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MPIC tollways unit allots P10B for south projects

METRO PACIFIC Tollways Corp. (MPTC) is set to spend P10 billion this year for its projects located in the south of Metro Manila.

“For the south, it’s about P10 billion, mostly for CALAX [Cavite-Laguna Expressway] and C-5 South Link,” MPTC Chief Financial Officer Christopher Daniel C. Lizo told reporters. To fund the two projects, Mr. Lizo said the company will borrow from local banks.

Last June, the Metro Pacific group broke ground on the P35.43-billion CALAX project, which involves the construction of a 44.6-kilometer four-lane toll road between the Manila-Cavite Expressway (Cavitex) in Kawit, Cavite and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) — Mamplasan Interchange.

MPCALA Holdings, Inc., a unit of Metro Pacific, received the notice of award for the 35-year contract to build, operate, and maintain the planned expressway last June 8, 2015. However, right of way issues for the project site have delayed the start of construction.

MPCALA tapped DM Consunji, Inc. for the construction of the Laguna segment, and Leighton, a unit of Australia’s CIMIC Group Ltd., formerly Leighton Holdings, for the Cavite segment.

CALAX is scheduled to open in 2020 or early 2021. “But we may open certain portions ahead,” said Mr. Lizo.

The C-5 South Link Expressway is a 7.7-kilometer, six-lane project which will connect C-5 road to Cavitex. The first phase of the project, worth P2.5 billion and covering 2.2 kilometers including a flyover above the SLEx and Skyway from C-5 Road in Taguig to Merville in Sucat, Parañaque, is now under construction.

The whole alignment of the C-5 South Link will be operational in 2020, but will be opened in phases starting next year.

Meanwhile, MPCALA Holdings is awaiting the grant of original proponent status (OPS) by the Department of Public Works and Highways for its unsolicited proposal to build the Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway (CTBEx). The proposed 49-kilometer toll road will connect the CALAX at Silang East Interchange to Tagaytay City, and terminate at Nasugbu, Batangas.

Public Works Undersecretary Maria Catalina E. Cabral said in October that if MPCALA is awarded the contract, they are aiming for a simultaneous completion of CALAX and Section 1 of the CTBEx by 2020.

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...take over nyo na yan MRT

Gov’t still studying MPIC proposal to take over MRT-3

THE GOVERNMENT is still evaluating Metro Pacific Investments Corp.’s (MPIC) unsolicited proposal for the rehabilitation and takeover of the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 (MRT-3) system.

“They’re conducting due diligence, they just finished,” Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade told reporters on the sidelines of the groundbreaking of the Southeast Metro Manila Expressway (SEMME) in Taguig City.

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) in November granted original proponent status (OPS) to MPIC, which offered to rehabilitate the MRT-3 system, and to handle its operations for a period of 30 to 32 years.

 After an unsolicited proposal gains OPS, it is set to be evaluated by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board. If approved, a Swiss challenge will be conducted.

 MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. K. Lim told reporters in September the company increased its proposed investment to P20 billion from the earlier amount of P12 billion.

MPIC is looking to take over the MRT-3 operations in tandem with the Ayala Group and Macquarie Infrastructure Holdings (Philippines) Pte. Ltd. Metro Pacific Light Rail Corp., Ayala Corp.’s AC Infrastructure Holdings Corp., and Macquarie earlier formed Light Rail Manila Corp. to manage the Light Rail Transit Line-1.

Amid the ongoing evaluation of the MPIC proposal, the DoTr is also in talks with the Japanese government for a new maintenance deal for the MRT-3. The talks are expected “to pave the way for DoTr’s direct engagement” of previous MRT maintenance provider Sumitomo Corp. and its technical partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, under a government-to-government official development assistance (ODA) platform.

Sumitomo and Mitsubishi Heavy had designed and built the MRT-3 system from 1998 to 2000, and maintained the system from 2000 to 2012.

Mr. Tugade said they expect the new maintenance provider for the MRT-3 to be in place by May.

In November, the DoTR terminated its contract with Busan Universal Rail, Inc. (BURI) for the MRT-3, citing BURI’s alleged failure to ensure efficient and available trains and failure to procure the proper spare parts.

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NLEx allots P19-B capex for 2018

NLEX Corp. is allotting P19 billion for capital expenditures (capex) this year, primarily to build the Harbor Link Segment 10 and the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx)-South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) Connector Road project.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, parent company Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) said NLEx is ramping up its spending “in response to the government’s call for the private sector to complement the government’s massive infrastructure push.”

However, NLEx said the P19-billion figure is an estimate, assuming the “satisfactory” resolution of the tariff adjustments, which are still being negotiated with the government. The figure will be reviewed depending on the results of the discussions, the company said.

To recall, in April 2016, MPIC, through NLEx, filed a notice of arbitration against the government to obtain compensation worth some P3 billion for unadjusted toll rate adjustments that were supposed to be implemented in January 2013 and January 2015.

In November 2017, the Toll Regulatory Board gave its provisional approval for NLEx to raise toll fees by P0.25 per kilometer.

NLEX Corp. President and CEO Rodrigo E. Franco said the bulk of this year’s capex will be used for the urban portions of the NLEx, particularly the Harbor Link Segment 10, including the Radial Road 10 Section in Dagat-Dagatan, Navotas City, and the public private partnership project NLEx-SLEx Connector Road.

The Harbor Link Segment 10 is a 5.7-km. elevated expressway traversing NLEx from Smart Connect Interchange and crossover to McArthur Highway in Valenzuela City, with down ramps along C-3/5th Avenue Interchange in Caloocan City.

The R-10 link is a 2.6-kilometer road that serves as the continuation of Harbor Link Segment 10. Mr. Franco previously said the construction of R-10 link will begin early this year, although it is still awaiting final government clearance.

The NLEx-SLEx Connector Road will be built above the existing Philippine National Railways tracks from the C-3/5th Avenue Interchange in Caloocan City to Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila. Expected to be completed by 2021, the connector road is expected to reduce travel time between NLEx and the San Miguel Corp.-operated SLEx from two hours to 20 minutes.

NLEx will also undertake capacity expansion of the 8-kilometer Subic Freeport Expressway, with construction of 16 new lane kilometers.

A subsidiary NLEX Ventures Corporation is also building a new expressway service facility and rest area in the southbound portion of NLEx.

Additionally, NLEx is expanding Sta. Ines Interchange and the new Mabiga Interchange this year.

“These investments are aimed at supporting the government’s initiatives to ease the daily traffic woes of our commuters, drive commerce, and are part of our continuing commitment to further ensure safe and convenient travel in our expressways and maintain our high-quality service,” Mr. Franco said in a statement.

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MPIC avails of P8-B loan facility

METRO Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) has secured an P8-billion syndicated term loan facility to partially finance the obligations of one of its subsidiaries.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Friday, the Manuel V. Pangilinan-led firm said the syndicated term loan facility — set to mature in 10 years and 15 years — will be used partially for the redemption of outstanding debt obligations of Beacon Electric Asset Holdings, Inc.

The infrastructure conglomerate tapped BDO Capital and Investment Corp. to act as arranger and bookrunner for the transaction.

MPIC started acquiring Beacon from PLDT, Inc.’s unit PLDT Communications and Energy Ventures in 2016, in order to increase its interest in Manila Electric Co. Beacon Electric previously owned 35% of Meralco, while 56% is held by Global Business Power.

The company earlier paid P12 billion in cash out of the P21.8-billion purchase price of Beacon, with the remaining P9.8 billion to be paid in the next four years.

The transaction brings MPIC’s effective ownership stake in Meralco to 45.5%, from the previous 41.2%, as well as increases its stake in Global Business Power to 62.4% from 47.8%. MPIC already had a 10.5% direct interest in Meralco prior to the transaction.

This year, MPIC has committed to spend P100 billion in capital expenditures to accelerate the expansion of its tollway, water, energy, rail, and hospital segments. The company specifically allocated P38 billion for Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., P17 billion for the Light Rail Manila Corp., P21 billion for Meralco, P12 billion for Maynilad Water Services, Inc., P6 billion for Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc., and P6 billion for logistics.

To fund this capex, the company said it is using internally generated income, a combination of equity partners, value crystallization in its portfolio, and banks. It also plans to offer P30 billion worth of bonds in the next three years.

MPIC generated a net income attributable to the parent of P11.3 billion in the first three quarters of 2017, posting a 17% year-on-year increase as revenues likewise climbed 30% to P43 billion during the same period.

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Metro Pacific inks P2-billion loan facility

METRO PACIFIC Investments Corp. (MPIC) secured an additional loan to reduce the debt of the company holding the infrastructure conglomerate’s stake in Manila Electric Co.

The local unit of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd. said in a disclosure on Monday it inked a P2-billion syndicated term loan facility with a term of 15 years.

This was after MPIC signed an P8-billion 10-year and 15-year syndicated term loan facility last week.

Proceeds of the facility will be used to partially finance the redemption of the outstanding debt obligations of Beacon and other general corporate purposes.

MPIC tapped BDO Capital & Investment Corporation as arranger and book runner.

Last June, MPIC raised its interest in Meralco after acquiring PLDT group’s remaining 25% stake in Beacon for P21.8 billion.

Beacon owns 35% of the country’s biggest electricity distributor and 56% of power generation firm Global Business Power Corp.

The deal allows MPIC, which owns a direct 10.5% interest in Meralco, to hold a further 35.0% through its interest in Beacon that will boost its effective ownership interest in the power distributor to 45.5% from 41.2% and in Global Power to 56% directly and 6.4% indirectly.

Before tapping the loan for the Beacon deal, Metro Pacific sealed last month a P10-billion loan facility with BDO Unibank, Inc. and Union Bank of the Philippines to finance the company’s projects and operations.

The conglomerate had announced that it would set aside P100 billion for capital expenditures in 2018, out of the P653-billion five-year spending plan, to finance the expansion of its power, water utility, toll roads and hospital businesses.

The listed conglomerate booked P11.13 billion in attributable profit in the first nine months of 2017, 17% higher than the P9.5 billion posted in the same period in 2016. Revenues accelerated 30% to P43 billion during the same period.

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...projects after projects

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.

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