Metro Pacific in talks to buy stake in coconut firm —sources

February 7, 2023 - 11:22 AM
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Logo of Metro Pacific Investments. (Philstar.com/File)

 Philippine conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp MPI.PS is in talks to acquire a significant share stake in Axelum Resources Corp AXLM.PS, a manufacturer and exporter of coconut products, two sources with knowledge of the deal said on Monday.

A deal could be finalized this month, one of the sources said, as Metro Pacific pushes to build an agriculture portfolio at a time of high commodity prices.

After completing an initial investment, Metro Pacific will have the option to buy more shares to gain a majority stake in the future, a second source said.

The two sources were not authorized to talk to the media.

Asked for comment, Metro Pacific said it would file a disclosure later, without elaborating. Axelum officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It was unclear how much any deal may be worth but Axelum has a market capitalization of $247 million.

Metro Pacific, which has interests in power, water, hospitals and toll roads, is a unit of First Pacific Co Ltd 0142.HK, which is owned by Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim. It is valued at $2.15 billion.

The group started its agriculture push in mid-2022, acquiring a majority stake in a dairy and premium ice cream producer.

Axelum manufactures products including milk powder, cream and oil from coconuts sourced in southern Philippines. Its products are exported to 23 countries.

Coconut oil is among the top exports of the Philippines, which is one of the world’s biggest seller of the commodity.

—Reporting by Neil Jerome MoralesEditing by Ed Davies