MPIC open to more share buybacks
Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. will consider more share buybacks and the listing of business units to boost shareholder value.
The infrastructure giant that operates Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Maynilad Water Services and toll roads such as the North Luzon Expressway and Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway indicated it was open to extending the buyback program after fully spending the P5 billion allocated for share purchases in 2022.
Companies typically implement buybacks when they consider their share price to be undervalued.
While it was not unusual for investors to value holding companies like Metro Pacific at a discount relative their various portfolio companies, Metro Pacific chief finance officer June Cheryl Cabal-Revilla said during a media briefing on Wednesday that their share price was “severely undervalued.”
Discussions about the company’s valuation have taken the spotlight amid speculation it was in talks with a strategic investor and might consider going private and delisting from the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
The rumors contributed to a share price surge of as much as 35 percent this year.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Metro Pacific officials declined to comment on delisting and the entry of investors. Previous reports had named Japanese industrial giant Mitsui among the interested parties.
“We continue to consider what is best for our business as a group and also considering our shareholders,” Revilla said.
A company executive said on the sidelines of the briefing an investment from Mitsui was not discussed during their board meeting.
Metro Pacific shares fell 2.86 percent to P4.07 each on Thursday, valuing the conglomerate at P116.8 billion. This was roughly a third of the P353.9 billion market value of Meralco, where Metro Pacific owns a 46-percent stake.
Revilla said they would consider launching initial public offerings (IPO) for the health-care unit, Maynilad Water and toll road arm Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., which underwent voluntary delisting from the PSE in 2012.
Metro Pacific Health, a venture with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Singapore fund GIC Private Ltd., operates the country’s biggest network of health-care facilities with 19 hospitals, 22 outpatient care centers and six cancer care centers.
There were no immediate plans to the list the companies, Revilla noted.
Metro Pacific is allocating about P80 billion in group-wide capital spending for the year mainly for power generation, toll road and water distribution, a stock exchange filing on Thursday showed.
Revilla said they would also set aside about P8 billion for two more acquisitions in its emerging agribusiness portfolio.
The company said core profits in 2022 jumped 15 percent to P14.2 billion as the contributions from operations rose 10 percent.
Power accounted for 65 percent of operating income last year, followed by toll roads (30 percent); water (14 percent); and other segments such as railways, health care, agribusiness, real estate and fuel storage, which incurred losses of P1.8 billion.
Metro Pacific considers delisting from PSE
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