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Meralco, AboitizPower may bid for Masinloc power plant

MANILA, Philippines - Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and the Aboitiz Group have expressed interest in the sale of the 630-megawatt (MW) Masinloc power plant in Zambales as American energy giant AES Corp. mulls its exit in the Philippines.

Meralco is positioning to look at the Masinloc power plant as soon as the sale is formally announced, its president Oscar Reyes said in an interview late Thursday.

“We’re prepared to look at it. We’ll be interested to look at it,” he said. “The process hasn’t been started. It’s up to them…but we have to do all the necessary due diligence.”

Reyes said any company that would acquire the plant would greatly benefit because it is already an existing power plant.

In particular, this will add value to Meralco’s power generating unit, Meralco PowerGen Corp. (MGen), which does not have a power plant online yet.

“AES is an existing, operating generating company. In a sense, you already have something that is potentially cash and income accretive to the business,” Reyes said.

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Meanwhile, the Aboitiz Group will also study its participation in the sale as soon as the formal process is announced, Aboitiz Power Corp. CEO Erramon Aboitiz said in another interview.

“We’ll wait for them to advise people and issue a process letter. We participated before. We studied it before. I think we’ll study it when it comes out,” he said.

He was referring to the time when the Philippine government auctioned off the Masinloc power asset in late 2000.

At that time, AES bagged the asset with a $930 million bid in 2008. Currently, the power plant is under Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd., where the American firm has a 51 percent stake while Thai power firm Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd. (EGCO) holds 49 percent.

Another company keen on acquisition is AC Energy Holdings Inc. However, the Ayala firm has yet to determine whether it will take a look at the project, its president and CEO John Eric Francia said in a text message yesterday.

“We would need to review this. We have not yet decided whether to participate,” he said.

AC Energy, together with its partners, is currently completing the acquisition of Chevron’s geothermal assets in Indonesia and the Philippines. So far, it has already sealed the deal for the Indonesian side and is now waiting for certain consents and approvals for the Philippine side.

News have surfaced that AES is selling its controlling stake in the Masinloc power plant which was confirmed by a source who requested anonymity.

The source said AES has already realized gains from its 2008 acquisition and wants to realize “good value” from the sale.

Apart from the existing 630-MW power plant, the 300-MW expansion being built is also up for grabs. AES started construction for the Masinloc expansion at the end of 2015.

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