By: Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:20 am | Monday, February 6th, 2012

Conglomerate Ayala Corp. has identified a number of big-ticket airport, toll road, mass transportation, water infrastructure and power projects that it wants to invest in as part of its large-scale diversification into high-growth infrastructure businesses.

Ayala’s radar screen includes some of the government’s public-private partnership (PPP) priority projects, five of which are up for competitive bidding this year with a total project cost of $1.15 billion. These are the Balara water supply project ($456 million); Cavite-Laguna (Cala) Expressway project ($274 million); Light Railway Transit 2 expansion ($206 million); Mactan Cebu terminal development ($180 million) and Laguindingan airport operations and maintenance ($35 million).

The Ayala group is also keen on investing in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport rehabilitation in Metro Manila and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark if and when the government puts them on the auction block, Ayala managing director and head of corporate strategy Eric Francia said in an interview with the Inquirer.

In general, he said Ayala was interested mostly in the bigger airport projects but noted that Laguindingan was in its radar screen given the group’s sizable land bank in Cagayan de Oro.

On railways, apart from Ayala’s interest in Metro Railway Transit 3 on EDSA, the group is also interested in participating in the LRT 1 and 2 projects, he said.

“We’re interested in that whole thing and more than just O&M (operations and maintenance),” Francia said. “What is unclear yet is if the government will do it as a package (expansion and O&M in one contract) or piecemeal,” Francia said, adding that while Ayala would prefer a bundled contract, it might still participate even if the government were to bid out the projects separately.

The LRT 2 expansion, which may be bid out by the second half of this year based on the PPP priorities announced by the government last month, involves a 4-kilometer extension of the current railway from Santolan, Pasig, to Masinag, Antipolo. The LRT 1 expansion project aims to stretch the existing 15-kilometer line that ends in Baclaran by an additional 11.7 km to reach Bacoor, Cavite.

Fresh from its victory in the bidding for the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway link road, which was the Aquino administration’s first PPP project, Ayala is preparing to bid for the Cala Expressway project, whose likely route would likely be within a “striking distance” from the group’s vast mixed-use estate Nuvali in Sta. Rosa, Francia said.

The 27.5-km Cala Expressway ranks higher on Ayala’s priority list although Francia said the group was also considering whether or not to participate in the bidding for the North-South Luzon expressway connector road and the NAIA Expressway projects.

The connector road ($488 million) is up for bidding this year on a Swiss challenge basis as the implementing agency, the Department of Public Works and Highways, has granted original proponent status to an unsolicited proposal submitted by the Metro Pacific group.

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