Philippines set to reject lone bid for $1.4 bln railway project
MANILA Aug 15 (Reuters) - The Philippines is set to reject the lone bid it received on Thursday for a contract to build a $1.4 billion elevated railway extension project in the capital, the biggest infrastructure project to be put on the auction block by the Aquino government, a senior official said.
The Light Rail Manila Consortium, headed by Philippine conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp, submitted a bid that did not comply with the rules, said Jose Perpetuo Lotilla, undersecretary at the transportation department.
The bidding panel, however, has yet to officially reject the bid. The consortium was one of four prequalified bidders.
Asked on the possibility of another tender for the project, Lotilla said: "At this point in time, the government will have to assess the options and perhaps reach a conclusion in the coming days on how to proceed."
The Philippines, which won investment grade ratings early this year from Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's, is seeking investors in a number of public-private partnership projects aimed at modernising the country's roads, ports, airports and other infrastructure.
Ayala Corp, the country's oldest conglomerate, was initially part of the Light Rail Manila consortium but backed out from the actual bid. The company told the Philippine Stock Exchange that it did not participate in the bid, but did not offer a reason for its decision.
Three other companies earlier prequalified as bidders also withdrew, the bidding panel said. Those companies included SMC Infra Resources Inc, a unit of San Miguel Corp ; DMCI Holdings Inc ; and the lone foreign group, the Malaysian-Korean MTD-Samsung consortium.
There were no immediate explanation from any of the three groups.
The biggest infrastructure project to be put on the auction block since President Benigno Aquino took power in 2010 involves extending the LRT Line 1, the country's oldest, from Manila to the southwestern Cavite province. The existing line currently serves about 500,000 passengers daily.
(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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