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Metro Pacific eyes 12% profit growth after strong H1

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Southeast Asia's first light rail transit network in Manila   © Reuters

MANILA -- Philippine infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments on Wednesday said its core profit is projected to grow by 11.7% to 11.5 billion pesos ($244 million) this year following strong first-half results.

Its net income jumped 25% to 7.0 billion pesos from January to June, while core profit rose 13% to 6.6 billion pesos, according to a stock exchange report.

Metro Pacific controls Manila Electric, the Philippines' largest power retailer, which make up half of the conglomerate's total earnings. It also runs water distributors, a hospital chain, a railway and domestic tollways, and has equity interests in Thai and Vietnamese toll road operators.

In the first half, Manila Electric's core earnings dropped 11% to 10.4 billion pesos as the absence of transmission and generation fees recovered last year offset the spike in power consumption amid warmer weather.

Metro Pacific said its increased stake in Global Business Power and Manila Electric is expected to drive better results, while its recent alliance with GT Capital Holdings should strengthen its financial muscle for infrastructure and power investments.

Maynilad Water Services' core net income plunged 25% to 3.6 billion pesos after an income tax holiday expired in December 2015.

Metro Pacific Tollways' core profit climbed 31% to 1.6 billion pesos as traffic at its Philippine tollways increased by an average of 7.5% while equity earnings at its foreign road investments improved.

Metro Pacific CEO Jose Ma. Lim on Wednesday reiterated the company's interest in buying into Malaysian and Indonesian tollway companies, in line with plans to "build a pan-ASEAN toll road portfolio." Metro Pacific is a unit of First Pacific, a Hong Kong-listed holding company controlled by Indonesia's Salim Group.

At home, the company is expanding three existing toll roads, building a new one in central Philippines, and is proposing a new expressway linking the northern and southern outskirts of the capital and targeting cargo trucks from the port of Manila.

The hospital group, which runs 12 medical centers, contributed 249 million pesos to Metro Pacific, up 33% from a year ago.

Metro Pacific-controlled Light Rail Manila, which took over Manila's Light Rail Transit Line 1 in September last year, made 298 million pesos in the first half. Ridership at the 20-kilometer railway increased by 8% to 406,000 since the privatization.

The company also made a foray into logistics in the first half, and plans to invest at least a billion pesos annually to grow the business.

Shares of Metro Pacific dropped 2.7% to 7.3 pesos on Wednesday as Manila's benchmark index fell 1.9%

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