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Ayala ventures into power

Conglomerate acquires 50% of Ilocos wind farm

By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:47:00 03/17/2011

Filed Under: Energy, Alternative energy, Infrastructure, business, Philippines - Regions

Already, Ayala has acquired a substantial stake in a company that owns and operates the 33-MW wind farm in Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

Earlier, the Ayala group had teamed up with Japan?s Mitsubishi Corp. to develop solar power facilities in the Philippines.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange Thursday, Ayala said it had purchased, through wholly owned subsidiary Michigan Power Inc., a 50-percent stake in NorthWind Power Development Corp., owner and operator of the Ilocos wind farm?the first of its kind in Southeast Asia.

The conglomerate, which has interests in banking, property, telecommunications and water-distribution businesses, now wants to acquire more power assets.

?We believe there are opportunities ... in the renewable energy space, which may have the potential to grow over time given the need to develop alternative sources of energy. In addition to our wind and solar initiatives, we are also developing platforms for hydroelectric power,? Ayala president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala said.

At present, NorthWind accounts for less than half of the power requirements of Ilocos Norte, which is vulnerable to power outages because it lies in the fringes of the national power grid.

Analysts welcomed Ayala?s power generation bid.

?It?s a good start. It?s small in terms of capacity, but it?s a good starting point,? said ING Investment Management chief executive officer Paul Joseph Garcia. ?It shows that Ayala is serious in its foray into the infrastructure space, including power and especially renewable energy.?

But according to Jose Mari Lacson of Campos Lanuza & Co., Ayala needs to catch up with other companies now ahead in the energy trade.

San Miguel Corp. already has an existing capacity of 3,145 MW, while the Lopez group currently has 2,832.4 MW?equivalent to about 19 percent of national capacity. Also, the Aboitiz group has 2,051 MW in beneficial capacity?equivalent to a national share of 14 percent.



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