PANGILINAN-LED Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) is exploring the possibility of acquiring Ayala Corp.’s stake in Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), following Ayala’s announcement of its divestment plans.

“I think in principle we are [interested] for a number of reasons. One is the possibility of being able to bid for MRT-3 (Metro Rail Transit Line 3). I understand that the government wants to do what they did with NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), because we submitted an original proposal [for MRT-3],” MPIC Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan told reporters on Monday.

Ayala Corp. is aiming to raise $1 billion through fundraising by divesting its shares in its water and infrastructure assets.

The company hopes to close the sale of its 35% stake in LRT-1 within the year to realign its portfolio in property, telecommunications, and energy.

MPIC, through its unit  Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., holds 35.8% stake in Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC), the operator of LRT-1.

The remaining shares in LRMC are owned by  Sumitomo Corp. at 19.2% and Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure’s Macquarie Investments Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. at 10%.

Mr. Pangilinan said Ayala’s stake is deemed attractive as it will give the company an advantage for its other bids and provide more leeway for its plans.

“Well, to begin with, they have signified their intention publicly to divest. I think it is part of their overall [plan]. And I think it is easier for us to move if it were majority-owned, fully under the control of MPIC. It just gives us more ability to be able to do what we want to do,” he said.

MPIC has also signaled its interest in submitting a bid for the operations and maintenance (O&M) of MRT-3, in alignment with the Department of Transportation’s preference for a solicited scheme.

To recall, San Miguel Corp. was declared the original proponent for the MRT-3’s O&M contract, while MPIC also submitted an unsolicited bid.

The government targets to privatize MRT-3 before the contract expires next year under the build, lease, and transfer agreement with MRT-3 operator Sobrepeña-led Metro Rail Transit Corp.

MPIC is one of the three key Philippine units of Hong-Kong based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc.

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