MANILA: Philippine ventures of billionaire Anthoni Salim's First Pacific Co plan telecommunications, power and water investments in Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand to tap rising demand, chief executive officer Manuel Pangilinan said.
"Myanmar has just opened its economy, Vietnam needs more power, and Thailand to a degree needs to build more power plants," Pangilinan, 66, said on Wednesday at the headquarters of Manila Electric Co, one of his several offices in the Philippines. "It's similar in terms of water, tollways and others."
Manila Electric and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co, two of the biggest companies in First Pacific's portfolio, operate in markets they lead and where growth may slow. The two firms generated almost 60 billion pesos (RM4.57 billion) in free cash last year and have achieved a level of expertise they can export to neighbours, Pangilinan said.
"The economic axis has shifted to Asean," said Roberto Juanchito Dispo, president at Manila-based First Metro Investment Corp, citing the consumer base of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and increased trade within the region. "This business move by First Pacific is strategic and opportunistic."
Southeast Asia's economies are outpacing bigger nations in the Asia-Pacific region, with the exception of China, as policymakers take steps to bolster demand amid sluggish global expansion.
The Philippines' US$225 billion (RM699.75 billion) economy expanded 6.6 per cent last year, higher than economists estimated, as government spending and consumption rose. Myanmar's growth outlook has improved substantially amid poli-tical reforms which could lead to a large influx of foreign investment, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said in November.
PLDT, the Philippines' biggest telecommunications company, is in talks with several global competitors to make a joint bid for two Myanmar phone licences, said Pangilinan, who is the carrier's chairman.
Myanmar, where only nine per cent of the 64 million population has a mobile phone, seeks to boost coverage to as much as 80 per cent by 2016. The license auction will be "hotly contested", Pangilinan said. "Manila Electric plans to accelerate investments in the next three to five year." Bloomberg