New CEO plots next phase of Filinvest growth
“Watch this space.”
That is the favored catchphrase of former investment banker Rhoda “Chiqui” Huang, the first nonfamily CEO of Gotianun-owned conglomerate Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC), who is leading the group’s charge into infrastructure and renewable energy to sustain growth.
Huang took the top executive post at FDC six months ago, promising to leverage her three decades of experience from various corporate roles, most recently as the president of BPI Capital Corp., the investment banking arm of Southeast Asia’s oldest lender.
Huang identified water infrastructure and renewable energy as expansion areas for the banking, property and sugar group, whose four listed firms have a combined market value of about P100 billion.
“If you look at [our] renewable investments already, it’s been small—nothing significant in size, because we’re taking a very cautious step,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s P10 billion bond listing ceremonies.
“Historically, it’s been conservative because it will be new technology for the group in terms of expertise. But advancing that, we will move forward,” she added.
In the pipeline
According to FDC, renewable energy projects under development include the 33.4-megawatt (MW) hydropower plant along Pampang River in North Luzon, a 3.4-MW biomass cogeneration plant and solar projects totaling 39.78 MW.
Huang said they were also reviewing other opportunities in solar as well as emerging technologies in battery storage.
The group is currently reviewing solar energy amid the country’s climate conditions, aspired rate of return and output prospects.
“Battery as of today is not yet economical, but I do believe technology will get there. So, the focus will be to expand our renewable [portfolio],” she said.
She gave a more measured response when asked about their coal power business via the 405-MW power plant in Misamis Oriental.
“Watch this space. Give me a little time,” said Huang, who was still with Bank of the Philippine Islands when it announced plans to stop lending to all coal-fired power plants by 2033.
Huang said they were also keen on water infrastructure investments after the group bagged the 25-year bulk water supply deal with the Metro Cebu Water District in 2021.
She said FDC aimed to bring this expertise to its township developments, including the sprawling 288-hectare New Clark City venture in Tarlac province in Central Luzon.
“We are working with the [Bases Conversion and Development Authority] and looking at the infrastructure development for New Clark City on the water side,” she said.
Huang noted that infrastructure is a critical driver of the economy—and the key to unlocking future growth of the group.
“You look at the Filipino dream, nation-building; what’s much needed in the country is infrastructure. So, [we need] private participation in infrastructure development,” she said, adding that they were looking at a “couple of opportunities” in the pipeline.
She remained coy when asked about specifics on what the group was targeting next.
“Watch this space,” she said. INQ