Source: ABS-CBN News, 24 April 2012

By Liza Reyes

Ayala Corp. chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (third from left) shakes hands with Metro Pacific Investments Corp. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, after signing a memorandum of agreement to form an exclusive strategic partnership to jointly pursue and develop light rail projects.

MANILA, Philippines – Two of the Philippines’ largest conglomerates, Ayala Corp. and Metro Pacific Investments Corp. have teamed up to bid for Metro Manila’s light rail projects — an aggressive push as it eyes to bid for the country’s light rail infrastructure projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

Ayala Corp. and MPIC jointly said on Tuesday, it inked a memorandum of agreement to form an exclusive strategic partnership to jointly pursue and develop light rail projects in which, each of the parties will own a 50 percent interest in the projects and related real estate development undertakings.

It is also open to work together on other rail-related opportunities outside the PPP.

Ayala Corp. earlier stressed change and becoming a player in infrastructure would be key thrusts in the coming years. The conglomerate also said it is prepared to bid for the contract to extend and manage the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT 1).

“We are glad to be partnering with the Metro Pacific Investments group for this specific purpose. We each have unique strengths and capabilities that, when combined, create a unique value proposition in rail development. We hope to contribute meaningfully in helping raise the standards of our public utilities. This is vital to our nation’s progress and competitiveness. Developing an efficient mass transit system is a huge endeavor which will be better served by the synergies created by this partnership.” Ayala Corp. chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said.

MPIC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said he is pleased to share a common ground with Ayala Corp. through the light rail projects.

“This strategic alliance will create integrated solutions that will improve public transportation through our vision to transform the country’s light rail transit system into a network very much like those in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Osaka. The existing system is over capacity and under invested – the need to improve the existing rail systems now cannot be overemphasized. Our initiative to join hands in addressing these concerns, signifies our commitment to help Filipinos become more productive and to contribute to the country’s overall infrastructure development and economic growth,” Pangilinan said.

The government said it will start the bidding process for the P61.53 billion LRT 1 South Extension project from Baclaran to Bacoor, Cavite this month.

Earlier, Ayala Corp. president Fernando Zobel de Ayala said the company needs to invest in new platforms to realize future growth.

Ayala won the government’s first public private partnership project the Daang Hari extension, beating MPIC’s bid.

However, Metro Pacific, San Miguel, Aboitiz and Lopez groups have a headstart in power and infrastructure.

“The market has long anticipated this exciting venture between two friendly competitors. Both parties have opened its doors for possible undertakings that will complement its existing businesses,” Astro del Castillo, managing director, First Grade Finance said.

Earlier, Pangilinan has said that aside from the operation and maintenance of the MRT 3 and LRT 1, they remain interested in planned PPP projects such as the development of Clark airport, the operation of the NAIA terminals and various road projects.