THE business units of the Aboitiz Group are pursuing various projects as the Philippine economy gradually recovers from the lingering impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the Aboitiz Group Cebu Media Kamustahan for the Cebu Press Freedom Week 2021 on Monday, Sept. 20, 2021, top Aboitiz executives announced the company’s expansion plans in power, banking, investment, food, real estate and construction for the rest of the year and beyond.

For power, Jim Aboitiz, executive vice president and chief operating officer (COO) of Aboitiz Power Corp., assured consumers and businesses of “ample and reliable power” as the economy continues to pick up through the improvements of the group’s generation and distribution facilities.

“The power business is picking up this year coming from a very challenging 2020. We are seeing an increase in energy demand due to a stronger economic activity brought about by the easing of quarantine restrictions which we obviously hope can be sustained,” Aboitiz said.

For generation, Aboitiz said they are looking at putting up a battery energy storage system (BESS), a project that will generate continued reserves for the Visayas grid, providing better grid reliability and stability.

“This is the 42-megawatt Pandora 2 Project in Naga City where our Therma Power Visayas facility is also located,” he said.

The target construction for the BESS is slated in the third quarter of 2022 and is aimed for commercial operations by the fourth quarter of 2023.

BESS is a type of energy storage system that is capable of storing energy electrochemically. It can be connected to the grid, small grid, distribution system, or end-user facility to deliver the energy demand when needed.

For distribution, Aboitiz said the Visayan Electric is currently working on network improvements, the latest of which is the energization of what is believed to be the country’s first ever fully digital substation in Paknaan, Mandaue City.

Visayas Electric will also rehabilitate the substations in Lorega and Pardo.

Motorcycle loans

In the banking space, City Savings Bank Inc. president and chief executive officer Larry Ocampo saw a rise in the motorcycle loan business.

“Pre-pandemic, we had 200 dealer locations. We now have tie-ups with more than 1,300 dealer-partners nationwide,” he said.

The bank, which dominates in the public school teachers loan portfolio, is offering easy access to motorcycle ownership by offering as low as zero percent interest rates for pre-owned motorcycle units.

Ocampo said the bank intends to roll out this program on a broader scale in the future.

Moreover, Aboitiz’s food business unit Pilmico Foods Corp. was recently awarded with a safety seal by the Department of Labor and Employment, a testament of the company’s serious commitment in delivering high quality products to the market.

Pilmico’s first vice president and chief operating officer Norie Bermudez said the company is strengthening its presence online by making its animal feeds available in online shopping sites like Shopee and Lazada.

The firm also launched an online shop The Good Meat to provide consumers a safe and convenient online shopping experience in ordering quality meats and baking essentials like eggs and varieties of flour, all delivered directly at their doorsteps.

Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc., on the other hand, is upbeat on its small cell site ventures.

“We deployed a number of these in Cebu in partnership with the mobile network operators and we now have close to 200 small cell sites across the province,” said Frocks Roque, vice president for investments at Aboitiz InfraCapital Inc.

He added the firm eyes to deploy more to widen connectivity in the province.

Real estate, construction

As for real estate, AboitizLand president and chief executive officer David Rafael said the firm is expanding its horizontal projects in Luzon and Cebu.

“I am very proud to say that even with this pandemic, Aboitiz-Land did fairly well. For this year, we are looking at surpassing our full-year target by 10 percent, delivering sales volumes of P4.2 billion, which is a historical high for the residential business of AboitizLand,” he said.

Meanwhile, Aboitiz Construction director, president and chairman Anton Perdices said the group’s construction arm is embarking on a “Big Shift Strategy” this 2021 to secure more projects and boost finances.

Perdices said they prioritized and rightsized the business and had to be more in touch with the customers to survive the pandemic. The strategy, he added, also involved upskilling of team members to take on bigger roles to sustain business growth.

The firm recently announced it bagged a deal with a logistics giant to build a warehouse and office buildings with a floor area of about 26,000 square meters in Parañaque City.

Another commercial building recently awarded is the design and construction of a 6,000- square-meter warehouse in Iloilo.

In Cebu, the firm took part in the fabrication and installation of Austal’s recent trimaran ferries, installation of pipeline system for Carmen Copper Corp. and contruction of road networks for a nature park in Balamban. (with KOC)