26 January 2010

Philip Morris starts P1-B Asia-Pacific leaf warehouse

Philip Morris International (PMI), one of the largest tobacco companies in the world, formally started on Monday the construction in this free port of its P1-billion tobacco warehouse for the Asia-Pacific region.

Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc. (PMPI) managing director Chris Nelson, along with Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga and SBMA administrator Armand Arreza, led the groundbreaking ceremony for the project that signaled the start of PMI’s second phase of investment in Subic.

The first phase involved the renovation of an old building inside a 10,000-square meter facility in Subic’s Boton area that PMI turned into a modern leaf warehouse with a capacity of 6,100 metric tons.

Nelson said the new warehouse would occupy 20,000 square meters out of the 50,000-square meter lot that the firm has leased from the SBMA for 50 years. The lot is located at the Subic Techno Park area of this free port.

The new warehouse project would amount to P1 billion over the years, Nelson added.

The new project, Arreza said, gives the Subic Bay Freeport a big boost because it proves that Subic could compete with other locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

In choosing a site for the regional leaf warehouse, Philip Morris had considered other sites like Singapore but eventually settled on Subic, he added.

“The project is actually a vote of confidence for Subic,” Arreza said. “It proves that Subic is an ideal place to establish your hub for the Asia-Pacific regional network.”

The new Philip Morris warehouse is expected to be completed by August this year.

Nelson said the new facility would easily accommodate 14,000 metric tons of imported tobacco leaves from China, Indonesia, Thailand and India, as well as local produce from Pangasinan and the Ilocos region.

This new warehouse will have state-of-the-art features, such as humidity control, fire suppression equipment and air conditioning that will guarantee freshness of tobacco leaf that will be shipped to PMI cigarette manufacturing facilities in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“In the future, we could further expand the warehouse facility to handle 24,000 metric tons of tobacco depending on the region’s demand,” Nelson said.

Nelson also said that PMI chose to build the warehouse in Subic because the company is committed to the Philippines and the local tobacco industry.

“We have a strong belief in this country. We have a strong belief in the manufacturing industry and in the workers,” Nelson said. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

PHOTO: Philip Morris managing director Chris Nelson and SBMA administrator Armand Arreza inspect the site for the P1-billion regional tobacco leaf warehouse at the Subic Bay Freeport. The facility will store tobacco leaf for use in Philip Morris cigarette factories in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.