February 24, 2024

Speaker bullish on Saudi business’ response to BBM’s pitch for investment in MIF

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez today expressed optimism Saudi Arabian business leaders would respond positively to the invitation of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. for them to consider investing in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

Romualdez noted that many Saudi business leaders expressed keen interest in the MIF during their roundtable business meeting Thursday afternoon with the President at the St. Regis Hotel in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Following the presentation of Trade and Industry Sec. Alfredo Pascual and Finance Sec. Benjamin Diokno on investment opportunities in the Philippines Pres. Marcos said he looks forward to Saudi investments in the MIF. 

“This invitation represents an exciting opportunity for our nation, and I believe it will receive a positive response from the Saudi business community,” said Romualdez, head of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives. 

“It aligns perfectly with our vision of fostering international partnerships and diversifying our sources of investment for the benefit of our people,” he added.

In his opening statement for the roundtable meeting, Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid A. Al-Falih told Pres. Marcos, Jr. that many of the Kingdom’s business leaders are eager to “learn more about the newly launched MIF under your administration.”

Among the Saudi firms represented during the roundtable meeting were Public Investment Fund (PIF), Hassana Investment Company (HIC), Saudi Arabian Investment Company (SANABIL), and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).

Romualdez noted that during the roundtable discussion, Mulhan Albakree, Executive General Manager of PIF, expressed his interest in the Maharlika Investment Fund.

The Kingdom’s PIF is the 6th largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF) in the world, with assets worth US $607.42 billion. It currently owns 71 companies in 10 different sectors and has created more than 500,00 direct and indirect jobs.

Sanabil, formed by the Saudi government in 2009 and taken over by PIF, invests about US $2 billion per year in venture, growth capital and small buyouts.

Bandar Al Hamali, the CEO of Jada, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest investment companies, also expressed interest in the MIF.

Romualdez highlighted the immense potential of the Philippines as a haven for foreign investments, noting our country’s strong and dynamic economy, young and skilled workforce, and strategic geographical location that offers access to growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region. 

He said Saudi investors may be interested, among others, in supporting flagship infrastructure projects in Mindanao, especially those that would benefit the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

One such project currently under evaluation for approval by the government is the P10.19 billion hydromechanical and electro-mechanical rehabilitation of the Agus IV, V, VI, VII hydroelectric power plants in Lanao del Norte to restore their respective rated capacities.  

With 471 megawatt of total rated capacity to be rehabilitated, the Agus hydroelectric plant rehabilitation is envisioned to be a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

Likewise, Romualdez said Saudi investors may be interested in participating in the Mindanao Railway Project, also meant for implementation through PPP. A P100 million feasibility study of the Mindanao Project Phase 3 is expected to start within the year, according to Department of Transportation officials.

Meanwhile, Romualdez welcomed the announcement of Pres. Marcos, Jr. that implementation of the MMIF will push through before MIF before the year ends.

Before flying to Saudi Arabia, Pres. Marcos, Jr. clarified that while preparations are being made for the operation of the MIF, there are more improvements underway particularly for the organizational structure of the fund. 

According to Romualdez, the President’s effort to enhance the MIF’s organization manifests the administration’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and responsible fiscal management of the fund. 

“While we embrace the potential of this endeavor, we must ensure that the MIF and investments into it adhere to stringent regulations, safeguarding our national interests, and aligning with our commitment to good governance,” he said. 

“The potential benefits of this partnership with Saudi Arabian business interests are substantial and include economic growth, job creation, and infrastructure development. We look forward to working closely with our international partners to turn this vision into reality,” Romualdez pointed out.

He noted that the MIF is envisioned to support our country’s long-term economic development goals, enhance infrastructure, and provide opportunities for growth and prosperity for all Filipinos. 

It seeks to attract capital from both domestic and global equity investors seeking to diversify their portfolios in fast-growing emerging markets like the Philippines. 

According to Sec. Diokno, the MIF is intended to quicken the implementation of the country’s 197 Flagship Infrastructure Projects worth around US $153 billion meant to upgrade physical and digital connectivity in the transportation, agriculture, health, and energy sectors, as well as in climate resilience. 

He added that the MIF not only offers high rates of return for the investor but also produces a large socio-economic impact.