AboitizPower prepares bid for Masinloc plant

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Masinloc Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plant -- AES.PH

By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor

ABOITIZ POWER Corp. is in the advanced stage of preparing its bid for AES Corp.’s controlling stake in the 630-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Masinloc, Zambales, its top official said.

“We’re studying (the AES asset). It’s very advanced,” Antonio R. Moraza, AboitizPower president and chief operating officer, told reporters on Wednesday night on the sidelines of a media gathering.

In July, AES Corp. was reported to be looking to sell its stake in the plant in a deal that potentially values the asset at $1 billion, at least. The company is said to be unloading assets to pay debts.

Although the company has not yet reached a stage when it has placed a value for the Masinloc power plant, Mr. Moraza remains interested.

“We’re interested,” he said. “If it’s a power project in the Philippines, or if anything is for sale, we’re interested.”

Mr. Moraza expects stiff competition in bidding for the plant, saying there are more than 15 groups interested.

“It’s big, quite large… plus there’s expansion potential. So I guess everybody is [interested],” he said. “Given the size, even the international players would be [interested]… They want something sizable.”

Asked about when he expects the bidding to be completed, he said: “I’m under the impression before the end of the year.”

Mr. Moraza also said that the company would make the bid on its own, without a partner.

Separately, Erramon I. Aboitiz, chief executive officer of AboitizPower, said: “I think AES is going through a process, so I guess we have to wait for that and to hear from them.”

This year, AboitizPower expects to finish the 68.8-MW Manolo Fortich hydro power plant in Bukidnon and the 8.5-MW Maris Canal hydro project in Isabela through its subsidiary SN AboitizPower.

Together with partners, it is also completing the 340-MW Therma Visayas, Inc. baseload power plant in Toledo, Cebu and the 400-MW Pagbilao Energy Corp. plant expansion. It is commissioning an 8.8-MW biomass power plant in Lian, Batangas.

AboitizPower has one of the widest portfolios of energy sources in the country. It has a significant array of renewable power plants — geothermal, large hydro, run-of-river hydro, and solar power plants.

The company operates a number of coal power plants for baseload capacity and oil-fired power plants for reliable peaking supply.

The company is pursuing projects in coal, geothermal and biomass to meet its target of achieving 4,000-MW net sellable capacity by 2020.

Shares in AboitizPower slipped 1.47% or 60 centavos to P40.10 apiece on Thursday.