Ayala, Aboitiz in joint deal for airport terminal project
Two of the country’s major companies signified their bid for the multi-billion peso passenger terminal project of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) over the weekend.
In a press statement sent to media outlets, Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) said it entered into a memorandum of agreement with Ayala Corp. for a joint venture to build the passenger terminal for the MCIA, the country’s second largest airport.
While Cebu business leaders hailed the joint venture, Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district was less than enthusiastic.
“It’s not so bad, (but) we just missed a chance to be globally competitive,” he said in a text message (see related story on Page 39).
The passenger terminal project worth P10 billion was mentioned by President Benigno Aquino III as one of his administration’s flagship projects in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July.
The Mactan Cebu International Airport is reportedly operating above passenger capacity, with tourist volume exceeding five million annually.
The same press statement quoted Ayala Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala as saying that they believe in the airport’s potential as a “compelling gateway” to the country for foreign and domestic travelers.
“We share the vision of creating an airport that provides passengers an efficient and pleasant travel experience. We look forward to leveraging each other’s strengths in developing and running a modern airport facility that Cebu and our country can be proud of,” Zobel added.
Strategic new segment
In tying up with Aboitiz, Zobel acknowledged the company’s “long history and heritage in Cebu” as well as its track record in “significant size projects in multiple industries.”
AEV President and Chief Executive Officer Erramon Aboitiz said the venture enables their company to enter into a “strategic new segment” that’s crucial to developing the country’s transportation infrastructure and tourism potential.
Ayala, through its property arm, Ayala Land, Inc., has also built a significant presence in Cebu City through landmarks like the Cebu Business Park, the Ayala Center Cebu, the Asiatown IT Park and high-end residential developments.
The Aboitiz Group is involved in power generation and distribution, banking, food production, construction, shipbuilding and land development.
The national government is expected to announce the bidding for the Mactan airport project before the end of the year.
Both companies are expected to finalize their joint venture agreement once the bid rules or terms of reference for the terminal project were published by the government.
They also said they will explore partnerships with experienced global airport operators to complete its consortium.
MCIA general manager Paul Villarete said they were pleased to learn about the Ayala-Aboitiz joint venture.
In an email sent to Cebu Daily News, Villarete said the venture is a great testament to the very strong investor confidence in the Aquino administration.
He said the terminal project, a private public partnership project, has not been finalized and submitted to the National Economic Authority (NEDA) yet but the companies went ahead and formed a joint venture.
“It’s because business knows that under the battle cry of “daang matuwid (straight path) they are assured of a level playing field, a process marked by transparency and accountability, and fair competition, and that they will be treated fairly and squarely,” Villarete said.
Cebu business leaders welcomed the venture, saying it will benefit the province.
“The new successful business model is not by competition but through collaboration. If it succeeds, we Cebuanos will benefit from it,” said Philip N. Tan, president of the Mandaue City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc.
Prudencio Gesta, Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president, was similarly effusive, saying the merger of the Aboitiz and Ayala groups to handle the expansion of MCIA “is a good partnership.”
“This assures that the project can be finished on or before the time and expected quality output,” he said, adding that the vast resources and high technical expertise of these business giants would bring in the best results,” he said.