MPIC buys controlling stake in Carmen's Best Group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 27) — Manuel V. Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is injecting ₱198 million into the Carmen's Best Group to boost its operations of producing homegrown dairy products, serving not just Filipino consumers but also international markets.

The holding firm made its foray into agribusiness after partnering with the Carmen’s Best Group, MPIC said in a disclosure Monday.

The group is behind the premium brand, Carmen’s Best Ice Cream, and the country’s only locally pasteurized and homogenized fresh milk, Holly’s Milk. It produces yogurt and artisanal cheeses under the Carmen’s Best Natural Cheese and Holly’s brands.

Under the deal, the Carmen’s Best Group will integrate its assets and operations into The Laguna Creamery, Inc. (TLCI), with MPIC holding 51% equity interest, while the former will keep 49%.

The transaction values Carmen's Best Group at ₱288 million.

MPIC chairman Pangilinan said in a briefing the move was part of the group's efforts to help the country lessen its dependence on imports.

"Carmen’s Best concept has always been to start from the farm all the way to consumers. That’s the kind of model we would like to see," he said.

He also expressed openness to invest in other agricultural commodities.

"The agricultural sector presents a wide range of possibilities that can help us achieve several goals -– to strengthen the food supply chain and augment the accessibility of resources for all Filipinos as well as provide more opportunities for growth in an otherwise underserved business," Pangilinan said.

"Ultimately, the country should aim for substantial independence in food. And we must feed our people first," he added.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Carmen's Best Group founder Paco Magsaysay said the investment from MPIC was used partly to buy off minority shareholders and pay off some loans.

A portion of it will also be used to grow distribution, especially of the variety of dairy products they offer, he added.

Magsaysay noted that while they have plans to expand internationally, their focus now is to strengthen their base in the Philippines.

"We're looking forward to working with the Metro Pacific group and they seem to be very excited, and wanting to expand our distribution network," Magsaysay said.

"We have a common goal. We want to work together, and achieve this goal together," he stressed.