Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sy Jr., Ang may tie up on road, airport bids

Written by Cecilia Yap and Clarissa Batino
Bloomberg News
Business Mirror

HENRY SY JR., the eldest son of the country’s richest man, said he may work with San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president Ramon Ang on bids for road and airport projects as the Asian nation seeks private funds to boost transport links.

The two have had ventures previously and they will collaborate again “if there’s an opportunity,” Sy, 56, said in an interview. They would also seek other investors, he said. Ang would be interested in deals, he said in a mobile phone text message. Neither said whether Ang would act through San Miguel or a different channel.

President Aquino yesterday announced $2.8 billion of investment pledges from a trip to the US as he seeks to improve infrastructure to boost growth. Aquino, who took office on June 30, plans to invite bids for P739.8 billion of projects during his six-year term, including roads, railways, power plants and airports.

“The development of this country is hand-in-hand with infrastructure,” Sy said. “When you go to China they have really good highways; everything is so well done. We’re so many years behind.”

Sy plans to bid for most of the 10 road, rail and airport projects that form the first phase of Aquino’s infrastructure investment plans, he said. The government will begin to receive bids on the 10 projects, which have a value of P127.8 billion, as early as this year, Economic Planning deputy director general Rolando Tungpalan said this month.

Tollways and roads would be “the easiest,” Sy said. Airports would potentially link in with the family’s existing investments in tourism, he said. Sy this month bought 45.5 percent of UEM Development Philippines Inc., an inactive listed company, which he will use to expand in Philippine infrastructure. He said he will make a tender offer for the remaining shares.

Separately, Sy also said National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, operator of the nation’s high-voltage power network, will invest P8 billion this year on upgrades and expansion. Sy is president of the closely held company.

Sy is also vice chairman of SM Investments Corp., owner of the largest Philippine bank by assets, the nation’s biggest shopping-mall operator and the No. 1 grocery and department-store chains. His father, who built the family’s wealth from a shoe store opened in 1948, has an estimated net worth of $5 billion, Forbes Asia said in July.

SMC, the Philippines’ largest food and drinks maker, is raising funds to expand into industries, including railways, energy, telecommunications and mining where return on equity is triple that of its food business, Ang said in an interview in March.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp., a unit of Hong Kong’s First Pacific Ltd., will also study the infrastructure projects, chairman Manuel Pangilinan said on September 24.

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