SSS hikes stake in Phoenix Petroleum

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2010 06:36 PM | Updated as of May 20 2010 02:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Private pension fund Social Security System (SSS) has beefed up its stake in listed oil firm Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. to 9.68% from 2.78%.

The stake combines the secondary shares accumulated by the SSS based on the Philippine beneficial ownership report dated March 31, 2010, and the 7,500,000 primary shares bought from Phoenix Petroleum last November 2009.

Phoenix Petroleum is one of the companies approved for inclusion in the equities portfolio of the SSS under the Small Market Cap Investment program it launched in 2009.

"The decision of the Social Security System to invest in the country’s only publicly-traded independent oil company is a very welcome development and we view this as a vote of confidence in the future of an emerging player in the downstream petroleum sector," said Phoenix President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Uy.

"We believe that Phoenix’s history of profitable growth, increasing market visibility and great potential to realize its vision of becoming the leading independent oil player continues to attract appreciative investors such as the SSS," he added.

SSS President Romulo Neri, for his part, said that the stake purchase was in line with their commitment to grow members' contributions by investing in assets that will yield good returns at a manageable level of risk.

"We believe that with its track record and its positive business prospects, our addition of Phoenix Petroleum to the SSS' list of investments was a good decision," Neri noted.

Phoenix Petroleum's consolidated core net earnings grew 18.5% to P178 million in 2009 from P150 million in 2008, as revenues rose 27.3% to P5.87 billion.

The strong results were attributed to the 81% rise in fuel sales volume, and the expansion in the company's retail station network from 86 stations in 2008 to 120 stations by end-2009.

For the first quarter of 2010, Phoenix Petroleum reported a 113% rise in fuel sales.