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MPIC eyes int’l partner for Cebu airport bid

MANILA, Philippines - Infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), a unit of First Pacific Group of Hong Kong, is talking with a potential foreign partner to boost its bid for the P17-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport project.

MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in an interview with reporters that the conglomerate is scouting for a foreign partner with expertise in airport operations in line with the scheduled bidding for the contract to undertake the airport project.

“Yes, we are talking to potential partner for the technical or what you call an airport operator,” Pangilinan stressed.

MPIC has expressed interest in the country’s second largest international airport.

“We have to have the right partner that will qualify with respect to our bid,” he added.

According to him, the company would form a special purpose vehicle including other members of a consortium that would bid for the airport project.

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The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) decided to stick to its earlier decision barring owners of airlines to bid for major airport projects such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport due to conflict of interest.

DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya earlier said the agency would push through with the public bidding for the airport project based on the guidelines issued late last month.

According to terms of reference issued by the DOTC last month, “an individual, partnership, corporation, or any other juridical entity, and if the prospective bidder is a consortium, any consortium member or such consortium members’ affiliates for the duration of the bidding process cannot be an entity providing air transport services in the Philippines, be they domestic or international.”

Also, the bidders cannot have any interest, direct or indirect, in such entity; or cannot be owned by such entity.

The guidelines prevent diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) that bought a 49 percent stake in national flag carrier Philippines Airlines (PAL) for $500 million last year as well as JG Summit Holdings that owns Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) from joining the public bidding.

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