Wednesday, 7 April 2010

San Miguel entering expressway, train projects

E. N. J. David

DIVERSIFIED conglomerate San Miguel Corp. yesterday confirmed it had begun the process to acquire shares in the proponents of the North Luzon East Expressway (NLEE) and the Metro Rail Transit 7 (MRT-7) projects, in a bid to gain a foothold in the infrastructure sector.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, San Miguel said it was in talks with Ausphil Tollways Corp. to acquire 67% of the company.

San Miguel was previously reported to have acquired a majority stake in Ausphil Tollways, and would supposedly be involved in securing land for the expressway.

The NLEE will run from Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City to Bulacan. The first phase of the project involves construction of an 18.9-kilometer road from Quezon City to Norzagaray in Bulacan. The second phase involves the construction of a 36.9-kilometer road from Norzagaray to Nueva Ecija.

San Miguel also disclosed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Universal LRT Corp. for a majority stake.

“The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Mr. Salvador Zamora III for the purchase of a majority stake in the [MRT-7] Project,” the food-to-power conglomerate said.

Universal LRT is the main proponent of the MRT-7. Previously, it said financial adviser Morgan Stanley had approached San Miguel to be a part of the project.

The MRT-7 will be a build, transfer, operate, maintain, and manage project for a rail transit line that will extend from North EDSA or Epifanio de los Santos Avenue at the end of the MRT Line 3, to San Jose del Monte in Bulacan with 14 stations: North EDSA, Quezon Memorial Circle, University Avenue near the University of the Philippines, Tandang Sora, Don Antonio, Batasan, Manggahan, Doña Carmen, Regalado, Mindanao Avenue, Quirino, Sacred Heart, Tala and San Jose del Monte.

A transport terminal for buses will also be built in San Jose del Monte.

The proponent of the MRT-7 is seeking a 25-year concession, and expects to complete the line by 2013. Universal LRT is a consortium of the Tranzen Group, EEI Corp. and SM Prime Holdings. The consortium was granted the right to proceed with the project in 2008.

San Miguel also confirmed that it had secured the option to increase its stake in Private Infrastructure Development Corp. (PIDC) to 51% from 35% through subsidiary Rapid Thoroughfares, Inc. PIDC is a consortium of construction companies set to build the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.

San Miguel’s “A” shares closed at P74.00 apiece in yesterday’s trading, up by 0.7% from its previous close of P73.50. “B” shares remained at P74.00.

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