MANILA, Philippines - It's more fun doing business in the Philippines— at least for Malaysia’s AlloyMTD Group (MTD), which is reinvesting in the country a multibillion-peso windfall from last January’s sale of its South Luzon Expressway (Slex) operation to a consortium led by San Miguel Corp.
MTD, through a newly established Philippine investment arm, has since lined up as much as P22 billion worth of projects, half of which are committed to power generation, alongside building and housing ventures, its country head told the BusinessMirror in an exclusive interview.
Isaac David, president of MTD Philippines, said MTD remains keen on making a comeback in the country’s toll-road business, its bread and butter back in Malaysia.
David added that the company is looking to participate in various projects up for bidding under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program, including a planned Metro Manila connector road proposed by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Expressway Project (Phase II).
MTD will also study regional airports included in the PPP, which lists international air gateways in Cebu, Bohol, Palawan and Misamis Oriental.
“We did not leave. We not only retained our presence in the Philippines but we are expanding because we believe in the government’s promise of transparency and a level playing field,” David said.
The MTD Philippines president used to head the MTD-backed firm that operated Slex before its sale to San Miguel and the Citra Group of Indonesia.
David said the company has signed about 80 megawatts (MW) worth of run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants valued at about $240 million, which should start construction within this year and will be completed in two to three years.
He added that the company is in talks to initially sell capacity to electric cooperatives in nearby areas, which he declined to disclose.
“We will still look for more power projects. It’s attractive because of incentives under the Renewable Energy Act and it’s not affected by energy prices,” David said.
MTD Philippines planned investment outlay also includes spending on mass-housing projects to reduce the current 3.5 million to 4 million housing backlog in the Philippines, he added.
“MTD is involved in mass housing in other countries so we will also be participating in the Philippines,” David said. Other planned projects in MTD’s pipeline include build-lease-transfer contracts for government buildings and a P3-billion land-reclamation project in Luzon.
“At the same time, we are still waiting for other big- ticket projects [under] the PPP [program], including elevated expressways and other toll-road projects,” David said. “For airports, we are looking at regional sites.”
He said MTD, which owns Malaysia’s second-biggest toll-road operator, will likely pursue alone transport infrastructure also under the PPP Program although it is open to partnering with other groups.
David cited the P35-billion elevated connector road proposed by MPIC that will link North Luzon Expressway and Slex using Philippine National Railways’ alignment. The project will reportedly undergo a competitive bidding process.
Naia Phase II is a P15.77-billion project involving the construction of an elevated toll road providing access from Naia to Roxas Boulevard, Macapagal Boulevard and Entertainment City.
“MTD has technologies that we will implement to make construction more cost-effective,” David said.
He added that some of the new projects were pitched to MTD and other Malaysian business leaders during Vice President Jejomar Binay’s visit to Kuala Lumpur last month. During the meeting, AlloyMtd President and Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Azmil Khalid accepted the post of chairman pro-tempore of the recently revived Malaysian-Philippines Business Council.