Alcantara Group inks P9.3B loan for Maasim coal-fired power project

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 December)—Alcantara-led Sarangani Energy Corp. has secured a P9.3 billion syndicated loan to finance the first phase of its coal-fired power plant project in nearby Maasim, Sarangani.

Luis R. Ymson Jr., chief financial officer of Alsons Consolidated Resources (ACR), said in a statement yesterday that Sarangani Energy sealed the loan agreement with a consortium of local banks comprised of BDO Universal Bank (BDO), Asia United Bank (AUB), Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), United Coconut Planters Bank, Philippine Business Bank, Planters Development Bank, and Robinsons Bank last Wednesday.

The joint lead arrangers for the loan were BDO Capital and Investment Corp. and RCBC Capital Corp., with AUB as co-arranger, he said.

The loan has a 13.5-year tenor, including a three-and-a-half year grace period on principal repayment, Ymson said.

The coal-fired power project, located near a world-class diving spot and is staunchly opposed by environment groups like Greenpeace and the local Catholic Church, will generate up to 210 megawatts of electricity.

Construction of the first phase of 105 MW would cost $310 million or at least P12.7 billion at today’s exchange rate.

Early this week, Japanese trading firm Toyota Tsusho Corp. acquired 25 percent of Sarangani Energy through a shareholder agreement signed with ACR executives.

Thirty percent of the project cost which will be spent over the next three years of construction will come from equity to be infused by ACR and Toyota Tsusho on a 75:25 basis.

The 70 percent balance will come from the syndicated bank loans.

Sarangani Energy expects the first phase to go on commercial stream by August 2015.

ACR chair Tomas I. Alcantara said the coal-plant project, which has been in the pipeline since 2007, will help ease the current power shortage in Mindanao.

Sarangani Energy has forged a power sales agreement (PSA) with the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Socoteco-2) to provide up to 70 MW of electric supply.

Socoteco-2 is the power distribution utility servicing at least 133,000 households in the entire province of Sarangani, General Santos City, and two municipalities in South Cotabato.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued an environmental compliance certificate to the Maasim coal-fired power plant project in 2009.

The Alcantara Group presently controls and operates the 100-MW Western Mindanao Power Corp. bunker-fired power plant in Sangali, Zamboanga City and the 55-MW Southern Philippines Power Corp. bunker-fired power plant in Alabel, also in Sarangani. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)