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Aboitiz Transport eyes higher spending to improve fleet

Listed Aboitiz Transport Systems Corp. plans to increase spending this year to improve its fleet of vessels and stay competitive in the ailing shipping sector. The shipping unit of the Cebu-based Aboitiz family said it would spend P2.5 billion this year, almost a third higher than last year. "The bulk of these expenditures are earmarked for vessel purchase and maintenance," Aboitiz Transport told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The company noted that as a policy, the company dry-docks all its vessels every 30 months to ensure seaworthiness. "Aboitiz Transport will also continue to right-size and replace old tonnage," the company said. The shipping firm has committed to buy two roll-on, roll-off or Ro-Ro vessels from Japanese companies for a total of $15 million. Aboitiz Transport operates passenger ships under the brand names SuperFerry, SuperCat and Cebu Ferries. It also has cargo ships under the brand name 2GO. The country’s largest shipping company has offices in Bacolod, Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Calapan, Cebu, Coron, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, Dumaguete, General Santos, Iligan, Iloilo, Jagna, Manila, Nasipit, Ormoc, Ozamiz, Puerto Princesa, Surigao, Tagbilaran and Zamboanga. It posted a more than sixfold increase in net profits to P546 million last year. The company said 2010 would likely be a better year as cost-cutting measures adopted in previous years bear fruit. "The strategies implemented have served the company well. Earning capacity of assets is maximized, costs are lowered and the value-added businesses are gaining market acceptance," it said. "With more vessels in place, Aboitiz Transport can offer speed, frequency and reliability to its customers, serving them better and better," it added. — NPA, GMANews.TV