ACQUISITIONS

Philippine firms go on global shopping spree

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 11:51pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 October, 2015, 11:51pm
AFP

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Philippine firms are on an unprecedented global shopping spree, spending billions on everything from vineyards to food manufacturers and casinos, reflecting the country's recent economic rise.

A combination of strong domestic growth, bargain prices in retreating economies abroad and rock-bottom borrowing rates had fuelled the acquisitions, analysts said.

The Philippines has for years exported shopping malls and junk food to the region, but cashed-up firms have diversified in recent years with acquisitions around the world and in many sectors.

"It has not happened in this rapid succession. It's like a colonial mentality in reverse," said Luis Limlingan, a research head at stockbroker Regina Capital.

The pace of the acquisitions has startled both domestic and foreign investors, according to BDO Unibank chief market strategist Jonathan Ravelas.

"Filipino companies are moving into the global space and it's not limited to just one sector. The opportunities abound," he said.

In one recent big-ticket acquisitions, instant noodle firm Monde Nissin said last month it was buying British meat substitute manufacturer Quorn for £550 million.

In the past two years, the private company also snapped up popular fruit juice brand Nudie and chilled dips manufacturer Black Swan, both from Australia.

Monde Nissin is owned by Betty Ang, the Philippines' 19th richest person with a net worth of US$900 million, according to Forbes.

Meanwhile, Emperador, controlled by the nation's fourth-richest man, Andrew Tan, and which specialises in cheap brandy at home, is looking to spend more than US$1 billion on diversifying in Europe.

Third-richest Enrique Razon is expanding the port operator business that has made him his fortune by setting his sights on South Korea's gaming market.