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Ayala consortium wants in on Palace Calax probe

Team Orion moves to protect interests in row

The consortium led by the Ayala and Aboitiz Groups, the front-runner for the 45-kilometer Cavite Laguna Expressway public private partnership auction, wants to step in and protect its interests amid a row between the government and disqualified conglomerate San Miguel Corp., which is fighting for its bid to be reconsidered.

Ayala Corp. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., through their joint venture Team Orion, announced in separate stock exchange filings on Monday that they filed a so-called motion to intervene in the appeal filed by SMC before the Office of the President over the bidding for P35.4-billion tollroad.

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A motion to intervene would allow Team Orion to become a party to the case, given that SMC’s filing only included key members of the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center.

This means the consortium would also be in a better position to protect its interests in the tollroad PPP deal, for which it offered P11.659 billion, which represented the highest complying bid that edged out two other groups.

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Team Orion authorized representative Noel Kintanar said in a statement Monday that the move would also provide transparency so that the “integrity of the bid process is established and protected.”

“We filed for a motion to intervene so that the facts will be known to the public and our position on the issues be heard. The public deserves to know the truth as they will be the ultimate beneficiary of this project,” Kintanar, also executive vice president of Ayala subsidiary AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., said in the statement.

San Miguel, through Optimal Infrastructure Development Inc., would have been the top bidder with its offer of P20.1 billion but was disqualified days before the June 13 financial opening after the DPWH bids and awards committee decided its bid security was deficient.

How the DPWH-BAC should have treated the bid security, whose stated date was four days short of the 180-day requirement, or Nov. 25 this year instead of Nov. 29, is the subject of the appeal filed by Optimal Infrastructure to President Aquino last June 27.

Optimal Infrastructure said it was a mere typographical error as issuing bank ANZ later clarified and certified the bid bond to be effective for the required 180 days. It added that the decision to disqualify it “amounted to grave abuse of discretion” and thus, sought President Aquino’s intervention so that its disqualification would be reversed and its bid considered.

Malacañang is currently looking into the issue and any award for the Cavite Laguna Expressway, which is aimed at spurring developing in areas south of Metro Manila, has been put on hold. The project was expected to be awarded last month. In an order dated June 30 issued by the Office of the President, Deputy Executive Secretary for legal affairs Michael Aguinaldo said the execution of the June 11 DPWH resolution to disqualify Optimal Infrastructure was “stayed, unless otherwise ordered by this office.”

It furthermore directed Optimal Infrastructure to submit within 30 days an appeal memorandum, which should include a “concise statement of the facts and issues and the grounds relied upon for the appeal.”

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TAGS: ayala consortium, Business, Calax, Cavite-Laguna expressway project, palace probe, San Miguel Corp.
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