Lucio Co latest tycoon to join renewables race

By Miguel R. Camus@MiguelrcamusINQ

December 20, 2023 12:00:00

Billionaire Lucio Co is the latest tycoon to enter the renewable energy race as his holding company, Cosco Capital, announced on Tuesday the acquisition of the 8-megawatt Catuiran hydropower project in Oriental Mindoro.

Cosco, a listed supermarket, liquor and property holding company, is taking a 60-percent stake in Catuiran Hydropower Corp., which started operations in 2019. The company’s project is covered by the Department of Energy (DOE) under a Renewable Energy Service Contract.

“The transaction will provide an opportunity for Cosco Capital Inc. to engage in another profitable line of business while contributing to the country’s economic development, which aligns with the government’s thrust toward creating more sustainable energy sources,” the company said in a stock exchange filing, although it did not provide details on the acquisition price. Cosco said the deal might also be subject to approval by the Philippine Competition Commission.

Co joins other groups, such as the Zobel family’s ACEN Corp. and Edgar Saavedra’s Citicore Group, in rapidly expanding their renewable energy footprint. Citicore Renewable Energy Corp. recently filed a P12.9 billion initial public offering for March 2024 to help bankroll its solar and battery storage capacity expansion.

Businesses are seeking to plug an investment gap for renewables given the DOE’s target renewable power contributions of 35 percent in 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

Cosco, which owns Puregold Price Club and liquor firm The Keepers Holdings, earlier described its foray into renewable energy a potential “profitable business portfolio in the medium and long-term.”

The company closed the first nine months of 2023 with a net income of P9.1 billion, up 4.8 percent versus the same period last year, as total revenues expanded by 10.5 percent to P150.3 billion.

Puregold and S&R Membership stores contributed 72 percent of total profits from January to September this year. Grocery retail profits rose 2.1 percent during the nine-month period to P6.6 billion. Grocery retailing segment’s consolidated net sales for the first nine months of 2023 rose by 9 percent to P139 billion.

The Keepers holdings closed the period with a net income of P1.8 billion, up 13 percent, while total revenues jumped 14 percent to P10.2 billion. INQ