Metro Pacific says cash pile cushioning impact of pandemic as income falls

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2020 09:06 PM

MANILA - Metro Pacific Investments Corp (MPIC) on Wednesday said it has enough cash to cushion itself from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic even as its net income fell sharply in the first half. 

The conglomerate’s net income attributable to shareholders fell 63 percent to P3 billion in the first half, compared to P8.1 billion in the same period last year as the outbreak and the lockdowns disrupted its business operations.

MPIC said its businesses in power distribution and generation, railways, toll roads, water distribution were all affected by the COVID-19 quarantine measures. 

“The quarantine reduced toll road traffic, mandated the suspension of rail services, and decreased commercial and industrial demand for water and power resulting in a decrease in contribution from operations of 31 percent,” MPIC said in its disclosure to the stock exchange. 

The conglomerate, however, said it was “well-funded” due to the P30.1-billion sell-down of interest in its hospital business at the end of 2019 and the sale earlier this year of a 19.2 percent interest in the LRT-1 project for P3 billion.

"As an investment company, we have ample firepower to last a long time. Now, of course we're not just sitting on that cash. We are deploying it," said David Nicol, chief financial officer of MPIC.

MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim said the company has “not slowed down on local projects in the Philippines.” 

Lim said the company is doing what it can to help restart the economy by continuing with its construction projects, but admitted that "the pace of our construction is being affected by the delivery of right-of-way as well as the usual red tape of getting permits and approvals from government."

The conglomerate has also deferred investing in new projects, particularly in tourism and hotels, with the travel industry among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan also expressed his optimism and said the drop in profits finally bottomed out in the second quarter.

"Starting late March, April was pretty bad -- was our worst month across the board, and then May, we saw some green shoots of recovery and June was much better, July continued to be better," Pangilinan said.

"We're still hopeful that the second-half profit picture will be better than the second quarter and hopefully there will be no third wave or even fourth wave in the course of the year," Pangilinan added.
With reports from Bruce Rodriguez and Michelle Ong, ABS-CBN News