CLARK FREEPORT—Although the Iraq war has brought nothing but devastation to that country since 2003, the conflict has opened the door for the development of a $3-billion project in this economic zone in Pampanga province.
Dennis Lloyd Wright is president and chief executive officer of Peregrine Development International Corp., the American company that is developing the 177-hectare Sabah Al-Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City (GGLC) here.
A former senior officer of the multinational energy firm Halliburton KBR, he was sent to Kuwait when the Iraq war broke out.
During that period, Wright said he worked with many companies, among them the Kuwait and Gulf Link (KGL). He said Ed Birkins, a fellow senior corporate officer, was a close friend of the KGL’s managing director at that time.
In 2004, Wright decided to venture out on his own and formed Peregrine with some friends and business associates. After two years, his company was able to convince KGL, through its investment arm KGL Investment Co. (KGLI), to fund the development of the GGLC.
The GGLC was renamed Sabah Al Ahmad GGLC in honor of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, who made a state visit to the Philippines in March 2012.
“It was a combination of Ed’s personal relationship and our company’s reputation that convinced KGLI to look into GGLC, as well as another opportunity we developed in the domestic shipping market. This also led to KGL making investments in Negros Navigation,” Wright said. “The Philippines was a real sweet spot for us. But remember, this was in 2006-2008 when no one believed in the country or even thought about investing in the Philippines. So it was our personal relationships, knowledge of the country and our professional reputation that made it happen.”
KGLI initially infused $30 million into the GGLC project and is set to pour in more to complete the $3-billion investment until 2019.
Wright said Peregrine also convinced KGLI to invest in maritime shipping.
“In addition to GGLC, we also developed the strategy and opportunity to invest in Philippine maritime shipping. We were successful in attracting the same group of Kuwaiti investors to also invest in Negros Navigation,” he said. “This was highly successful strategy and proved to be the right decision as Negros has since gone on, with some additional investment dollars, to acquire Aboitiz Transport. It is now one of the biggest and most successful domestic shipping companies in the country.”
Wright is a firm believer in the potential of Clark Freeport and its environs to become “the second most recognized name in the Philippines.”
He said Clark is the natural alternative gateway to the Philippines after Manila with perhaps the best infrastructure and the largest and best international airport in the country.