As published on BusinessMirror
IN these changing times, business leaders and entrepreneurs are rethinking their policies to remain relevant—and commercially viable, of course—in the constantly changing economic landscape.
For MRC Allied President and Chief Executive Officer Augusto Cosio Jr. there are three elements to strongly focus on aside from the annual revenues. These include the environment, stakeholders in the community and the employees.
“On our part, MRC Allied, we are concentrating on renewable energy, development of smart cities, solar energy and environmental stewardship,” Cosio, who has a wide exposure in the global capital markets after working in Hong Kong and Singapore for global investment banks such as Deutsche Bank and BNP-Paribas, told the BusinessMirror in a recent interview.
In these times of climate change and global warming, MRC Allied plays a vital role in helping the Philippines contribute and achieve a sustainable and green future by engaging in solar energy development projects.
MRC Allied will pursue solar development projects through its subsidiary Menlo Renewable Energy Corp. (MREN) and other affiliates.
The 60-megawatt (MW) Naga Solar project in Naga City, Cebu, is on its pre development phase and can possibly be an electricity supplier to the Visayas grid and/or offer its production to the business sector within and around Southern Cebu.
Recently, MRC Allied Inc., in collaboration with Sunray Power Inc. and Menlo Renewable got a service contract for a 100-MW Solar Project inside the New Clark City in Tarlac, a new development project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. The P11.75-billion project will potentially serve the energy requirements of the locators and facilities of NCC.
Moreover, MRC has acquired a 15-percent stake in the 50-MW Sulu Electric Power and Light Philippines Inc. solar project in Palo, Leyte, for $5 million, or P255 million. Although, MRC has an option to increase its stake, it will figure out along the way on whether it is wise to raise its stake in Sepalco solar project.
Cosio, who served as president for the First Metro Asset Management Inc. for nine years, is currently thinking if it will exercise its option to increase its 15 percent stake to a majority shareholding to potentially gain control over the company.
In terms of recycling waste into fuel, MRC is serious in raising the bar to go green. Cosio said the company recently had a meeting with a Japanese company for a potential exploration of a new technology on waste to energy. The technology converts biodegradable garbage and sewage waste into a combination of liquid, solid and methane gas. “We will be aiming for the low hanging fruit,” he pointed out.
“The beauty of the project is that it is subsidized by the Japanese government and is scalable,” he added.
Cosio said the device is housed in a 20-foot container and backed up by another container of the same size that will store the waste. Each container can process up to 4 tons of garbage.
He also asked the opinion of the company’s engineers to verify if the project is feasible. After evaluation, they said it can possibly be a good project. However, Cosio said, we will still check whether this is a potential investment in the future.
It does not stop at recycling garbage into fuel. MRC Allied is also interested to bringing into the country a technology that can compact plastic waste. Cosio said this is a very timely move as the Philippines has been recently ranked third biggest behind China and Indonesia as source of plastic waste found in the ocean, according to a 2015 report on plastic pollution by the Ocean Conservancy charity and the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment.
Moreover, the report said the Philippines produce 2.7 million tons of plastic waste annually and 20 percent of that goes into the oceans.
“Again, it falls into the purview of social responsibility, investing in saving the environment,” he explained.
“There’s money to be made in that kind of investing,” Cosio added.
MRC Allied also wants to help the farmers in Nueva Ecija increase their income by introducing a solar-PV installation for rice mill buildings. The long-term implication of the project is that the cost of rice milling will drop to a very low level that will result in lower cost of production and an increase in income for farmers. Cosio said MRC Allied plans to form a partnership with an agricultural company which can provide the requirements for them.
As far as their properties are concerned, Cosio said, they don’t have the ideal location as compared to the country’s property titans. To offset the disadvantage, Cosio said, they had to think of an alternative to make them profitable. That led MRC Allied to weigh whether it is worthwhile to venture into solar energy and possible waste-to-energy development in the future.
The move into the green initiatives is a perfect timing for MRC Allied as the country is seeking to have more private sector-led initiatives anchored on sustainability.
“As entrepreneurs, we have to use existing resources to transform it into productive business,” Cosio pointed out.
Cosio is a known advocate for investing and the development of the Philippine capital markets. He is a passionate crusader for investment literacy among Filipinos, a regular resource speaker for the Philippine Stock Exchange Certified Securities Specialist Program and for capital market topics at the University of Asia and the Pacific.
In the First Metro Group, Cosio had spearheaded The Capital Market Seminar Series conducted regularly by First Metro Securities Brokers and First Metro Asset Management Inc. (Fami) in their offices in Makati, Binondo, Cebu and Davao.
Until June 2018, he had been the president for nine years of Fami—the First Metro Asset Management Inc.—a multi-awarded fund management company with around P11 billion of assets under management.
In his previous employment, Cosio, together with the First Metro Investment Corp., steered the creation and the listing of the first Exchange Traded Fund or ETF in the Philippine Stock Exchange.