Philippine conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp is buying one-third of Axelum Resources Corp for 5.32 billion pesos ($97.7 million), the coconut products manufacturer and exporter said on Monday.

Reuters earlier on Monday reported that Metro Pacific, which is expanding its agribusiness portfolio at a time of high commodity prices, was in talks to acquire a significant stake in Axelum, according to two sources with knowledge of the deal.

“Through this partnership, we shall be able to continuously realise and fast-track our life-long vision to further develop and transform the Philippine coconut industry,” Axelum chairman, Romeo Chan said.

Chan said Metro Pacific, through subsidiary Metro Pacific Agro Ventures, will acquire nearly 35 per cent of Axelum, which has a market capitalisation of $248 million.

Metro Pacific is due to hold a news conference on Tuesday.

Metro Pacific, which has interests in power, water, hospitals and toll roads, is a unit of First Pacific Co Ltd, which is owned by Indonesian tycoon, Anthoni Salim. It is valued at $2.15 billion.

The group started its agriculture push in mid-2022, acquiring a majority stake in a dairy and premium ice cream producer.

Axelum manufactures products including milk powder, cream and oil from coconuts sourced in the southern Philippines. Its products are exported to 23 countries to clients like Vita Coco Company Inc, The Hershey Company and Kellogg Co.

Coconut oil is among the top exports of the Philippines, which is one of the world’s biggest seller of the commodity.

SOURCE: Reuters