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MPIC withdraws from Naia project

/ 04:02 AM March 10, 2020

The alliance of billionaires backing the rehabilitation of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) is threatening to crumble with the sudden pullout of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

Metro Pacific, one of the country’s biggest infrastructure groups, said in a stock exchange filing on Monday it had informed its partners in Naia Consortium “of our intent to withdraw from this project.”

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A source close to the company said their aborted partici­pation in Naia Consortium was the latest casualty during a time when investors’ appetites are souring over regulated businesses.

Metro Pacific is also a major shareholder of Manila’s West Zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc., which was part of a Duterte administration-led crackdown over provisions in its decades-old contract that were deemed unfair to the government.

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“The concession on offer for Naia seems to carry the risk of unacceptably low returns and disproportionate risk,” the source told the Inquirer.

The consortium was established two years ago to upgrade Naia, the country’s busiest gateway.

But years later, its terms remain under negotiation.

Naia Consortium members also include Ayala Corp., Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Alliance Global Group Inc., Asia Emerging Dragon Corp., Filinvest Development Corp. and JG Summit Holdings Inc. Its technical partner is Singapore’s Changi Airports International. INQ

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