Corporate News

By Cliff Harvey C. Venzon, Reporter

Myanmar opportunities eyed

Posted on August 05, 2013

INFRASTRUCTURE conglomerate DMCI Holdings, Inc. is looking for opportunities in Myanmar’s real estate sector, a top company official said on Saturday.

Victor S. Limlingan, the firm’s managing director, said in a phone interview that a group of DMCI Holdings executives led by the conglomerate’s president, Isidro M. Consunji, visited the Southeast Asian neighbor from July 16 to 19.

“We were primarily interested in the real estate situation there. We learned that there is a shortage of housing,” Mr. Limlingan said.

Mr. Limlingan, who was part of the visiting team, said DMCI Project Developers, Inc. President Alfredo R. Austria and “other DMCI Homes officials” also joined the trip.

“We were looking for a local partner. We talked to several people,” Mr. Limlingan said.

“We also checked some of the condominium projects there.”

Mr. Limlingan could not say when the company could firm up its plans for that country.

“We have to analyze the data that we got. This is different. We are now the foreign company, so we have to study it (the potential investment) carefully,” he explained.

Considered Southeast Asia’s “last frontiers,” Myanmar has been attracting the attention of foreign investors as democratization that began in 2011 prompted Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States to either ease or lift sanctions.

DMCI Holdings, which also has interests in power generation and mining, is one of the country’s top infrastructure firms.

Mr. Limlingan said the company is focused on real estate opportunities in Myanmar.

“I believe the Myanmar government prefers to do the construction on its own or hire a big multinational contractor,” he noted.

DMCI Homes, a wholly owned unit of the conglomerate, is focused on mid-income residential developments, with a selling price of below P3.2 million per unit, according to DMCI Holdings’ 2012 annual report.

DMCI Holdings’ move follows other companies -- either based in the Philippines or with significant holdings in the country -- that have set their sights on Myanmar.

Ayala Corp. and First Pacific Co. Ltd. early this year said they were interested in potential ventures in Myanmar, particularly in telecommunications and infrastructure.

Hong Kong-based First Pacific, a key shareholder of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., in April submitted prequalification documents for a telecommunications service license in Myanmar, but subsequently failed to prequalify for the project.

Ayala Corp. Chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala in April had said his company had also sent “a number of teams… quite a few times” to look for opportunities in that country.

The Myanmar government early this year approved the $30-million investment plan of Universal Robina Corp. (URC) to set up a unit there.

The food-and-beverage company is looking to start operations “in the next 18 months,” URC President and Chief Executive Officer Lance Y. Gokongwei had said last month.

DMCI Holdings’ net income ballooned to P10.65 billion in the first quarter from P3.44 billion the previous year due to a one-time gain from the sale of a 16% stake in Maynilad Water Services, Inc. to Japanese firm Marubeni Corp. in February. The company’s core net income, however, dropped 31% to P1.86 billion from P2.67 billion, weighed by “significant drops in coal, nickel and general construction.”

The real estate business contributed P636 million in profits, up by 57.04% from P405 million a year ago.

Shares of DMCI Holdings shed 25 centavos or 0.48% to close at P51.50 apiece on Friday last week from their P51.75 finish on Thursday.