Gokongwei's JG Summit on the lookout for acquisitions

By Neil Jerome Morales, Reuters

Posted at Mar 10 2015 02:10 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2015 07:05 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - JG Summit Holdings Inc, the Philippines' second-largest conglomerate by market value, remains on the lookout for acquisitions following its food subsidiary's $609 million takeover of a New Zealand snacks maker, its president said.

"I know our balance sheet and cash flows would support further acquisitions if necessary or if a reasonable one appears," JG Summit President Lance Gokongwei told Reuters in an interview at his office in Manila on Tuesday.

The conglomerate is biased toward business it is familiar with, he said. JG Summit subsidiary Universal Robina Corp bought New Zealand Snack Food Holdings, the parent of Griffin's Foods Ltd in July.

JG Summit, which started as a corn starch producer in 1957, is also involved in the snacks and beverage, property development, airline, banking and petrochemicals businesses.

Gokongwei said the company would focus on consumption-related businesses that are boosted by low oil prices and higher consumer spending, even as it expanded into power generation and petrochemicals.

"Clearly, we are a very big beneficiary of oil prices going down because oil is 50 percent of my raw material," Gokongwei said.

JG Summit plans to build an up to 600 megawatts coal-fired power facility south of the capital while its almost $1 billion naphtha cracker plant will reach full capacity in the coming months, with the project contributing $800 million to $1 billion in annual revenues.

For its part, property unit Robinsons Land Corp will open three new malls this year while the office segment's gross leasable area will climb to more than 400,000 square metres (sqm) in two years from the current 275,000 sqm, Gokongwei said.

Cebu Air Inc, operator of the country's largest budget carrier Cebu Pacific, is taking delivery of 37 new Airbus aircraft until 2021 while selling old and gas-guzzling models, he said.

On financial services, commercial lender Robinsons Bank will double its capital to P12 billion as it prepares for a long-term expansion program, Gokongwei said.

JG Summit founder John Gokongwei is ranked by Forbes as the Philippines' second richest person with a net worth of $5.8 billion, jumping from fifth place last year.