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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        31 January 2011

Philippine business leader looks for more

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Manuel Pangilinan may have embarked on one of the Philippines' most remarkable corporate buying binges over the past dozen years, but he is hungry for more.

Since returning home in 1998 after more than two decades overseas, the investment banker has taken control of the Philippines' major telecom company, its main power retailer and the biggest water utility.

Also in the 64-year-old bachelor's bulging portfolio are the nation's biggest hospital chain, nearly all its main toll roads, major media outlets, mining companies and Manila's biggest rail network.

Now Pangilinan has his eyes set on road, rail and airport projects worth $3 billion that President Benigno Aquino's new government intends to put out for tender this year on a public-private partnership basis.

"We're looking to fill out our infrastructure portfolio - infrastructure growth is something that could really add value," Pangilinan said.

His group is now interested in taking stakes in other toll roads near Manila, while two state-owned light railway lines and a much older system in the city would also be interesting should they come into play, he said.

Pangilinan's most important positions - and those through which his investments are made - are as chairman of Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and chief executive of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation.

But a step further back in his corporate structure is the key to his success: his role as managing director of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific Co., controlled by Indonesia's largest conglomerate, Salim Group.

Pangilinan got his big break while working in Hong Kong as an investment banker after a 1978 visit to the office of Anthoni Salim, son of Indonesia's richest man, Lim Sioe Liong, who founded the Salim Group.

His sales pitch to arrange funding for a cement project was politely brushed off, but he developed a good relationship with the son, who later became Salim group chairman.

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