Friday, 5 March 2010

MetroPac eyes deal to build new [Clark] airport

Emilia Narni J. David and Neil Jerome C. Morales
BusinessWorld
http://bworldonline.com/main/content.php?id=7197

LISTED METRO Pacific Investments Corp. has been approached by the state-owned operator of the Clark International Airport in Pampanga to consider bidding for a contract to build a new airport in the former American air base.

Metro Pacific Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters the Philippines badly needs a new airport that is not congested to improve its international image.

“We’ve been asked to look into international airports at Clark because we really need a new one. It’s still very preliminary actually. There have been no talks yet. It’s something the country needs,” Mr. Pangilinan said at the sidelines of the signing of a cooperation deal between his Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation and the Philippine Contractors Association yesterday.

The plan is to build a new airport in Clark rather than expand the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, he said.

The Clark International Airport Corp. could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Pangilinan said a new international airport should be built “sooner rather than later.”

“It takes a while to build an airport and there are other infrastructure that have to be looked at. Carriers may not want to move to Clark without high-speed trains for passengers,” he said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pangi-linan said Metro Pacific was also looking to acquire more hospitals and eventually list the business unit on the stock exchange.

“If we buy two or three hospitals this year, we might reach around 3,000 [beds],” Mr. Pangi-linan said, adding that a hospital chain should have about 5,000 beds to achieve “economies of scale.”

Last year, the net income of Metro Pacific’s health care group, which accounted for 5% of total profits, rose by half to P530 million year on year on the back of a 30% revenue growth to P5.52 billion.

Metro Pacific Executive Director Augusto P. Palisoc, Jr. said some P800 million would be spent on existing hospitals this year, but the figure could reach P1 billion-P2 billion “including acquisitions [of two to three hospitals].”

The Metro Pacific health care group includes Makati Medical, Cardinal Santos and Davao Doctors hospitals. As of end-2009, the number of beds reached 957 from 905 in end-2008. Average occupancy rates went up to 70% in 2009 from 68% the previous year.

Metro Pacific is the Philippine unit of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Co. Ltd., part owner of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co.
Mediaquest Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT’s Beneficial Trust Fund, has a minority stake in BusinessWorld.

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