SMC not keen on Ayala-SM tollroad proposal
San Miguel Corp. president Ramon Ang has turned down an invitation for the conglomerate to participate in a P25-billion elevated tollroad project that would be built jointly by the Ayala and SM groups.
Not only did Ang reject the idea of joining the project, he also said the proposal of the two companies would do nothing except to duplicate—and siphon motorists and revenues away from—San Miguel’s own tollways, which connected the endpoints that the proposed rival road aimed to serve.
He said the proposed project unveiled in a press briefing on Friday by Ayala executive Rene Almendras was also trying to undermine another San Miguel project that would connect Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue in Makati to Macapagal Avenue in Pasay City, which was filed with regulators earlier.
“They cannot build this project,” Ang said. “It will cannibalize our Naia Expressway for which we paid the government an P11-billion premium.”
San Miguel’s newly completed Naia Expressway connects the Pagcor Entertainment City complex adjacent to SM’s Mall of Asia development to the Skyway system, which allows motorists to connect with northern Metro Manila faster by bypassing the heavy at-grade vehicular traffic.
“What’s the distance between Mall of Asia and Pagcor City? These are just side by side,” Ang said. “they just want to duplicate what we have. And they want to get that (proposed concession) for free?”
In addition to the P11-billion premium paid to the government just for the right to build Naia Expressway, San Miguel spent another P15 billion to build the elevated roadway, in addition to the cost of financing the project—at least P26 billion.
Officials of the conglomerate said that, in the event regulators would approve the proposed Ayala-SM tollroad, San Miguel would have to invoke provisions of its own concession agreement which would require the state to compensate Naia Expressway’s owners in the event of so-called “material adverse government action” (Maga).
“Maga is the same thing the Ayala group is using today [to gain compensation] for the LRT1 Extension project,” San Miguel official Lorenzo Formoso said. “If government approves anything that affects the viability of our concession, they will have to compensate us.”
Ang expressed hopes that the government will carefully consider the issue since any compensation that will have to be paid to San Miguel as a result of favoring the Ayala-SM proposal will have to come from the state’s coffers.
“The taxpaying public will be inconvenienced,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.