By Tracy Cabrera
Multi-billionaire businessman Enrique Razon. (Photo: Bloomberg)
MANILA — With port operations and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon now preparing to take over businessman Dennis Ang Uy’s stakes in the US$4.5-billion Malampaya deep-water gas-to-power project, Udenna Corporation, which has 90 percent control over the said project, is optimistic about the participation of the Razon Group as this would help in meeting the power demand-growth post-Covid pandemic.
On Thursday, May 2, Razon’s infrastructure arm Prime Infra Holdings announced that the acquisition process of the controlling stake in the Udenna-led Malampaya facility has already started and the transaction will close once approved by the Department of Energy (DoE) and state-run Philippine National Oil Company Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC), which holds the remaining 10 percent stake in the project.
Prime Infra also disclosed that it is also seeking other regulatory and lenders’ approvals before finalizing the transaction. However, it did not give details on how much it will shell out for the deal and how many percent of the Malampaya facility it will acquire as negotiations are still ongoing.
In 2019, Udenna acquired the 45 percent stake of Chevron Malampaya LLC in the Malampaya project and three years later, Malampaya Energy, a unit of Udenna, acquired another 45 percent from Pilipinas Shell Exploration B.V. (SPEX).
The twin agreement worth more than $1 billion had been stalled by allegations of irregularities despite the government assessment that both are purely business transactions. The PNOC-EC withheld its consent for the divestment of SPEX’s shares in the gas field to Uy’s group.
Prime Infra maintained that its entry into the natural gas industry “aligns with its purpose” of ushering in economic growth through infrastructure projects and helping the country transition to cleaner energy.
“There is a sense of ownership to achieving national energy independence when you bring in Filipino companies to handle the reins of critical power infrastructures,” Razon said.
“This is what Prime Infra aims to do with our participation in Malampaya. We will invest and sustain the development and production of domestic gas as long as the terms of the operating license and the natural resources permit,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)