Corporate News

By Chrissee Jalyssa Dela Paz, Reporter

San Miguel, Metro Pacific unit face off in bidding for SCTEx deal

Posted on January 26, 2015

THE BIDDING for a contract to operate and maintain the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) draws near with no new names emerging as contenders that will match the P3.5-billion offer of the toll road’s current operator Manila North Tollways Corp. (MNTC), a senior government official said on Sunday.

On Jan. 6, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) said diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. was one of two groups that have expressed interest in bidding for the SCTEx contract. The other company was an undisclosed client of law firm of Aguirre, Abaño, Pamfilo, Paras, Pineda and Agustin that also bought bid documents.

No other group had come forward since to say it too will challenge MNTC’s offer, BCDA Vice-President for Financial Services Group Nena D. Radoc said in a mobile phone reply over the weekend.

The bid submission deadline is Jan. 30. The agency plans to award the concession, which is good until 2043, to a long-term operator around March.

“As of now, only San Miguel Corp. and an undisclosed client of law firm of Aguirre, Abaño, Pamfilo, Paras, Pineda and Agustin have bought bid documents for the SCTEx contract. It seems like MNTC has to match only two offers on Jan. 30,” Ms. Radoc said.

Sought for comment, MNTC President and Chief Executive Officer Rodrigo E. Franco said in a text message on Sunday: “We will match the offers, but we will continue to reserve our legal rights in relation to the SCTEx price challenge being conducted by the BCDA.”

“If the terms subjected to price challenge are not consistent with the BOA (business and operating agreement) or the process is not fair to us, we will question the legitimacy of the exercise,” Mr. Franco added.

MNTC -- the tollway unit of infrastructure giant Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) whose chairman is businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan -- had earlier submitted proposals for the SCTEx deal after its BOA for the toll road signed with the BCDA in July 2011 was suspended by Malacañang.

In November last year, the government instead decided to subject MNTC’s proposal to a price challenge.

Besides the P3.5-billion up-front payment that will be inclusive of value-added tax, the winner will share half of gross toll revenues with BCDA, assume road operation and maintenance costs of the toll road, as well as continue the integration of SCTEx’s and North Luzon Expressway’s (NLEx) toll collection systems, according to the terms of reference issued in December last year by the BCDA.

BCDA and the Japan International Cooperation Agency spent P34.9 billion building SCTEx, which opened in 2008, according to the state agency’s Web site. The four-lane expressway traverses the provinces of Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac, and is directly linked to the NLEx, also operated by Metro Pacific.

MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Company Ltd., the others being Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld.