GOTIANUN-led Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) is eyeing to increase its capital expenditure (capex) budget this year, its president said.

“This year’s (capex) is larger,” FDC President and Chief Executive Officer Rhoda A. Huang said on the sidelines of a listing ceremony in Makati City on Feb. 7.

The conglomerate earmarked P35 billion as capex budget last year.

“We’re always looking for new opportunities for growth — new pillars in terms of enhancing the current portfolio. At FDC, we look at a diversified portfolio of investments. But we need to focus on our core. We will be opportunistic. Right against this market environment, we have to remain opportunistic. We’ve seen a couple of opportunities, but nothing in terms of significant complementation already to the portfolio,” she said.

Ms. Huang said that FDC is aiming to sustain growth across its businesses.

FDC has diversified business interests encompassing property, banking services, sugar, and power, with subsidiaries including Filinvest Land, Inc., East West Banking Corp., Filinvest Hospitality Corp., FDC Utilities, Inc., and Pacific Sugar Holdings Corp.

“Currently, when you look at financial performance, not all our pillars are already pre-pandemic (levels). (This) 2024, what we envisage is (to hit) pre-pandemic (levels). We aim improved performance and continuous growth,” Ms. Huang said.

She said that some of the risks monitored by the company include macroeconomic challenges such as high inflation and interest rates.

“It’s really macro when you look at risks like inflation and interest rates. Real estate and interest rates, they really don’t jive. It’s similarly for the real estate investment trust… That actually doesn’t augur well for the real estate industry, industry as a whole,” she said.

The country’s inflation rate eased to 2.8% in January due to slower price increases of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

However, Ms. Huang said that geopolitical challenges, like rising tensions between the Philippines and China, will not impact the company’s growth outlook.

“We don’t have that kind of exposure in terms of geopolitics unless you see importation out of China. So it’s really what happens in terms of this China play. It’s only the impact of geopolitical events on inflation in the country,” she said.

For the first nine months of 2023, FDC’s attributable net income improved by 57% to P5.9 billion compared to P3.8 billion in 2022, as the conglomerate’s revenues rose by 26% to P64.6 billion.

On Thursday, FDC stocks ended unchanged at P5.50 apiece while Filinvest Land stocks increased by one centavo or 1.49% to 68 centavos each. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave