Ayala to strengthen core businesses, sell some assets

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Ayala Corp., the country’s oldest conglomerate, is looking to strengthen its core businesses, sell off some assets, and grow its presence in the logistics sector with its recent acquisition of Air21.

Ayala Corp. president and CEO Fernando Zobel de Ayala said the group would focus on fewer businesses after a decade of expansion.

“The last 10 years we’ve grown quite a bit and we’ve gone into a large number of things. We’ve now decided to focus a little bit more on fewer businesses and try to deepen our involvement there,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television last week.

Ayala’s core businesses are banking, telecommunications, property, and most recently, renewable energy.

Zobel said the company would focus and expand these businesses rapidly.

“We’ve done some value realization to try to sell off some pieces of our portfolio where we have passive investments,” he said.

The company would “redeploy by buying back shares,” which Zobel said are undervalued.

Ayala will also cut debt and undertake new initiatives.

The conglomerate is also growing its health care portfolio, and is considering consolidating its Entrego with Air21 Holdings, an end-to-end delivery company.

“We’re thinking of merging that or working with that entity and combining it with our current company called Entrego, where we can offer many more services now,” Zobel said.

Last month, Ayala signed an agreement to acquire a 60 percent stake in Air21, owned by businessman and former Customs commissioner Alberto Lina for roughly P6 billion.

Zobel, who succeeded his brother Jaime Augusto as CEO, believes the worst is over for the Philippine economy “as long as there won’t be a recurrence” or a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“There are very good signals that show we are moving forward,” Zobel said.

As part of its strategy for recovery, Ayala has been strengthening its digital business, which Zobel said is really an “exciting part.”

“We’ve got two areas where we’ve expanded dramatically. One is at BPI, which now has about 3.1 million customers and is transacting about P5.6 trillion, so it’s growing rapidly. And if you shift to Globe, they’ve got GCash. That’s got 51 million customers and P3 trillion  in transactions,” Zobel said.


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