An 'airport' alright, but wrong place – SMC

by Miguel R. Camus, BusinessMirror

Posted at Nov 23 2012 09:27 AM | Updated as of Nov 23 2012 05:27 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The latest development on San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) proposed $6-billion airport may have been announced on Thursday by a listed builder, which marked out what could be the Philippines’s next main air gateway in Cavite province just south of Manila.

The catch: It’s in the wrong place.

SMC, which has kept a tight lid on the airport’s location since it was announced earlier this year, denied also on Thursday a portion of a public disclosure made by property developer Boulevard Holdings Inc. (BHI)

BHI, which is developing the 3,000-hectare Puerto Azul resort in Cavite, gave an update on its search for a partner for Puerto Azul and its prospects moving forward.

The filing included a map of what Metro Manila and nearby provinces would look like “within a decade” with a large landbank straddling the towns of Ternate and Maragondon in Cavite and marked in green and labeled as “San Miguel New Airport City.”

SMC President Ramon S. Ang said that SMC is not building an airport in the location specified by BHI. “Not true,” he said in a text message, without saying where the airport will be located.

SMC later in the afternoon issued a formal statement on BHI’s disclosure.

“We advise the exchange that the company has no transactions with BHI. Neither does the company have an airport project as indicated in the location map incorporated in the disclosure of BHI,” it said.

BHI officials did not return phone calls seeking their comment also on Thursday. Mauro Badiola, the company vice president for finance and designated spokesman, did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request seeking his side.

BHI, which is led by its Chairman and President Jose Panlilio, did not trade also on Thursday as the developer had sought a one-day trading halt because of its disclosure. Its shares last closed at P0.174 each, giving it a market value of P1.47 billion.

There remains much uncertainty on the airport’s location because SMC has never made any disclosure on where it plans to build the facility. ran a report in September saying that the new airport will likely be located in Bulacan. It cited as its source a report by Malaysia’s CIMB Group, which recently acquired a stake in SMC’s Bank of Commerce.

SMC announced plans to build a new airport as an alternative to the existing Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City as the group seeks to tap opportunities in the country’s underdeveloped transport infrastructure sector.

It owns 49 percent of Philippine Airlines; the rest of the flag carrier is held by tycoon Lucio Tan, who said his group may also invest in the new airport.

SMC has been veering away from its traditional food and drinks businesses and into higher margin sectors such as power and transport infrastructure.