FirstPac hikes stake in Philex

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, BusinessWorld

Posted at Feb 01 2010 10:42 AM | Updated as of Feb 01 2010 06:42 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Hong Kong's First Pacific Co. Ltd. completed on Friday the purchase of an additional 5.9% stake in Philex Mining Corp., further strengthening First Pacific’s hold in the Philippines’ largest miner.

The deal was coursed through Two Rivers Pacific Holdings Corp., an affiliate of First Pacific. “Following the completion, Two Rivers holds a total of approximately 15.1% in Philex,” First Pacific told the Hong Kong bourse.

“This is in addition to the approximately 31.5% economic interest in Philex held by the First Pacific group of companies,” First Pacific added.

On Dec. 7, First Pacific, through Two Rivers, bought a 9.24% stake from Philex Mining Chief Executive Walter W. Brown, Vice-Chairman Roberto V. Ongpin, and the Development Bank of the Philippines for P9.493 billion or $202 million, giving the sellers a 7.7% premium.

Philex Mining, which gets its minerals from the Padcal copper and gold project in Benguet, expects to start the commercial operations of its Boyongan gold and copper mines in Surigao del Norte by 2014 to sustain operations for up to 20 more years.

Philex Mining shares stayed at P14.00 apiece on Friday.

First Pacific Co. Ltd. partly owns the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co. Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of the PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund, has a minority stake in BusinessWorld.