18 December 2009

$96-M Filipino investments outpace FDI in Subic

Investment commitments put up by Filipino-owned locator-companies in this free port have so far eclipsed foreign direct investment (FDI) recorded here this year, marking the first time in recent years that locals outshone imports.

According to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Filipino firms made it to the top of the chart by drowning out the competition with sheer numbers: a total of 139 investment projects that, taken all together, were worth about $96.22 million.
This translates to 57.74 percent of the $166.64 million total for investment projects approved by the SBMA board from January to November this year.

Korean firms, which held sway here since 2006 when shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. plunked its initial $1-billion investment, slipped to the No. 2 position with only 26 investment projects worth a total of $55.86 million, or 33.52 percent.

This was less than a third of the $198.84 million (85.48 percent) committed by 46 Korean companies in 2008, the same year that 67 Filipino firms invested $10.09 million (4.33 percent).

The third slot among the biggest investors this year went to a Swiss-owned company, which put up a project worth $7 million or 4.2 percent; followed by six Taiwanese projects with a total worth of $2.86 million; and four Japanese projects with a total of $1.27 million.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said that FDI generated in the Subic Bay Free Port in the last 11 months actually fell by more than 67 percent, when compared with the total posted in the same period last year.

Arreza said that FDI in the January-November 2008 period totaled $224.82 million. For the same period this year, it was only $73.82 million.

However, even as foreign investment dropped this year, Arreza noted that Filipino companies “more than made up for the slump” and carried the day for Subic’s investment performance.

“This is an encouraging sign,” Arreza said. “As far as we can tell, Subic is fast regaining its footing in terms of investment generation.”

For the last two months alone, investment pledges in Subic reached a total of $44.42 million, with a total of $23.1 million committed by 12 investor-companies in October, and a total of $21.32 million pledged by 22 other firms in November.

Arezza said that among the biggest investors in the two-month period is Filipino real-estate giant Ayala Land Inc., which pledged $21.4 million for the construction, development and operation of a retail and commercial center.

Seven other Filipino companies made it to the list of top 10 biggest investors this year. These are Tountzis Shipping Inc. with $20.23 million; Jadelink Subic Inc., $16.85 million; Pure Petroleum Corp., $6.22 million; Subic Business and Technology College, $4.29 million; Bonsure Evergreen International Corp., $2.21 million; Chifil International Import-Export Manufacturing Co. Inc., $1.41 million; and Eastern Subic Fuel Depot Corp., with $1.05 million.

The only foreign companies in the same list are Korean casino-resort developer Ocean Nine Philkor Inc., which pledged $52.38 million; and Swiss-owned Philip Morris Philippines Manufacturing Inc., with $7 million for its warehousing operation here.

The SBMA also said that the 163 projects it has approved this year are expected to create a total of 6,340 new jobs. The Subic free port has an active work force of 86,631 as of October 2009.

The agency added that as of November this year, there are a total of 1,310 approved investment projects in the Subic Bay Free-port Zone. These projects are worth a total of $5.918 billion in committed funds. (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror}