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MANILA, Dec 9 (Reuters) - The consortium of conglomerates Ayala Corp and Metro Pacific Corp are likely to emerge the winners after submitting the highest offer for a 1.72 billion peso ($39 million) deal to operate a smart-card system for the Philippines' elevated rail network.
The group, known as AF Consortium, submitted the best bid by offering a premium of 1.08 billion pesos on top of the cost of designing and constructing the fare collection system for Manila's rail network. The deal is one of several projects the government offered to the private sector under a public-private partnership scheme to fast-track major infrastructure developments.
The group's offer of a premium was higher by just 103,900 pesos than that of a consortium led by SM Group, owned by the country's richest man, Henry Sy.
The third bidder, Comworks Inc and Berjaya, asked for a subsidy of 2.05 billion pesos from the government.
Two other bidders, the group of E-Trans Solutions and a consortium of Megawide Construction Corp, were earlier disqualified by the government after they failed to meet technical requirements. The two groups said they will appeal the decision.
The winning bidder will operate and maintain the new fare collection system for 10 years. The transportation department will announce the final winner on Dec. 23 after it conducts a post-bid evaluation.
"Clearly, it shows an appreciation of the retail potential of the micropayments market. We were only able to bid as aggressively as we did because of the size and potential of that market," Metro Pacific President Jose Maria K. Lim told reporters after the bidding.
The AF Consortium partnered with MSI Global, developer of the software for the automatic fare collection system in Singapore and Bangkok, and SMRT which currently operates Singapore's mass transit system.
($1 = 43.95 Philippine pesos)
Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Editing by Matt Driskill