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Philippines' Ayala takes over California solar tech company

Conglomerate beefs up its portfolio in 'disruptive' assets

Solar electric panels are installed on the roof of a building in Los Angeles, California.   © Reuters

MANILA -- Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp. has acquired a majority stake in a California-based solar-technology company, its latest push into "disruptive" assets.

AC Industrials, Ayala's manufacturing unit, lifted its stake to 78.2% in Merlin Solar Technologies. AC Industrials first took a minority stake in Merlin in 2016, Ayala said in a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday, without disclosing the value of the deal.

Merlin makes "differentiated solar solutions," for products with high durability, flexibility and increased solar power output, Ayala said. Merlin has facilities in Thailand, and Ayala plans to add production in the Philippines.

"The proprietary solar solutions that Merlin brings to the table are key to AC Industrials' strategy of working on disruptive technologies, and aligns with the Ayala group's drive to invest in emerging, innovative spaces, such as in e-commerce and fintech," Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said in the statement to the stock exchange.

Merlin makes solar panels for vehicles, which could play a role in Ayala's ambitions to produce next-generation cars.

Ayala, the Philippines' oldest conglomerate with established businesses in real estate, banking, telecommunications and water utilities, has been investing in disruptive technologies that are transforming industries.

Last year, Ayala's Globe Telecom partnered with Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, for a cashless payment service. It also acquired 49% of e-commerce site Zalora Philippines, and it has invested in an online pharmacy.

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