Jul 10, 2014

Philippines - Philippine gov’t expected to award $1.5-B railway project to Ayala-MPIC group

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The Philippine government is expected to formally award the 65-billion-peso (US$1.5 billion) Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) project next week, or after the railway regulator holds a key meeting on July 16, an official said.

The approval of the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) board is required before the contract can be awarded to the sole bidder for the massive public-private partnership (PPP) deal, LRTA board secretary Hernando Cabrera said in an interview.

Only the tandem of Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp., which are two of the country's biggest conglomerates, made a bid for the LRT-1 project, which involves the extension of the railway line to Bacoor in the province of Cavite. Six other groups that had expressed interest in the project did not participate in the bidding, which was actually the second attempt of the government to get investors for the project, citing unattractive financial prospects.

The LRTA board is chaired by Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya while its members include Cabinet secretaries from the Finance, Economic and Road Infrastructure departments.

The officials are set to hold their meeting next Wednesday, Cabrera said.

“The board would have to conduct the necessary due diligence,” he explained.

Transportation department spokesman Michael Sagcal said in a separate interview that an award was possible next week.

The government, in this case, took several more steps in evaluating the offer of Ayala-Metro Pacific’s Light Rail Manila consortium, given that the group was the sole bidder.

These steps included securing the approval of the National Economic Development Authority, chaired by President Aquino.

Because the operations of the railway line were included, it would provide fresh revenue streams for both Ayala and Metro Pacific.

Miguel R. Camus

Philippine Daily Inquirer

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