Phinma sets P17-billion expansion plan

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 16 2012 07:39 AM | Updated as of May 16 2012 06:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Investment holding firm Phinma Corp. is set for the expansion of all its business units by pursuing roughly P17 billion worth of new energy projects, property development, hotel construction and schools acquisition.

The bulk of the capital will be allotted to the power business, which will account for majority of the company’s revenues by 2015, officials said.

The company also plans to pursue the expansion of its power portfolio by 2015, said Francisco L. Viray, president of unit Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corp.

This includes the 54-megawatt (MW) wind project in Guimaras, the 135-MW second circulating fluidized bed power plant in Calaca, Batangas and another 20-MW geothermal power project in Batangas and Laguna, Viray said.

“Power will be the biggest [in investments]. In revenues, power also by 2015,” Viray said. To date, the power business accounts for around a fifth of Phinma’s revenues.

But Phinma’s aspiration to be a niche player in wind power generation will depend on the implementation of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme.

“With the FIT, we can continue developing other wind service contracts. Without that, we will have to suspend development projects in those areas,” Viray said.

The FIT, whose implementation is already delayed by almost three years, guarantees investments of renewable energy firms through fixed rates that would be shouldered by consumers over a set period of time.

Meanwhile, Phinma is expanding its property business through new projects.

“We should have three or four projects this year not including the socialized housing projects that we are doing with the local government units,” said Phinma Properties president Willy J. Uy.

Total project cost for the three to four projects composed of 6,562 units will be P5.7 billion, and will be completed in the next three years, Uy said.

Phinma Properties expects to complete the construction of 2,250 units this year, more than double the 1,000 units last year and higher than the 1,400 units completed in 2010.

Uy said the company can launch even six to 10 projects per year given its new equipment.

“There is a lot of competition right now. A lot of competitors have gone to a similar project but buyers are shopping around and we are still the cheapest,” Uy said.

For the schools business, Phinma Education Network (PEN) is pursuing new acquisitions for more growth.

“We are in active talks with five institutions,” said PEN chief Chito B. Salazar.

Phinma is into the schools business through Araullo University, Cagayan de Oro College, University of Pangasinan and University of Iloilo.

This is in line with the company’s goal of growing the business to service 28,000 students next school year from 26,000 last year.

Acquisitions range at P80 million to P120 million per school, with the first deal expected in the third quarter, Salazar said.

For the hotel business, Phinma is looking to reach more than 1,000 rooms from the current 597 rooms by 2014.

Investment is about P100 million for each Microtel branch, Phinma said. New hotels include the 84 rooms in Libis, 66 rooms in Gen. Santos City, and 60 rooms each in tourist spots Bohol, Coron and El Nido.

Phinma, formerly Bacnotan Consolidated Industries, Inc., also owns Hong Kong-based One Animate, Ltd. and Union Galvasteel Corp.

Profits of the company slumped to P57.5 million last year compared with P640 million a year ago given weak demand for steel and the decline in the animation business.