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Business

Ramon Ang’s promise

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Leafing through several pages containing details of the New Manila International Airport or the Bulacan International Airport, tycoon Ramon “RSA” Ang explains the progress of the planned new gateway. We are in his office and he is beaming with pride and excitement.

RSA, president and CEO of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), is business-like and serious in explaining the plan; one will be in awe of his passion and energy – it’s as if he is revealing a cartographic sketch of a goldmine or a secret formula that will change the Philippines for the better. His excitement is almost tangible and it’s not surprising. Perhaps in many ways, the airport could indeed be a goldmine – promising to create over a million jobs – and a game changer for the country.

Work has already commenced and significant progress has been made, he says. He plays an audio-visual presentation showing Netherlands-based Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., a dredging and heavylift company, already doing massive dredging works: its mammoth heavy equipment are excavating and scraping the site of the airport.

In previous decades, much of the area had been converted into commercial fish ponds. What Boskalis is doing is redeveloping the site into land form again “following the highest specifications in safety and sustainability.”

Approximately 1,700 hectares of land will be developed for the airport in Bulakan, located around 20 kilometers north from the heart of Metro Manila.

The promise of a ‘green city’

“What we are building is more than just an international gateway with four runways and an infrastructure network to connect it directly to Metro Manila and many other points in Luzon. The airport is just one component of what will be the Philippines’ first truly green city of the future,” RSA says.

Green, because he notes, the airport will be powered by renewable energy.

With the infrastructure network, RSA says reaching the airport in Bulacan will be a breeze. From Anda Circle in Manila, it will take only 15 minutes to reach the airport via the Skyway.

“I swear!”

The airport will have four runways. This means less airport traffic problems or hopefully, none at all. In contrast, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has only two runways.

The first phase of the airport project, which includes the four runways, will be completed in 2026.

In the past, I could not imagine a sprawling airport rising in Bulacan. The only time I got a glimpse of the site was from a chopper years ago, with RSA himself. He pointed to the area that seemed like a sprawling body of water from above.

But now, there’s been a lot of progress already, and if all goes as planned, it will indeed be up and running starting in 2026.

RSA, a licensed pilot, knows the importance of having an efficient airport with more runways.

I agree with him. There is no doubt we need a new international gateway. As we all know, one of the difficult aspects of traveling to and from the Philippines or just around the country is going through our airports – with the inconvenience, the long queues, and delayed flights. It’s Murphy’s Law unfolding in full blast.

I fervently hope we finally see a new and modern international gateway in Luzon soon.

Barring any problems here in our land, which is as unpredictable as an edge-of-your seat Netflix series, this could indeed happen in 2026 with the opening of the New Manila International Airport. I’d gladly welcome it.

Mergers and acquisitions

Despite the challenging times, the mergers and acquisition scene in the country is alive.

Tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, for instance, said last week that talks between ABS-CBN Corp. and TV5 are already in the “closing stages.”

If the deal goes through, TV5 will own 65 percent of a joint venture company, with the remainder to be held by the Lopez-led network.

Alphaprimus

There will be more to come. In a recent chat with top executives from Alphaprimus Advisors, Natividad Alejo and Calvin Chua, I learned that more mergers and acquisitions may happen in the areas of fintech, banking, insurance, and healthcare.

Alphaprimus, one of the country’s top advisors for Philippine and Philippines-based clients and which has completed at least 60 transactions with a combined deal value of more than $35 billion, knows what it’s talking about. It is currently busy with ongoing deals. Its previous transactions include Meralco’s acquisition of MPIC and JG Summit’s stake in Global Business Power; the sale of a 17.5 percent stake in AC Energy to GIC in Singapore (Best M&A Deal), Fruitas’ IPO, and Udenna’s acquisition of Conti’s.

Philippine Competition Commission

Mergers and acquisitions translate to stronger companies and bigger investments although sizable businesses hoping to consolidate need to face the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC).

In a recent statement, the PCC reminded firms to do their mergers “in compliance with the Philippine Competition Act to avoid penalties, unwinding of transactions, and ensure no substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets.”

 

 

Iris Gonzales’ email address is [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

RAMON ANG

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