After years of helping build commuter railways in the Philippines, Sumitomo makes its first investment

29, May. 2020

Manila (Photo by Eldon Vince Isidro on Unsplash)
Manila (Photo by Eldon Vince Isidro on Unsplash)

MANILA, NNA – Japanese trading firm Sumitomo Corp. has acquired shares of a commuter train system in Metro manila for its first railway investment in Southeast Asia.

Sumitomo said in a statement it had indirectly acquired a 19.2 percent share of Light Rail Manila Corp., operator of a 20-kilometer north-south line along Manila Bay for 3 billion pesos ($594 million). The firm had helped build and maintain commuter rails in the Philippines before but never bought a stake in any operator.

The light-rail firm is a joint venture between Philippine-based Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp. and the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd.

The operator has a 32-year concession from 2015 to operate, maintain and extend the line, which is being extended south into Cavite Province.

“The investment helps us further enhance the ridership experience of our passengers and will support to ensure that we deliver Phase 1 of the Cavite Extension as fast as possible,” the operator’s president, Juan Alfonso, said in a public disclosure.

The investment helps Sumitomo expand in the Philippines with a focus on the railway business, the Japanese firm’s public relations head Hikari Watanabe told NNA.

Watanabe said the company can support the light-rail operator with maintenance and procurement because it understands the specifications and parts of Japanese-made equipment. “We think that we can introduce Japan's excellent railway operation and maintenance technology,” she said in an e-mail.

Sumitomo designed, built and helped maintain Manila’s Metro Rail Transit Line 3 for 12 years until 2012 and resumed services last year.

The Japanese trading house also has an agreement to supply train cars for the Philippines’ North-South Commuter Railway project, a 38-kilometer railway line that will connect Manila with Bulacan Province just north of the capital metro area.