San Miguel consortium eyes borrowing to fund $590-mln Manila road project

MANILA Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:09am EST

MANILA Jan 22 (Reuters) - A consortium composed of Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp and Indonesia's Citra Group may finance as much as 80 percent of a $590 million Manila road project through borrowing, a San Miguel official said on Wednesday.

The Skyway Stage 3 project, a 14.8-km elevated tollway connecting the North Luzon Expressway (NLex) to South Luzon Expressway (SLex), will be fully funded by Citra Central Expressway Corp consortium. Both expressways link Manila to provinces north and south of the capital.

The consortium, which also includes state-run Philippine National Construction Corp (PNCC), will spend 26.6 billion pesos ($590 million) to complete the project by 2016, San Miguel President Ramon Ang said.

"This connector road project can be funded with up to 20 to 30 percent equity," Ang told reporters. He could not provide full financing details.

President Benigno Aquino, who pushed the button that signalled the official launch of the project's construction on Wednesday, said the tollway would help ease traffic on Manila's main Edsa highway.

A recent study from the Japan International Cooperation Agency estimates economic losses from traffic congestion in the capital at 2.4 billion pesos ($53 million) daily.

The government is offering a number of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects involving roads, airports and other infrastructure to improve the country's image and boost growth of one of Asia's vibrant economies.

San Miguel won some of those PPP deals, including a $380 million airport expressway project in Manila.

San Miguel has aggressively expanded away from its traditional food and drinks businesses in the last five years, adding infrastructure, telecommunications, power and oil refinery, and mining to its portfolio.

Its newest tollway project will compete with that of rival conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp, which on Tuesday signed a joint venture deal with PNCC for a $400 million road project that will also link NLex and SLex using a different route.

($1 = 45.2800 Philippine pesos) (Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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