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PH group eyes airport projects in Vietnam

Filipino conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV) wants to invest in airport projects in Vietnam, which is in the midst of privatizing hundreds of state-owned assets.

AEV, whose infrastructure arm Aboitiz InfraCapital is part of a consortium seeking to modernize the Philippines’ most important air gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, is looking at a number of airport deals to boost its profile overseas, AEV chief operating officer Sabin Aboitiz said.

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Aboitiz, who belongs to one of the richest families in the country, said the group was keen to tap opportunities abroad as competition for infrastructure projects in the Philippines heats up.

“In the infra space here, everyone and their mothers are into it,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.

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“Vietnam is very aggressive in infrastructure for roads, rails and airports,” he added. “We are scouting the area. Basically, the areas where we are good at here.”

Aboitiz said airports offered a good entry point for infrastructure in Vietnam. He cited a potential project near the coastal city of Da Nang, known for its beaches and its proximity to World Heritage sites.

The group is also familiar with Vietnam, where it made its first international investment in 2014 through Pilmico Foods Corp., a giant in the domestic food business.

AEV, whose portfolio spans power, banking, property and food production, had long decided that airports would be part of its infrastructure strategy.

It teamed up with conglomerate Ayala Corp. for an unsuccessful bid to operate and expand the Mactan Cebu International Airport in 2014. It also partnered with France’s Vinci Airports to bid for provincial airports under the Aquino administration’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, but the bidding was shelved by the Duterte regime.

The company shifted gears and focused on submitting unsolicited offers to operate and develop the Bohol-Panglao and Laguindingan Airports, for which Aboitiz InfraCapital had won an original proponent status for each.

Its largest airport project is the 15-year modernization of Naia, a P102-billion project that will expand capacity at the country’s busiest air gateway. Aboitiz is part of the project through the Naia Consortium, which is comprised of seven of the country’s biggest conglomerates.

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For 2019, Aboitiz InfraCapital is allotting P16 billion in capital spending, about a fifth of AEV’s group-wide budget. Bulk of the infrastructure budget will be used in the construction of Apo Agua’s Bulk Water Project facilities in Davao City, AEV said in an earlier statement.

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TAGS: Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc. (AEV), airport projects, Business
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