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Manila Water plans P1.15-trillion investment until 2047

Manila Water plans P1.15-trillion investment until 2047

WATER SUPPLY company Manila Water Co., Inc. said it is investing P1.15 trillion between this year and 2047.

This commitment comes as the water supply company seeks approval for the extension of its revised concession agreement (RCA) with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

The east zone concessionaire said it applied for an RCA extension on Aug. 25, as indicated in the company’s position paper posted on its official website and accessed on Monday.

“The application seeks the extension of the expiration date of the RCA from July 31, 2037 to July 31, 2047, to coincide with the term of Manila Water’s 25-year legislative franchise,” the company said.

Specifically, Manila Water hopes to extend the RCA it signed with MWSS on March 31, 2021.

Republic Act No. 11601, which took effect on Jan. 25, 2022, granted Manila Water a legislative franchise for 25 years, extending until 2047.

The franchise provides the company with the privilege to establish, operate, and maintain a waterworks and sewerage system in the east zone service area of Metro Manila and Rizal province.

The company said that the application aligns with Section 5 of the law, which states: “When public interest for affordable water security so requires and upon the grantee’s application, MWSS shall be authorized to approve the amendment of the Concession Agreement to extend its term up to the franchise’s duration, following appropriate notice and hearing.”

In line with the extension application, Manila Water has committed to allocate P1.15 trillion for investments, primarily to ensure the continuous provision of water and wastewater services to its customers in the east zone, it noted.

Of the total, Manila Water plans to allocate P475 billion for the development and maintenance of water facilities from 2038 to 2047 out of the total expenditures.

It has also projected an additional capital expenditure (capex) amounting to P48.1 billion from 2038 to 2043 for the development of the water treatment plant for the Kangan-Agos project, with an estimated capex of P91.1 billion.

The proposed project, which will source water from the Kanan River, is expected to produce 3,000 million liters per day, divided between Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

“With 26 years of improving water and wastewater services, Manila Water is best positioned to continue to serve the East Zone for another 24 years,” the company said.

“Manila Water prays for the extension of the RCA to ensure sustainability of reliable service at an affordable cost,” it added.

At the same time, the company invited the public to submit comments on its proposed extension.

At the local bourse on Monday, shares of Manila Water went down by two centavos or 0.11% to close at P17.70 apiece.

The water concessionaire serves the east zone network of Metro Manila, covering parts of Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Pateros, Mandaluyong, San Juan, portions of Quezon City and Manila, and several towns in Rizal province. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

#Manila #Water #plans #P1.15trillion #investment

Meralco plans to invest in electric cooperatives

MANILA Electric Co. (Meralco) is looking beyond its franchise areas for investment opportunities, its top official said, pointing to electric cooperatives.

“There is one last idea that I have encouraged Meralco to adopt, which is broadening these investments in electric cooperatives in the country,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman and chief executive officer of Meralco.

“We might be efficient on the generation side of the business but Meralco’s distribution footprint is limited to a franchise area,” he said at a conference earlier this week.

Mr. Pangilinan said there are key areas in the country where electric cooperatives will need to “level up to the kind of standards and the kind of efficiency that Meralco as a distribution company has achieved.”

Currently, Meralco’s franchise area covers 9,685 square kilometers, which provides power to over 7.7 million customer accounts in 38 cities and 73 municipalities.

The company manages the electric distribution facilities of Pampanga Electric Cooperative II through Comstech Integration Alliance, Inc. under a 25-year investment management contract.

Michael L. Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Banking Corp., said in a Viber message that Meralco’s investment plan could lead to “some economies of scale through vertical integration.”

“Its expertise and experience in the electricity distribution business would help and complement its existing electricity generation and distribution businesses,” he said.

He added that the move “could lead to better operational efficiencies, economies of scale, supply chain management that could help translate to better finances and lower electricity prices for the households, businesses, industries, and other institutional customers.

Meanwhile, Luis A. Limlingan, head of sales at Regina Capital Corp., said that Meralco should carefully evaluate the opportunities.

“That’s an interesting area of investment should [Meralco] proceed with MVP’s suggestion,” he said, referring to Mr. Pangilinan’s initials.

“Electric cooperatives usually have a strong community focus, which could help expand [Meralco’s] reach. However, it’s essential for [Meralco] to thoroughly evaluate these opportunities and ensure they align with the company’s broader strategy,” he added.

Meralco’s controlling stakeholder, Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc., is partly owned by PLDT Inc.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has an interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera

#Meralco #plans #invest #electric #cooperatives

Vista Land plans P35-billion bond offering

Vista Land plans P35-billion bond offering

THE VILLARS’ Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. said on Wednesday that it is planning to register a three-year bond offering of up to P35 billion.   

In a stock exchange disclosure, Vista Land said its board had approved the company’s application with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to register the peso-denominated fixed-rate bonds.   

According to the company, the bonds will be issued in tranches within a three-year period. The initial tranche will involve the offer and issuance of up to P10 billion fixed-rate bonds consisting of up to P6 billion base offer and an oversubscription option of up to P4 billion.  

Vista Land is tycoon Manuel B. Villar, Jr.’s listed holding firm engaged in developing residential subdivisions and construction of housing and condominium units.

“The board of directors of the company has authorized management to determine such other terms and conditions of the offer, as may be advantageous to the company and in accordance with the scope of authority given by the board, including, but not limited to, the determination of the interest rate of the offer bonds, and the subsequent offerings out of the shelf registration of the shelf bonds,” Vista Land said.   

Vista Land said China Bank Capital Corp., SB Capital Investment Corp., and Union Bank of the Philippines are the joint lead underwriters and joint bookrunners for the issuance.   

The listed firm’s counsel for the offer is Picazo Buyco Tan Fider & Santos while Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles will serve as counsel to the joint lead underwriters and joint bookrunners.

“The company shall make additional disclosures in respect of the offer in due course,” Vista Land said.   

In the first half, Vista Land posted an 83% increase in net income to P5.8 billion from P3.18 billion a year ago. The company’s consolidated revenues rose 8% to P18.35 billion versus P16.97 billion previously.   

On Wednesday, shares of Vista Land at the local bourse increased four centavos or 2.55% to close at 1.61 apiece.  Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

#Vista #Land #plans #P35billion #bond #offering

WTO plans to fix Appellate Body paralysis by 2024

WTO plans to fix Appellate Body paralysis by 2024

By Norman P. Aquino, Special Reports Editor

GENEVA — The World Trade Organization (WTO) is on track to fix its dispute settlement process by 2024, its chief economist said, amid criticisms that the global trade body is being stymied by its reliance on the consensus system.

“The WTO has resolved to fix this by 2024,” WTO Chief Economist Ralph Ossa told reporters at the launch of the WTO Global Trade Report in Geneva on Tuesday.

Ensuring that the 164-member trade organization has a fully functional dispute settlement system by next year is a “high priority,” he added, without providing more details.

The global economy is said to be edging closer to survival-of-the-fittest mode as major economies skirt the post-World War II trading system in favor of a more restrictive and transactional approach to world commerce.

US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has kept his predecessor’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, all illegal under the WTO rules.

He has also kept the paralysis of the seven-member WTO Appellate Body, which stopped functioning in December 2019 after the US blocked the appointment of new members, citing “judicial overreach” among other issues.

This has led to most panel reports being appealed into the void and leaving the disputes unresolved. As a result, members can’t enforce WTO obligations through complaints against alleged trade violations.

The Philippines and Thailand did manage to settle their trade dispute over Manila’s cigarettes in June last year without the Appellate Body after more than a decade of litigation.

Globalization — and WTO — critics have said the WTO’s consensus system needs to be replaced by a new negotiating model that meets 21st century problems including climate change, environmental destruction, low labor standards, human rights and corruption. They are also calling for bilateral and plurilateral deals to level the playing field.

Ministers in June committed to work toward reforming the organization to improve its functions through an open, transparent and inclusive process. The WTO’s General Council and its subsidiary bodies will conduct the work, review progress and consider decisions on reform to be submitted to the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February.

The Ministerial Conference is the topmost decision-making body of the WTO.

Ministers also committed to discuss and address challenges and concerns about the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

The WTO on Tuesday said geopolitical tensions and recent crises have spurred protectionist policies that are slowly eroding the world’s trading system and could ultimately fragment the global economy.

In its annual Global Trade Report, it called for “re-globalization” — a renewed drive toward a broader and more inclusive integration to more economies, people and issues.

The WTO is being hindered by its reliance on the consensus system and getting 164 members to agree on anything is a tall order, said Arthur E. Appleton, a partner at Appleton Luff — International Lawyers and adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

It was also hampered by a nonfunctioning Appellate Body, he said in an e-mail, adding that without an effective dispute settlement system, it is more difficult to apply the rule of law when international trade disputes arise.

WTO member countries would probably consider additional plurilateral agreements to avoid the blockages caused by the consensus system, and they need to resolve the dispute settlement impasse, he added.

Meanwhile, smaller and developing economies like the Philippines will be the most at risk from global trade fragmentation because they depend a lot on imports, World Trade Report coordinator Victor Stolzenburg told reporters at the launch of the WTO’s flagship report in Geneva.

Gains made in alleviating poverty, raising income and improving living standards in these economies could get lost if protectionist policies are allowed to continue, he added.

He also said the Philippines must address structural issues including in agriculture to maximize the gains from global free trade.

“Trade can only do so much if the domestic policy environment is not in place,” he said.

Mr. Appleton said international trade is vital to the continued development of the Philippines.

“Some argue that every manufacturing job produces three service scooter jobs — this means very good employment prospects for Philippine workers,” he said.

The Philippines needs globalization to continue the development of its goods sector and service sector, which has increasingly become more important.

“The rule-based trading system which is the backbone of globalization, provides security to the Philippine business community and for Philippine economic development,” he said.

The Philippine government should continue to boost education, infrastructure development and the rule of law, he added. “All three are important for attracting inward and foreign direct investment and the Philippines’ continued economic development.”

Mr. Appleton said China itself also depends a lot on access to foreign markets and raw materials. “In other words, China’s economic development is dependent upon access to global supply chains.”

“As a result, China also needs the rule-based system that the WTO and globalization offer. Since China is the Philippines’ most important trading partner, Philippine producers also benefit from the legal and economic security offered by the rule-based international trading system,” he added.

Mr. Ossa earlier said trade was remarkably resilient during the coronavirus pandemic, bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels less than a year after the first wave of lockdowns.

Trade in digitally delivered services remained strong all along, growing at an average annual rate of 8.1% between 2005 and 2022, outpacing goods (5.6%) and other services (4.2 %).

“But the warning signs must be taken seriously,” Mr. Ossa said. “In the report, we looked at trade within and between hypothetical geopolitical ‘blocs’ constructed based on voting patterns in the United Nations General Assembly.”

Goods trade flows between these “blocs” have grown by as much as 6% more slowly than within these ‘blocs’ since the onset of the war in Ukraine, indicating a shift toward friend-shoring, he said.

Mr. Ossa also cited an increasing level of trade concerns being raised about unilateral policies of trading partners in the WTO, while the International Monetary Fund has reported a fragmentation of investment flows.

“All of this will eventually be reflected in reduced trade growth unless countries re-embrace multilateralism or re-globalization,” he added.

The WTO’s next trade forecast will come out in early October, “and it will be interesting to see what direction trade has taken since the spring.”

#WTO #plans #fix #Appellate #Body #paralysis

PHL plans sukuk issue by yearend

PHL plans sukuk issue by yearend

By Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINE government is looking to issue Islamic bonds, also known as sukuk bonds, by yearend or in the first quarter, National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon said.

This would mark the Philippines’ debut in the Islamic bond market, as the government looks to fund its budget deficit.

“As for the timing, we’ve been told that there would have to be a 12-week preparatory lead time that would be needed, so hopefully we can do this before the end of the year or if ever, it would have to slip to the first quarter of 2024,” Ms. De Leon said during the Philippine Economic Briefing in Dubai on Tuesday.

She said that the government is now consulting potential underwriters for the details of the issuance, including its structure, which may be a “hybrid Wakalah, Ijara or Murabaha.”

“In terms of the tenor size, I think the sweet spot would be between the long (tenors of) five and the 10-year (bonds) because this would also be something that would be catering to our small investors and at the same time also to the institutional investors,” she said.

Ms. De Leon did give the offer size for the planned sukuk bonds. In July, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told Bloomberg that the government was eyeing to raise $1 billion from the sukuk bond deal.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Arifa A. Ala said that the sukuk issuance is a “good complement” for the central bank’s efforts to promote Islamic banking in the country.

“Having sukuk bonds being issued by the National Government will send a strong signal that the Philippines is now ready to accept applicants (and) new players in the Islamic banking system,” she added.

Ms. De Leon also reaffirmed the government’s plan to offer US dollar-denominated retail Treasury bonds within the month.

“Even in terms of the tenor, we’re looking at the belly of the curve, so that would be a long five. The other feature is that the tax would be assumed by the government, that means the full coupon would be going to our Filipino investors. That’s something we hope to launch (by) the end of the month,” she added.

The government is planning to offer another $5 billion worth of dollar-denominated bonds this year, the national treasurer said.

“We’re looking at another billion-dollar issuance and maybe this time around, if we make it to the 12-week preparation time, then we’ll be issuing a sukuk structure bond as the remaining issuance from the Republic for the rest of the year,” she added.

Meanwhile, the economic team presented the country’s first sovereign wealth fund, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), to potential investors in Dubai.

“During this visit to Dubai, we’ve been in touch with sovereign wealth funds, but even with infrastructure funds and potential co-investors, looking into joint ventures,” Ms. De Leon said.

“We’ve been able to present a list of our infrastructure flagship projects and how these would complement their own priorities.”

In July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. signed into law the Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023, which creates the MIF.

The sovereign wealth fund will be managed by the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), which will have authorized capital stock of P500 billion.

“It’s intended to be an additional funding source. We’ll probably graduate to upper middle-income status within two years and will no longer be entitled to concessional loans. This is in preparation for that,’ Mr. Diokno said.

The Finance chief said that the Philippines must ramp up investments in projects that will improve physical and digital connectivity, as well as boost the country’s transition to clean energy.

#PHL #plans #sukuk #issue #yearend

Experience 5G connectivity with vivo on Smart Signature Plans

Experience 5G connectivity with vivo on Smart Signature Plans

It is now easier than ever for Filipino mobile users to experience 5G connectivity to cover all online activities with the latest vivo V and Y series on Smart Signature Plans, powered by the Philippines’ Fastest and Best Mobile Network as recognized by Ookla, the global leader in mobile and broadband network intelligence*.

The vivo V27 5G and the vivo Y36 5G are now available on Smart Signature Plans with exclusive vivo device color options. Subscribers can choose between the Smart Signature Plans+ that comes with Unlimited 5G for 12 months for Plans 999 and up, Unli All-Net Calls and Texts, big data allocation, rewards and privileges, and free access to entertainment content, or Smart Signature Device Plans.

vivo V27 5G for the expert in photography

Make the most of vivo V27 5G, which is perfect for detailed portrait shots through the Aura Portrait Master feature and your very own pocket studio device, what with its 50MP vlogging camera and an Aura Portrait Algorithm system to boot.

The Aura Portrait Algorithm system is a lowlight expert trio hinged on the following features: the Aura Light, Sony IMX766V Sensor, and Portrait mode. Together, these features produce nighttime photographs that are crystal clear and full of life.

Apart from the cameras, the sleek and elegant vivo V27 5G has unmatched performance with the MediaTek Dimesity 7200 processor, 12GB RAM, up to 8GB extended RAM, and 256GB storage. With the immersive display, 4600mAh battery, and 66W FlashCharge, the fun experience will never stop.

Built to last, vivo V27 5G set the quality standard and underwent tests to its limit to ensure strength and durability.

Get this premium phone in photochromic Emerald Green colorway exclusively with your Smart Signature Device Plan 1,499 with a one-time cash out of P3,400 and P200 monthly amortization for 24 months. Enjoy 10GB open access data, unli all-net calls and text, and 100 minutes calls to PLDT.

Want more data? You can also get this with a Smart Signature Plans+ 999 by just adding +1,900/mo for 12 mos. via 0% credit card installment available in our Smart Stores. This plan comes with 20GB of data, unli 5G for 12 mos. in select areas nationwide, unli all-net texts and calls including landline, plus Netflix on Us.

vivo Y36 5G for the high-performing, fun user

The latest addition to the brand’s Y Series of fun, the vivo Y36 5G showcases a larger, brighter 6.64-inch FHD+ notch display, best-in-class features, and exceptional performance.

Subscribers on a budget are also treated to the stylish smartphone experience with impressive display of the Y36 5G. Considered as the “beating heart” of the all-new vivo Y36 5G is the latest 5G chipset from MediaTek, the Dimensity 6020 — an octa-core, 64-bit processor built on the energy-efficient 7nm process.

vivo Y36 5G also features Memory Booster with the support of three core sub-features: Extended RAM 3.0, RAM Saver, and Interface Preserver. This means a faster, lag-free experience and the capability to run over 25 apps without losing momentum. Downloading or saving apps, videos, and files on the phone wouldn’t be a problem with 256GB storage.

The phone also packs a 5000mAh battery with 44W FlashCharge while IP54 water and dust resistance ensure that vivo Y36 5G keeps working under pressure.

vivo Y36 5G is available in Crystal Green and Mystic Black, two new color designs that will attract attention at first sight.

Get this youthful, “fun”-tastic phone at Smart Signature Device Plan 999 with a one-time cash out of P1,400 and P100 monthly amortization for 24 months. Enjoy 5GB open access data, unli all-net calls and text, and 50 minutes calls to PLDT. You may also get this with a Smart Signature Plans+ 999 by just adding + 960/mo for 12 mos. via 0% credit card installment available in our Smart Stores. This plan comes with 20GB of data, unli 5G for 12 mos. in select areas nationwide, unli all-net texts and calls including landline, plus Netflix on Us.

Customers can sign up for Signature Plans in Smart Stores nationwide or via Smart Online Store:

  • vivo V27 5G –
  • vivo Y36 5G –

Follow vivo Philippines on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok for the latest news and announcements.

(*Based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for speed and coverage Q1-Q2 2023. Ookla trademarks are used under license and reprinted with permission.)


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#Experience #connectivity #vivo #Smart #Signature #Plans

Warner Bros. Discovery plans to offer live sports for free on Max

Warner Bros. Discovery plans to offer live sports for free on Max

WARNER Bros. Discovery plans to offer live sports at no additional price on its Max streaming service for a short period later this year, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.

Customers will need to pay an added cost for sports on the platform starting next year, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The media and entertainment firm declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Warner Bros. Discovery owns media rights to the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball, among other sporting events.

Streaming platforms have been looking to invest in rights to stream live sports to gain market share and attract advertisers in an already saturated market.

High costs for scripted content and the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes have hindered movie and show launches, hurting profit.

Warner Bros. Discovery said on Tuesday the dual strikes, the first in 63 years, would hit profit for the year.

Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav would be participating in an investor conference after markets close on Wednesday to discuss the impact of the strikes.

Warner Bros. Discovery relaunched Max in May looking to attract more subscribers in the burgeoning video streaming sector, pricing the ad-supported subscription tier at $10 per month and ad-free version for $16 per month.

Meanwhile, Walt Disney pulled ESPN, ABC, and other channels including live sporting events off Charter Communications Spectrum cable service in the US over an unresolved distribution agreement. — Reuters

#Warner #Bros #Discovery #plans #offer #live #sports #free #Max

Thai government plans handouts, fuel price cuts to revive economy

Thai government plans handouts, fuel price cuts to revive economy

BANGKOK — Thailand’s new government plans to give each citizen a 10,000 baht ($282) handout, delay debt payments and lower energy prices in a bid to ease the cost of living and boost the economy, according to a draft of a policy speech Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is due to give in parliament next week.

The draft speech was seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Mr. Srettha, who is also finance minister, was sworn in along with his cabinet this week, and will deliver the address to parliament on Monday before his government can officially carry its duties.

“The policy will trigger economic growth … we will inject the economy with cash so that it reaches everyone and creates opportunities for all,” Mr. Srettha said in the draft.

Mr. Srettha’s populist government inherits an economy growing at a pace that is slower than expected, as weak exports and lower investments undercut strength in tourism.

Last month, the state planning agency cut its 2023 GDP growth outlook to 2.5-3.0% from 2.7-3.7% after a weaker-than-expected second quarter. Last year’s growth was 2.6%.

The 560 billion baht ($15.78 billion) handout scheme, which will be paid into the digital wallets of all Thais aged 16 and above, was a major part of campaign that Mr. Srettha and his Pheu Thai party launched ahead of the May election.

In the policy speech draft, the government said it would help farmers and small businesses affected by the pandemic by offering them debt moratoriums. “That will be fiscally responsible and not create moral hazard,” the draft said.

The government also plans to lower the prices of electricity and cooking oil, the speech showed, as well as further promote tourism to bring in more revenue by relaxing visa requirements from specific countries.

Thailand expects to receive about 29 million tourists this year, lower than its 2019 record of 39.9 million arrivals. — Reuters

#Thai #government #plans #handouts #fuel #price #cuts #revive #economy