MANILA -- Conglomerate LT Group Inc. is hiking capital expenditures (capex) to PHP19 billion this year to ramp up the expansion of its businesses with an aim to deliver a double-digit growth.

LTG President Michael Tan said this year’s capex include participation in Philippine National Bank’s (PNB) stock rights offering.

“PNB is around PHP8 billion already. And then another PHP2 billion for Eton (Properties Philippines Inc.),” he told reporters Tuesday following the conglomerate’s stockholders’ meeting.

Eton will increase its leasing portfolio with the completion of its pipeline of projects. Its office buildings should continue to enjoy high occupancy rates.

LTG expects the same from investments that have been made in the last few years, including new partnerships forged for a township development as well as for the beer and life insurance businesses.

It also continues to expand its partnership in the dairy business, while increasing the capacities of other businesses and introducing new products.

LTG's other subsidiaries include the tobacco business under Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp. (PMFTC) Inc., Tanduay Distillers, Inc.’s (TDI), and Asia Brewery, Inc. (ABI).

In 2018, the conglomerate’s capex reached PHP11 billion.

Meanwhile, Tan said they are not against tax rate increases but believe the adjustment should be “reasonable and moderate” amid new laws to further raise the excise tax for tobacco products and alcoholic beverages.

But Tan remains optimistic about a better 2019, although it “will not be an easy task.”

In 2018, LTG’s attributable net income amounted to PHP16.19 billion.

The tobacco business accounted for PHP8.72 billion, or 54 percent of total.

LTG chief financial officer Jose Gabriel Olives said population growth and the volume of the consumption of these products are expected to boost earnings growth this year. (PNA)