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Lopez firm’s P29-B capex centers on LNG

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By Denise A. Valdez, Senior Reporter

LOPEZ-LED First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPH) is allocating P29 billion for capital expenditures (capex) for the near term as it continues to pursue the expansion of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project.

In its annual stockholders’ meeting held virtually on Thursday, FPH President and Chief Operating Officer Francis Giles B. Puno said its capex budget is intended to spill over beyond 2020 and 2021.

“In general, we have a capex of about P29 billion, which essentially is focused on the gas expansion, particularly on the LNG front,” he said. “It will be spent over the next few years.”

Of the P29 billion, P14 billion will go to the power group through First Gen Corp., which will devote it to the development of an onshore LNG terminal within its clean energy complex in Batangas.

Some P11 billion will go to its property businesses, to be divided between Rockwell Land Corp. with P9.4 billion and First Philippine Industrial Park, Inc. (FPIP) with P2.4 billion.

The company’s plan is to continue Rockwell’s ongoing residential projects and expand FPIP’s footprint and service offerings, FPH Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Federico R. Lopez said.

The balance of the capex will go to FPH’s construction business and investments in new businesses, namely in healthcare and education. FPH currently has investments in the Asian Eye Institute, which is reshaping its business model in consideration of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Despite the pandemic, we remain open to new opportunities and continue to review and evaluate potential new projects,” Mr. Puno said.

Because of the impact of COVID-19 to FPH’s operations, Mr. Puno said the company is expecting a drop in recurring earnings for the whole year.

He said there’s been a slowdown in demand for electricity; residential, retail and hospitality properties; and construction due to the lockdown.

“With that, we expect a reduction in our earnings this year, no different from many other conglomerates,” Mr. Puno said.

In the first quarter, FPH’s earnings fell 15% to P3.2 billion, while revenues slipped 11% to P29.29 billion.

Shares in FPH at the stock exchange trimmed 20 centavos or 0.33% to P59.80 each on Thursday.





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