Manila Water shares suffer biggest drop as concession worries rage

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2019 12:56 PM | Updated as of Dec 18 2019 07:07 AM

MANILA -- Shares of Manila Water Inc dropped by as much as 39 percent on Tuesday, its steepest decline on record, due to uncertainty over its concession deal with Philippine government to supply water to half of the capital.

At noon, shares of the Ayala-led utility were down 27.5 percent to P6.77. Shares of Metro Pacific Investments Corp, which operates rival Maynilad Water Services Inc, were up 0.06 percent to P3.11.

The 39-percent decline earlier in the day was the biggest decline on record for Manila Water, according to Bloomberg data. The two water firms lost a combined $2 billion (P101 billion) in market value since they were criticized by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte said the public would be "milked by billions" should the two firms collect P10.8 billion in compensation that was awarded by a Singapore-based arbitration court. They eventually dropped the claims.

Earlier Tuesday, the government's chief water regulator said "everything is possible" as the two companies renegotiate their concession agreements with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System.

The concession agreements remain in place as the MWSS revoked only the board resolution that extended them beyond 2022, not the contracts themselves, Chief Regulator Patrick Ty said.

"Ibig sabihin po nun, tuloy-tuloy pa rin po, hindi pa po canceled ang extension, hindi pa po kanselado ang kontrata," he told radio DZMM.

(This means that it's still continuous, the extension is not yet canceled, the contract is not yet canceled.)

"Everything is possible, depende po iyan sa negotiation... Pinag-aaralan pa po at ongoing negotiations pa po," he added.

(Everything is possible, depending on the negotiation. It is still being studied and negotiations are ongoing.)

President Rodrigo Duterte wants to "renegotiate" some parts of the concession agreement, including a provision that bars the government from interfering in water rates, the Department of Justice earlier said.
 
A new concession deal will be offered to Maynilad and Manila Water first, then to other consortia if both reject it, MWSS Administrator Emmanuel Salamat earlier said.

"Magsimula tayo sa bagong kontrata na magbe-benefit ang greater majority. Kung hindi, we will go through the other process which is re-bidding," he told ABS-CBN News.

(We will start with a new contract that will benefit the greater majority. If they reject it, we will go through the other process which is re-bidding.)