6 February 2024
PCC clears Fresh River’s acquisition of Casecnan plant
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has cleared Fresh River Lakes Corporation’s (Fresh River) proposed acquisition of the Casecnan Hydroelectric Power Plant (CHEPP) from state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA).
The Commission en banc on 25 January 2024 cleared Fresh River, a subsidiary of Lopez-led First Gen. Corp, to take over the Casecnan Plant seeing that the transaction would not result in substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets.
The PCC Mergers and Acquisitions Office (MAO) on 15 December 2023 opened a Phase 1 review into the deal, which assessed potential antitrust concerns that may arise from the transaction.
The MAO found that:
- Competing energy generation companies exert competitive pressure on the parties;
- The volume generated by the Casecnan Plant is unlikely to impact the relevant markets; and
- There are sufficient safeguards in place under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) to ensure that the market remains competitive.
The Casecnan Plant’s sale aligns with PSALM’s mandate under the EPIRA to privatize all assets and liquidate all financial obligations of state-owned National Power Corporation (NPC).
Fresh River secured the 165-megawatt Casecnan Plant, with the highest bid of USD 526 million. This facility located near Pantabangan and Munoz, Nueva Ecija is a run-of-river hydroelectric power plant, which diverts water from the Casecnan and Taan Rivers through a 26-kilometer-long tunnel to generate energy.
The PCC is mandated under the Philippine Competition Act (PCA) to review mergers and acquisitions to ensure that these deals will not substantially lessen competition in the relevant markets and harm consumer welfare.
PCC Public Affairs and Research Division