ICTSI cleared to acquire more shares of Manila North Harbour Port
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has given the go-signal for the acquisition of International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) of additional shares in Manila North Harbour Port Inc. (MNHPI) from Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI). 

In a decision issued on March 14, the antitrust body approved the proposed transaction involving ICTSI’s acquisition of an additional 15.17 percent shares in MNHPI to increase its shareholdings to 50 percent. 

MNHPI, which handles the North Harbour, has San Miguel Holdings Corp. and ICTSI as its largest shareholders, holding 43.33 percent  and 34.83 percent of outstanding shares, respectively.

PCC took a closer look at the transaction through the conduct of a second phase review to check whether ICTSI’s acquisition of additional shares in MNHPI would eliminate the potential entry of a provider of port operations services for foreign containerized cargoes in the Port of Manila.

The antitrust body cleared the transaction as it recognized that ICTSI’s Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) and MNHPI’s North Harbour cater to different markets. 

In particular, MICT provides services to international cargo in the Port of Manila, while North Harbour caters to domestic cargo in the same port. 

“The transaction approval was hinged on the concession agreements with the PPA (Philippine Ports Authority) and the current regulatory regime. The commission approved the transaction, but noted that it may exercise the powers of the antitrust law if there were changes in the circumstances relevant to the transaction,” PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan said. 

Concession agreements for MICT and North Harbour with the PPA restrict the type of cargo that both could handle. 

In addition, PPA has a memorandum order which reiterates MNHPI’s contractual limitations and prohibits it from catering to foreign vessels at the North Harbour. 

With the current regulatory regime allowing North Harbour to cater only to domestic vessels transporting domestic containerized, bulk, and break-bulk cargo, the PCC does not see MNHPI as a likely entrant in the relevant market and the proposed transaction will not mean a loss of potential competition. 

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