URC to expand presence in Southeast Asia
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - December 13, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Food and beverage maker Universal Robina Corp. is expanding its presence in Southeast Asia through the construction of additional factories, said taipan John Gokongwei Jr.

Gokongwei, founder and chairman emeritus of JG Summit Holdings, said expanding in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bodes well for the company because of the creation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) this year.

The AEC is envisioned to be a single market and production base for the 10-member Asean community with an estimated consumer base of 600 million people. Integration means duty free importation and tougher competition among member countries.

Aside from the Philippines, other Asean members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“We’re going to expand our factories. We’re in several countries – Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma. I saw this (happening) 20 years ago so I went in 10 years ago,” Gokongwei said.

He said URC has been quite successful in the region over the past 10 years.

“We’ve been there 10 years and we’ve been quite successful. Asean is big enough. We’re not eyeing other countries,” Gokongwei said.

URC is engaged in a wide range of food-related businesses including the manufacture and distribution of branded consumer foods and is also in commodities namely sugar million band refining and flour milling and in agro industrial businesses of farms mainly hogs and animal feed milling and related products.

Data from the company showed that it is the first “Philippine Pan Asean Multinational,” a trailblazer in manufacturing and has a strong and loyal consumer base.

At present, it has full scale operations in eight countries outside the Philippines, and soon in emerging markets like Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

In addition, URC’s products are already being exported to mainstream markets in the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, the Middle East and in West Africa including Ghana and Nigeria.

Last year, the food company expanded in New Zealand with the purchase of Griffin’s Foods Limited.

Meanwhile, Gokongwei said he is pleased with the company’s investments in Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and is preparing for the entry of Telstra in the telecommunications sector.

“We’re very happy with Meralco. (For Telstra), we’re preparing for it,” he said.

JG Summit spent P72 million to a 27 percent stake in Meralco in 2013. It also has a 12 percent stake in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).

Telstra, Australia’s biggest telecommunications company, is in talks with San Miguel Corp. for a possible partnership that would make it the third telco player in the country.

ACIRC ASEAN ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS FOODS LIMITED FOR TELSTRA GHANA AND NIGERIA GOKONGWEI JOHN GOKONGWEI JR. MANILA ELECTRIC CO MERALCO
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