Co. earlier announced a deal to buy a 10-percent stake in Ho Chi Minh City Infrastructure Investment Joint Stock Co. (CII) and a 49-percent stake in Kenh Dong Water Supply Joint Stock Co. (Kenh Dong). In addition to water infrastructure, CII holds toll road concession agreements such as the 15.7-kilometer expansion of the existing Ha Noi Highway which connects the northeastern part of Ho Chi Minh City to Bien Hoa, an industrial center located in the southern part of Vietnam.