FIRST Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPH) approved on Thursday an additional allotment of P5 billion for its common shares buyback program, the Lopez-led company told the stock exchange yesterday.

The program, which is scheduled to run until July 2020, is intended “to strike a balance between enhancing the company’s capital structure and maintaining the ability to fund future growth and investments,” the company said.

So far, about P6,746,203,136.00 worth of shares have been purchased by the holding firm.

“With the approval today, FPH will have the total amount of P5,003,796,864.00 available for further buybacks,” the firm said on Thursday.

“Buyback transactions will be triggered if the company stock is substantially undervalued, when there is high volatility in share prices or in any instance where a buyback should serve to improve shareholder value. FPH will also be mindful of the need to maintain the liquidity of its stock in the market,” it said.

On June 27, FPH’s executive committee approved an interim additional allotment of P750 million for the program. As of that date, about P5.271 billion worth of shares had been purchased out of the P6 billion previously approved by the board for this purpose, leaving only the amount of P729 million for further buybacks out of the original budget.

FPH, which was formed in 1961 with the primary purpose of purchasing and acquiring shares of stocks, bond issues, and notes of Manila Electric Co., has grown into a multi-billion company with diversified interests in power generation, real estate development, manufacturing, construction and other services.

Under its amended articles of incorporation, its principal activities consist of investments in real and personal properties including, but not limited to, shares of stocks, notes, securities and entities in the power generation, real estate development, manufacturing and construction services and others.

In power generation, First Gen Corp. posted a 65% increase in its 2018 net income attributable to the company’s equity holders to $221 million, or P11.6 billion, with the added boost from its new gas-fired power plant plus other factors such as lower interest expense.

In 2018, it posted a 76% rise in net income attributable to equity holders of the parent to P10.28 billion from P5.85 billion previously.

Recurring net income of FPH was at P10.4 billion, higher by 53% compared with P6.8 billion a year earlier.

On Thursday, shares in the company rose 2.50% to close at P88.15 each. — Victor V. Saulon