Philippine firms may rebid for $1.3 billion rail project
MANILA, Sept 9
MANILA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - At least three Philippine companies are likely to take a second look at a contract worth 59.2 billion pesos ($1.3 billion) to extend, modernise and operate the country's oldest rail transit network after the government said it may improve the terms for the winning bidder.
The country's oldest conglomerate, Ayala Corp, Metro Pacific Investments Corp of Hong Kong's First Pacific Co Ltd, and DMCI Holdings Inc, said they were interested in rebidding for the LRT Line 1 south extension project.
The project is the biggest Manila is offering to the private sector in a list of nearly 30 public-private partnership (PPP) deals aimed at rehabilitating the country's decrepit roads, rails, and airports to support sustained growth for one of Asia's fastest-growing economies.
On Friday, the head of a state agency overseeing the PPP projects said Manila was considering taking out the requirement that the winning bidder pay real property taxes on the rail system's nearly 12-kilometre (7.5 miles) extension and allow for a subsidy, which it declined to specify.
The revisions to the project's terms will be submitted to the NEDA board, a policy coordinating body headed by President Benigno Aquino, for final approval before a new bidding schedule is set this year.
"These potential changes will definitely help and increase the chances of a successful bid. The critical thing is to ensure that the project is viable," Eric Francia, Ayala Corp managing director, told Reuters via email. "We are still keen to participate under improved terms and look forward to the final decision," he said.
Both Metro Pacific and DMCI said separately they were interested in the rebidding, but DMCI said it would first like to study the details of the revised terms.
Metro Pacific was the lone bidder for the rail project last month, when the government declared a failed bidding after the company submitted a conditional bid that did not comply with the rules. Metro Pacific's partner in the project, Ayala Corp, backed out at the last minute, saying it did not want to submit a non-compliant bid.
DMCI Holdings, SMC Infra Resources Inc of San Miguel Corp , and MTD Samsung Consortium also dropped out of the bidding. There was no immediate response from San Miguel and MTD Samsung when asked if they would take part in the rebidding.
The PPP center also said it expects to hold tenders by the end of October for contracts to construct a new terminal at the international airport in central Cebu province worth 17.5 billion pesos and a fare collection system for Manila's rail network worth 1.7 billion pesos.
The tender for the two projects originally set last month were both put on ice after the failed bidding of the LRT Line 1 project to allow for the government and the private sector to further study the projects.
($1 = 44.47 Philippine pesos) (Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Matt Driskill)
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