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Megawide eyes new foreign partner in bid for Clark Airport project

/ 05:05 AM July 03, 2018

Construction and engineering group Megawide Construction Corp. may sign up within the next few days a new foreign airport operator as partner in its bid for the hotly-contested Clark International Airport operation and management (O&M) project.

GMR of India, Megawide’s first choice and its existing partner in the Mactan-Cebu project, has been disqualified from the upcoming Clark O&M bidding on July 20 due to a requirement that the technical partner must be among the top airport operators as rated by United Kingdom-based consultancy Skytrax, which runs an airline and airport review and ranking site.

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Megawide has disputed this requirement, arguing that the Skytrax rating was based on online polls and not based on the opinion of aviation experts. It said this was also not a major requirement in major airport projects around the world.

Even the Asian Development Bank has concurred with Megawide on the matter, top Megawide officials noted. In case the appeal won’t be heeded, Megawide said it could still pursue a bid by seeking a new foreign partner.

Megawide president Edgar Saavedra said the Indian group could also still participate as a shareholder in the new consortium.

“We need to get a new partner,” Saavedra said in a press briefing ahead of Megawide’s stockholders meeting on Monday.

“Many are talking to us but we have [not finalized anything] yet,” GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. president Louie Ferrer said, adding that Megawide was considering two alternative foreign partners: One from Asia and another from Europe.

If Megawide decides to proceed, Ferrer said a new partnership may be hatched in the coming days.

Part of the consideration for the Clark project is that conglomerate San Miguel Corp. has also proposed an airport in Bulacan, which can potentially cannibalize the market for the Clark gateway. “The numbers are a bit challenging,” Saavedra said.

Megawide has one foot in the door in Clark, having won the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract bid out by the state-controlled Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA). However, it is facing a number of other competitors for the O&M contract, including the Filinvest-JG Summit group.

The winning bidder for the O&M will have to pay the capital expenditure to upgrade the Clark airport over a 20-year period, estimated at around P16 billion.

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GMR Megawide yesterday opened the Mactan-Cebu International Airport terminal 2. It won in 2014 a 25-year concession to modernize and operate this airport.

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