PPP: SM may bid for bundled airport projects

The SM Group may join the auction for the contracts to develop, operate and maintain five regional airports worth P108.19 billion under the public-private partnership (PPP) program of the government. 

Asked if his group was interested to bid for the bundled airport projects, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. President Hans T. Sy said: “I would say I’m open.”

However, he clarified that submission of a bid would depend on the terms, conditions and pricing of the projects.

“An airport project gives SM a captured market for their businesses. That’s good for retail, good for exposure,” said Regina Capital Development Corp. Business Development Head Luis A. Limlingan.

The regional airports for auction have been grouped into two bundles, the first consisting of the P20.26-billion Bacolod-Silay Airport and the P30.40-billion Iloilo Airport, and the second made up of the P2.34-billion New Bohol (Panglao) Airport, P14.62-billion Laguindingan Airport and P40.57-billion Davao Airport. 

SM-led Premier Airport Group participated in the P34.44-billion deal to expand and operate the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal that was awarded last April to the Megawide Construction Corp. and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. consortium.

According to Mr. Sy, the MCIA project became attractive to them because there were opportunities to put up shopping malls beside the airport. 

“There are other airports that are very small--meant only for servicing airlines. That one, I should say, won’t get our interest,” he added.

Aside from taking over the operations and maintenance of the existing facilities of the regional airports from Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, the winning bidder can enhance and develop landslide facilities, including passenger and cargo terminals, along with all associated infrastructure and facilities.

A possible SM bid could find some of the groups that vied for the MCIA deal head-to-head once more in this regional airport PPP auction. So far, the bundled airport project has attracted the interest of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.; Ayala Corp.; JG Summit Holdings, Inc.; Megawide; Metro Pacific Investments Corp.; MTD Philippines, Inc.; and San Miguel Corp.