METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) is optimistic it will secure tollway deals in Southeast Asia by next year.

MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company is looking at deals in Indonesia and Malaysia next, after it has already cemented its presence in the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

“I am quite optimistic we will have an investment in both countries (Indonesia and Malaysia). This year, at least for one, one of the two. The other one should be next year,” Mr. Pangilinan told reporters last week when asked about MPIC’s tollway investments in Southeast Asia.

Last year, MPIC was shortlisted for a 100-kilometer tollway project in Indonesia. It was also in talks with a listed Malaysian company for a 50-kilometer tollway project. However, both deals did not push through.

MPIC is currently looking to strengthen its tollway portfolio in Southeast Asia, where it currently has interests in toll management companies in Vietnam and Thailand.

In August, the infrastructure conglomerate told the stock exchange its unit Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC) is studying the possibility of investing in toll roads and other infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia.

The MPTC board approved the creation of a special committee to negotiate the terms and conditions of any possible investments, and to appoint a representative to sign and execute any agreements related to the deal.

“The MPTC Board likewise authorized the company to secure a credit line or standby letter of credit of up to P8,000,000,000 from any local or international financial institution to support such Potential Investments,” MPIC, the parent of MPTC, had said.

Among the current projects of MPTC are the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, the Manila-Cavite Expressway C-5 South Link, and the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.

MPTC announced earlier this year that it is spending about P153 billion from this year up to the first quarter of 2018 for the public private partnership (PPP) and expansion projects it will start implementing.

Parent company MPIC has set a capital expenditure budget of P79 billion for this year, nearly double from last year’s P40.5 billion. Of the total, between P22 billion and P24 billion were allocated for the construction of more toll roads.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. – P.P.C. Marcelo