INFRASTRUCTURE builder AlloyMtd Group made its maiden foray into the Philippines six years ago, when it was awarded a contract to rehabilitate, upgrade, develop and operate the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).
It was quite a challenging efforts to ensure the success of the toll road project, as at the time, many Malaysian companies failed to make the grade and even decided to back off from pursuing their goals to invest in the Philippines.
But AlloyMtd, through its outfit, MTD Capital Bhd, a former Main Market-listed entity, stayed on and was determined to complete its maiden project in the Philippines.
And indeed it did and was well accepted by the Philippine community.
It was learnt that the successful completion of South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) was one of the contributing factors to AlloyMtd's latest awarded project for the development of the RM181.7 million Calabarzon Regional Government Centre (RGC).
The RGC project is the Philippines' first public-private partnership (PPP) initiative in the local government level.
With a gross floor area of 74,000 sqm and net leasable space of 51,000 sqm, the Calabarzon RGC will house 51 regional government offices.
Considered as one of the fastest growing regions in the country, Calabarzon stands for the combined area of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces of the Philippines.
AlloyMtd president and chief executive officer Datuk Azmil Khalid explained that it took about three years for the group to complete the SLEX project in December 2010 and started operating the toll road in January 2011.
"In 2012, we got an exciting offer and sold the toll road, but we continue to be here in the Philippines because we feel that the country has got a business proposition for us," he told Malaysian journalists attending the launch and signing ceremony of a joint-venture agreement between AlloyMtd and Calamba City for the development of the Calabarzon RGC, near here, recently.
Unlike Malaysia, Azmil said the Philippines has been left behind in terms of infrastructure development.
"While Malaysia is moving ahead, the Philippines, on the other hand, slowed down.
"Today, led by President Benigno Aquino, the Philippine government has identified infrastructure as a key component to drive the country's economy.
"Their GDP (gross domestic product) is growing very well, one of the best in the region after Indonesia. The Philippine government has been encouraging the introduction of PPP or privatisation as those currently seen in Malaysia," he said.
After selling SLEX, Azmil said AlloyMtd decided to continue investing in the Philippines.
"We have identified several infrastructure and PPP projects that we can bid, including the light rail transit-1 extension in Manila," he said.
Azmil was also named as president of the recently formed Malaysia-Philippines Business Council.
"The Philippines is a major business focus for us in the region. For me, I was asked by the government to be president of the Malaysia-Philippines Business Council.
"In my capacity as head of this council, I feel proud that AlloyMtd is leading by example in terms of our commitment to invest in this great country.
"Along with us, there is Resort World, one of the biggest investors here. We also have Tan Sri Vincent Tan of Berjaya Group, doing cars assembly. Of course, Maybank is coming very big here. And CIMB Bank, too.
"I feel very happy as we (AlloyMtd) are one of the pioneers, making sure Malaysian investors come back to the Philippines," he said.
He added that by having two big regional banks, namely Maybank and CIMB, coming to the Philippines is a testimony that the country is one of the economies in the region that all Malaysian investors should be in.
For AlloyMtd, there is much opportunities for the company to reap in the near future, especially in developing the RGCs.
"There are 16 other government administrative regions in the Philippines, including Mindanao where the Philippine government had reached a peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front separatists last year.
"Hopefully, this will spur more Malaysian investors to come back and invest in the Philippines," he said.
Besides operations in Malaysia and the Philippines, AlloyMtd also has presence in Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Singapore, India, Thailand, China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Chile.