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Metro Pacific core income falls 34%

Pandemic hits toll roads, rail services, water and power businesses

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) said on Wednesday that its core net income last year had declined 34% to P10.2 billion as the global health crisis slowed down economic activities and reduced business operations.

“MPIC’s consolidated core net income for 2020 declined 34% to P10.2 billion owing largely to the economic contraction brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Manuel V-Pangilinan-led holding firm said in a regulatory filing.

MPIC said contributions from its operating businesses were down 26% because of reduced toll road traffic, suspended and decreased light rail services, and lowered demand for water and power last year, among others.

“Power accounted for P10.5 billion or 69% of operating income. Water contributed P3.1 billion or 20% and toll roads contributed P2.4 billion or 16%,” MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. K. Lim said in a briefing on Wednesday to present the firm’s 2020 financial performance.

Contributions from MPIC’s power business came from Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Visayas-based Global Business Power Corp. Maynilad Water Services, Inc. largely made up the contribution from the water sector.

“This earnings mix reflects our growing dependence on Meralco until our tollway network expansion is completed and Maynilad is able to resume paying dividends,” Mr. Lim said.

MPIC’s other businesses, which include hospitals, light rail services and logistics, incurred an overall loss of P709 million last year.

Meanwhile, MPIC’s core net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 improved 4% to P2.5 billion due to the gradual easing of restrictions, and the resumption of economic activities.

Asked about the capital expenditures (capex) for 2021, MPIC Chief Financial Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer Chaye A. Cabal-Revilla said the firm was looking at P15 billion, which is around the same level as the budget earmarked for 2020.

In a statement, Mr. Lim said the firm had gone through the “most difficult year” as operations of its portfolio companies were significantly affected by the pandemic.

“At the parent level however, we endeavored to preserve our balance sheet and optimize capital allocation as evidenced by our recent asset monetization efforts. It is difficult to ascertain the pace of growth in economic activity so we believe it is prudent to ensure that our financial position is robust and can sustain operations and expansion even in a prolonged period of recovery,” he said.

MPIC shares at the local bourse improved 0.99% or 0.04 centavos to finish at P4.09 apiece on Wednesday.

The listed MPIC is one of three Philippine subsidiaries of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., maintains an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group. — Angelica Y. Yang

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