Tollways CEO eyes new growth platforms

(The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A greater platform from which to direct the growth and expansion of the tollways group of Metro Pacific. That’s how corporate observers view the recent appointment of Rodrigo Franco as president and chief executive officer of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC).

 As the newly appointed MPTC president and CEO, Franco will now oversee the group’s tollway companies which include Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), Tollways Management Corp. (TMC), Cavitex Infrastructure Corp. (CIC) and MPCala Holdings Inc.

The group is likewise actively pursuing a tolled bridge project that will link Cebu City to the island of Mactan. MPTC now also has investments in toll road operations in Vietnam and Thailand. The company anticipates to further enlarge its international footprint.

MPTC is the mother company of MNTC and is the toll road development and operation arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), the infrastructure conglomerate under the helm of Manuel V. Pangilinan. MPTC is the largest toll road builder and operator in the Philippines with 63 percent of the total 320 kilometers of tollroads in the country under its concessions.

A proud son of school teachers from Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Franco received his education from some of the best schools in the country through scholarships.  He is an alumnus of Philippine Science High School.  His college degree in BS Management Engineering was earned from the Ateneo de Manila University where he also completed his MBA. He has attended banking and management classes in top universities in the United States and Hong Kong.

Franco is expected to bring to the MPTC companies and their projects his well-honed management knowhow as well as his expertise in building and managing tollways developed over his years at MNTC.

Joining the company in April 2003 as vice president, he steadily went up the corporate ladder, becoming chief operating officer, chief finance officer, executive vice president, and finally, in January 2009, president and CEO.

Since he joined MNTC, Franco has always played a key role in the company’s North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) project that transformed this once dilapidated and weather-worn diversion road into a modern, world-class expressway. He was initially primarily responsible for managing MNTC’s project finance facilities from multilateral and commercial banking sources.  He was also involved in identifying and mitigating the risk exposure of the company, managing relationship with the shareholders and other stakeholders, and developing solutions for finance-related issues.

In attending to these tasks, Franco’s 20-year experience in JPMorgan Chase Bank and one of its predecessor institutions, the Chase Manhattan Bank, where he worked before joining MNTC served him well. While there, he helped several Philippine companies raise funds from the international loan and capital markets, and was involved in originating and executing a number of mergers and acquisitions, equity capital markets and loan and bond restructuring transactions. He was vice president for investment banking when he left the Manila branch of JPMorgan Chase at the end of 2002.  

Under MNTC, NLEX has become the country’s showcase for toll road operations, management and maintenance, as well as customer service with standards comparable to those of modern tollways in first world countries. Currently serving over 200,000 vehicles each day, this 93-kilometer expressway has significantly made travel between Metro Manila and the provinces to the north faster and easier and, as a result, has greatly contributed to the economic growth of Central and Northern Luzon.

In 2009, MNTC began NLEX Phase 2, a multi-billion-peso project that will directly connect the expressway to key areas in Metro Manila to make it more accessible to motorists and further promote commerce between the metropolis and nearby provinces.

  In kicking off this project, Franco said: “When we took over the management of NLEX in 2005, we wanted to build a world-class highway, not just to facilitate the movement of people and goods, but to help spur socio-economic growth in the areas we serve.”

“We have delivered our commitments to provide motorists and travelers with a quality road and the attendant quality service,” he pointed out. “Now, we are ready to face another challenge – to maintain that level of quality while expanding our reach through more road networks.”

Under Franco’s leadership, meeting this challenge has always been a primary objective of every MNTC project, from NLEX’s continuous maintenance and upgrading to the implementation of the various road-building projects designed to make entry to and exit from the expressway faster and more convenient.

TMC operates and maintains NLEX, the Subic Freeport Expressway (SFEX) and, beginning last year, the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). CIC constructed the Manila Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) and is spending P8.8 billion this year for two major road projects that will expand this 14-kilometer tollway and further boost commerce between Metro Manila and the booming provinces of Cavite, Laguna and Batangas.

Meanwhile, MPCala last year won the P55.5-billion public-private partnership (PPP) project to build the 45-kilometer Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX) that will connect CAVITEX to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). Groundbreaking for this project is scheduled in the first half.

And now with Franco at the helm of MPTC, this is the same challenge – this time much bigger – that is expected to drive the growth of the more tollway firms under it, as well as its forays in Thailand, Vietnam and other foreign countries.

The same driving force that will make MPTC  – much more indisputably – the premier toll road builder and operator in the Philippines and the ASEAN region.  


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