April 25, 2018 / 4:14 PM / a year ago

Philippines approves San Miguel's $14 bln airport project

MANILA, April 25 (Reuters) - The Philippines on Wednesday approved a $14 billion airport project proposed by its largest company by revenue, San Miguel Corp, a facility that that should help ease congestion at the country’s main gateway in Manila.

San Miguel has pursued an aggressive expansion since 2008 to bolster revenues, adding infrastructure, mining, petroleum and power assets to its staple food and beverage businesses.

The National Economic and Development Authority’s board, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte, approved San Miguel’s 735.6 billion pesos ($14 billion) “unsolicited proposal”, subject to a final review, to build the new airport in Bulacan province, near the capital Manila, Finance Secretary Carlos Domiguez said in a mobile phone message to reporters.

The Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, is trying to improve infrastructure such as roads, ports, railways and airports with the help of the private sector under its $180 billion “Build, Build, Build” programme.

San Miguel’s airport project will be subject to a Swiss Challenge under government rules, meaning other groups will be invited to make competing offers, with the original bidder given the right to match any better proposal.

San Miguel had previously said construction of the airport could be completed in six years, with the company operating it under a build-operate-transfer scheme and a 50-year concession with the government. (Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz, editing by Mark Heinrich)

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