Metro Pacific eyes Malaysian toll road deal within the year

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) is looking to close an agreement for a tollways venture in Malaysia this year.

“We hope we could close something within the year,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on the sidelines of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines anniversary gala on Jan. 15.

Mr. Pangilinan said MPIC sees Malaysia as the next viable country for an investment in tollways business, after entering the Indonesian market in November. Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) has increased its stake in Indonesia infrastructure holding company PT Nusantara Infrastructure Tbk.

In 2016, MPIC’s talks with a Malaysian company for a 50-kilometer tollway project fell through.

The conglomerate aims to continue its expansion into Southeast Asia and create a “pan-ASEAN” tollway network.

It currently has stakes in in Don Muang Tollway Public Company Limited, a major toll road operator in Bangkok, Thailand, and in CII Bridges and Roads, a firm with road and bridges projects in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

After Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and possibly Malaysia, MPIC is eyeing opportunities in Myanmar, although there are no “visible” opportunities for now, Mr. Pangilinan said.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong-Kong based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

Metro Pacific studies Myanmar potentials

INFRASTRUCTURE conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is studying investment opportunities in the toll-roads sector in Myanmar, Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said on Monday, even as the group targets to close an expressway deal in Malaysia this year.

Pangilinan said his group will be scouting for expressway deals in Myanmar, which, according to documents from the Asian Development Bank, has the most underdeveloped road network in Southeast Asia.

“For next year, maybe Myanmar,” he said in a chance interview at the sidelines of the Golden Jubilee Gala Night of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (Finex) on January 15.

There is only one expressway in Myanmar to date, the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway. But there are proposals for the construction of a new toll road that will link Yangon to Hanthawaddy.

Pangilinan noted that the possible deals in Myanmar may be limited, nonetheless, his group is willing to scout for deals in the Southeast Asian nation, as this could form part of the company’s overall Pan-Asean Toll Road Network Program.

Metro Pacific’s game play in entering a new market is by buying into existing operators. Its most recent deal was with Nusantara, an Indonesian infrastructure conglomerate whose main revenue driver is its toll-road business.

For 2018, Pangilinan said his group is trying to close a deal with a Malaysian toll-road company. He declined to name the company or which area in Malaysia the expressway is located.

“Malaysia is the next country of opportunity since we have already planted our flag in Indonesia with Nusantara,” he said. “We hope we can close something within the year in Malaysia, because then we are in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.”

The group’s initial target was to close the deal by the first quarter of 2018, but Pangilinan noted that this might be a little too optimistic.

“I can’t predict when we could close it, but the target is within the year,” he added. “We are still in discussion.”

Metro Pacific is the largest toll-road operator in the Philippines, with a network of expressways in the northern and southern regions of the country. It also has significant interests in toll-road companies in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

NLEX Allocates P19B Capex To Help Improve Metro Manila Traffic

This year, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) Corporation is setting aside P19 billion in capital expenditure to help solve Metro Manila’s daily traffic bottlenecks.

However, the tollways firm clarified that the capex figure will still be subject to review and adjustment, depending on the result of its ongoing tariff adjustment discussion with the government, according to NLEX Corporation President and CEO Rodrigo Franco.

The bulk of the company’s 2018 capital expenditure will be used to construct the urban portions of the NLEX, such as the Harbor Link Segment 10, including the R10 Section in Dagat-Dagatan, Navotas City and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) project of the Department of Public Works (DPWH), the NLEX-South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Connector Road project.

Expected to be opened this year, Harbor Link Segment 10 is a 5.7-km elevated expressway traversing the NLEX from Smart Connect Interchange and crossover Mac Arthur Highway in Valenzuela City with down ramps along C3/5th Avenue Interchange in Caloocan City.

Once the Harbor Link is completed, travel between the Ports of Manila and the NLEX will take only 10 minutes and will provide direct expressway access for commercial vehicles, especially heavy trucks.

Around 40,000 vehicles traversing the Ports of Manila and the NLEX daily will benefit from the Harbor Link.

The tollways firm will also start construction of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project, an 8-kilometer all-elevated PPP project of the DPWH above the existing PNR tracks from the C3/5th Avenue Interchange in Caloocan City to the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Upon its completion in 2021, the elevated expressway will provide motorists another alternative to the daily heavy traffic on EDSA. It is also expected to reduce travel time between NLEX and SLEX from 2 hours to only 20 minutes.

In support of the continuing infrastructure initiatives of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), the tollways firm will also undertake capacity expansion of the 8-km Subic Freeport Expressway.

NLEX Corporation will construct 16 new lane kilometers thus boosting Subic port as a prime logistics hub.

Through its subsidiary, NLEX Ventures Corporation (NVC), the tollways firm has also started construction of a new expressway service facility and rest area along Km. 17 Southbound of the NLEX.

The new 15,500-square meter facility, called NLEX Drive & Dine, will follow a mini-mall concept that will feature a wide variety of retail, food and commercial services for NLEX customers.

To support the rapidly growing areas north of Manila, NLEX Corporation is also constructing two major traffic decongestion projects in Mabalacat City, Pampanga such as the new Sta. Ines Interchange and the new Mabiga Interchange in 2018.

The conversion of the narrow SCTEX Mabiga exit into a full diamond interchange with new entry and exit toll plazas will introduce another alternative access to the SCTEX via the MacArthur Highway.

“These investments support the government’s initiatives to ease the daily traffic woes of our commuters, drive commerce, and ensure safe and convenient travel in our expressways and maintain high-quality service” Franco concluded.



MPT South sets aside P10-B capex for 2018

EXPRESSWAY operator Metro Pacific Tollways South Corp. (MPTSC) announced it has allotted P10 billion (about $200.9 million at current exchange rates) in capital outlays for two major expressway projects this year.

Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. CFO Christopher C. Lizo said the firm programmed the amount to finance the construction of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (Calax) and the C5 South Link of the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (Cavitex).

“For south, the capital expenditures is about P10 billion—mostly for Calax and [the] C5 South Link,” Lizo said. The construction of the four-lane 47-kilometer-long Calax will connect Cavitex in Kawit, Cavite, to the South Luzon Expressway (Slex)-Mamplasan Interchange and will cost an estimated P35.42 billion ($787 million).

“It will open end-2020 or early of 2021, but we may open certain sections ahead,” Lizo said.

The C5 South Link is a P11.7-billion project that aims to connect R-1 in Parañaque to C5 in Cavitex. It will run parallel to the runway of the main airport in Pasay and will cross the Slex and Skyway toward C5.

“It will open in phases: one in 2019 and the whole alignment by 2020,” Lizo added.

The Slex is being operated by San Miguel Corp. and Indonesia-based Citra group, while the Northern Luzon Expressway is being operated by the Manila North Tollways Corp.

Lizo said the capital requirement for the C5 South Link will be financed through a mix of debt and equity.

“We are in talks with local banks for the debt portion,” he said.

The MPTSC aims to double its revenues in the next three years.