Aboitiz Group boss sees 'great opportunities' in infrastructure, airports

Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2019 12:49 PM

Erramon Aboitiz, President and CEO of Aboitiz Ventures, speaks at the Aboitiz Power Annual Stockholders meeting at the New World Hotel in Makati on April 22, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- The Aboitiz Group sees "great opportunities" in infrastructure, especially in airports, as a growing middle class raring to travel drives growth in tourism, its president said Friday.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures is also looking for opportunities to expand in Southeast Asia, said president and CEO Erramon Aboitiz. He said there would be no major shift in the conglomerate's strategy when he retires next year and turns over his post to his younger brother, Sabin Aboitiz.

The Aboitiz Group is part of a super consortium that proposed to revamp Manila's main airport. It also proposed to build 3 regional air terminals.

"I think we're just beginning, in really what is required for the country so we think there's great opportunities there," Aboitiz told ANC on the sidelines of the group's 25th listing anniversary at the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Building airport infrastructure reflects growing demand for travel and consumer spending, he said.

"Tourism will boom in this country. That's a way of playing that. No reason we can't. We have a beautiful country. People who are very hospitable and the service of the Filipino is unbeatable," he said.

Addressing questions on whether infrastructure should be funded through official development aid or public private partnerships, Aboitiz said: "My response to that is all of the above. Let's use it all because requirements are huge. We are behind. The sooner we get there, the faster the benefits will accrue to the Filipino people."

Government should address right of way issues to get projects moving, he said.

"It's a frustrating thing. Many times, people that own the land challenge in court, courts hold it up. I think there are some laws that are in place," he said.

Asked about succession, he said: "I think the more important thing is we are a family-led business. Our goals are long term. They are strategic. I don't think you will see major shifts in strategy."

"I think we're all committed, and Sabin was part of the formulation of what we've done in last years, but with the world changing, you will see a lot of tactical moves, of how we achieve our long term goals," he said.

"Sabin, my advice would be: focus, concentrate on these long-term goals we set, learn from the past, but also keep your mind open for new opportunities and new ways of doing things," he said.