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Biz Buzz: MVP eyes Clark railway

/ 11:12 PM May 24, 2015

THE GROUP of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP has long exited and never looked back since giving up its development right over Fort Bonifacio, now a major central business district.

But if there’s one major development that MVP’s group may consider, it’s the Clark Green City proposed by the state-owned Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)—not as a property developer, however, but as a provider of infrastructure as has been the new focus of the Metro Pacific group.

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Recently, the chiefs of Metro Pacific Investment Corp.’s operating units met with the BCDA to hear the agency’s presentation. It envisions this 9,450-hectare master-planned development in the former US air base to be the Philippines’ first “smart, green and disaster-resilient” metropolis. “The group is very interested,” a source from the MVP group said. In particular, the group is looking at the railway, power and other infrastructure requirements of the proposed metropolis.

The BCDA earlier went to Hong Kong to pitch the 55-kilometer railway component of the project to MTR Hong Kong, noted to be one of the most successful models of unsubsidized mass transport systems in Asia. But it seems that it does not have to look too far to generate investor interest. MPIC, in partnership with the Ayala group, last year won the P65-billion public-private partnership (PPP) project to extend the Light Rail Transit line 1 (LRT-1) from Parañaque to Bacoor, Cavite.

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The MVP group, which also operates the North Luzon Expressway and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway tollroads, strongly believes that there should be a high-speed train system for both cargo and passengers connecting Clark to Metro Manila. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Stalled hospital

SINCE winning the contract to build a new 700-bed Philippine Orthopedic Hospital under the public-private partnership (PPP) framework in end-2013, the consortium led by construction and engineering firm Megawide Construction could not jumpstart the project.

This is not due to any rival protest (like what happened in its Mactan airport project) but is a consequence of the shake-up at the Department of Health (DOH). To recall, Enrique Ona resigned as health secretary at the end of last year over some controversy on vaccine purchases and had been replaced in March by Janette Garin. Although Megawide had nothing to do with the issues surrounding DOH leadership, these things have delayed the Orthopedic project.

“We can’t start because there’s no turnover yet from DOH,” said Megawide chair Michael Cosiquien. “If we had started on the original schedule, it would have been almost finished by now.”

“I hope they can move now,” he said. The project involves the construction of a super-specialty tertiary orthopedic hospital to be located within the National Kidney and Transplant Institute compound along East Avenue, Quezon City.

Meanwhile, Megawide will continue to join more PPP auctions. It’s now assembling a consortium to bid for the contract to build a new P50-billion prison facility in Nueva Ecija. Most likely, Indian GMR would still be part of the bid, Cosiquien said. “They are looking for other projects and good opportunities here.”

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For the Kaliwa Dam auction, Megawide has teamed up with Obrascon Huarte Lain S.A. of Spain. On the Mactan airport project, the Megawide-GMR consortium hopes to break ground for the construction of a new terminal by mid-June. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Palace decision pays off

IT’S NOT just big conglomerates San Miguel Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. awaiting tomorrow’s opening of bids for the Cavite Laguna Expressway PPP. We hear even President Aquino is closely monitoring the process. That shouldn’t be surprising given the large amount of money at stake—a P20.1 billion minimum bid, which the government can use for its various projects, on top of the tollroad’s P35.4-billion construction cost.

More than the money, Malacañang has been very involved in the process as it stuck its neck out in ordering the rebid of Calax. Note that at the time, reversing the disqualification of SMC—which was removed from the running over a typographical error—was perceived to be an unpopular decision.

That’s from the perspective of many business groups as well as the frontrunner Ayala-Aboitiz tandem, which skipped Calax round 2. (Ayala still wins either way as its vast landholdings south of Metro Manila benefit from new infrastructure like Calax).

It’s apparent today that Aquino had plenty of goodwill to spare and that he bet quite shrewdly. Interest in his PPP program is largely intact and the PPP Center itself was even cited by the intelligence group of the well-respected publication, The Economist, as being the “most improved country in Asia-Pacific for PPP readiness” last April.

As eyes turn to the DPWH, some are wondering why Metro Pacific suddenly decided to bid, despite earlier reservations, and if it was bidding to win. That, and more, should be made clearer by tomorrow. Miguel R. Camus

E-mail us at [email protected] Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert)

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TAGS: Business, clark green city, Clark railway, economy, Manny Pangilinan, Megawide construction, News
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