Ramon Ang: SMC has deep pockets to build ‘aerotropolis’ on its own
“Many” firms have expressed their intention to partner with San Miguel Corp. (SMC) to build the government-approved “aerotropolis” in Bulacan, but president and chief executive Ramon S. Ang said the firm on its own could roll out the project.
Asked by the Inquirer on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank’s 51st annual meeting if the diversifying conglomerate can finance the P735.6-billion Bulacan International Airport Project, Ang replied “kayang kaya [we can].”
Ang also later told reporters that “if you look at our balance sheet and cash flow, we can easily do that airport alone.”
To recall, the Department of Finance (DOF) had expressed reservations about SMC’s proposal as it would be rolled out by subsidiary San Miguel Holdings Corp., whose capitalization was supposedly smaller than the project itself, sources told the Inquirer.
The DOF was reportedly also wary of the project’s economic impact as it would be implemented by the private sector.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had clarified, however, that “a partnership is allowed for that.”
Despite getting the green-light to roll out the country’s first aerotropolis—or a metropolis revolving around an airport—SMC still has a few hurdles to overcome before its unsolicited proposal would be subjected to a Swiss challenge.
In particular, Dominguez said the government should make sure that SMC “has the financial and technical capability.” As such, the final terms of the concession agreement would again be reviewed by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board after the Swiss challenge, whether or not SMC wins the bidding, officials said.
Last month, the Neda board, chaired by President Duterte, gave the project the go-ahead with the condition that it will meet the Investment Coordination Committee’s “recommended reasonable rate of return and other parameters for negotiation.”
Neda Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan declined to divulge the figure. He said it would be “what the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will use as starting point of negotiations” as the implementing agency.
Neda Assistant Secretary Jonathan L. Uy said separately that the “next step is negotiations between the DOTr and the unsolicited proposal proponent [SMC], toward Swiss challenge.”
Under a Swiss challenge, other companies can bid for the project. The original proponent that submitted the unsolicited proposal will later be allowed to match or submit a better bid.
The planned “aerotropolis” would involve a massive complex to be built on a 2,500-hectare location along Manila Bay in Bulakan town.
The airport project would have an initial capacity of 100 million passengers or over three times that of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s gateway to Manila.
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