Friday, 26 March 2010

SMC trains eyes on Clark

Miguel Camus
Business Mirror

DIVERSIFYING conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) may buy into a consortium composed of local and foreign partners which submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop the multibillion peso Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) Terminal Two in the Clark Free Port, Angeles City, Pampanga.

The BusinessMirror learned that SMC is already in “informal talks” to join the Philco Aero Group, one of the remaining entities proposing to develop DMIA Terminal Two.

Philco Aero is a consortium controlled by local company Penson and Co. Inc. including foreign partners namely South Korea-based Posco Engineering and Construction Co., Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers and Korea Development  Bank.

“We have discussed it with San Miguel and there is a meeting of the minds that as soon as we get the notice of  award we will sit down and talk,” said Penson chairman Ricardo Penson in a telephone interview on Thursday.

He added that “there are no agreed terms yet” with SMC, which said last month that it is interested in making an investment in the Clark Free Port Zone “should the opportunity present itself.”

Penson, whose company owns 60 percent of Philco Aero, hopes that the group can obtain the award notice by April from the joint venture committee of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC), which oversees DMIA.

CIAC announced earlier this week that it is open to accept and review unsolicited proposals for the Terminal Two project. The deadline is set at the end of this month.  

This, after the CIAC board rejected with finality the offer of Kuwaiti backed Almal-Pride group to develop DMIA Terminal Two, as well as to take over and develop Terminals one, three and other adjacent areas including some 1,500 hectares in the Clark Civil Aviation Complex on March 15.

Penson’s group already has dealings with SMC. The diversifying food and drinks giant is presently in talks to acquire a 67 percent stake in Penson-led Ausphil Tollways Corp., the main proponent behind the North Luzon East Expressway.

SMC and CIAC officials were unavailable for comment  on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Penson said Philco Aero plans to invest  $126 million (about P5.79 billion) to be implemented in several stages over an estimated eight years, depending on passenger demand.

CIAC said the project calls for the development of Terminal 2 or its equivalent capacity of five million passengers annually including other feasible land area for commercial and other aviation related purposes.

CIAC has already set aside P308 million for the expansion of the existing DMIA Terminal 1.

The expanded terminal, which will accommodate an additional 500,000 passengers annually from the current two million passengers, is expected to be completed by the end of next month.

The move may pit the food and drinks giant against rival  infrastructure firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), which has interests in power distribution, water supply, toll roads, hospitals and port operations.

MPIC chairman Manuel Pangilinan earlier said he is in talks with CIAC to build a new international airport within the Clark Free Port Zone.

The two groups have gone head to head for control over power distributor Manila Electric Co. and for the contract to operate the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

SMC and MPIC, through a joint venture with the Lopez and Ayala Groups, are presently rival bidders for the Angat hydroelectric plant in Bulacan.

Since announcing its diversification plans three years ago, SMC has expanded into energy generation and distribution, telecommunications, toll roads and recently, mining.

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