PCC to further review Dasmariñas-PrimeWater deal

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THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Tuesday said it is further reviewing the proposed joint venture of Dasmariñas Local Water District (Dasma Water) and PrimeWater Infrastructure Corp.

In a statement, the PCC said its Mergers and Acquisitions Office (MAO) opened on Feb. 7 a Phase 2 review into the proposed joint venture of Dasma Water and PrimeWater that will operate the waterworks and supply of water as well as septage management within the service area of Dasmariñas City.

“With the business of water distribution considered an important market, PCC-MAO is looking into how the transaction will affect the competition in the provision of water supply and septage management services, and affect the customers, within and around the service area of Dasmariñas Local Water District,” the PCC said.

The Villar Group’s PrimeWater has 39 existing joint ventures with different local water districts.

“In a Phase 2 review, MAO seeks to investigate whether the transaction would enhance PrimeWater’s ability and incentive to engage in foreclosure of downstream market competitors of the entities affiliated with PrimeWater,” the antitrust body said.

However, the PCC noted that the Phase 2 review “does not mean that PCC MAO has made a conclusive finding of a substantial lessening of competition on the review but rather a required process to get a more detailed analysis of the transaction.”

The MAO has 60 days, starting Feb. 7, to complete the Phase 2 review of the Dasma Water-PrimeWater deal.

The PCC is seeking comments from stakeholders such as water suppliers, septage management providers, representatives from other water districts, sanitary engineers, residents of Dasmariñas and other interested individuals on the proposed deal.

Dasma Water is the local water district with service area covering the entire city of Dasmariñas, Cavite. It currently supplies potable water to 108,713 metered customers in all 75 barangays within the city. As of 2017, Dasma Water had an area coverage of 3,000 hectares or 67.78% of the total area of Dasmariñas City.

PrimeWater is a subsidiary of Prime Asset Ventures, Inc. It provides water supply and distribution systems to real estate developments of sister company Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc. such as Brittany, Camella Homes and Crown Asia. It also has bulk water supply projects with partner water districts, according to its website. — Janina C. Lim