Romero group seeks to acquire 7 domestic ports

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 23 2011 08:20 AM | Updated as of Aug 23 2011 06:13 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Publicly-listed Mic Holdings of the Romero Group is looking at acquiring seven domestic ports as part of its bid to become the largest port operator in the country.

Mic chairman and president Michael Romero told The STAR that this will be in addition to a number of foreign ports their group is also eyeing to operate.

The board of directors of Mic Holdings approved last week a change in the company’s name to Global Port Terminals Inc., an increase in capitalization to P2.1 billion, an increase in the number of board directors from seven to nine, and a change in the par value of the shares.

Romero told The STAR that the increase in authorized capital will allow their group to infuse additional funds into the company. All the changes will be submitted to the stockholders next month for approval.

Mic will soon undergo a corporate restructuring, which may include acquiring existing port-related businesses of the Romero Group, he revealed.

He also said that in the meantime, there will be no change in Mic’s primary business purpose. Mic, formerly in the insurance business, is into information technology-related businesses.

However, the company’s secondary purpose will now include owning, investing, managing, operating, maintaining, and developing port facilities, including other maritime activities supportive of port operations and shipping.

Meanwhile, Romero revealed that to date, nobody has yet tendered their shares to Mic’s escrow agent.

Mic, now majority owned by the Romero Group, plans to raise at least $200 million by the second or third quarter next year to acquire and operate both domestic and foreign-based seaports.

Romero revealed that $100 million will be for the acquisition of seven domestic ports while another $100 million will be for foreign ports. This will be financed from both internally-generated funds and new equity.

Mic was acquired by Romero’s private investment company Sultan 900 Capital Inc. from the group of businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Cojuangco recently for P175 million. Plans are to consolidate Romero’s existing port operations which include Harbour Centre and Manila North Harbor into Mic.

Sultan has acquired 95.2 percent of Mic and is conducting a tender offer to purchase the remaining four percent held by minority shareholders.

Romero said Mic plans to acquire new companies, which include those that are into ports, information technology, dredging and logistics.

Romero disclosed that in addition to their two existing port operations in Manila, the Harbour Centre group is eyeing the acquisition of seven others.

He also said that they are participating in biddings to operate international ports such as those in Guam, Vietnam, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

Romero, president of Harbour Centre Ports Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) and chairman of Manila North Harbour Ports Terminal Inc. (MNHPI), said that they are being “swarmed” with offers from foreign investors as well as port operators who want to invest or enter into joint venture agreements with his group. “At the same time, we are also offering to enter into partnerships or acquire both domestic and foreign ports,” he disclosed.

HCPTI owns 65 percent of MNHPI, a joint venture with Petron Corp., and holds the 25-year contract to develop, manage and operate North Harbor.

Romero’s group also owns Harbour Centre, a 15-hectare multi-purpose private commercial terminal located within the 79-hectare port-city complex called Manila Harbour Centre.