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Foreign groups seen joining Cebu airport bid

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) sees foreign airport operators partnering with local conglomerates to bid for the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport project on Monday.

The DOTC said local companies joining the project would have to take in foreign airport operators as partners as local firms lack expertise in airport operations.

 “Based on our requirements, Philippine companies will have to partner with established airport operators from other countries. This will benefit our domestic air transport industry, as technology transfer will give local players the opportunity to learn from more advanced and more experienced airport operators,” it stressed.

Foreign airport operators that inquired about the project include Changi Airports International Pte Ltd, French-owned Aeroport de Lyon, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, Vinci Airports of France, among others.

Prospective bidders include the tandem of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. and the group of taipan Lucio Tan’s Macro Asia Corp. (major shareholders of national flag carrier Philippine Airlines), the joint venture between infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan and JG Summit Holdings Inc. – parent firm of budget airline Cebu

Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) of taipan John L. Gokongwei Jr. as well as publicly-listed Megawide Construction Corp. and infrastructure giant GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India.

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Aside from SMC and Tan’s MacroAsia Corp., other companies that have expressed interest in the project include Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPHC), Premier Airport Group care of retail magnate Henry Sy’s SM Investments Corp., Aboitiz Land Inc., Filinvest Development Corp. of taipan Andrew Gotianun, and Prime Power Holdings Corp., Seoul-based Samsung C&T Corp., auditing firm SG&V Co., and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Singapore) Pte Ltd.

The joint prequalification, bids and awards committee (PBAC) of the DOTC and Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority is set to accept and open the eligibility documents of the prospective bidders on Monday and vowed to maintain a level playing field by upholding transparency and fairness.

The agency is optimistic that it would be able to replicate the success of the start of the bidding process of the P1.72 billion automated fare collection system (AFCS) project wherein nine groups participated.

 “We are optimistic that the Mactan Cebu international airport project will generate the same level of interest from major local and international companies as what we saw from the AFCS project.  We made sure that this project will also be attractive to investors in order to foster competitive and open bidding,” the DOTC said.

The DOTC said a total of 12 companies have purchased invitation documents for the third public private partnership (PPP) project to be rolled out by the government so far.

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