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MPIC open to taking partner in Calax project

By: - Business Features Editor / @tinaarceodumlao
/ 06:27 AM May 28, 2015

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. is open to the possibility of forging a joint venture with Ayala Corp. to undertake the 45.5-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax) public-private partnership project, for which it submitted the highest offer to the government.

“We are open to a partnership,” MPIC chair Manuel V. Pangilinan told the Inquirer, adding that the group’s current ventures with the Ayala group had been “very good.”

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MPIC and Ayala are partners in the Automatic Fare Collection System—the common ticket system for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and the Metro Rail Transit-3 or MRT-3—and the Light Rail Manila Consortium for LRT-1.

“Of course, they first have to look at the numbers to see if they work for them,” Pangilinan said in an interview.

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Ayala chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, for his part, said the group was “always open to the possibility of working on infrastructure projects” as part of the group’s diversification strategy.

The Calax is a four-lane expressway that will also connect Cavitex and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) of San Miguel Corp. It is expected to be fully operational by 2020.

“If offered, we are open to looking at any proposal,” Zobel told the Inquirer.

Pangilinan and Zobel—co-chairs of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation—were together at the Meralco building Tuesday evening for the signing of agreements with the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and Clark Development Corp. to set up the country’s first private sector-funded Disaster Operations Center.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Pangilinan-led MPIC took a major step closer to bagging the Calax PPP project after offering P27.3 billion, beating San Miguel Holdings Corp.’s P22.2 billion bid for the right to build and operate Calax for 30 years.

The premium bid, which will be paid in tranches with the first 20 percent to be paid soon after the documents are finalized, comes on top of the toll road’s construction cost of P35.4 billion.

The bid submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways was more than double the P11.33 billion that MPIC, which controls Manila Electric Co. and the country’s largest chain of private hospitals, offered in last year’s auction for the same project.

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Pangilinan said MPIC had significantly raised its offer as the project was a vital complement to its Cavitex tollroad project.

“From a tollways perspective, it is useful to have an expansion link for Cavitex down south. This project is the best alternative for us to the south. If somebody else had picked it up, where would we go? So from that perspective, it was important to [win the bid],” Pangilinan said.

MPIC operates the 14-km Cavite Manila Expressway in southern Metro Manila and the North Luzon Expressway and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

The bidding for Calax last year was declared a failure after San Miguel Corp. contested the bidding committee’s decision disqualifying its offer over a typographical error on the date of its bid bond.

When asked to intervene, President Aquino ordered the rebidding of the project.

In the first bidding, San Miguel had offered P20.1 billion.

The tandem between Ayala Corp. and a unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. was last year’s frontrunner with an offer of P11.66 billion. They did not participate in the rebidding.

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TAGS: ayala corp., Calax, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, expressways, Metro Pacific, MPIC, public-private partnership, roads
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