PETALING JAYA: San Miguel, the Philippines’ largest company by sales, plans to buy state-owned assets in Malaysia, as the government of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad looks to trim the country’s debt, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
The Japanese business publication quoted San Miguel president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang as saying he expected the Malaysian government to unload some of its assets following revelations of the country’s RM1 trillion debt.
Mahathir estimated last month that Malaysia’s national debt was equivalent to 65% of the economy, higher than the 50.8% level at end-2017 claimed by his predecessor, Najib Razak.
After taking power last month, Mahathir vowed to cut down debt and restore the country’s reputation.
“I think they will be doing a lot of privatisation so it looks like there are opportunities,” Ang told the Review.
He said San Miguel was particularly interested in the oil and power sectors.
San Miguel has a presence in Malaysia through Petron, its fuel refinery and retailing arm.
Petron’s net sales rose 21% to US$2.43 billion (RM9.6 billion) in the first three months of 2018 compared with a year ago. However, volume was flat at 26.6 million barrels amid higher global oil prices and a new excise tax over the same period.
Petron’s revenues account for half of San Miguel’s total sales.
Petron expanded in Malaysia in 2011 when it acquired the Malaysian businesses of Exxon Mobil. It now operates 600 service stations and its Port Dickson refinery which produces 88,000 barrels per day.
Last year, Petron said it would invest US$3.5 billion to expand the refinery’s capacity to 178,000 barrels per day.