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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        2 January 2011

Philippines sugar prices remain high

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The Philippines' biggest sugar miller expects prices of sugar to remain high throughout 2011, allowing the company to eliminate its deficit when its fiscal year ends in August. "We think it [profit] will be positive with the higher prices [of sugar] and the forecast cane production," Omar Byron Mier, Victorias Milling Co. Inc. chairman, told reporters on the sidelines of the company's annual stockholders' meeting.

Hubert Tubio, Victorias Milling president, said sugar prices are expected to be firm for the rest of the year because of a supply shortage worldwide.

The company ended its fiscal year 2010 with a deficit of P2.10 billion, lower than the P2.13 billion in 2009. Capital deficiency in the quarter ending November last year stood at P377.62 million from P530.67 million in the previous year.

In the quarter ending November, Victorias Milling had a net income of P54.4 million, 84 percent lower than the P355.98 million in the same period in 2009.

Victorias Milling is awaiting the decision of the Securities and Exchange Commission on its petition to revive the trading of its shares absent any ground for the suspension to continue. The company must have three straight years of profitability, among other requirements, before the corporate regulator lifts the suspension.

"We also want the relisting of the shares done not later than the second quarter of the year. When that happens there will be a price determined on what is the actual market value of Victorias Milling," said Mier.

Trading of its shares remains suspended pending its complete rehabilitation. Its shares were last traded on October 8, 1997 at P0.29 each.

The firm is also undertaking a preliminary due diligence with a couple of prospective buyers for the sale of Victorias Foods Corp. within the year in line with its plan to dispose non-core assets to raise necessary funds and ensure continuous operations.

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